Fire-Stick Review

Fire-Stick

I buy a lot of gear, and because I’m fairly rough with gear, typically a significant percentage of gear I use suffers some pretty horrific wear and tear.

As such, I often sprinkle my reviews with updates on how my gear is holding up over time.

Rarely do I even consider asking for an exchange if I’ve used a piece of gear more than a dozen times.  I simply update my reviews with how the gear is doing.

So, when, after writing a review update on the fire-stick, Jim Hutchinson responded and immediately got to work on getting me a replacement, I was stunned. Frankly, the core fire-stick components worked fine and continue to do so. It was only a few accessory bits that started coming apart, and considering how rough I am with my gear, I was more than happy to just deal with it.

But Jim went above and beyond by covering the damage and then some.

Rarely have a seen customer service soar to this level, and I’ll be keeping my eye on any new products from Jim Hutchinson in the future. Someone this passionate about the products he builds is rare in any product industry.

The fire-stick remains one of my favorite pieces of car camping and home fire-pit gear and will be a must have piece for years to come.

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Having spent a solid 5 days car camping where we had a campfire every night for several hours which was maintained by multiple people who used this tool, some new comments emerged:

Overall, the fire-stick remains a great tool, and everyone had great things to say about it. Especially when trying to move burning logs around to improve airflow or heat distribution, or to get logs positioned well to heat the grill above it. The speared front-end was useful for splitting burning logs, and the grabbing tips were very effective in moving even the largest logs. The thick steel material was excellent, preventing any warping and the length allowed the back-end of the fire-stick to remain relatively cool. Interestingly, the fire-stick also proved useful in other areas of the camp site. Of course, the dutch oven grabbers worked as advertised, but the log end tips were also great for lifting any cookware with a handle. It also proved highly effective at removing tent stakes. Just a great tool all around.

A few of us brought a broad range of gear that was shared by many to really test out different tools for car camping and figure out what we really like or didn’t care for, and the fire-stick emerged as one of the most popular and useful pieces of gear for car camping. After seeing it in action, I can guarantee that it will be a permanent addition to my car camping gear bag.

Despite being a great product overall, there are some pretty big annoyances, and some features don’t work very well.

The first is the rear cap, behind the foam handle. Because the foam handle is only secured through the tightness of the inner rubber lining of the foam handle itself, continuous use makes the foam handle slide along the tube. There is a rubber o-ring at the front end of the foam handle, but that slides too and as such isn’t a great anchor for the foam handle. At some point (and often thereafter), the foam handle slid forward enough for the pin holding the rear cap to fall out and get lost. That pin should really be locked in a little better. after that pin slid out, the rear cap fell off and there’s no way to make it stay except to maybe make a new pin. meh…

The plastic handle is made up of two end caps on either end and the grip itself. The two plastic ends are held in place by being glued to the main grip handle. With heat, those two ends both slid off and were a regular annoyance.

Finally, there is a blower design for this device that allows you to stoke fires from a distance, which is great, but because of the design, even blowing air as hard as you can from the rear foam handle end doesn’t push a lot of air out of the screwdriver like point. I realize that with the tremendous heat of the front end, it’s not really easy to figure out a solution here, and you could say it’s better than nothing, but there should be a better solution here.

I applaud this company for the innovation, and excellent decision to use solid materials for this device.

Even disregarding the blower feature, however, the fact that they are marketing to the mass consumer means they should account for, within reason, a broader range of user types. Some more rough with gear, some stronger, some weaker, some may care for their gear a lot and want a nice bag for it, etc. etc. It seems they got all the basics right, but haven’t really accounted for rougher and more careless users.

So improve the engineering of the accessory bits for rougher and more careless users with some added heat resistance of any glued pieces (since the core steel portion of the product is just rock solid), and this device would be perfect.

PS. One last little tidbit, if a version 2 is made, the longer grabbing ends, used for grabbing logs, etc., is PERFECTLY shaped, but I wish it was just a tad bit longer….maybe an extra inch? For larger rounded logs, that extra inch in length would be very useful. And the other side, the dutch oven grabber could also be just a quarter inch longer and maybe a half inch wider to further improve the grip on dutch ovens, that would be awesome.

—-
As someone who loves to BBQ, play with campfires, and has a small fireplace, the annoyance of a lack of a versatile heat and fire tool emerges every time I do these activities.

Enter the fire-stick.

This simple tool deals with pretty much every issue I have with BBQs and campfires. The only thing missing is a shovel, but having an extra shovel is not that big a deal.

mechanically, this devices is really based on a single hollow steel tube with a handle on one end and a poker on the other with two jutting points. Then there is another tube overlaid on this core tube that is roughly half the length that slides back and forth along the core tube. This overlay tube also has a handle on one end and jutting anchor points on the other that align perfectly with those on the central tube.

The overlay tube is also designed with an alignment groove on the inside so it doesn’t twist, this ensures that the anchors on the overlay tube always align with the anchors on the core tube. Really an ingenious design.

Regarding the anchor points, one pair jut out and with additional traction grooves, are designed to grab things like firewood or perhaps grill grates. On the photo, it’s the pair near the top of the photo. These anchor points are deceptively short, but in use, I found that they are plenty big enough to grab even large logs. They also work great for grill grates and other heated items. However, care is needed in picking up heavier items as you have to constantly be applying push pressure to maintain a grip. I dropped a couple of logs because I wasn’t applying enough pressure so, while it’s not tricky, be a little careful and it works well.

The other pair is really suited to picking up skillets or dutch ovens. This pair would be the anchor points near the bottom of the photo. One of the anchor points (the one on the core tube) has two smaller jutting grab points and the other anchor point has one. I think the dual jutting grab points on the core tube, spread as far apart as is reasonable, is really designed to pick up circular items and help prevent slippage.

The very tip of the core tube ends in a pointy end that is good for poking logs and since it’s a wide flat tip, inserting into a log and twisting can force a log to split a burning log a little more easily. The is also a hole along the flat of the tip which you can see in the photo and this is the blow hole to add more air to a weak fire.

All in all, this innovative poker, while much more expensive than I’d like, has quickly turned into a great camp fire tool. For car camping where there is a fair amount of handling fire, I wouldn’t leave home without it.

Hats off to the manufacturers who thought of this, and double the congrats for using solid materials and manufacturing processes to ensure a quality product.

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