The ability to start a fire can be the difference between life and death in a survival scenario. Even in less dire circumstances you’ll want to have an effective way to light a campfire, start up a grill, or get a leaf barrel going. A ferro rod is one of the oldest and most effective fire starters around. They require no fuel and will probably outlive you in their usefulness. Here’s a list of the 13 best ferro rods on the market today to help you make your decision.
- 1 What is a Ferro Rod
- 2 Best Ferro Rods
- 2.1 Exotac Nanostriker XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter
- 2.2 Gerber Bear Grylls Ferro Rod Fire Starter
- 2.3 Leatherman Signal Multi Tool with Ferro Rod
- 2.4 Last Man Paracord Survival Kit Bracelet with Ferro Rod
- 2.5 Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel 2.0
- 2.6 Zippo Emergency Fire Starter
- 2.7 The Friendly Swede Pocket Multi Tool
- 2.8 Schrade Tactical Pen with Ferro Rod
- 2.9 KonvoySG English Flint and Steel
- 2.10 Coghlan’s Ferro Rod
- 2.11 Bayite Large Ferro Rod Drilled Survival Fire Starter
- 2.12 Survival Hax Fire Starter Flint
- 2.13 Extra Large Flint Striker with Survival Kit
- 3 How to use a Ferro Rod
- 4 Ferro Rod vs Magnesium Block
- 5 Ferro Rod vs Flint and Steel
- 6 Final Thoughts
What is a Ferro Rod
A ferro rod, short for a ferrocerium rod, is a modern fire starter designed to produce a spray of 5,000+ degree fahrenheit sparks. They’re one of the smallest and most effective types of fire starters available.
When you use a ferro rod you’re actually scraping tiny amounts of the material off in molten form. These sparks will catch in paper, fibrous tree bark, and other tinder materials to produce an ember.
They’re much easier to use than more primitive tools like a bow drill or friction starter and work well even in damp conditions.
Best Ferro Rods
The qualities of the best ferro rods are durability and usability. You need your ferro rod to be large enough to be useful while still compact enough to easily carry around. It also has to put up with long stretches in hiking packs, bags, or pockets and still strike when needed.
It doesn’t hurt if it comes with its own striker either.
Exotac Nanostriker XL Ferrocerium Fire Starter
The Exotac Nanostriker XL is a modular ferro rod design that is extremely compact. It’s designed to unscrew and reassemble into a 3.65 inch long fire starter with handle.
The whole thing can hang from your keychain when not in use. Unlike many ferro rods the Nanostriker XL comes with a small carbide striker that also screws into place. Every section is sealed off with rubber o-rings to prevent any water from corroding the materials.
The Exotac Nanostriker XL is an innovative ferro rod that’s rugged, easy to use, and won’t let you down when it counts. It also has that indescribable cool factor that a really nice pocket tool provides. It’s a bit on the pricey side for a standalone ferro rod but the features it gives you more than makes up for it in our opinion.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ferro Rod Fire Starter
Bear Grylls is famous for his wilderness and survival expertise. The Gerber Bear Grylls Ferro Rod uses a three part design with a ferro rod, steel striker, and emergency whistle all attached to a lanyard.
The striker and rod slot together to form a plastic cylinder just over 5 inches long. This is a bit unwieldy for an emergency fire starter but does allow you to store enough tinder to start a fire in an emergency.
The Bear Grylls Ferro Rod is well designed, easy to use, and very portable. It goes beyond the basics by providing a method of signaling and tinder storage.
