CAMPING & HIKING

Best Survival Lighter: Your Trustworthy Pal in Cold Times of Need

Survival lighter for outdoor
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

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 very inconvenient. Therefore good outdoorsmen always have the best survival lighter with them when they go camping.

We understand that picking a good lighter can be difficult since there are so many options available today. That’s why we’ve done all the legwork so you can just sit back and pick your next survival partner. We’ll tell you the most important features to consider when buying a survival lighter. We have also thrown in some recommended products.

Survival lighter

The lighters you will read about in this article are all the perfect combination of price and quality. No matter which one you pick, you know that you’re getting a good value for your money.

Product nameWaterproofDimensionsBest usePrice
Zippo Matte LightersNoDepends on SizeWindy weather, camping, outdoor adventuresCheck price on Amazon
UST Stormproof Floating LighterYes2.6 x 1.6 x 0.5 inchesBad weather conditions, high altitudeCheck price on Amazon
Zippo US Army LightersNo2.25 x 2.36 inchesCamping, backpackingCheck price on Amazon
Scorch Torch Dominator Triple Jet Flame Butane TorchNo1.25 x 1.75 x 2.75 inchesCigar smoking, campingCheck price on Amazon
Blazer 189-9150 Scout Torch LighterYes10 x 6 x 2 inchesAdventures, campingCheck price on Amazon
Coleman Butane LighterYes2.75 x 0.25 x 1.75 inchesCamping, backpacking, adventuresCheck price on Amazon
True Utility Jet LighterYes2.75 x 1.4 x 1 inchesOutdoors, campingCheck price on Amazon

Things to consider before buying

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. You should consider your own unique needs. To find the best survival lighter, you have to consider features that are useful for your outdoor activities.

Use

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.

Use of survival lighters

You 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.

Location

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.

Location of lighter use

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.

Remember, however, that although the waterproof quality of most lighters today are reliable, the windproof quality needs to be scrutinized closely. Often, what’s windproof for the manufacturer may only count as wind-resistant to you.

Durability and Reliability

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.

Lighter flame

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. A low-quality lighter may refuse to light after a few uses, which could spell trouble if you’re currently out there in the wilderness.

Fuel

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.

Lighter fuel

You might want to consider the kind of fuel your lighter uses. Butane for example, is common and can be bought in many stores.

Most lighters use butane fuel, although today there are other options as well, such as the new USB-chargeable lighter. You should consider your own conditions when you’re on a trip. Is it likely that you’re going to find a place where you can recharge your lighter? If not, pick the butane-fueled lighter instead.

Flame

Different lighters offer different flame sizes. Some can produce amazing fires that will make it easy for you to burn even the wettest cigars. On the other hand, others only produce a low flame that will have a hard time consuming even dry paper.

You should also consider whether the fire is adjustable or not. Most lighters today come with features that allow you to adjust the size of the flame. More often than not, when you’re outdoor, you’d need a big fire. But the ability to tone down the fire might also come in handy.

Best products on today’s market

One of the best ways to find the best lighter is to look for reviews of people that have actually bought the lighters. Also, 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 you should consider.

Zippo Matte LightersZippo Matte Lighters

Price: Approximately $14

Waterproof: No

Dimensions: Slim: 1.125 x 0.375 x 2.375 inches; classic: 1.50 x 0.5 x 2.25 inches; 1935 replica: 1.437 x 0.5 x 2.062 inches;  vintage: 1.437 x 0.5 x 2.375 inches; 1941 replica: 1.50 x 0.5 x 2.187 inches; armor: 1.50 x 0.5 x 2.25 inches

Specific features: Durable, difficult to blow off the flame, lifetime guarantee

Best use: Windy weather, camping, outdoor adventures

The Zippo Matte Lighter 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.

PROS:

  • Windproof fire
  • Free repairs lifetime guarantee from a dependable company
  • Great design with a non-reflective matte color
  • Durable
CONS:

  • Not waterproof
  • Fluid evaporates quickly. Although this is a good thing if you overfill, if you leave it unused for too long, it’s wasteful

Related: This Zippo lighter does not come with the fluid, since it is a shipping safety hazard. That’s why you should purchase this Zippo Lighter Fluid together with the lighter so you’ll be able to use it immediately once the package has arrived.

Check the price on Amazon

UST Stormproof Floating LighterUST Stormproof Floating Lighter

Price: Approximately $13

Waterproof: Yes

Dimensions: 2.6 x 1.6 x.5 inches

Specific features: Withstands 80 mph winds, outer case is impact-resistant, flame adjuster allows use up to 8,000 ft

Best use: Bad weather conditions, high altitude

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 ºF (1093 ºC) and can withstand 80 mph (128 kph) 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.

PROS:

  • Wind and water-resistant
  • Capable of floating on the water surface
  • Impact resistant

CONS:

  • Not very durable
  • Non-returnable once it has been filled with butane

Related: This UST Lighter does not come with the necessary butane fuel. You need to purchase it separately. This Vector 14X Cold Filtrered Butane Gas 320ml comes at the reasonable price of $10, but remember that once you’ve filled the UST Lighter with fuel, it becomes non-returnable.

Check the price on Amazon

Zippo US Army LightersZippo US Army Lighters

Price: Approximately $25

Waterproof: No

Dimensions: 2.25 x 2.36 inches

Specific features: Army or military insignia, hard to blow flame, durable

Best use: Camping, backpacking

The popularity of Zippo US Army 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.

