Ultimate Survival Sparkie Fire Starter Review
Ultimate Survival is well known for for emergency fire starting products like the BlastMatch Fire Starter and Wet Fire Tinder. I recently picked up their Sparkie Mini Fire Starter to test out as a possible addition to a survival kit. It is designed to be a lightweight, waterproof way to start a fire that can be used with only one hand. The Sparkie has two main parts, a spring loaded ferro rod in a plastic holder and a plastic handle with a built in metal striker.
The Sparkie handle is both lightweight and compact. It takes up about the same amount of pocket space as a car remote key fob. The ferro rod and plastic rod holder can be pushed all the way into the handle and stored inside. The body is mostly plastic with a metal insert that serves as a striker. The orange part of the unit is a rubber jacket that does a good job in providing a positive gripping surface. Although we have not had any specific problems with ours yet, it is built to be lightweight and feels as though it would be a good idea to treat it rather gently.
To make sparks, you have to hold the unit at somewhere between a 75 to 90 degree angle. Then place the end of the ferro rod holder against a hard surface and rapidly press the handle down, so the striker scrapes across the top of the ferro rod. The orange rubber jacket is labeled “PUSH” where you need to apply pressure with your thumb in order to get the best results. If you push down quickly and have the end of the rod on a hard surface, the Sparkie will throw a good shower of sparks. It is possible to make sparks by just using a finger to push the rod into the handle, but the results are unimpressive.
It is certainly possible to start a fire with the Sparkie. However, it really is not much easier than using a separate ferro rod and metal striker, assuming that you’ve had about five minutes worth of practice with both systems. The biggest concern with the Sparkie is the need to rest the end of the ferro rod holder against something hard in order to get it to spark well. When I first opened the package and was playing with the Sparkie on my desk, it worked great. I still have some Post-It notes with little, charred holes in them. But, outside, where a flat, hard working surface is not always available, it just did not perform that well. Also, small tender pieces, like fatwood shavings, wanted to scatter around, rather than catch on fire when the Sparkie was used. We had the best results when using tinder that you could partially trap under the end of the ferro rod holder, like thin paper or cotton fluff.
Basically, if you are searching for a fire starter that will easily light whatever you can find, then there are better options, like the BlastMatch or a plain ferro rod. The Sparkie might not be a bad choice, as part of a fire starting kit. But, I would not want to be in a situation where I had to scrounge up tinder and it was my only ignition option. If you plan to carry a Sparkie, plan to carry tinder.