More often than not we tend to pass on survival gear as if they aren't necessary every day carry items. We dislike most survival gear because of their inconvenient, boring and tasteless design that we would never want to carry around on a daily basis. Luckily there are companies out there like Exotac that take design very seriously as if they weren't making survival gear at all, but instead each and every one of Exotac's products have an intriguing smart designs anyone would mistake them for something they aren't. Exotec's fire starters look oh so good, but do they really work when put to the test?
Starting with Exotac's most wanted fire starter, the nanoStriker, we're presented with a well put together package that's stocked with a few extras like extra orange rubber O-rings, a metal keychain ring adapter as well as a nice long wrist lanyard paracord you can use to attach the nanoStriker to various objects instead of attaching it to your keys. There are two holes at both ends that will fit both methods of attachments that fit your needs. Very smart of Exotac to put these small features that make the nanoStriker all that more useful and comfortable to carry around with you. The nanoStriker comes in a few different anodized aluminum colors that have a refined texture and finish that really looks sharp. It'll run you only $26.95, however the quality screams a whole lot more.
If you don't already know what exactly is a fire starter, the nanoStriker specifically is consisted of the standard Ferrocerium rod that's mixed with magnesium and when struck using the small metal striker, creates sparks of extremely hot metal shaving that fly directly towards the source you're trying to light on fire. Tinder is a great fire starting fuel that will light on fire very easily like cotton, dryer lint, wood shavings and so on. The nanoStiker's exterior is constructed from aluminum with key grip points that help you get a grip when starting a fire. The nanoStriker is waterproof and watertightly sealed thanks to the rubber O-rings, yet the Ferrocerium rod will work even when wet. It feels outstanding and extremely solid as a standalone as well as when it's unscrewed and put together inside out.
The collapsible design enables the nanoStriker to be unscrewed and reassembled into a wand-like firestarter. It just shows you how portable and smart it has been designed no other firestarter out there comes close. Putting it together is extremely simple and once the cylinder that houses and makes for the handle of the Ferrocerium rod is put together, the small metal striker is left and is very manageable despite its small size thanks to its spacious finger grip.
One strong strike down the rod and I was able to immediately light a cotton ball in flames. Hot sparks flew straight onto the cotton ball with so much authority I could light anything on fire. Well not anything but you get the idea. I was really taken back by just how simple it was to set tinder on fire. The good thing is that you could use a sharp pocket knife as well as a striker and not only the small metal striker that comes with the nanoStriker. Of course it's much more useful and portable to carry around everything in one tiny package. I should note that the Ferrocerium rod will not last you forever and does get worn down with every strike as you shave off a thin layer of metal each time you strike it. Thankfully it's user replaceable with extra rods costing only $5.99.
To give you an idea of just how small the nanoStriker really is, it looks tiny compared to my fingers and that's a very good thing since it's easily pocketable and won't disturb you while it hangs off of your keychain. I'm no firestarter pro I must admit, but ever since using the nanoStriker I became intrigued with how simple it is to use and how good it looks that I now carry it absolutely everywhere with me now. You can't be too sure when you'll be needing it to start a fire. A very essential gadget to have especially when it can be tossed around without breaking because of how durable it is.
If you haven't yet tried any type of firestarter before, you must give the nanoStriker a go for $26.95, it's a no brainer and may become a valuable piece of gear when you most need it. I would buy it just to have it as a decrotaive keychain attachment.
Onto the second Exotac survival gadget, the Matchcap. Yet another brilliantly designed aluminum bodied life saver. The Matchcap also comes fitted inside a eye-catching box with a few extra little goodies that include extra striking stick-on surfaces, a couple of rubber O-rings just because as well as a nice long paracord lanyard for attaching to whatever objects you should need. Slightly cheaper than the nanoStriker at $24.95, the Matchcap comes in 3 different anodized aluminum colors.
As the name implied, the Matchcap is essentially an aluminum waterproof storage tube for matches. It can store all kinds of matches from striker-anywhere to safety matches. There are two kinds of striking surfaces includes with the Matchap so you will be able to strike virtually any match. What's more is that there is even a red-phosphorus striking surface located on the inside of the cylinder that will always remain dry. Ribbed gripping surfaces are great when opening the Matchcap in wet conditions. While it's very lightweight, I wouldn't think it will be good for keychain carry consider its much more bulkier than the nanoStriker. I'd like to note that the threading on both the nanoStriker and Matchcap are fantastic and glide around smoothly when turned. The rubber O-ring seals the deal securely at the end. The Matchcap looks and feels solidly built with a very high level of CNC machining.
Unless you aren't using storm-proof matches, the Matchcap is just a glorified storage cylinder that will only hold a handful of matches up to 72mm in length. It isn't as nearly as useful is the nanoStriker in my eyes. It should at least come fully stocked with matches to fill the void. It does, however work as advertised. I'm sure if you're interested in one of these that you'll be satisfied with what the Matchcap has to offer, and it isn't very much.
All in all, I'm all for the nanoStriker and I think it's best firestarting gadget I've ever used in an ultra portable form factor that just looks so good. Granted I haven't used any others until this point. At $26.95, you'd be mad not to carry along a nanoStriker with you wherever you go. I'm sure there are people who will find the Matchcap a lot more useful than I did, no matter what, it's a damn solid waterproof match keeper. Really well done, Exotac. It's safe to say that you've won the hearts of every techie out there.