Leatherman Signal Multi Tool with Ferro Rod
The Leatherman Signal is a full size butterfly fold multi tool designed specifically for hiking, camping, and bushcrafting. It’s 4.5 inches long yet weighs just 7.2 oz. The Signal gives you 19 different tools, including:
- Needlenose Pliers
- Regular Pliers
- Regular Wire Cutters
- Hard Wire Cutters
- Wire Stripper
- Awl W/ Thread Loop
- 420HC Combination Knife
- Can Opener
- Bottle Opener
- ¼ in Bit Driver
- Hex Wrench
- Bit Driver
- 3/16 Hex Wrench
- Safety Whistle
- Ferro Rod
- Diamond Sharpener
The Signal is Leatherman’s most survival focused multi tool to date. It has a range of general use tools as well as several wilderness specific ones. There are two removable tools within the handles that contain the diamond sharpener, ferro rod, and safety whistle.
The ferro rod is definitely on the small side but is still fully functional. It wasn’t difficult to hold or produce sparks using the back of the knife or saw blade. The diamond sharpener is one of our favorite features on the Signal. It allows you to quickly put a field edge on your blade no matter where you are.
As a multi tool the Signal is well made, packed with great features, and shows all the hallmarks of Leatherman’s decades of expertise. It has everything you’d need for basic survival in an emergency situation as well as lots of useful everyday tools.
Buying the Signal just for the ferro rod doesn’t really make sense though. It’s expensive, coming in well over $100, and is just too feature packed. If you want to get an excellent multi tool that also has a really nice ferro rod the Signal is the tool for you.
For more information on the Leatherman Signal, check out our full review here.
Last Man Paracord Survival Kit Bracelet with Ferro Rod
A paracord bracelet is one of the most common accessories for EDC minded people. It combines a useful length of cordage with an attractive braid design. The Last Man Paracord Survival Kit takes this usefulness to a whole other level. It gives you several different survival tools, including:
- 12 Feet of Paracord
- Emergency Fishing Kit
- Ferro Rod with Striker
- 2 Safety Pins
The bracelet itself is made from high quality 550 paracord. It can be separated out into multiple strands if needed. The ferro rod and striker are actually used as the clasp for the bracelet. They look really nice in this role but do require you to unravel the bracelet to use them effectively.
The ferro rod is very small but still functional. Getting a good grip on it was a bit tricky but we got the hang of it after just a few tries. When combined with the included tinder and emergency fishing kit you have everything needed to catch and cook a fish in an emergency.
The Last Man Paracord Survival Bracelet is a well thought out EDC item that provides real value. It includes the basic tools you’d need to survive and a really nice little ferro rod.
Note: You might like our article on best bracelet multi tools that includes several bracelets with ferro rods.
Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel 2.0
Light My Fire is a respected maker of outdoor cutlery, mess kits, and fire starters. As their name suggests they got their start with tools and gadgets for starting a fire. The Swedish Firesteel 2.0 incorporates the best features of their original design with excellent improvements.
It’s made up of a steel striker and a ferro rod that’s just under 4 inches long. Both of these are on a sturdy nylon lanyard to attach to your pack or clip to your keys. The ferro rod itself is quite thick and advertised as providing 12,000 strikes.
After trying the Firesteel 2.0 out for ourselves we can definitely believe it. The rod has a nice textured plastic grip that lets you get a very firm purchase on it. You can produce a large spray of sparks with each strike and target them really well.
For the Swedish Firesteel 2.0’s price it’s hard to find a more effective and easy to use ferro rod.
Zippo Emergency Fire Starter
Zippo is famous for their windproof lighters but have also released a very effective ferro fire starter. Their emergency fire starter is contained in a waterproof blaze orange flip open case very similar in appearance to their classic lighter design.
It uses a spinning wheel setup much like a Zippo or Bic lighter. On its own it produces a very effective shower of sparks and provides hundreds of effective uses. What really sets it apart from the competition are the 4 waxed tinder sticks contained within it.
These are made to light easily from the sparks of the striker. They burn hot for up to several minutes, perfect for getting a fire going in adverse conditions.
