Hopefully by now you've heard about our guest writing contest. Second prize in that contest happens to be my favorite firestarter, the Sparkie by Universal Survival Technologies. Since we're giving one away as a prize, I figure I ought to show you what you might win for your writing.
The Sparkie is a one-handed firestarter, the little brother of the mighty Blastmatch. It's not much larger than a disposable lighter, at about the same weight. (UST lists it at under an ounce, which feels pretty accurate.) The real genius of the design is that, unlike most ferro rods or flint and steel, the Sparkie takes minimal training to become proficient with.
Operation is wonderfully simple. Push the marked area to release the spring-loaded rod, then hold pressure on that same area while driving the body of the Sparkie vertically down into your tinder. With my favorite tinder (jute twine, dryer lint, and dry grass), I normally have fire within three strokes. It's also completely functional when wet or cold, which is when you need fire the most.
It really is that fast and easy. Even Erin, who claims to be poor at making fire*, could readily get flame with this. Mine goes with me in my EDC backpack. I recommend them to everyone, and I'll be adding another to my backpacking gear when I reassemble it for next season.
* Hey! I never said that! I said I suck at keeping a fire lit. There's a difference, you know! -- Erin
FCC: I bought it with my own cash. I love it because it's awesome. Nobody paid me to say nice things, they just made good gear at a good price. Buzz off.