Fire steel lanyards at night. Field tested.

Woods Walker

The Wood is cut, The Bacon is cooked, Now it’s tim
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I have been doing more night backpack trail jogging, night hiking and pushing late to camp this year. Being a natural goofy goober who misplaces things I got to thinking about how to help mitigate the gear loss issue at night. Night is, well darker than day hence it's more easy for gear to vanish. As we know losing a firesteel or other critical gear in the field can equal trouble. In life we don't always get the option to tap out but what happens at night when entropy is more demanding? Lets take a look at Firesteel lanyards at night but before that we have to start a fire. What good is topic discussing firesteels if one isn't actually used.


Somehow I lost my Core 4 stove so needed to buy a new one. Dang, it will probably show up but can't keep on hoping forever. Fresh new stove looking for a burn in.





The prep.





The magic ingredient for this Firesteel/Ferro rod fire. Yellow birch bark foraged during this outing.





And presto. Fire. One must post fire if talking about ferro rods.





With that out of the way time to move on to the topic at hand. Firesteel lanyards at night. Will post the photos keeping the commentary to a minimum.


Stuff for this test.





Cordage for the lanyards. There are many options. Some reflective, some brightly colored, some both reflective and brightly colored, some just plain old hard to see and others funky.





For this test I made 3 firesteels of the exact same size, 1/2 x 5 inches with blaze orange kydex handles. I decided on solid Zombie Green, a mix of reflective dark green and solid blaze orange and pure reflective/bright orange but not exactly blaze.





First here is a view of how some common options appear during the day.


Black and Black in original packaging. One never knows. LOL!





Red and Green but not overly bright contrasting with blaze orange.





Firesteels/Ferro rods in more natural colors and materials.





Some with well used Zombie Green or chartreuse paracord on firesteel/mag bar/ferro rods. Cordage doesn't stay clean forever.





But the real topic is night visibility of the test firesteel lanyards. First a word about lanyards. Whenever a lanyard is made to be attached to a body part I make a break-a-way. I would rather risk the loss of the gear rather than a broken wrist or strangulation. For example look at this DIY flashlight lanyard. It was made to go around my wrist. The paracord is attached to the light via single inner strand. The paracord itself is connected together with a plastic snap which would pop off under stress. Again my life is worth more than the gear.





That said these ferro rod lanyards are made for potential attachment to a pack, belt loop or just tossed into a pack or pocket. I want to keep my firesteel so these lanyards are solid. These are NOT for looping around body parts.





I would use the Fenix HL30 for this test as it represents much of what many people today use for a headlamp. A floody beam which is bright but not super super bright. Powered by 2XAA.





Time for the night test. I repeated these tests multiple times. For the most part got similar results. Trail jogged in 2 miles during a pitch black night. The first test was dropping the firesteels directly on the trail. No leaf litter or other cover to obstruct the firesteels.


No chance of missing this.





Reflective cordage appeared visible much farther off than none reflective. Not really surprised.





The Zombie Green appeared more visible than Blaze Orange however even the little reflective loop added greatly to the viability of the solid blaze orange lanyard. The fact the reflective cordage loop was green meant nothing at night.





Next was a bushwhacking off trail test with moderate ground cover. This meant leaves mixed in with some ferns. This test became real after I lost my way despite placing the items to be intentionally found. Off trail though the trees etc at night is an entirely different world of confusion when it comes to dropped gear. I noticed the reflective cordage maybe 75 feet away. If not for tree obstructions that could have been farther.





The Zombie Green appeared highly visible even against a green background. Still I needed to be closer to see it. That alone wouldn't have been enough given how far off course I mistakenly walked. It was the reflective cordage which really made the difference.





The orange reflective cordage was crazy visible however notice how from some angles the blaze orange Kydex is totally mitigated by the ferns. Without the long lanyard it could easily be overlooked despite the bright Blaze Orange Kydex.





The Blaze Orange cordage to my eye was not as visible (though still very visible) compared to the Zombie Green but the smaller reflective loop made all the difference at longer distance.





The final test was a toss into higher brush along a dirt road. The plan was to toss the ferro rods then jog from an adjoining trail to the road. Dropping stuff along the side of a road by accident happened to me before. Often there is more sunlight resulting in higher grass and brush along the side of the road. Perfect to eat up critical kit, more so at night. The same may apply to the margins of a field or side of a trail depending on circumstance.





The reflective orange cord appeared a good distance off. The firesteel itself vanished deeper into the weeds. The upper cordage and loop remained visible. The reflective nature and longer lanyard with large loop made all the difference.





