Those pesky PR companies, always sending pens and brew cozies. Gets tiresome. They should send beer. Yet once in a while something cool and refreshing for backcountry skiing does show up. In this case, a tiny Exotac ferrocerium fire starter that’s the perfect butane lighter backup for my emergency kit.
Simple. Unscrew the cap over the rod, unscrew the striker. Strike rod. Make spark. The spark is hot. Ignite tinder. Survive.
Details: Make tinder out of dryer lint soaked with petroleum jelly, for secondary tinder use small twigs, wood shavings, or PU ski straps. For lightweight kit carry one film canister or ziplock (double and taped) packed with the tinder, though a bit more than that is best if you want truly reliable fire starting. Use Nanostriker by first slowly dropping some shavings from the ferrocerium firestarter rod onto your tinder, a very small quantity works fine. Then hold rod close to tinder and strike a spark. Flame on.
Downsides? Tiny form factor is golight friendly, but hard to manipulate with gloves or frozen fingers. Larger version available.
I tested in moderate wind with a small windbreak. Worked fine. I’d sill carry my butane lighter as well for backcountry skiing emergencies, but in most cases packing a fire striker is better than depending on supposedly waterproof matches. Not only does Nanostriker do hundreds of fire sparks, but reliably works when damp or after immersion. Just remember, spark type fire starters need a good ignitable tinder to work properly, as they don’t provide a flame you can hold against something, as you can do with a match or butane lighter.
Those of you backcountry skiers with inquiring minds, curious about ferrocerium? It’s the same stuff used to make sparks in your butane lighter, and other such applications. The sparks are a result of the substance cerium, which has a super low ignition temperature easily achieved by the friction of striking with the metal striker. The stuff was invented by Austrian Baron Carl Auer von Welsbach who patented a similar compound in 1903. Interesting how those Austrians come up with stuff like fire starters and tech bindings. Must be something in the Austrian pastries. Apparently Welsbach is quite well known in Austria, having been on stamps and currency at one time or another.More here.