Gear Review – Fatwood Firesteel

It’s always cool when some smart guy combines a great piece of equipment with something that makes total sense.  Take for instance the fire steel with a fatwood handle.  Yep, you heard that right.  A fella named Jon Bressler did just that and sent me one for review.

As soon as it arrived I grabbed it and went out into the woods.  Well, it had been raining and everything was soaked.  I quickly gathered the components I needed for a fire, split some wood with my knife to get to the dry stuff inside, whittled some of that dry stuff into a pile and then pulled out the new firesteel.

It comes with a piece of metal attached that you can use to strike the ferrocium rod for a spark and you could probably use it to whittle some of the fatwood off the handle.  I pulled out my knife and keeping in mind the symmetry of the handle I whittled a piece off the edge, then turned it a little and whittled another piece off.  That way I wasn’t making the handle uneven and hard to hold.  I made a pile of shavings about the size of a silver dollar and a half-inch high – remember, the wood was wet.

Then I put the firesteel up to the fatwood and struck it a few times until I got a sizable spark.  Nothing.  What the….?  In the video he gets it n the first try!  It took me about five strikes until I finally got a fire.  Now, if you’ve ever used a firesteel you know I’m talking tongue-in-cheek here.  There have been times on wet days or even damp days that I’ve had to strike thirty or forty times to get a fire using all natural available materials.

So to get a quick, hot flame was awesome.  I quickly moved my other tinder on top of it and within minutes I had a merry blaze burning away.


For you flatlanders who might not know what fatwood is, it’s simply a type of resiny wood that burns extremely well.  The first time I saw some was in North Carolina.  We had a foxhole set up next to a tree that had been blown over in a hurricane and where the tree had broken off there were huge pieces of broken wood jutting out.

I was looking it over and the first thing I noticed was the rich smell it gave off.  When I touched it, it felt kind of sticky, always a good thing for a fire starter.  Curious, I pulled a piece of the wood off and lit it with my lighter.  To my surprise it started burning almost as well as a torch.  The guy I was on guard duty with couldn’t have cared less, but even back then I thought it was the next best thing to magic.  I pulled off a few good pieces of that fatwood and stuck in my ALICE pack and used it to light fires (whenever we were allowed) for the rest of the field op.

Another Test

The other day I went out to my camp and made a short video showing me starting a fire using the fatwood firesteel.  Check it out:

As you can see the wood catches extremely fast and I had a nice fire going in under a minute.  Keep in mind this was in wet conditions too.

If you’d like more information contact John Bressler at

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

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