Nanostriker Fire Starter Gear Review – Backcountry Flame

Post by blogger | September 1, 2011      

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.


After the recent brouhaha around here, you might wonder why I broke out the petrol jelly, but it's just to use to make fire starter.

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.

Inventor of modern firestarter 'flint' Carl Auer von Welsbach

Inventor of modern firestarter 'flint' Carl Auer von Welsbach

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.


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5 Responses to “Nanostriker Fire Starter Gear Review – Backcountry Flame”

  1. Mike Mullen September 1st, 2011 2:08 pm

    That looks like an functional backup to a Bic if you’re carrying a stove. If no stove, the Bic IS the back-up, I don’t plan to use it and a back-up is not necessary.

    A neat device and the “cool factor” makes me want one but is far too expensive. I would need to buy the titanium version (seriously, how cool is anodized aluminum these days) and that makes it $75.00 plus shipping. So, I will just carry on with one Bic and one mini-Bic back-up when I need my stove to work. The first lighter has never let me down.

    Thanks for the review.

  2. Lou September 1st, 2011 2:11 pm

    There are of course other striker solutions. This one is indeed a nice package, and the size is perfect for my repair kit.

  3. SB September 1st, 2011 4:58 pm

    My backup for a BIC is …. another BIC. Although I usually carry a few strike anywhere matches.

  4. Gentle Sasquatch September 1st, 2011 9:11 pm

    Good old large household matches never failed me. I carry two sets in separate dry bags. One set in my cooking kit and one set in my emergency kit.

  5. Russ September 2nd, 2011 9:21 am

    Lou, back in June I was skiing on Shasta over some frozen bumpy snow and my Dynafit binding rattled off, I fell and tore the MCL in both knees. Prior to that it happened during slow speed turns in wet spring snow. The bindings are three years old I use them maybe 30 times per season. The skis are first generation Verdicts and the boots are Maestrales. I had a tech at the local shop look at them and he did not see anything unusual. It was not happening on my other Dynafit bindings that I have on my Megawatts. Do you normally lock down your bindings when you ski rough snow? I am 6’2″ and weigh 210. Your thoughts.

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