Fire is very important when you’re outdoors. First of all, it can give you warmth when you’re cold, keep away predators, cook food and sterilize water. Going camping without a lighter or a packet of matches is perfectly fine so long as you know how to build a fire using whatever materials you have. However, it is also very inconvenient. Therefore good outdoorsmen always have the best survival lighter with them when they go camping.
When it comes to lighters, there are many choices ranging from the simple $2 you get at the gas station to the more expensive and branded choices. So, if you’re in the market for such a product, and you don’t really know what features to consider, take a look below.
Features to Consider When Buying A Survival Lighter
Finding the best survival lighter can be intimidating. There are too many brands and too many opinions as to which is the best one. But don’t worry because the only opinion that matters is yours. To find the best survival lighter, you have to consider features that are useful for your outdoor activities.
You might want to consider the kind of fuel your lighter uses. Butane for example, is common and can be bought in many stores. You also need to consider waterproof lighters if you’re going boating or camping near bodies of water. Weather can also be unpredictable so you might also want to look into windproof lighters.
What will you use it for aside from lighting your campfire? This is very important because some unexpected things can happen when you’re outside. One day you might be camping in the woods and the next day you might be on a boat sailing to your new campsite. In cases like this you need a lighter that works well not only in windy conditions but in wet ones too.
Where you will go also is also a factor in choosing your best survival lighter. For instance, some lighters do not work well in high altitude locations. This is mainly due to the lack of oxygen and oxygen is what feeds your flame to keep it going. For high altitude locations, look for a torch instead of a lighter.
These are wind-resistant and are great for lighting stubborn kindling that needs more heat so that they can dry out before they can burn properly.
A good alternative to high altitude conditions is ferrocerium rods or magnesium starters which are more reliable in high altitude. However, they are more troublesome to set up so better have a torch handy just in case.
Best Lighters on The Market
One of the best ways to find the best lighter is to look for reviews of people that have actually bought lighters. One of the first things to look at is the manufacturer. A good manufacturer makes lighters that are dependable, durable and can work in survival situations. Here are lighters to consider:
Zippo Matte Lighters
Price: around $13
Special features: durable, difficult to blow off the flame, lifetime guarantee.
Best use: windy weather, camping, outdoor adventures
Description: Zippo is an American brand that is recognized worldwide. The company has a good reputation and the lighter has gained popularity as a “windproof” lighter.
Zippo lighters have long been popular among backpackers and the military – people who know how hard it is to light a flame when the wind is blowing. This is why lots of campers and backpackers prefer windproof lighters such as Zippo.
This particular model comes in matte black as opposed to shiny Zippo models which are just as good. If you’re camping, owning shiny things can be very distracting since they tend to reflect sunlight. However, this matte model is all made from high-quality metal.
Also, it can be very difficult to blow off your matte Zippo lighter. Unlike other lighters that are turned off by blowing at them, Zippo lighters can only be turned off by closing the top half of the lighter which cuts off oxygen to the flame and starves it off.
The company has an “it works or we fix it freeTM” policy and this can be very advantageous if your Zippo gets banged up due to your frequent outdoor or camping trip. Having this kind of warranty on top of a lifetime guarantee makes this lighter very attractive for outdoorsmen.
On the downside, you must be careful when buying a Zippo as there are many fakes out there. To ensure that you buy only genuine Zippo lighters, make sure you buy from the Zippo store or accredited sellers.
One way to tell a fake Zippo from the real one is to check the bottom of the lighter which should have the Zippo logo. All Zippo lighters are also made in the USA so make sure it says so on the box.
UST Stormproof Floating Lighter Butane Lighter
Type of Fuel: Butane
Special features: Withstands 80mph winds, outer case is impact resistant, flame adjuster allows use up to 8,000 ft.
Best use: bad weather conditions, high altitude
Description: When you’re in a survival situation, every single item can be of help. According to the manufacturers, the UST Stormproof Floating Lighter is one of the best survival lighters because it can operate in the foulest weather and float in water.
Given its features, this product is reasonably priced which makes it good to have during camping and survival situations. The lighter is said to function even during strong wind and can light up even when wet.
Because it is marketed as a survival lighter, the UST Stormproof Floating Lighter has many features that make it useful during a survival situation. First of all, it has a catalyzer coil that can reach up to 2000 °F (1093 °C) and can withstand 80mph (128kph) winds.
Piezo-electric ignition guarantees sparks so you get a flame even when the lighter is wet and in wet conditions. The waterproof ABS plastic outer case is impact resistant and features O-ring seals and wire bail that ensures that the lighter stays water resistant.