PROS:

  • Lifetime warranty from one of the longest-standing companies
  • Very durable and reliable
  • Low-maintenance
  • A popular choice
  • Wind and waterproof

CONS:

  • Not very versatile
  • On the expensive side for a lighter
  • Drains fuel quickly because it evaporates

Related: Another Zippo Lighter of similar quality but different design is the Zippo Eagle Lighter. This is only one of the many examples. Zippo comes in all shapes and sizes of purely American-made lighters, so you’ll never run out of options.

Check the price on Amazon

Scorch Torch Dominator Triple Jet Flame Butane TorchScorch Torch Olympus Triple Jet Flame Butane Torch

Price: Approximately $10

Waterproof: No

Dimensions: 1.25 x 1.75 x 2.75 inches

Specific features: Easy to use flame control, cigar-punch accessory, free velvet gift pouch

Best use: Cigar smoking, camping

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 $10 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.

PROS:

  • Exceptional quality for its price
  • Great as a survival lighter thanks to its versatility
  • Stylish design
  • Powerful flame thanks to the triple jet torch

CONS:

  • No fuel gauge
  • Drains fuel quickly
  • A bit troublesome to fill
  • Not waterproof

Related: This is one of the few lighters that has a cigar punch as an accessory, so you might want to take advantage of that. You should purchase this ALASKA BEAR Cigar Cutter in case you wish to get the most out of the cigar-smoking experience.

Check the price on Amazon

Blazer 189-9150 Scout Torch LighterBlazer 189-9150 Scout Butane Refillable Blue Flame Torch

Price: Approximately $20

Waterproof: Yes

Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 2 inches

Specific features: Blue turbo flame, lightweight, refillable

Best use: Adventures, camping

The Blazer 189-9150 Scout 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 2500ºF 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 for 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.

PROS:

  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Adjustable flame

CONS:

  • Not very durable and may feel flimsy
  • A bit difficult to use
  • A bit expensive for the quality it offers

Related: For a similarly priced lighter, consider this Tesla Coil USB Rechargeable Windproof Arc Lighter. This one is easier to light, although the fire won’t be as long or durable as the Blazer’s.

Check the price on Amazon

Coleman Windproof Butane LighterColeman Refillable Windproof Butane Lighter

Price: Approximately $10

Waterproof: Yes

Dimensions: 2.75 x 0.25 x 1.75 inches

Specific features: Locking cap with water resistant seal, windproof, fuel viewing window

Best use: Camping, backpacking, adventures

As the manufacturer of quality outdoor equipment, many people expect the Coleman Windproof Butane Lighter to be exceptional. Coleman 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 your 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.

PROS:

  • Waterproof and windproof, although still not suitable for high-altitude areas
  • Easily adjustable flame
  • Has a window that shows the fuel level
  • Affordable price
  • Quite easy to fire up

CONS:

  • Does not seem to be made from durable materials
  • The fire is on the weak side and can’t go up too high despite being adjustable

Related: For the fuel, you have plenty of brands to choose from—since this lighter uses butane and that is a common enough fuel type—but if you’re looking for quality, this Zippo Butane Fuel is the best one. It’s affordable, too.

Check the price on Amazon

True Utility Jet LighterTrue Utility Jet Lighter

Price: Approximately $13

Waterproof: Yes

Dimensions: 2.75 x 1.4 x 1 inches

Specific features: Refillable, FireWire Windproof technology, high altitude working valves, alloy, hand flame adjuster, butane fuel

Best use: Outdoors, camping

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. 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?

PROS:

  • Easy to fire up
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Durable
  • Great design

CONS:

  • The flame is on the low side
  • Despite the flame adjustment feature, it’s difficult to operate, so it’s not really a plus point
  • No window that shows when you need to refill the fuel

Related: If you’re looking for another uniquely-designed lighter, this Vertigo Cyclone Torch Lighter is a great alternative. It’s available at around the same price on Amazon too, and the features are mostly the same, so it’s a matter of preference.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

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.

Survival lighter outdoor

What has your experience taught you about survival lighters? Do you have any suggestions for us or your fellow outdoorsman? Do you think there’s another lighter that deserves to be in this review? Post your comment down below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Shanna Allain

    UST lighter is sturdy and so easy to fill (you’ll just have to take it out from the waterproof case). It works really well, it’s very light, the size is perfect and it is windproof. UST uses minimal butane, and is surprisingly heavy-duty for so cheap. I recommend it!

  • Mark Foster

    Some people think that survival lighters are very expensive, they can’t be more wrong. Besides, your life is on the line so it pays to have this handy helper with you in all your camping trips. This lighter works, even when drenched – floats on water, too and still works.

  • Kim Bromley

    Bought the Zippo US Army lighter for my boyfriend for his birthday. His Dad had a very similar one when he was in service so not only is it a great lighter but it has a bit of sentiment behind it too! He’s managed to light it up in all conditions and extremes. In fact, the only time he’s struggled to get a fire going is when there’s been a problem with the flint. Not the lighter. If you’re looking for a cool, reliable lighter, this Zippo is the one to go for.

  • Mark Foster

    Thoughtful of you to give such a perfect gift. I bet he found the Zippo awesome and similar to his dads? Priceless.
    You’ve got great taste Kim – that Zippo US Army lighter is a winner!

  • Carl Anderson

    I have UST Stormproof floating lighter. I like that it is more affordable compared to other brands and it still does its job well. I appreciate that it has a loop where I can attach it to my lanyard. One time, I accidentally dropped it in water and when I tried it, it still worked fine.

  • Jon Morgan

    I would really recommend getting the Zippo Matte lighter because it is really awesome. I like its matte finish, there’s no need to worry about scratches. The over-all quality is really phenomenal with its hinge, case and reservoir. I am sure that mine will last for a very long time.

  • Mark Foster

    We are sure that it will too!

  • Mark Foster

    That’s exactly why we love this brand!

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