Gathering around a campfire to swap stories, make s’mores, or just enjoy the outdoors is one of the simple joys of camping. But getting a campfire started can sometimes be a challenge. The good news, though, is that many campfire starter options are available for foolproof campfire lighting.
Read on for our recommendations on the best campfire starter options for a range of camping situations, from backpacking to glamping.
Our Top Picks
Sondiko Butane Torch S400
Best Budget Option:
Click n Flame Utility Lighter 4-Pack
Best for Car Camping:
Pull Start Fire Pull String Firestarter
If you’d like a campfire starter that can do much more than ignite a cozy blaze, your best choice is the refillable Sondiko Butane Torch S400. While it can do basic fire starting chores, the Sondiko torch can also handle some cooking chores and light your camp stove.
For safety reasons, the required butane fuel is not included with your Sondiko Butane Torch when it is shipped. However, butane fuel is readily available for separate shipping from Amazon.
Once your Sondiko torch is fueled, all you’ll have to do is press a single button to light it. Once it is lit, you can adjust the flame to suit your needs.
- Butane refills last a long time
- High-powered torch flame
- Simple to use
- May take multiple attempts before lighting
- Sparking mechanism may not last as long as some users expect
- Some butane refill nozzles may not be compatible
Best Budget Option
At first glance, the Click n Flame package of four butane lighters doesn’t look particularly special. However, the package includes a wind-resistant lighter and a flexible utility lighter, along with two standard lighters. The specialty lighters make the Click n Flame set a great budget option as a campfire starter.
The wind-resistant lighter, of course, helps to get your campfire lit in windy conditions. The flexible utility lighter is designed to bend to direct its flame into awkward spots. That can be particularly useful when lighting the kindling sitting in the center of your campfire set-up.
Finally, the fact that this diversity of campfire starter options is available for a low cost represents true value. That’s why the Click n Flame lighter set earns our recommendation as the best budget option for campfire starters.
- Easy to see level of fuel remaining in lighters
- Child safety button is a welcome feature
- Good assortment of flame types
- Individual lighters may not last as long as some users expect
- Flame may fade quickly after lighting
- Possible that not all lighters in package will have wind-resistant flame feature
Best for Car Camping
It may seem like a novelty item, but the Pull Start pull-string campfire starter is a serious piece of camping gear. All you have to do to get your campfire going is to set the Pull Start in your wood and pull the string.
Seconds later, the special brick inside the Pull Start is ignited and set to burn for 30 minutes. That’s plenty of time for even wet wood to produce a roaring campfire. Available in packages of three, the Pull Start is ready to start a weekend’s worth of campfires.
The Pull Start earns our recommendation as the best campfire starter for car camping because it’s easy to toss a package or two in your vehicle as you’re heading outdoors. But there’s another reason the Pull Start made our list of recommended firestarters. Because no matches are required, having them on hand in emergencies is great.
- Good for lighting wet wood
- Great option for staring campfire in windy conditions
- Perfect campfire lighter for less-experienced campers
- Some firestarters may not ignite
- Pull strings may be subject to breakage
- May not be viable as an emergency fire-starting option
Best for Backpacking
At a weight of slightly more than a quarter-pound, the Bayite Drilled Flint Steel Firestarter is our recommendation for the best campfire starter for backpacking. Along with its lightweight, the Bayite firestarter’s 6-inch length produces plenty of hot sparks.
The Bayite firestarter is also very durable, good for an estimated 12,000 strikes before needing replacement. As an added bonus, the striker component of the Bayite firestarter is made of tool-grade steel to help produce an abundance of sparks.
In addition to being a great choice for backpacking, the Bayite firestarter could also serve as a backup firestarter for car camping.
- Produces lots of fire-starting sparks
- Great option for new firestarter rod users
- Easy to hold
- May require more force than some users can manage to produce sparks
- Longer rod might be helpful in producing sparks
- May be too heavy for some users
Best for Glamping
If you’d like to add a little style to your next glamping adventure, bring along an Iwatani PRO2 butane torch. Certainly, you can use it as a campfire starter, but there is much more to the Iwatani butane torch.