This lighter can also be the best friend of mountain climbers because the flame adjustment controls allow you to use it as high at 8,000 feet where oxygen is thinner. Best of all, it floats and can be refilled by buying butane fuel.
Most bad reviews of the product center on the use of the UST Stormproof Floating Lighter Butane Lighter in high altitude. Some users had difficulty maintaining flame or getting the lighter to produce a spark.
While this may be due to the lack of oxygen in this height, it takes some time to adjust the oxygen mix so that the lighter will produce a flame. While this is perfectly fine in normal situations, it can be tedious and dangerous when it is a survival situation.
Butane fuel for the product is also sold separately which is bad when you’re just about to hit the door.
Zippo US Army Lighters
Type of Fuel: Butane
Special features: Army or military insignia, hard to blow flame, durable
Best use: camping, backpacking
Description: The popularity of Zippo lighters skyrocketed during the Vietnam War. The lighter was primarily used during search and destroy operations. In fact, the term “Zippo Squad” became the moniker for the team assigned to burn a village and the M132 Armored Flamethrower was often referred to as a “Zippo”. The Zippo durability is why it is one of the best survival lighters in the market.
Zippo lighters including Army lighters are refillable for life. All you need to do is to buy high-grade fuel and your Zippo will work perfectly. Zippo made their lighter to be windproof so you can use it anywhere. It is also made in the USA using high-quality metal and manufacturers have a lifetime warranty. If your Zippo won’t work, simply send it back and Zippo will fix it for free.
Another great thing about this lighter is its low maintenance with very minimal servicing required. It will work well in most situations and you only need to refill it from time to time. Use the Zippo brand too to refill the fluid since the brand is nearly odorless and you won’t need to deal with unpleasant smelling lighter fluids.
Zippo recommends that you use their brand fuel when refilling their lighters. This is because some lighter fuel brands can render the wick and battling useless until they are replaced. So stay away from unreliable fuel brands including grill lighting fluid which can damage your Zippo.
Speaking of fuel, the fuel to use for your Zippo military lighter is a volatile petrochemical. It is good to remember that these types of fuel evaporate over time. In this case, it is best to keep some fuel handy in case you need to refill the lighter.
Scorch Torch Dominator Triple Jet Flame Butane Torch
Type of Fuel: Butane
Special features: easy to use flame control, cigar-punch accessory, free velvet gift pouch
Best use: cigar smoking, camping
Description: Enjoy a cigar in the wilderness with the Scorch Torch Dominator Triple Jet Flame Butane Torch. Aside from the triple torch advantage, it has an attached cigar punch accessory that cigar lovers will like.
Retailing at around $9 at Amazon, it comes with a free Scorch Torch velvet pouch and 1-year hassle-free warranty from the manufacturer.
One of the most attractive features of the Dominator as one of the best survival lighter is the price point. It is relatively cheaper compared to other triple jet flame lighters and well-known brands such as Coleman or Zippo. But aside from this, the lighter is also beautifully designed and pleasing to the eye especially for people who want their lighters to look a bit manly.
The triple torch is also a great feature and will help you light up stubborn cigar and tinder if you should find yourself camping. The overall construction of the lighter is also exceptional considering its price. The only plastic part of the Dominator can be found in the butane adjustment. Scorch uses a thumb depressor which ignites all three jets.
The pouch is also a good added touch and makes a good wrapper should you want to gift a friend with this lighter.
While the Dominator looks good, it does lack a few features which can be a bit annoying. For example, there is no fuel gauge which means you have to play a guessing game when you want to refill it. Triple jets burn a lot of fuel so a fuel window would have been handy.
People with short trimmed nails will also have a hard time refilling this lighter because the butane adjustment can be a bit challenging.
The triple jets make it go through butane quickly so you better have spare fuel on standby anytime you use this lighter including camping trips where the fire is very important.
Due to a design flaw, the Dominator can also be hard to refill. This is because the bottom cap blocks the butane container from refilling or filling it. Most of the time, you will have to disassemble the bottom part of the lighter to fill it with fuel.
Blazer 189-9150 Scout Butane Refillable Blue Flame Torch Lighter
Type of Fuel: Butane
Special features: blue turbo flame, lightweight, refillable
Best use: adventures, camping
Description: Blazer 189-9150 Scout Butane Refillable Blue Flame Torch Lighter is perfect for the demanding adventurer! The Scout lighter features a waterproof casing so it is perfect for boating. It is also lightweight, windproof and waterproof so campers and outdoorsmen will love this lighter. All these features make it one of the best survival lighters in the market today.
