January 16, 2021

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

US Air Force officer builds a fire to help combat frostbite and hypothermia during a SERE exercise. Knowing how to build a fire is one of the most important skills for survival. US Air Force photo/ Released.

The ability to start a fire is a key factor in surviving in the wild. It can mean the difference between life and death. The conditions won’t be ideal. You need redundant ignition methods to ensure at least one one works in any environment.

Survival Lighters

A good lighter cannot be matched for its all-around utility and convenience. It will always be the quickest and simplest method of starting a fire. Most of the time it’s all that you will need. A Zippo® lighter along with a couple of disposable butane lighters take up little space in your pack or bug-out bag.

The Zippo lighter is considered by many to be the best long-term survival lighter in the world. It features a simple, bulletproof design. All parts are replaceable and it comes with a lifetime warranty. It can use almost any liquid fuel that will ignite when exposed to a flame. If you don’t have fuel or a wick, you can still use the striker to ignite light dry tinder.

Zippos do have their cons. The the fuel evaporates quickly with the standard housing. It’s not weather resistant. And it has a candle-like flame, making it difficult to ignite things on the ground and in windy conditions.

Butane lighters are less prone to evaporation and are available in direct flame (torch-like) models. However, they don’t perform well in colder temperatures. The boiling point of butane is approximately 32.9° F (0.5° C) at sea level. Additionally, direct flame butane lighters don’t work at elevations greater than around 8,000 feet above sea level.

Disposable butane lighters have a candle-like flame similar to the Zippo and perform better at higher elevations than their direct flame counterparts, although cold temperatures are still an issue.  Disposable butane lighters are inexpensive, but that comes at a price. They are more prone to breakage and failure. Which is why it’s always wise to carry more than one. As is so often said, two is one and one is none.

Thyrm PyroVault Lighter Armor

Thrym PyroVault is designed to “up-armor” the classic Zippo lighter for outdoors and survival applications. It’s made of rugged polymer and is PALS/MOLLE compatible.

Thyrm® LLC offers a product called the PyroVault™ Lighter Armor that’s designed to improve the classic Zippo for outdoors and survival applications. The PyroVault is a heavy-duty housing that accepts standard Zippo-style lighter inserts, including both fluid and butane direct-flame models.

The PyroVault is made of rugged, heat-resistant polymer and is o-ring sealed to keep the elements out and minimize evaporation. It has a spring-loaded cap for one-handed operation and an integral, low-profile PALS/MOLLE clip to attach it to your gear. It’s self-standing, allowing for hands-free use with a fluid insert.

Thyrm also offers a classic Zippo fluid lighter with the Thyrm logo. It may be purchased at a discount with the PyroVault or may be purchased separately at additional cost. Thyrm is hoping that the fluid (classic Zippo insert) appeals to those that may need to “field refuel” since, as mentioned, they work with lots of different flammable liquids possibly found in a survival situation.

Thyrm doesn’t have any plans to offer butane inserts for the PyroVault, as the butane inserts are imported. The company also feels that butane inserts are more geared to urban use or where sustainability isn’t an issue. Should you prefer butane, butane inserts, such as the Z-Plus Extreme, can be found on Amazon® for around $18.

The PyroVault is exceptionally well-designed and well-made. I consider it to be a must-have accessory for anyone who carries a Zippo.

ESEE Fire Kit is a “last-ditch” fire starter (ferro rod) and mini survival kit container that includes a 20mm button compass in the cap and survival tips printed on the body. The watertight capsule has plenty of storage space for survival essentials

Ferro Rods

A ferrocerium (ferro) rod is indispensable as a back-up fire starting option. Ferrocerium is a pyrophoric alloy that usually includes iron, cerium and magnesium. When struck, a ferro rod produces hot sparks that can reach temperatures of 5,430° F (3,000° C).

Ferro rods and other methods that create sparks provide a reliable method of ignition that works in conditions where lighters and matches would fail, but do require more preparation and can be difficult to use in less-than-ideal environments

ESEE Fire Kit

ESSE® Knives sent me its ESEE Fire Kit  for evaluation. The Fire Kit isn’t only is it a last ditch fire starter but a mini survival kit container, as well. ESSE Knives’ sister company, Randall’s Adventure & Training has led numerous expeditions and training courses in the Amazon jungles of Peru and across the United States for a diverse clientele. The wealth of real-world experience is reflected in their products.

The Fire Kit has a removable / replaceable 1.75-inch (4.45 cm) ferro rod. The handle is made of heavy-duty black-anodized aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and provides a good grip, The handle also serves as a waterproof container, with plenty of plenty of storage space inside for tinder or other user-supplied survival gear.

Survival tips and ground to air signal are silk-screened on the handle. The cap is o-ring sealed and has a 20 mm Grade A button compass with large, luminous markings. It also has a lanyard hole that allows you to attach a wrist lanyard or tie/clip the Fire Kit to a belt, pack or vest.

The Fire Kit is light weight and takes up relatively little space. It measures only 4.5 inches (11.43 cm) in overall length by 0.5-inch (1.27 cm) wide and weighs only 4 ounces (113.4 g). As with all ESEE products, the Fire Kit is exceptionally well made. The Fire Kit comes with a wallet-sized plastic card with fire building instructions.

I keep SOL® Tinder-Quik™ in my Fire Kit so I always have tinder at hand. Tinder-Quik is waterproof, easy to light and burns for 1-2 minutes, giving plenty of time to start a fire.

The 20 mm Grade A button compass in the cap of the ESEE Fire Kit has a luminous dial with large easy to read markings.

Summing Up

The Thyrm PyroVault and ESEE Fire Kit are excellent products. And they’re made in the USA, as are Zippo lighters.The PyroVault is available in Black, Flat Dark Earth, Olive Drab, Rescue Orange, and Urban Grey. It has a MSRP of $29.99 or $44.98 with a Thyrm logo Zippo included. The ESEE Fire Kit has a MSRP of $57.90. A 12-pack of S.O.L. Tinder-Quik runs around $4.00.

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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