The rudiments of making a fire – heat, fuel and oxygen – are simple enough but often, if you’re away from civilisation, it can be an incredibly complex operation. For those braving the elements there are two methods that, before the invention of the match in 1805, were used for thousands of years – friction and percussion. Friction involves rapidly grinding combustible material together, like wood, but requires considerable skill and often depends greatly on the conditions. Percussion, on the other hand, is relatively easier and requires striking a piece of carbon steel with rocks like flint.
Favoured by survival experts, the Swedish FireSteel is a percussion striker designed to be used in any weather. Developed for the Swedish Department of Defence, the second generation of the FireSteel can create sparks with a temperature of 2,980ºC, easily enough to start a fire in the worst conditions and the highest altitudes. The new design also includes large ergonomic handles for use when wearing gloves and even an emergency whistle.