The Scout features a 2500°F piezo electronic ignition so it’s pretty reliable when you want a flame. You can also adjust the flame easily with the flame adjustment screw and refill easily via the refill valve. Users can easily tell that a refill is needed by looking at the fuel level sight glass.
This lighter comes in camouflage and bright yellow.
The lighter is lightweight but is made of flimsy material. You also need to press the ignition of a long period of time which makes it very painful for your thumb if you’re lighting a stubborn cigar or damp tinder. However, it works fine if you’re just going to light paper or a cigarette.
Coleman Refillable Windproof Butane Lighter
Type of Fuel: Butane
Special features: locking cap with water resistant seal, windproof, fuel viewing window
Best use: camping, backpacking, adventures
Description: As the manufacturer of quality outdoor equipment, many people expect the Coleman Refillable Windproof Butane Lighter to be exceptional. Colman started out by selling gasoline pressure lamps during the 1900’s in Oklahoma.
Their most famous products are perhaps the Coleman lanterns that are popular among backpackers, outdoorsmen and campers because of its durability. Coleman also manufactures sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, camp stoves and lighters.
The lighter is refillable so you just need to keep your butane well stocked instead of buying a new lighter all the time. The flame adjuster is also conveniently located at the bottom with ridged edges making it easy for the user to adjust the flame to the desired level.
One of the best features of the Coleman Refillable Windproof lighter is the conveniently placed viewing window which allows users to monitor butane levels easily. The lighter also has water resistant seal so you’re lighter can survive being in the water for a short period of time with no problems lighting up.
Another great feature is the oversized flame adjustment wheel that makes it easy for users to turn the flame up or down.
It seems that the Coleman lighter needs more features to be placed in this price point. However, the casing does feel strong so it is bound to be durable.
While the product is branded to be waterproof, it is best that the lighter is closed shut in order to keep water from seeping into the casing. This might not always be the case especially if you’re at camp and accidents sometimes happen.
The product is also limited to low altitude adventures.
True Utility TU407 FireWire Turbo Jet Lighter
Type of Fuel: Butane
Special features: refillable,
Best use: outdoors, camping
Description: The lighter is manufactured by True Utility an innovative flashlight and sporting brand originally from the UK. They are now a part of the ASG Group in Dallas, Texas in the USA.
The FireWire Turbo Jet Lighter from True Utility uses the FireWire Windproof technology so that users can use the lighter even when it is windy. This lighter is the perfect gift for outdoor enthusiasts and cigar smokers.
Some of the features of the True Utility Jet Lighter is the windproof technology which makes it perfect for outdoor use and the reason why it is one of the best survival lighters. The FireWire also has high altitude working valves so that you can take it with you during mountain climbing. When in use, there is no smelly butane smell or jet fume stink.
The lighter is dependable, feels good to hold with its alloy body and has a hand flame adjuster to make flame adjustment easy for the user.
Expectations are a bit high since the lighter is marketed as a Jet Lighter. However, the “jet” feel is actually not there since the flame is a bit on the low side. Flame wise this lighter lacks “power” especially if you’re expecting a big flame at this price point.
Speaking of price, it is a bit on the expensive side, retailing at Amazon at almost $19 plus shipping. The lack of butane window is also disappointing since the lighter is expensive.
Since it acts like a small torch, expect to go through butane fuel quickly. The flame adjustment is also a bit annoying because you need to use a small screwdriver which could have been eliminated had the manufacturers thought to add an adjustment wheel. Who brings a small screwdriver with them when camping?
Keep in mind: when you buy a survival lighters online, it does not come with fuel. You have to buy the fuel separately since the USPA prohibits the shipping of lighters that contain fuel. This can be a hassle when you’re in a rush or don’t have fuel at home so it’s best to plan ahead when you’re going to bring this lighter outdoors or camping.
Experience Is The Best Teacher
Choosing the best survival lighter is very important especially if you’re planning to be outdoors for a long period of time. Campers and outdoorsmen need something dependable, lightweight and consistent and one of the best ways to find out which is the best survival lighter is through experience.
When reading reviews of lighters it is easy to see that some lighters work well during certain conditions while there are others that are clearly low quality but are affordable. But the best way to find out is to judge for yourself.
If you’re an outdoorsman or avid backpacker, camper or climber you will surely go through a number of lighters during your adventures. You can easily compare the performance of lighters by examining your experience and learning through trial and error.
While it is always good to do a bit of research before purchasing a product, nothing matters more than your personal experience with the lighter. However, when you’re buying a survival lighter for the first time, always go for durability and reliability. We all know that fire and light are important when you want to survive in the wild and having a trusty lighter will be a great comfort when you’re trying to do that.