FIRESTEEL.COM GOBSPARK ARMAGEDDON
BY DAVID WILLOBY
October 15, 2012
Central Ohio, USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
185 lb (83.90 kg)
I started backpacking just over a year ago. The majority of my trips are three-day, two-night excursions in the Midwest or Appalachian regions in three-season weather. We try to keep to moderate trails, and usually about 10 miles (16 km) per day. My pack weight usually ends up at about 45 pounds (20 kg.) I want to get that down a bit, without giving up too much comfort. I like to hike in a small group, usually three to eight guys, or with my wife and three children.
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: Firesteel.com
Listed Weight: 1.7 oz (48 g)
Measured Weight: 1.6 oz (45 g)
Listed Length: 4-1/2 inches long (11.4 cm) - Measured accurate
Handle is available in either Black or Cherry Red.
550 paracord lanyard included, which adds about 2 grams (0.07 oz) to the total weight. It is approximately 11 inches (28 cm) long.
Diameter of Rod: 0.375 inches (9.5 mm)
|GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel|
The rod of the GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel by firesteel.com (the firesteel) is made of a ferrocerium formula that will create "gobs" of sparks. Ferrocerium is a man-made material and is more commonly called ferro rod or Auermetall. When I received the firesteel, the rod was a flat black color. As I began to use it, the black wore off and revealed a shiny silver color.
This firesteel seems like it is designed to be held in a different direction than most firesteels that I've seen. Most firesteels that I have seen are designed to be held in the palm, extending perpendicular to the fingers, or with a small handle that is pinched between the thumb and index finger. The handle of this firesteel is oval-shaped with the rod connecting to the long end of the oval. I find it easiest to hold the handle in a fist, with the rod extending out between my fingers.
For an additional US$3.99, I was able to add a matching Palm Scraper, which adds about 0.75 ounces (21 g) to the total weight. The handle is 3 inches (7.62 cm) long with a hardened metal striker extending an additional 0.625 inches (1.59 cm) on one end. The Palm Scraper also has a hollow interior that is designed as a cover for the firesteel rod. It slides over the rod and clicks into place, holding the pieces together. The total length of the firesteel with the Palm Scraper attached is 5 inches (12.7 cm).
|The Palm Scraper|
I carried this firesteel on about 8 nights of overnight hikes this year, and used it almost exclusively to light my fires. Before purchasing this firesteel, I had only used one firesteel, and my experience with it was limited.
I used the GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel in temperatures ranging from 30 F to 90 F (-1 C to 32 C) and at elevations ranging from 1300 feet to 3200 feet (400 m to 975 m). I used it to light fires in mostly clear, calm weather, but also used it in light rain, wind, and a variety of humidity levels.
I tried several different tinders, but had the highest success rate with a cotton ball soaked with petroleum jelly. I tear the cotton ball apart to make the "target" larger, and then hold the firesteel stable over the cotton ball. I strike the Palm Scraper down the firesteel rod towards the tinder.
I also used the firesteel to ignite both my canister stove and my alcohol stove. With the alcohol stove, I struck the firesteel directly toward the alcohol, and with the canister stove, I opened the stove valve, and struck the firesteel towards the burner.
The only issue that I had was that the rod began to work its way loose from the handle after a lot of use. In using the firesteel, I pulled the striker down the metal rod, away from the handle. The rod is held in the handle only by the friction between the metal rod and the polymer handle. Using this for the entire season, this only happened once, but it concerned me. It is easy to put back in, but I wouldn't want it falling out while I'm using the firesteel. I'm concerned that if this happens repeatedly, this condition may deteriorate, and this may loosen further.
I have found this firesteel to be very easy to use. It doesn't take a fast strike to generate a lot of sparks. I have found that using a slower, more deliberate strike allows me to apply more constant pressure to the striker, giving me greater accuracy with the sparks, and more of them. A good strike always generates a lot of big sparks, and the sparks seem to glow on the ground for a short time before going out.
Using the petroleum jelly and cotton balls, the task of starting a fire was made much simpler. Only a few times did I have to strike this firesteel more than once in order to get the cotton ball to ignite. In the mild wind and rain that I encountered, I didn't have any issues generating lots of sparks from the firesteel.
Lighting the alcohol stove was very easy. I don't like sticking a match down into an alcohol stove. This clear fuel, which also burns clear, makes me nervous when putting my hand down into the stove with a lit match. Using the firesteel, I could strike the firesteel toward the fuel, lighting it without getting my hands close enough to get burned.
Attempting to light the canister stove with the firesteel produced mixed results. I was able to get it lit several times, but sometimes it took three or four strikes. I didn't like leaving the stove valve open that long while I struggled to get the stove lit. Given the choice, I would choose to light the canister stove with either a match or an electronic ignition source.
In regards to durability, there is visible wear on this firesteel after about 6 months of use. The side of the firesteel that I've used is visibly flattened from use. However, this hasn't affected the performance of the firesteel, and may even enhance its performance by allowing greater surface contact between the firesteel and the striker. The striker shows no sign of wear and tear. At the rate that it was worn down, I'm certain that I will get many years of use out of it.
I have been very pleased with the GobSpark Armageddon FireSteel. This particular model seems larger than a lot of firesteels on the market, but the plastic polymer used in the handle and Palm Scraper keeps this package very lightweight. The paracord lanyard is convenient for attaching the firesteel to a pack or a belt loop.
|The Whole Package|
This firesteel throws a bunch of big, bright sparks. It comes through on all of the promises that it will produce a massive amount of sparks. Having used this for several months now, I know that this will travel with me for a very long time. In addition, I'm certain that I'll buy a backup, just in case I lose this one. I also plan to explore some of the other products that this company offers.
THINGS I LIKE
Lots of big, bright sparks.
Both the handle and the Palm Scraper fit easily in my hands.
The name just screams of fiery emanations.
It's fun to use.
The reaction of my friends when I use this after sundown.
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
The rod working its way loose from the handle after a lot of use.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
Read more reviews of Firesteel.com gear
Read more gear reviews by David Willoby