By Tony Bristow
Need a compact firelighting solution? This could be just what you're looking for.
We've had the Firestarter kit for a while now and used it a number of times in different conditions from nice and dry (a rarity I know) to storming with rain and wind. The key to success with the Lifesystems firestarter is a solid load bearing base, tinder/firewood all prepared and having something like the wetfire tinder if it's really wet or you want to light a fire with ease, if you've got all those then you've got no problem getting a fire going in the worst weather.
The firestarter is a Sparkie from Ultimate Survival technologies, a fairly simple device that's used one handed, a square edged bar scrapes down the length of the ferrocerium rod creating sparks that are directed down onto the tinder and hey presto, fire is created.
We received some wetfire tinder with the firestarter kit and this lights really easily and in any conditions so it's a great backup if you've not got dry tinder to hand or you're struggling to light prepared tinder, it's a great product for when you really need it. Be careful though as you can mash the dry tinder if you get too close and you're using a lump.
The ferrocerium rod is contained in a little metal frame that allows it to be rotated so that if you're wearing out a side you can always turn it for a fresh one, the rods may be replaceable as they pop out and back in with little effort, don't' get me wrong, they're firmly in place during all phases of use. The frame that holds the rod slides up into the handle with ease, if you push it all the way it clicks into place making this a very compact bit of kit, to release the rod so that it springs back out you just need to press on the rubber housing, this is also the place where you need to press to push the bar against the moving rod creating the sparks needed to ignite the tinder. As you press this the rubber skin bulges at the sides to accommodate.
It's all a very straight forward construction and I can't see any reason that it would not function when needed, if it gets clogged up for some reason just pull the rubber skin off and clean it, you just need to watch out so you don't lose the small steel rectangular bar. If I needed to clean it I’d just take out the rod and then wash it in water (try not to wash the rod as they can degrade when wet).
I have to say that I'm not that keen on plunge firestarters, they're fine if you've got something to bear down on but often you've not and you can end up mashing or scattering your carefully prepared tinder bundle. The Sparkie though has helped alleviate some of my negative opinion because it's small, portable and doesn't take a lot of downward force to work so there's a lot less chance of messing up my tinder bundle or fire lay, so for me it's a lot more usable than it's bigger relatives.
Conclusion - It's comfortable to hold and use, works well, packs down into a small package and does what it says on the tin, with that in mind it's fair to say that the Lifesystems Firestarter Kit would make a competent little addition to your firestarting kit.