Once again the Zombie Green showed up surprisingly well against the green background but wasn't visible at the same range compared to reflective cordage. Here was an unexpected result. The reflective loop on the solid Blaze Orange lanyard vanished into the brush. Only at this angle did it appear. Basically the reflective nature was mitigated to a great degree by the 3 dimensional environment. The none reflective Blaze Orange appeared less visible than the none reflective Zombie Green but just the same odds are I would have found this lanyard setup.







Conclusions.


The obvious ones:


1. Bright colors also work at night.


2. Reflective cordage is better than regular regardless of color at night.


3. More reflective cordage the better at night.


4. Longer lanyards are more visible than shorter ones.


5. It is really easy to misplace stuff in the dark woods. Even items intentionally placed to be found.


6. it's easy for an object to get obstructed by a leaf etc at night rendering it invisible from certain angles. This can happen during the day but given the shadows and lower light the issue appeared more problematic at night.


Less obvious to me:


1. I was surprised at just how effective a little reflective cordage is at night. Often just a little loop attached to a lanyard was enough.


2. I never thought in terms of 3 dimensions when it came to lanyards. I always just placed a lanyard on the ground to see how visible the material was when considering options. For example when tossed into higher brush the fire steel would go through the obstruction often leaving the lanyard visible higher up. This meant putting the reflective loop near the fire steel rather than at the end of the lanyard wasn't as effective given the reflective loop would become obstructed by the brush. Also the loop at the end of the lanyard by it's very nature would more often get hung up higher than just the single strand. So it appears the larger end loop works for more than just ease of looping the fire steel on to things etc. I did many tosses into the higher bushes tests.


3. Still surprised as to how well zombie green or chartreuse shows up against green foliage even when compared to blaze/international orange. I was really surprised at how well this color worked at night.


Here are videos of the test. Part 1 is me talking too much. Part 2 is the actual field test.


Part 1.




Part 2.


 

Lou Minescence

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Excellent testing. Thank you for taking the time.
I use lanyards on most of my flashlights and gear. My lanyards are always getting dirty and the colors are dulled. My lanyards are all camo colors. I wonder how the orange and green colors show up with some normal soiling as time goes on. I suppose the reflective qualities would still work well at night. Thanks again.
 

Woods Walker

The Wood is cut, The Bacon is cooked, Now it’s tim
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New England woods.
Excellent testing. Thank you for taking the time.
I use lanyards on most of my flashlights and gear. My lanyards are always getting dirty and the colors are dulled. My lanyards are all camo colors. I wonder how the orange and green colors show up with some normal soiling as time goes on. I suppose the reflective qualities would still work well at night. Thanks again.

The zombie green in the photo of the two firesteel and mag block is heavily used and dirt. Still shows up good though probably not good as new. Thanks for looking!
 

Poppy

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Thanks for taking the time to think about... "what can I write about that hasn't already been done". You've come up with a little ditty that is so obviously helpful, once you've presented it. Yet, I'd be willing to bet that many of us do not have lanyards on some of our easily lost tools.

I don't have a lanyard on my fire steel, but next time out, I will.

Thanks so much!

:)
 
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blah9

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Yeah, this is another great post. I really enjoyed the pictures and analysis. Thank you!

I recently realized how useful the reflective cords can be when I bought a new sleeping pad that came in a bag with a reflective cord. It was incredible how much more it stood out compared to my other gear. Maybe I'll pick up some more reflective cordage as a result.
 

Danielsan

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interesting tests, i made paracord GITD lanyards by myself (made of resin and strontiumaluminate). Sold a few here in the forum years ago, even sold one to Dubai. I also used the orange reflective paracord from time to time, its great. It wasnt worth the hassle in my case, it took me almost a week to finish new beads because that resin had to dry and i made the molds by myself, i used a dentist silicon. I have to buy a firesteel as well, you never know.
 
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nbp

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Very fun tests, and excellent observations you shared with us! I hadn't thought much about this either but I may make some lanyards for visibility before my next camping trip. I really like your little kydex grommet toggles on the firesteels. Simple and clean attachment points, I like it!
 

WesleyfuhPP

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Fire steel lanyards at night Field tested

yeah i bet that steel is a dremel wheel eater. i cut some servo brackets with my dremel out of 1/8" alum and i went through a few cut off wheels.
 

Offgridled

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I really enjoyed your write up and the pictures really put it into perspective. Great job and lot of thought went into this. Very appreciated! [emoji106]
 
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