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Best commercial survival firestarter? We test the Lightning-Strike ‘Napalm Tinder’

Best commercial survival firestarter? We test the Lightning-Strike ‘Napalm Tinder’

How important is a survival firestarter? Well, in some instances, it could be a gamechanger or lifesaver.

by Leon Pantenburg

I was not paid to do this review. HollandGuns.com is a SurvivalCommonSense.com sponsor, and supplied the sample “Napalm Tinder” for testing and review. All I ever promise anyone is a fair product test, and I won’t help sell an item I wouldn’t use myself.
Your ability to start a fire can save your life. The inability can cost it.

“Napalm Tinder” by Lightning-Strike, is a reliable survival firestarter.

That’s me, quoting me, several years ago, when I was interviewed on a survival show. Of all the skills a person needs to survive in virtually any wilderness survival situation, fire has to be right at the top of the list.

I did some of the first field testing a while back when the Lightning-Strike emergency firestarter tool first came on the market. I liked the product and concept. When the Mini Lightning-Strike came out on the market later, I ran it through its paces.

I was not nice to either. In one instance, I dropped the  Lightning-Strike in the Deschutes River, soaked it for several minutes, then tossed it on shore and stomped it into the sand and mud. After that abuse, the unit functioned flawlessly, and I could easily start a fire on the shore.

The mini got the mud test. I dropped it into the mud at the edge of a desert water hole, made sure it was completely covered and tried to use it. Once the mud was cleaned out of the ferrocerrium rod channel it worked fine. But making fires with wet, muddy hands is not pleasant.

Darrell Holland, owner of Holland’s Shooters Supply and inventor of the Lightning-Strike system, said napalm tinder is the company’s most recent development for survival firemaking.

Napalm, for the non-military types, was used  from about 1965 to 1972 in the Vietnam War. The original napalm was a

Ignition using the Lightning-Strike is quick and easy

We have ignition.

jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. Napalm Tinder, as sold by Holland’s Shooters Supply, is an entirely different substance, but it is really flammable when used correctly.

“We’ve been requested to make a waterproof tinder for EXTREMELY wet conditions and this is what we’re come up with,” Holland commented.  “We use a special fibrous material and binder that seems to cover all bases in regard to this type of tinder.”

In the latest abuse test, I took the Lightning-Strike and some of the new Napalm Tinder, and set it outside in the Oregon winter just before a storm. First it rained, which turned to sleet, and then snow. I left it outside in freezing temperatures for two days. Then, when the temps were in the high teens, I went out to try and start a fire.

The video shows some of the difficulties. My fingers were cold – on purpose – so I could try to fumble through an ignition. Despite all the obstacles and barriers to success I invented, the system worked superbly.

Here’s the good stuff:

Lightweight and compact: The tinder comes in a small, round container with a snap-on top that takes up hardly any space. Once you’ve practiced with the system, you won’t need to use much.

Waterproof: The Napalm tinder itself is waterproof. The tinder is saturated with some sort of flammable, waxy material that means it can’t absorb water. The product is then placed in a waterproof plastic bag for over-engineered waterproofing. It would be very hard to ever get the material wet.

Easy to use: I had deliberately not practiced with Napalm Tinder before field testing. Then, even when it had been in freezing circumstances for more than 48 hours – and me with cold fingers – I was able to get the Napalm Tinder going with virtually no effort.

The Lightning-Strike system is an extremely efficient survival tool.

The Lightning-Strike system is an extremely efficient survival tool.

Concerns about the product?

Would it work under all circumstances? No – nothing in the survival world can be guaranteed to work in 100 percent of the emergency situations.

There is probably some scenario where Napalm Tinder might not be the best choice as an emergency firestarter. I’m working on that. If I can come up with such a scenario, I’ll let you know.

Question: Is this the best firestarting product if I want to just buy some sort of firestarting thingy, put it in a survival kit and forget about it? Will it take care of all my firestarting needs?

Answer: NO!!!! That was a trick question!

No piece of equipment, without the ability to use it, and a lot of practice, will enable you to start a fire.

There are many individual variables in any emergency  that affect  getting a flame going. These can include wet wood, damp weather, time of year, temperatures, elevation, lack of burnable material etc.

Another set of variables include you personally. Are you alone or with a group? Are you injured? Lost? Getting hypothermic? Dehydrated?

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Regardless –  everybody needs a reliable firemaking method. I like and use the Lightning-Strike, and a Mini rides in my hunting fanny pack. It might be a good choice for you.

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View Comments (2)


  1. Leon

    01/15/2016 at 17:56

    I hang out around the Deschutes in Central Oregon.

  2. Robert Schilt

    01/09/2016 at 17:03

    Which Deschutes River are you referring to, OR or WA. I’m near the Deschutes in WA. Regardless, we are challenged here in the Northwest by soggy conditions much of the year. The only available tinder is often the dry interior of cedar logs and stumps, or the resin of pine, fir, or spruce.

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Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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