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Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife > Test Report by Derek Hansen

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Photo courtesy lightmyfire.com

Light My Fire — Swedish FireKnife

Test Series by Derek Hansen

TESTER INFORMATION

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NameDerek Hansen
Age36
GenderMale
Height5' 10" (1.78 m)
Weight175 lb (79 kg)
Email Address pix-obfuscated
City, State, CountryFlagstaff, Arizona, USA

BACKPACKING BACKGROUND

I am a lightweight backpacker with a typical overnight pack weight of 15 lb (7 kg) and a multi-day weight of 20 lb (9 kg), which includes food and water. Because I pack less than 20 lb (9 kg), I prefer lightweight trail-running shoes. I prefer backpacking with a hammock as part of my sleep system.


PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer Light My Fire
Year of Manufacture 2012, made in Sweden
Distributor’s Website lightmyfire.com
MSRP $39.99 USD
Listed Features
  • Flexible and sturdy profile-grounded blade.
  • Sheath with clip.
  • High-friction rubber handle
  • Includes an original Swedish FireSteel firestarter;
  • Lights campfires, gas-stoves, gas-barbecues.
  • Works equally well when wet.
  • Predictable performance at all altitudes.
  • Produces a 2,980°C (5,400°F) spark.
Manufacturer Recommendations
  1. Take a small quantity of cotton balls, TinderDust, dryer lint, or any other flammable material. Build them up into a pile.

    1. Grip the FireSteel with one hand,
    2. Take hold of the striker/knife with the other hand,
    3. Position the striker/spine of knife against the FireSteel rod.
  2. Force the striker/spine of knife 'slowly down' with the thumb of hand holding the FireSteel.
Measurements
Specifications What They Say What I Say
Weight (in sheath) 3.4 oz (94 g) 3.9 oz (110.6 g)
Dimensions 10 cm (3.75 in) blade length 10 cm (3.75 in) blade length
12 cm (4.75 in) handle length
Colors Black, Red, Orange, Blue, Green
Sizes One size
Warranty Industrial Revolution, Inc. warrants that the product shall be free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal use for the life of the product. This limited warranty applies to the original Purchaser only and is non-transferable.
Materials Polypropylene, 12C27 stainless steel, Magnesium alloy


INITIAL REPORT

3 May 2012

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

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The Industrial Revolution Swedish FireKnife is a combination stainless steel blade with a magnesium striker embedded in the handle. The handle and sheath are formed out of polypropylene. The magnesium striker is also mounted on a polypropylene grip that inserts into the end of the handle and twists to lock into place.

A length of accessory cord is threaded through the striker.

The blade is simple with a flat top and a sharp edge that tapers to the point.

The sheath is also made from polypropylene and is moulded into a single piece. The knife fits and snaps into place in the sheath in only one direction. On the back of the sheath is a curved belt clip.

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INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I've been a long-time match and lighter user and even enjoy making fires out of flint and steel with char cloth, with only brief interactions with magnesium strikers. To be honest, I generally dismissed them as "cheating" when it came to fire starting. After several years of wet matches and failed lighters, I'm jumping head-first into magnesium strikers and I'm genuinely impressed. Testing the Swedish FireKnife has made me an easy convert to the ease with which I can ignite fires, including my stove.

To use the knife with the magnesium striker, I use the broad, flat top edge of the knife (not the sharp edge!) and apply force as I drag the knife over the magnesium to create the sparks. I also had my kids try it with me and found that it doesn't take a lot of pressure to get it to work, but the angle and pressure are important to get a nice spark.

I really like that the striker and knife are combined and lock together securely when not in use. The striker fits in the handle nicely and twists to lock.

I was a little underwhelmed when I first pulled the knife out of the sheath. I guess I was expecting a larger, maybe wider blade. I think the size of the sheath gives the appearance of a bigger blade inside. I'm no knife expert, so I can't talk technically about the qualities of the blade, other than it feels very durable and sharp. I don't normally carry large knives--folding or sheathed--but I am looking forward to trying a few things with this blade beyond just lighting fires.

