Firecord is an innovative little product from the guys over at Live Fire Gear (Also Equip-2-Endure). I do have to admit I’ve known a member of their staff for a couple of years and they are some great people. But be warned, I will test this product objectively.
Firecord is a type of paracord cordage with an extra strand (Paracord normally has 7 strands of internal fiber) of flammable fiber. The paracord is just as strong as normal paracord out of the box.
Initial observations. There is a very mild smell of accelerant from the cordage. A bit of mineral oil type smell, but it’s not heavy. It’s also not greasy at all. There is no transfer of the accelerant beyond the single “Fire” strand. This was one of my early concerns. (You may not want to use this product with hunting gear if you do scent neutralization. It’s a mild scent to humans but most likely quite strong to animals that defend themselves with a strong sense of smell)
It handles and feels just like any other paracord but it is a little stiffer but not enough to be any kind of problem. (It does come in a variety of colors. Last I checked on Amazon, it came in 12 different colors, both bright and subdued. (I prefer the bright colors to denote it’s Firecord over the other colors). So I ordered it in Orange. Here is where it starts to get interesting. You can still melt the ends after cutting just like regular paracord. The accelerant is slow enough to allow you to melt/whip your paracord without igniting. This works perfectly. In fact I tried several times to ignite the internal strand and without air, it goes out quickly. I like this feature. Allows you to literally treat this cord exactly as any other paracord until you need the firestrand.
Now one of the points is that you can extract the fire strand and continue to use the paracord, which works well if you are cutting chunk’s less than 10 feet long. But trying to pull a single strand on longer pieces creates a lot of friction. But you really don’t need to pull out a 10 foot section to start a fire. Most of my testing was done with 2 or 3 inch chunks which was more than enough. So for my own convenience, I just cut off a 3 inch section of cordage. I usually just pocket the trash.
For most of us who spend as much time in the woods as I do, we always have plenty of fire starting materials on us and most of the time it’s pretty easy to find or make something that will catch a spark. So this may be a little bit “Gimmicky” to add to the kit, but it’s a pretty slick and easy way to have some very good fire starting material on you at all times. (And it’s waterproof and essentially a “Tie it off and Forget about it until you need it” product. Do you need it? No, but its sure isn’t going to hurt to have it available. I’d suggest using this for zipper pulls on all your bags and kits. Each zipper pull would provide enough cordage for 2 or 3 fires. Or you can make a small keychain with it and keep it on your ferro rod (or even use it as your ferro rod cord). Then it will always be available to you.
Never hurts to have that little extra with you. And since I have zipper pulls on all my bag zippers (If you’ve ever reached hypothermia, you will understand the importance Zipper pulls provide). So without taking up any extra space or even having to remember where in my kit I’ve dropped my Firecord, it’s always available.
All in all it’s a pretty good piece of kit. Think of it as insurance. You may never need it, but that one time you really do need it, it will be right there.
Now let’s look at usage and performance.
First thing is, it doesn’t light well on its own straight out of the cord, unless you use a match or lighter (in which case you probably wouldn’t be using it). But if it’s very rainy and windy and you need fire and do have a lighter or match, it will work well as a base tinder. A 2 inch strand burned solid for 25 or 30 seconds on most of my tests. (Some longer but I prefer to report on the minimums).
For best usage, with a ferro rod or if using something like a bow drill or fire plow to provide a coal, you need to “Fuzz” the cord up. A fingernail will do an ok job, but a sharp knife will fuzz it up really well. Practice a little because it is very weak and will tear up if you apply too much pressure. There is a waxy substance on the cord which will flake as you scrape. The more fuzz, the faster it will take a spark, but also the faster it will burn. What I discovered works best is to take about a 3 inch section. Fuzz about 1 inch of the end, then curl the other 2 inches under it. This provide nearly a full minute of burn time.
All in all, for the price, it’s a worthwhile investment. A single 25 foot strand runs about $12.50 and will probably be all you’ll need for years.