The Friendly Swede Pocket Multi Tool
The Friendly Swede pocket multi tool is a pen style multi tool that’s packed full of small but useful tools. Altogether there are 9 different tools, including:
- Stylus/Ballpoint Pen
- Scraper and Knife Blade
- Ferro Rod
- Emergency Whistle
- Bottle Opener
- Hex Wrench
- Glass Breaker
- Flathead Screwdriver
About half of the tools in this multi tool are designed specifically for an emergency situation. The ferro rod and emergency whistle in particular are great to have if you get lost in the woods.
For something the size of a pen the ferro rod on the Friendly Swede is actually quite capable. To access it you just unscrew a portion of the pen body and move the included scraper across it. We found it to produce a very acceptable spray of sparks without any effort at all.
The other tools on this pen tool allow you to tighten a few screws or bolts and write a note. The included knife does alright at producing a bit of tinder shavings but don’t expect to do heavy cutting or slicing with it.
Overall the Friendly Swede Pocket multi tool is an interesting tool with a lot of neat features. It won’t stand up to day to day use but does give you several useful tools in an emergency or wilderness survival situation.
Schrade Tactical Pen with Ferro Rod
Tactical pens occupy an interesting niche in the EDC world. They’re effective self defense tools, useful everyday items, and look sharp while doing it. What the majority don’t have though is the ability to start a fire. The Schrade Tactical Pen with Ferro Rod is one of the only such tools capable of this.
The body of the pen is made from sturdy aircraft grade aluminum. From end to end the pen is 5.9 inches long but weighs just 1.7 oz. For a pen it’s practically bursting with useful features. The ballpoint pen itself is refillable and writes very smoothly. If you open the body up a bit you’ll discover an emergency whistle on the cap and a glass breaker on the rear of the pen.
Inside is where the ferro rod is housed. It screws open and is sealed with an o-ring for corrosion resistance. It’s relatively small but you have half the body of the pen to hold onto while using it. There’s a small steel striker you can use if you forgot your pocket knife.
Having a pen is extremely useful in day to day life. Having a pen that can start a fire is absolutely delightful. The Schrade Tactical Pen with Ferro Rod is sturdy, well made, and easy on the eyes. The included ferro rod does everything you need it to do and screws tightly closed when you don’t need it.
KonvoySG English Flint and Steel
If you’ve always enjoyed westerns and pioneer style movies you’ve no doubt seen an old school flint and steel. It’s one of the most basic ways to make a fire, using just a natural piece of flint and a high carbon piece of steel. The KonvoySG English Flint and Steel combines a curved piece of steel with a piece of natural English flint.
KonvoySG also includes a container of char cloth, absolutely essential for use with a flint and steel. It’s basically specially prepared cloth that will catch a spark and form an ember. To use the flint and steel you simply strike the rounded steel against the piece of flint. The whole process feels incredibly rugged and really lets you get in touch with the past.
The KonvoySG flint and steel is forged into an easy to grip handle and includes a small carry pouch for the flint and a handsome leather case for the steel. If you’re looking for a fire starter to take with you to a Revolutionary War reenactment or a back to the wild camping trip, the KonvoySG English Flint and Steel is the tool for you.
Coghlan’s Ferro Rod
Coghlan’s has been making fine American camping gear and accessories for decades. They’re one of the oldest outfitters still operating and have a vast catalog of goods. A long time favorite of the Boy Scouts of America, the Coghlan Ferro Rod is a stripped down fire starter at a bargain basement price.
It’s a 3 and ⅞ inch long ferro rod with a steel striker on a lanyard loop. It has a small plastic handle to grip onto and produces a very satisfying spray of sparks when struck.
The Coghlan’s Ferro Rod is about as basic as a fire starter can get. It doesn’t have any extras or fancy packaging tricks. This very simplicity is what makes it so great. For under $10 you get a quality ferro rod that’s lightweight, easy to use, and won’t let you down.
Bayite Large Ferro Rod Drilled Survival Fire Starter
If you’re looking to put together your own survival kit the Bayite Large Ferro Rod is a great place to start. It’s 6 inches long and fully ½ an inch thick. It comes pre drilled with a lanyard hole but doesn’t include a steel striker.
