My wife likes to say that little boys just grow up to be bigger little boys. And as I sit here striking the spine of my knife against this Exotac FireRod for the pure enjoyment of watching the sparks fly, I’m starting to think she might be right. I think I’m okay with that.
There are countless ferro rods on the market, but there’s a good reason why the Exotac FireRod is one of the most loved and respected. It’s also one of the more expensive ferrocerium fire starters out there, but there’s a good reason for that too. It’s simply the best.
What makes the Exotac FireRod stand out compared to the umpteen competitors and knock-offs you could potentially buy instead? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Bang for Your Buck
The FireRod retails for around $30, which I’ll admit is a lot to spend on a fire starter. But all ferro rods are not greeted equal, and this particular tool has some unique design features that separate it from the pack.
There are ferro rods that toss out a fine spritz of little sparks, and there are ferro rods that throw red-hot fiery gobs of molten metal that burn long and hot. This is one of the latter.
The ferro rod that comes with the Exotac is a bit softer than a run-of-the-mill ferrocerium, and it throws big, hot sparks that burn at nearly 5,500°F, which is a higher temperature than my brain can really comprehend. Suffice to say, it lights tinder like a charm. The 5/16″ diameter ferro rod measures 3 inches long, and is designed for up to 5,000 starting strikes.
Refillable Ferro Rod
It’ll take you a while to get to 5,000 strikes, but all good things must eventually come to an end. One of the things I really love about the Exotac is that the ferro rod is replaceable. Once it’s spent, you simply unscrew it from the handle and screw in a new one.
Replacement ferrocerium rods are available from Exotac for around $10, which allows you to extend the lifespan of your FireROD indefinitely. In an age when seemingly everything is made to be disposable, it’s refreshing to see a product that genuinely tries to stand the test of time, and succeeds.
Tinder Storage Capsule
Here’s something I really love about the Exotac FireROD: the end of the handle unscrews to reveal a tinder storage capsule, inside of which you can store your tinder of choice. I’m a huge fan of Procamptek’s Ultimate Fire Tinder which we reviewed here, and have gotten into the habit of keeping a pinch or two in the handle of my FireRod.
The FireROD also comes with a couple of Exotac quickLIGHT cotton tinder knots stuffed into the handle, and they light beautifully with a spark from the ferro rod. The attached lanyard can also serve as tinder in a pinch.
Waterproof and Durable
The tinder storage capsule wouldn’t be much use if it didn’t keep your tinder dry. Fortunately, you won’t have any trouble with that. The handle incorporates an O-ring to create a watertight seal, effectively protecting your tinder from moisture.
I let my FireROD sit in a bucket of water for 24 hours; the tinder was still dry when I took it out, and the ferrocerium still threw a mean spark. The handle is also made or rugged, CNC machined, USA high-grade 6061 anodized aluminum, which is tough enough to withstand all kinds of abuse.
Compact and Lightweight
Last but not least, the Exotac FireROD weighs just 1 oz, which is practically nothing. It’s great for hikers and backpackers trying to keep their pack weight down, or for anyone who simply doesn’t want to lug any more than they have to into the backcountry.
The FireROD is also small enough to stow into a tiny space in your pack, in a fire starter kit, or simply carry in your pocket. I’ve even heard of guys who choose to wear it around their necks, which is a great way to always have it handy when you need it.
Final Thoughts on the Exotac FerroRod
Look, I’m not one to sugarcoat my reviews, and I can almost find something negative to say, even about gear that I really like. But I’m struggling to come up with a single criticism of the Exotac FireROD.
I guess if I really wanted to nitpick, I could point out that the small size of the FireROD makes it a little hard to use with gloved hands, and that the tinder storage compartment doesn’t hold all that much tinder. But you know what? Exotac also makes a FireROD XL that’s bigger and has a larger storage capacity, so there you go.
Ultimately, not everybody wants to spend $30 on a fire starter. I totally get that, and that’s okay. There are plenty of perfectly adequate budget-friendly alternatives out there which will do the job just fine. In fact, the knife I’ve mostly been testing the Exotac with—purely because I happen to be reviewing them both around the same time—has been the BPS Knives Adventurer Bushcraft Knife, which actually comes with its own ferro rod.
But the Exotac FireRod isn’t a fire starter that’s meant to be used for a year and then thrown away. It’s one of the highest quality ferrocerium rods I’ve seen, and I’m looking forward to using it for a very long time.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.