If you spend any time in the woods you need a Flint Fire Starter. Butane lighters are affected by temperature and moisture. Much like pressurized fuel canisters, butane looses pressure as it gets cold. Therefore, reducing the size of the flame to the point where the pressure is not enough to sustain a flame.
I was a smoker and I have had many a butane lighter fail to light when it was cold. I would have to hold the lighter in my hands or in my armpit to warm it up enough to light.
You can use waterproof matches contained in a waterproof holder but you have a very limited amount of attempts to start a fire. You eventually run out of matches. All you have to do is shake or wipe the water off a piece of flint and it will create sparks to start a fire.
You can also use other methods such as concave and convex lenses and rubbing sticks but those methods are time consuming and rely on the sun or expel a lot of your energy.
Flints are the easiest and most reliable method found so far.
Flint is a natural stone that is harder than steel. Most people think the flint is what causes the spark, when in reality it is the steel that is burning. When steel is struck or rubbed against flint, friction breaks off tiny shards of steel and the temperature caused by the friction ignites the steel. You see the shards of steel igniting.
The shards of steel will ignite other combustible material if the sparks last long enough. Soft steel will create a lot of sparks but they burn out quickly. Sparks from hard steel last longer but are hard to create in sufficient amount to ignite other material. You have to find a piece of steel that has the right amount of hardness.
The hardness of steel is measured in Rockwell, where the best hardness of steel for lighting fires is between 80 to 85 Rockwell. Most knives are hardened to a Rockwell of above 96 then annealed back to under 90 Rockwell. If a knife blade is too hard it will easily break but if it is too soft it will not hold an edge. That is why you can use a knife and a flint to start a fire.
The problem is you end up damaging your knife. If you have to use your knife, use the backside of the blade, do not use the sharpened edge or the serrated portion.
Because flint is hard it is brittle. You should not strike the flint with force; rather quickly rub the steel along the flint. It is the speed that creates the sparks, not the force. If you hit the flint at a steep angle it could break the flint. The best angle is around 15 degrees using a tender grip on the steel. A tender grip will reduce the impact force on the flint. Aim the steel at a sharp edge of the flint.
GobSpark flint fire starters are engineered to create the most amount of sparks and the strikers are tempered to produce the most amount of sparks that last the longest to ignite many types of combustible material.
You can buy flint fire starters in various sizes, where the smallest will be the least expensive. The most popular is the GobSpark FireSteel Ranger. It is lightweight and comes with a lanyard and striker. The 1 / 4 diameter makes it light but it can break with a good strike from a heavy piece of steel. The 3 inch length makes it easy to use with it's attached striker, however, it would be hard to use with a large piece of steel.
The Gobspark Firesteel is a more durable with a diameter of 3 / 8 inch but the length of 3 inches still restricts the size of the steel used. Your fingers will use the top 1 inch holding the fire starter.
The FireSteel is heavier and longer at 3 / 8 diameter and 4 inches long. Both the flint and the striker are attached to a 24 inch lanyard. The longer length makes it easier to hold and allows a larger piece of steel to be used, even though; the striker is designed for maximum spark output.
The lanyard is 24 inches long and made of mil spec 550 paracord. The sparks created with the striker are over 5500 degrees Fahrenheit. The total weight of the fire starter is 1.6 ounces.
The FireSteel Bunker is a massive 1 / 2 inch diameter and 5 inches long. The Bunker comes with a predrilled lanyard hole, 26 inch lanyard made of 550 paracord and a Super Scraper. Because of the size it is easy to hang onto and create a huge amount of sparks.
The sparks are over 5500 degrees Fahrenheit and the whole unit weighs 3.6 ounces. Eventually fire starters wear out by becoming dull but you will never wear out this fire starting behemoth.
The BlastMatch Fire Starter was created for the pilots in our military. It is designed to be used by one hand in the event of injury. The sparks are 3 times hotter than a lit match and can be used over 1000 times.
The Blast Match uses a tungsten steel internal striker and comes with a protective cover to keep the flint rod clean. The flint rod rotates so it is not worn in the same spot, prolonging the life of the rod. The cover rotates over the back of the unit and gives you a comfortable grip.
To use, simply press the thumb lever in to put the tungsten steel against the spring loaded flint rod. Place the flint rod in your pile of dry tinder. Push the whole unit towards the tinder pile allowing the rod to retract into the handle. The spring will push the rod back out for another use.
This design allows the large amount of sparks to be targeted directly into your tinder.