Clip-on Fire Starter: The Firebiner

August 12, 2019

Having the means and ability to make an emergency fire is an essential survival skill. It requires two key items: something that generates a spark or flame, and tinder to catch the spark or flame and start your fire. For the latter, I have long recommended Vaseline-coated cotton balls (though a variety of other pre-made and perfectly good alternatives are available).  For the former, I wanted to highlight a relatively new item on the market that has a couple of key things going for it: the Firebiner from Outdoor Element.

The Firebiner combines a couple of noteworthy elements. First, as its name indicates, the fire-sparking component is integrated into a clip-on carabiner, which allows you to readily attach it to, say, the outside of your backpack or wherever else a clip might be useful. (It also includes a simple utility blade and a bottle opener, other tools some might consider essential.)

More importantly the Firebiner can be operated one-handed. The fire-sparking element is composed of a small wheel that you flick with your thumb or run against a hard surface, which strikes an internal ferro rod, which creates a spark, which can be done even if one of your arms or hands or wrist is broken or hurt or otherwise disabled. Relatively few fire-starting devices can do this, which is definitely a plus one for the Firebiner.

The Firebiner is also inexpensive ($15), which is both a plus and a minus. A plus because it’s easy and cheap to add to your gear quiver. A minus because, based on an browsing an abundance of reviews, the workmanship and quality is somewhat marginal. Numerous reviews have indicated a weak spring in the carabiner clip, which makes it less likely to stay secured to whatever it’s attached to. Other users indicate that replacing the internal ferro rod is difficult at base (though how often will you need to do that, really?). And you may not want to carry it in your pocket, given that the wheel is quite rough and abrasive.

Overall, though, if you’re looking for a useful, simple, and inexpensive gear item that will increase your chances of survival in a worst-case scenario, the Firebiner is worth considering.

Search AMC Outdoors and Blogs


Search for:

Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.