One of the really cool items I saw during the annual Outdoor Retailer Show back in January was this tiny little tool that has become a permanent item in my pile of backcountry gear.
Known as "Swedish FireSteel," this little gizmo will spark a fire in just about any condition, wet or dry, you might encounter in the backcountry. It can be used to ignite kindling or simply to spark your cookstove.
For years I've carried a small bar of magnesium with me that can be used to start a fire. Basically, you would use a knife to whittle off a small pile of shavings, and then use the attached flint to spark the shavings.
While serviceable, that system pales tremendously next to the FireSteel tool sold by the folks at Light My Fire. Developed by the Swedish Defense Department and approved for use by the International Survival Instruction Association, this tool works simply by running the attached striker across the rod that contains cerium, magnesium and phosphorous. What follows is a stream of sparks that burn at a reported 5,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
I picked up the Scout model, which is said to last approximately 3,000 strikes. This is definitely something worth toting in your pack.