Note: I would like to introduce a new guest writer to The Loadout Room, Andrew Ready. Andrew (AJ) Ready served in 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. Since graduating Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE level C) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he has been testing and improving his survival and outdoor skills. AJ spent over seven years of his career as an infantryman. During that time, he amassed a vast amount of knowledge and experience in survival methods, field crafting, and modifying equipment in order to make it more effective. He has two Iraq deployments under his belt and volunteers with the Pierce County, Washington Explorer Search and Rescue. AJ retired from the Army as a major after 21 years of honorable service and now resides in El Paso, Texas, where he enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, and honing his survival skills.

Have you ever been hiking in the woods and suddenly realized that you’re lost? It’s easy to become panicked and stressed in this situation. Some people get a sinking feeling in their stomach while others become overwhelmed with fear. If you’ve spent time in the military, it’s that same feeling you get on the land navigation course when you realize the cutoff time is in 45 minutes, you have three more points to find, and you have no idea where you are.

In the civilian world, you won’t be hearing horns honking around the perimeter road in an attempt to find you. You may need to find your own way back or depend on others to find you, assuming you were smart enough to let someone know where you were going. If you find yourself in this situation and sun starts to set, you’ll have to make a tough decision. If that decision involves you sitting tight until morning, you’ll probably want to build a fire.

Fires can serve many different purposes. They can comfort you, keep you warm, protect you from predators, signal your location, and they can give you a task to focus on, which will help keep you calm. In the rare case that you find yourself in need of a fire and don’t have a lighter or matches, you’re going to need to use a non-traditional way to ignite your fire’s fuel source. Enter the Bear Grylls Fire Starter.

The Bear Grylls Fire Starter, made by Gerber, consists of a ferrocerium rod and a metal striker. It also includes a Bear Grylls’ pocket guide to survival essentials, a lanyard, and a whistle. I’ve experimented with many of these types of fire starters in the past, and I have to say that this is one of my favorites.

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter Pros:

The overall design is great. I like the size because it’s not so small that I can’t use it with gloves on, and it’s not so big that it takes up a bunch of room in my pack. While carrying it, the rod and striker are enclosed in a durable plastic cylinder that keeps everything together and prevents the working parts from getting wet. I have dropped this thing and given it a few pretty good smacks against a rock, and it didn’t break or come apart. The lanyard is nice, too, because it keeps the two pieces from becoming separated or lost (what would we do without dummy cords?) and holds a whistle, making it a multipurpose tool. Another great feature: One of the ends has a compartment for keeping a small bit of cotton or other flame-igniting material.

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter Cons:

I’ve only run into two issues with this product. The rubber gasket that seals the second part of the cylinder falls off a lot. I find it best to remove it when in use. The other issue is that the lanyard is a bit short. It prevents you from using the tool properly with the lanyard attached.

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter Bottom line:

I’ve taken the Gerber-made Bear Grylls Fire Starter with me on several outdoor excursions and found it to be lightweight, durable, and easy to use. In my latest trial, I gathered up some mesquite wood, dead grass, and dry leaves. Since it was a windy day, I dug a small hole in the ground with a tunnel big enough to provide air to the fire but prevent the wind from blowing my materials away. After preparing everything, I let the sparks fly. Let me tell you, this thing really throws off some sparks. My tinder ignited after only a few swipes.

All in all, the Bear Grylls Fire Starter performs as advertised, and at a price of around $10, it is definitely something that you should take with you on your next outdoor adventure. Keep in mind, lighters and matches are expendable. When they run out and you find yourself in a situation requiring a fire, what will you use?

You can find the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter on Amazon.com or at most outdoor retailers.

(Featured image courtesy of gerbergear.com)