This is one of the largest ferro rods available and provides a massive spray of sparks. It’s great for starting a fire in damp conditions with unreliable tinder. Given its large size, reliability, and low price the Bayite Large Ferro Rod is a great option for your emergency fire solution.
Survival Hax Fire Starter Flint
The Survival Hax Fire Starter kit gives you an impressively large ferro rod along with several other useful tools. All told there are 7 different tools in this kit, including:
- 6 Inch Long Ferro Rod
- Tinder Capsule
- Paracord Lanyard
- Emergency whistle
- Bottle Opener
The ferro rod is exceptionally large and easy to use. It’s advertised as providing 30,000 strikes, more than you’ll probably ever need. The tinder capsule is basically a small metal pill fob but does a great job keeping a small supply of waxed tinder dry and ready.
The ruler/scraper is effective at producing sparks and also includes a useful little bottle opener. When combined with the braided paracord that makes up the lanyard and the emergency whistle you end up with a very useful survival kit and ferro rod.
Extra Large Flint Striker with Survival Kit
The Friendly Swede Survival Kit is designed to give you a fighting chance in a wilderness survival situation. It packs in several different tools, including:
- Emergency Fishing Kit
- Extra Large Ferro Rod
- Safety Pins
- 90 Inches of Paracord
- Bottle Opener
With the combination of the fishing kit and ferro rod you have everything you need to catch fish and cook them. The ferro rod is contained inside a large aluminum cylinder that also holds the fishing kit and tinder. Note, you might also like our best fishing multi tool guide.
Everything is attached to a braided paracord keychain lop and designed to quickly disassemble when needed. The ferro rod by itself is 3 inches long and plenty sturdy enough to provide thousands of strikes. With the included tinder you can get a small fire going in minutes and keep yourself warm and cozy until help arrives.
This survival kit from the Friendly Swede is thoughtfully designed and includes the basics you’d need to survive. It isn’t perfect, but it is a pretty great ferro rod centric kit.
How to use a Ferro Rod
Ferro rods are one of the easiest primitive fire starting methods to pick up. Start by holding the rod itself in one hand. Firmly press either the back of your knife blade or the included striker against the surface of the rod and run it straight down the rod.
You should see a shower of hot sparks. Give it a try on it’s own once or twice before you try to start a fire. Once you’ve got the hang of it rest the bottom of your fire starter against your tinder bundle or char cloth and strike sparks into it.
Ferro Rod vs Magnesium Block
Ferro rods are often confused with the related magnesium block fire starter. In many cases a magnesium fire starter will have a ferro rod on it but the two are very different.
Magnesium is a chemical element that burns incredibly hot for a short period of time. Magnesium block fire starters work by shaving small bits of magnesium off and then lighting them with sparks, a match, or a lighter.
They’re very useful as they’ll light even when wet. In damp conditions a magnesium block can be the difference between life or death.
Ferro Rod vs Flint and Steel
Flint and steel is often used as an interchangeable name for a ferro rod. They work on the same principles but use different materials. Flint and steel fire starters have been around as long as steel and iron has been available.
They work by striking a piece of steel against a flint rock. This causes tiny pieces of near molten steel to fly off into your tinder. Ferro rods work using an artificial alloy and burn at much higher temperatures. Flint and steel only gets up to about 800 degrees fahrenheit. That’s hot, but not even close to the temperature of ferrocerium.
They’re still useful fire starters and honestly look really cool. Flint and steel fire starters are very popular among reenactors, traditional bushcrafters, and other historical enthusiasts.
Ferro rod fire starters are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to start a fire out in the backcountry. They work when wet, last for years, and are incredibly simple to operate.
Figure out if you want a standalone fire starter or one that’s part of a kit. Once you know that you can decided if you want to go basic and reliable or innovative and modular.
The best ferro rod for you is going to match your specific needs perfectly.