Posted by Ron Fontaine on March 25, 2015
Scout Leaders frequently email me asking for my advice on the best firesteels for scouts of various ages and fire making abilities.
The answer to “what's the best FireSteel for Scouting” often comes down to a few simple considerations
In this FireSteel.com Blog post we will examine each of these considerations in turn.
Usually a Scout Masters budget is limited, and often he or she is actually paying for the FireSteels out of pocket, or buying FireSteels for some of the disadvantaged scouts in the group.
For example, a recent Scout Master purchased 25 FireSteels from FireSteel.com, 7 of which he said went to Boy Scouts who could not afford even a few dollars each to buy a FireSteel for themselves.
So when it comes to Scouts purchasing FireSteels price is often more of a consideration as compared to, say, a military unit purchasing hundreds of our FireSteels or by someone who is planning to hike the Appalachian Trail or storing FireSteels for emergency preparedness.
Rare Earths, the elements that go into our FireSteels and make them spark so well, are quite expensive. One way to make cheap firesteels is to reduce the amount of rare earths in the FireSteel formula. But this comes with a steep price: less sparks when you scrape the rod.
Because our FireSteels are often used in adverse conditions where peoples lives may be on the line (US Military, Scouts, Lost Hikers and Hunters, Emergency Preparedness, etc) I have chosen the hard line that I WILL NOT skimp on rare earths just to save a couple bucks.
And neither should you.
Fortunately, while FireSteel.com FireSteels are considered by many to be the best in the world (don't take my word for it, read the reviews), we sell so many of them there is a FireSteel.com FireSteel to fit every budget.
FireSteel.com uses the same exact high sparking formula in all of our FireSteels. We are famous for the ease of creating large, robust sparks that bounce and pop as they dance amongst your tinder.
That said, of course the larger the FireSteel the larger and more prolific the sparks will be that fly off the FireSteel rod when it is scraped. That stands to reason.
So when choosing a Firesteel size we need to consider it's intended use.
For example, you may not want to try and fit our famous FireSteel Magum™ into your Altoids Tin survival kit but our FireSteel Ranger, the FireSteel Pups, FireSteel Embers™, or FireSteel Miniature may be a good choice.
Another consideration is the ease of holding onto the FireSteel rod.
While the FireSteel Tiny™ and FireSteel Micro™ are very small and inexpensive, when you are first learning how to use a firesteel it is often easier to practice using a FireSteel that is a bit larger simply because it will be easier to hold onto and give larger sparks as mentioned earlier.
Another important consideration when choosing a FireSteel for scouting is the number of fires the FireSteel rod can make.
It should be pretty obvious that the larger the FireSteel rod the more fires it can produce, simply because there is more material in the rod.
Other factors affecting the number of fires that a firesteel rod can make include the length of stroke the firesteel user makes when he scrapes the rod as well as the amount of pressure placed on the sharp edge of the FireSteel scraper or FireSteel Striker.
The amount of sparks the rod produces with each use can increase or limit the number of fires the rod can make before wearing out. Because FireSteel.com FireSteels create massive sparks due to their enhanced formula, in theory you will need fewer attempts (just one with practice!) to light a fire.
And in an emergency you don't want to mess around – you will want to get that fire going NOW!
Also, you after the end of training your scouts how to make fires you may want them to still have plenty of firesteel remaining for use at home, hiking, biking, camping, etc, or to put into their survival kits.
FireSteel.com ships nearly every morning. So fast in fact that often we ship out an order within minutes of it being made!
Oftentimes a scouting organization has plans for an outdoor adventure or FireSteel training session that are coming up very soon. So it is important that they get their FireSteels delivered to them quickly.
FireSteel.com has got you covered on Quick Shipping. Almost always we have as many FireSteels as you need of any FireSteel size you need in stock and ready to ship. What's more, FireSteel.com ships nearly every day (except Sundays) via USPS so your package will usually arrive within two to five business days from making your order.
Once in awhile we may have low stock on a particular FireSteel size due to a large unforeseen purchase by the US Military or other entity. In those rare cases we replenish our inventory very quickly.
The GobSpark Ranger™ FireSteel
By FireSteel.com is a popular Scouting FireSteel
Ok, so now we know something about choosing the Best FireSteels for Scouts. We discussed considerations including cost of firesteel, ease of firesteel use, amount of fires a firesteel can make, and firesteel availability.
Very often a Scout Master is seeking a combination of good FireSteel prices combined with excellent ease of use by young scouts learning how to start fires with a FireSteel. What this comes down to is a FireSteel that provides the “biggest bang for the buck” while also factoring in ease of use and number of fires the FireSteel rod can produce.
Crunching the numbers and considering the special firemaking needs of your typical scout, in my opinion the best firesteel for scouts to train with is the
As of this writing (March 2015) the GobSpark Ranger with lanyard and Super Scraper is $6.49. The GobSpark Ranger is designed to be somewhere in the middle between large FireSteels and small FireSteels.
The GobSpark Ranger will typically give well over 2000 fires, is easy to hold onto while scraping, and has one of the excellent specially hardened alloy Super Scrapers attached using a 550 paracord lanyard.
The advantage of providing a Super Scraper to your Scouts is that while you can use just about any sharp, hard object to scrape the FireSteel and make sparks, some work better than others. Even knives are made of different materials, hardness, etc. By providing Super Scrapers to all your scouts, you will have them all using the same materials as you teach them how to use firesteels.
If you are even more budget minded, you cannot go wrong with purchasing a FireSteel Ranger 2.5 and a Super Scraper for each scout. While the Super Scraper is not attached to the FireSteel, these FireSteel rods will still work very well for training scouts how to make fires with FireSteels.
As always, I am here to answer your questions and especially value those from the wonderful people who are teaching the next generation the important skill of making fires!
Well, there is still three feet of snow here in the Great North Woods, it's a sunny day, 20-degrees F - I'm going snowshoeing this find Spring Day. Hope you get out there too :-)
All prices are in USD.