Being able to start a fire is one of the most important aspects of survival as it allows one to keep warm, purify water, and signal for help. Therefore, a fire-starter is arguably the most important tool in your survival kit. I personally carry a butane lighter, stormproof matches, and ferro-rod in mine (always have a PACE plan). My ferro-rod of choice is the Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL which offers several advantages over other manufacturers. The nanoSTRIKER XL has been reviewed here on The Loadout Room before and if you would like to read that review as well, check it out here.


Diameter: 0.43″
Length: 3.65″
Weight: 0.95oz
Rod Size: 1/4″

-Lightweight anodized aluminum body
-Ultra-sharp tungsten carbide striking tool
-More than 3000 fire-starting strikes per rod
-Replaceable ferrocerium rod
-Made in the USA

Specifications courtesy of Exotac

My thoughts and review

What makes the ferro-rod an effective fire-starting tool is its ability to start fires despite inclement weather, something that is very difficult to do with a standard butane lighter. A ferro-rod can also be struck thousands of times whereas you only have as many matches as you decided to bring. For these reasons, the ferro-rod deserves a permanent spot in any bag or kit you take out with you.

Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL: The best ferro-rod available

The biggest appeal of the nanoSTRIKER XL is its minimalist design. The rod itself can be unscrewed and stored within an anodized aluminum body which gives it a length of just over 3.5 inches. It weighs just shy of one ounce and has a diameter of 0.43 inches. For this size and weight, you can store the nanoSTRIKER XL anywhere in your bag or carry on your person. You can even attach it to a keychain and never notice that it’s there. Being able to conveniently carry a ferro-rod with you is great just in case you were to ever become separated from your pack and its contents in the wilderness. Keep in mind though that a smaller ferro-rod is going to produce fewer sparks to ignite your tinder.

Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL: The best ferro-rod available
The Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL disassembled

The verdict

The good
-One of the most compact and minimal ferro-rods available
-Great size for packing or carrying whenever you go
-Replaceable parts
The bad
-Smaller ferro-rods create fewer sparks

The Exotac nanoSTRIKER XL currently has an MSRP of $29.95. This is a bit more expensive than ferro-rods from other manufacturers, but it is superior in its durability, minimalism, and ergonomic design. The nanoSTRIKER XL has no real flaws or cons and is a great emergency ferro-rod to carry with you or pack for minimalist backpacking. Just remember that quality tinder is important for starting a fire in adverse weather.

All photos courtesy of the author, Matt Jin