The other thing I'm not really impressed with is the sheath. The moulded plastic gives the entire piece a juvenile feel, almost feels like a toy. The belt clip is handy, but it limits how I can easily attach the knife to my pack or clothing. While the knife "snaps" in the sheath, I would feel more comfortable if the sheath had a restraining strap. I've seen some backpackers attach knives like this to shoulder straps or on a lanyard around their neck. I'd like to try this too, because I don't want it strapped to my hip since my pack's hip belt will interfere. I'd like to have the knife accessible, so I'll see where I can get it clipped. I may have to use a second strap to attach the sheath to a shoulder strap, for example.

INITIAL SUMMARY

Overall, the FireKnife feels durable and well-made. The magnesium striker is impressive and I can't wait to try this out in the field.

PRO—Comfortable grip; strong, sharp blade; amazing fire striker.

CON—The polypropylene sheath feels like a toy.

FIELD REPORT

24 Jul 2011

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've taken the FireKnife on a few day hikes and on more than six overnight backpacking trips in the last few months.

May 5-6: Flagstaff, Arizona. No moisture, just a hot, dry day in Flagstaff. The high temperature was 72°F (22°C) and the overnight low was 45°F (7°C). Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,130 m).

May 15-19: Damascus, Virginia. I participated in the Appalachian Trail Days and backpacked and camped along the Appalachian Trail every night (I only hiked about 2 miles (3 km) each day to return to town). I enjoyed the refreshing humidity and rain showers. Elevation was 2,400 ft (732 m).

May 24-26: Near Heber, Utah. Backpacked 4 mi (6 km) at an elevation of 8,000 ft (2,440 m). I experienced a wide-range of temperatures and conditions including rain, hail, deep fog, and sun. Temperatures ranged widely from near freezing to the 70s°F (20s°C).

Jun 22-23: Kachina Peaks Wilderness, Flagstaff, Arizona. I spent the weekend with Kurt backpacking the San Francisco Peaks. We hiked 26 mi (42 km). Elevation ranged from 8,000 ft (2,438 m) to 12,635 ft (3,851 m) at the summit. It was hot, dry, and very windy at the summit.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

When I backpacked the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, I commented to my hiking partner that using this knife has taken some getting used to. I typically bring the tiny Victorinox Swiss Army knife, or maybe a small folding knife. In fact, this is one of the first times I've actually carried a sheath knife for any length of time. I've poked and sliced myself (only minor) on a few occasions when trying to remove or replace the knife in the sheath.

I may be exposing myself to ridicule admitting this, but it is worth noting that that it requires extra care to keep the blade in check since I'm not used to it.

I've used the knife on multiple occasions, primarily to cut and prepare food. If I've used the knife as a striker, I need to take care to wipe the blade as the magnesium leaves a trace on the blade that I don't want to contaminate my food.

The knife is exceptionally sharp and has kept its edge well. I've used the knife to whittle wood, make willow whistles, prepare fire sticks, and cut tomatoes. I haven't felt the need to sharpen the blade yet.

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The magnesium striker is fantastic. I have no complaints at all, although it sometimes takes some fiddling to twist the striker off. I used the striker to ignite all sorts of gas-powered stoves ranging from my mini alcohol stoves to large, two-burner propane stoves at base camp. When family or friends questioned whether it would work, I've enjoyed surprising them with a quick strike from the FireKnife. I think my match days are over.

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During the Heber camp, I made several fires using charred cloth and bark. The FireKnife makes so many sparks that catching them on the charred cloth is easy and makes easy work of this time-honored fire kindling.

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On my current pack, I've found that carrying the knife on my sternum strap has made the most sense. The knife doesn't fit over the padded hip belt and I prefer to have the knife accessible instead of hidden away in a side pocket. The knife clips securely in the sheath and I've never had to worry about the knife falling out while hiking.

FIELD USE SUMMARY

The blade is very sturdy and sharp, but it has taken some time to get used to the fixed blade to ensure I don't poke or cut myself while removing or storing it in the sheath. The striker is amazing and I couldn't be happier with its fire-making abilities.


LONG TERM REPORT

18 Sep 2012

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've taken the FireKnife on three additional overnight trips and a few day hikes, totaling more than 40 miles of backpacking.

Aug 9-10, 17-18: Coconino National forest, near Flagstaff, Arizona. These were both family camping trips with minimal hiking. Elevation was 7,000 ft (2,100 m).

