Heating Things Up With The Ultimate Fire Starter By Vargo



Bringing The Heat: The Ultimate Fire Starter

Making The Camp Fire Starting Process Easier Thanks To Its Innovative Design And Simplicity

Creating Fire With The Ultimate Fire Starter [Courtesy/Vargo]

There’s a certain art to creating a vibrant, roaring campfire, and while every veteran camper has their own method, perfected by years of practice, three essential components are always needed: heat, fuel, and oxygen. Although most fire starting gadgets provide enough heat to initially spark the tinder, the oxygen factor is normally left up to the lung capacity of the person starting the fire. As a traveler in the mid-90’s, Brian Vargo, founder of outdoor gear manufacturer VARGO and creator or the Ultimate Fire Starter™, got to know this recipe well while hiking through the Appalachian Trail on a personal journey of self-discovery.

Vargo didn’t end up finding ultimate enlightenment on that six-month excursion, but he did learn a very valuable lesson: Pack less and K.I.S.S. more. “I’m more of that person that just had ideas of new products I wanted to bring to market,” explained Brian Vargo of his early stages. “I try to create solutions or try to simplify and make things more utilitarian compared to the products that are already in existence. So that’s kind of an underlying theme of most of our products…you know to Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

After his travels, Vargo started working for an outdoor gear distributor where he learned the ropes of the industry and never let go of his dream to manufacture his own products. Four years later, with new knowledge and experience under his belt, Brian quit his job and began working full-time on his own designs. Soon the business was getting attention, and Brian went from offering basic backpacking and gear advice online, to selling his own product line.

Interestingly enough, the Ultimate Fire Starter took a mere eight months from concept to completion. “I just had a little light of inspiration…and then fairly quickly went into getting the molds made and then into production,” Vargo told The Buzz. “I like the concept of combining a couple different products into one, [and] the Ultimate Fire Starter is a good example of that.”

Essentially, the Ultimate Fire Starter is a simple combination of a bellows and a fire starting mechanism. The ferrocerium rod, which lasts for thousands of strikes and is replaceable, simply unscrews from the bellows and uses the integrated hexagon striker to create a spark over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit to ignite the selected tinder. From there, the heavy duty, stainless steel bellows extends from 5.9 inches to 18.2 inches and is ready for use.

The Ultimate Fire Starter Making Sparks [Courtesy/Vargo]
The Ultimate Fire Starter Pieces [Courtesy/Vargo]
The Ultimate Fire Starter Up Close [Courtesy/Vargo]

With the bellow extended, the user is able to concentrate the flow of oxygen by aiming at the base of the fire and efficiently blowing air to progressively increase the fire’s heat. Because of this extension, users are kept at a safe distance while tactically directing airflow to stoke the fire. When the user is finished, the lightweight, 1.8-ounce tool collapses back down and can be stored in a pack or with the carrying clip for more convenient access.

Vargo says that a reoccurring concept behind the majority of his products, including the Ultimate Fire Starter, is to have something that’s all one piece as to reduce the possibility of parts getting lost or misplaced. “Prior to [the Ultimate Fire Starter], you could have a bellows of some sort and you could have a lighter or ferro rod, and they were all separate pieces,” outlines Vargo of other comparable products. “But what this [product] does is basically combines everything into one so you have a nice tidy system that allows you to start a fire.”

The Ultimate Fire Starter’s stainless steel construction is intended for rugged use and is appropriate for even the most unfavorable conditions including use with stubborn or wet wood, and it is especially valuable for those campers venturing out to the backcountry in need of a dependable fire starter. Although it was originally intended for basic campfire use, Vargo says he personally uses it to replace a lighter in combination with the company’s Hexagon Wood Stove. And while he acknowledges it takes a certain level of skill to use the Ultimate Fire Starter, he says that overall, “It truly gives you a well-rounded way to effectively and easily start a fire.” 

In the camping world, compact, lightweight, and multi-functional tools are often essential assets to any campers’ pack, especially those looking to travel off grid or with limited carrying capacity. For campers looking to add a fire starter to their travel kit, VARGO’s Ultimate Fire Starter may be worth a try.

Jannie Schaffer

A graduate of the Fashion Institute Of Technology in New York City with a degree in Interactive Marketing,  Jannie has worked both for FOX and ASA Electronics. She enjoys traveling and whitewater rafting.

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Vargo, working to meet your needs for simple, lightweight, and durable outdoor gear and selling products to wholesalers and retailers throughout the USA, Europe, Australia, and East Asia.

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