When I want a fire, I want a fire. I don't want to mess around with wimpy igniters that just don't do the job. So I'm pretty picky about the kind of fire starters I carry. One of the best I've found is the Swedish FireSteel from a company called Light My Fire (www.lightmyfire.com).
This is a striker-type fire starter. It doesn't make flames, it makes sparks. Getting flames depends entirely upon me to have good tinder available to catch the sparks. But even with the best tinder, if there are no sparks, there will be no flames. And that's what I like about this fire starter. It makes some of the most powerful sparks of any striker I've tried — and I've tried a lot of different ones.
The Swedish Fire Steel comes with a small lanyard that keeps the "flint" and the "steel" together so you don't lose one of the critical components. And the lanyard is just long enough to enable you to work your magic with the flint against the steel to create a shower of 5,500º F. sparks.
The one in the photo is an older model with the earlier style of steel. Has worked just fine for me for several years. But the company has recently come out with their second generation version 2.0 that features a different kind of steel. Still works like a charm. The company claims the striker will last for 3,000 to 12,000 strikes. One of the amazing things is that it works equally well wet or dry.
So now that you know my favorite fire starter, you can buy one for about $13 from REI, and they're available at lots of sporting goods stores. Prices vary. Personally, I wouldn't be too interested in a cheap imitation. I want to know I can get a fire going quickly when I need one.