Aug 24-25: Sycamore Canyon, near Williams, Arizona. The elevation was 6,500 ft (2,000 m). During the night, the temperature dropped into the mid-50s °F (10 °C).

Sep 3: Mount Elden, Flagstaff, Arizona. I went on a 10.5-mile (17 km) day hike with my children. We had lunch once we made it to the ridge. The temperature was in the 70s °F (21 °C), but a storm was threatening, which forced us to quickly go down the mountain. Heavy rain and hail greeted us when we made it back to the car, but luckily we only endured misting rain on the trail.

Sep 14-15: Kachina Peaks Wilderness, Flagstaff, Arizona. I joined a Venture Crew on a 20-mile (32 km) backpacking trip along the Inner Basin Trail and the Weatherford Trail. The overnight low was in the upper 30s °F (3 °C) and around 70 °F (21 °C) in the day. Elevation ranged from 8,600 to 11,300 ft (2,530 to 3,400 m).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My 4-year-old son is probably the most enamored of my kids by the knife. He affectionately refers to it as the "fire-knife" and is often asking if he can look at it (he stopped handling it when it accidentally sliced his finger on the blade--my mistake). I try to be very careful about keeping this knife safe and out of sight.

During our family camping trips, we have made several small fires and my son watches intently as I strike the magnesium. On two occasions, I didn't bring any homemade fire starters so I had to use natural materials we found in the forest. Thankfully we found some nice Juniper bark that made great tinder. With a fire starter, like charred cloth, I make a nest with roughed-up bark and place the cloth inside. It only takes a small spark (one strike from the FireKnife) on the charred cloth, then to get flames it takes only a few dozen determined breaths. Without the cloth, I struck the FireKnife multiple times and built up a pile of magnesium shavings and sparks and eventually started a fire. I was elated that it worked and it built my confidence in starting fires without pre-made fire starters. I've now made a few fires in this manner. The FireKnife has really performed well for me and given me confidence to build fires without much planning.

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I was tested again to make fires au-natural during my day hike with my kids on Mount Elden. I regret to say I lied about the hiking distance to my kids. What I said was a "4-mile" (6.4 km) day hike was really a 10.5-mile (17 km) event. My kids were stallions, and I'm very proud of them, but they were tired and hungry when we reached our half-way point on the top of the mountain. I packed a small alcohol stove that I planned to start with the FireKnife, but what I thought was a bottle of denatured alcohol turned out to be water. My kids needed nourishment, which needed to be cooked, so my only choice was to make a small fire. Without homemade fire-starters, I was forced to improvise. Thankfully the FireKnife pulled through and my kids enjoyed a hot meal (which really boosted their spirits).

As for the blade, I received the best compliment for it during a Boy Scout overnight camp in August. My second leader, who is an avid and well-traveled sportsman, asked to borrow my knife. This is a person who will spare no expense to buy top-of-the-line equipment, so when he remarked, "this is a sharp knife!" I ended any doubts I had about the blade. My own experience has proven to me that the knife keeps a sharp edge through a lot of carving, cutting, and whittling. I've yet to sharpen the knife.

For most of my hikes I carry the FireKnife on my sternum strap. I found that most of my packs have a small loop on the strap that is sewn with some elastic that provides a nice area where I can clip the sheath. In this way, the knife stays accessible and yet doesn't slide or get in the way of my pack. On a few occasions I've clipped the knife to my belt, but I mostly carry the knife while backpacking.

A few comments about durability. The striker is sometimes difficult to turn and pull out of the handle. The sheath's belt clip is showing signs of bending right at the curve: white stretch marks snake around the plastic. Nothing has failed yet, but this is one area I'm watching.

FINAL SUMMARY

I really like this knife. I worried about the fixed blade initially, but I think I've become more comfortable with using it, although I still need more practice wielding it. I like the sharp blade, and I absolutely love the magnesium striker.

PRO—Holds a sharp edge, great fire starter.

CON—Plastic sheath is showing signs of wear. The striker is sometimes hard to turn.


I would like to thank Light My Fire and BackpackGearTest.org for providing me with the opportunity to test this product.



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Reviews > Knives > Fixed Blade > Light My Fire Swedish FireKnife > Test Report by Derek Hansen



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