> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Battle of the Firestarters: Bear Grylls vs. StrikeForce



Battle of the Firestarters: Bear Grylls vs. StrikeForce

The challenger and the champion: On the left, the Bear Grylls firestarter. On the right, the StrikeForce.
The Ultimate Survival Technologies StrikeForce fire starter has been generally considered to be one of the best (if not the best) ferro rod fire starters on the market. It is made of durable plastic, comes with a built in scraper and has a compartment for storing tinder. It is, however, a bit pricey over $20. With their Bear Grylls series, Gerber jumped on the opportunity to offer a similar product at a substantial discount - the Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter, which sells for under $12.

The question was inevitable - which is the better buy?

We compared the two firestarters on a head to head basis through 5 hard-fought rounds to figure out which firestarter was the best of the best. Want the details? Click on the link below to find out.

For a $12 fire starter, the Bear Grylls firestarter has a lot going for it.
ROUND 1 - Size/Weight: The Bear Grylls firestarter is noticeably narrower and easier to carry than the bulky StrikeForce. The Strikeforce comes across as bigger than it needs to be, and could certainly be slimmed down if it was not built around having a large storage space in the handle - big enough to fit a WetFire cube. Weight is comparable between the two - I need to dig up a scale to compare.

Winner - Size/Weight: Bear Grylls firestarter

ROUND 2 - Tinder Capacity: As mentioned, the StrikeForce has a Wetfire-cube sized compartment in the handle. While Wetfire is good stuff, my preferred tinder is Tinder-Quik tinder, which is much smaller, lights easier and also burns when wet. I was able to cram a dozen pieces of tinder into the StrikeForce, with some room leftover to spare. The Bear Grylls firestart has a smaller compartment and was only able to hold three pieces of Tinder-Quik. However, that's three fires worth of tinder - not bad at all. However, due to the greater storage capacity, the StrikeForce comes out on top.

Winner - Tinder Capacity: StrikeForce firestarter

The StrikeForce stuffed with a dozen pieces of Tinder-Quik
Bear Grylls Firestarter jammed with three pieces of Tinder-Quik.
ROUND 3 - Build Quality: Both of these tools are pretty well built and rugged; the Bear Grylls has a slightly rubbery feel to it and actually feels like it would be less prone to shattering than the StrikeForce if dropped from height onto a hard surface. The tinder storage compartment on the StrikeForce feels like it might wear out with extensive use; there are just two narrow plastic lips that keep it in place. On the other hand, the StrikeForce is to easier open/close. The Bear Grylls firestarter can be a bit of a hassle to snap closed - and that goes for both the tinder compartment and the firestarter itself. The StrikeForce has a thicker ferro rod - a big, beefy one. The Bear Grylls ferro rod is fine and will be good for thousands of sparks, though, so no points off from me.

Winner - Build Quality: Draw!

ROUND 4 - Extras: The lanyard that comes with the StrikeForce is also a piece of junk; it's too short and made from cheap cord. The StrikeForce comes with a single WetFire cube and that's it. The Bear Grylls lanyard is of higher quality and comes with a built-in whistle. The Bear Grylls firestarter also has some basic emergency signaling written on it and comes with a decent little survival booklet. Finally, the Bear Grylls starter comes with a free cotton ball (woohoo!) in the tinder compartment.

Winner - Extras: Bear Grylls firestarter

ROUND 5 - Fire Starting: This is why you buy the thing in the first place, right? This is also category where the StrikeForce blows the Bear Grylls firestarter out of the water. It's all due to the striker. The StrikeForce has a far superior striker - some sort of carbide steel, I think; the Bear Grylls striker is thin, cheap and not particularly "grippy" on the ferro rod. The StrikeForce throws an excellent stream of sparks, every time. The Bear Grylls firestarter pales by comparison, with the inferior striker struggling to throw a decent stream of sparks. The BG is hit-or-miss while the StrikeForce shines. It's really too bad that Gerber didn't put a better striker on the Bear Grylls; I will probably add an aftermarket carbide striker to use in its place. As is, the StrikeForce blows it away and is the clear bet for actual fire starting duties.

Winner - Fire Starting: StrikeForce

Final Verdict: The Bear Grylls firestarter does a lot right, but has lackluster performance in actual firestarting duties. If Gerber replaced BG starter's current striker with a better (high carbon) one, they would have a winner on their hands, especially considering the price difference between the two products. Currently, the StrikeForce, even at $10 more, is the clear choice. The Bear Grylls firestarter should give Ultimate Survival Technologies a few things to think about.

Final Verdict: StrikeForce Wins!

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