The Iwatani torch made our list of recommendations as the best campfire starter for glamping because it can also add a touch of elegance to glamping meals.
Want to put a little sear on your steaks? The Iwatani torch can do that. Like to roast some vegetables as part of a glamping dinner? The Iwatani torch is ready. Plus, it’s the perfect tool for finishing fish and chicken.
But it can also do a great job as a campfire starter, with an adjustable flame that can get all sorts of kindling and wood burning quickly.
- Produces a strong flame
- Stands up to very frequent use
- Great design, particularly for new users
- Butane canister not included with initial purchase
- Butane seal not well-designed and may leak
- For its cost, should be more durable
Best Campfire Starters Buyer’s Guide
A reliable tool for starting campfires is a must for any collection of camping gear. Read on for some guidance on the various campfire starter options.
Butane Campfire Starters
As you can see from our recommendations, campfire starters fueled with butane canisters are a great choice. But there are a couple of things to consider when contemplating the purchase of one of these starters.
First, select a butane campfire starter that has some mechanism for steering its flame. Often, it will take some maneuvering to direct a flame to the kindling at the center of your stacked campfire wood.
Also, if you opt for a butane-fueled campfire starter, you’ll need to be sure the valves on replacement canisters are compatible with your starter.
Ferrocerium Rod and Flint-and-Steel Campfire Starters
It takes some practice to use a ferrocerium rod or flint-and-steel campfire starter effectively. So, if that’s your choice, take some time at home to get familiar with how to generate sparks. You’ll also want to experiment with various types of tinder to catch those sparks.
And even when you are confident that you can use a ferrocerium rod or flint-and-steel, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup fire-starting method. A container of waterproof matches could fit that role nicely.
Other Types of Campfire Starters
In your search for the best campfire starter for yourself, you may come across interesting options like our recommended Pull Start pull-string firestarter. Before you commit to an alternate campfire starter, make sure you understand how it operates.
Best Campfire Starters Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you’ve learned something about campfire starter options, you may have more questions. Read on for some additional guidance on the best campfire starter for you.
Is it difficult to find butane canisters for campfire starters?
One of the issues you’ll face with a butane-fueled campfire starter is replacing the fuel canisters. The good news is that they are widely available.
Smaller butane canisters can be shipped from online retailers like Amazon, but you can also find them close to home. Big-box stores, hardware stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and auto repair shops are good places to look.
What is the best way to store butane canisters between uses?
Since you likely won’t be using your butane-fueled firestarter daily, it’s important to keep butane canisters safely stored in your home. Canisters should be stored in a cool, dry place with a temperature below 122 degrees.
However, you shouldn’t store butane canisters in your basement; wherever you store them should be well-ventilated.
Can anyone learn to use a ferrocerium rod or flint-and-steel campfire starter?
Using a ferrocerium rod or flint-steel campfire starter is a straightforward process. But there are some tips that can make it easier and more productive. With both methods, the goal is to produce sparks that will light tinder, which will, in turn, ignite your campfire.
Most ferrocerium rods come with a metal scraper to produce sparks. Or, you can use a sharp piece of metal or rock with the rod. Don’t use the edge of a knife blade, however, because there’s a real chance you’ll ruin the knife.
With flint-and-steel, the flint is a sharp rock struck with a piece of high-carbon steel. The key is to strike the steel with the flint at a 45-degree angle.
Wrapping Up the Best Campfire Starters
You should now be ready to decide what type of campfire starter is best for your camping needs. Just to remind you, our choice as the best overall campfire starter is the Sondiko Butane Torch S400.
- About the Author
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Jim Thompson grew up tent camping with his family, and was introduced to backpacking with the Boy Scouts. He attended a military college, where he was introduced to rappelling, an outdoor activity which he has not pursued.
Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia, and spent 35 years as a newspaper writer and editor before become a writer for Apple Pie Media.
Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org