The ability to start a fire (whether in your kitchen or outdoors) is key to survival for humans. Whether you need it or not at a specific moment in time, it is now common to find an electric lighter around in your cabinets and drawers, car, tool kit or survival bag. We even buy them in packs given their routine usage and for multiple scenarios. They now come in all shapes and sizes, a variety of colors and designs and with windproof technology (thanks to the plasma lighters which uses high voltage between two electrodes creating an electrical arc).
It is unimaginable to go out on a camping trip or for military personnel to go about their businesses without a good windproof lighter, it’s part of every good survival gear. Even the experienced survivalists swear by it for all their proposed needs and primitive methods of starting a fire are a thing of the past (or just used as a back up in emergencies).
If you think of it, these inexpensive and commonly used disposable lighters are no less than a miracle for its users, as they can get instant fire by only a click of a button or rolling your fingers on the rotating barrel.
We usually associate the high supply of lighters to the consistent demand of smokers, but that is not the case anymore. These lighters are now more compact, lightweight, durable and reliable than ever before and smokers and non-smokers use them for a variety of reasons.
They can be purchased as a disposable lighter or a refillable lighter, to ensure that you never run out of fuel to light a fire, particularly in survival or disaster situations. This refillable lighter fuel comes in different types and accommodates most of the lighters that are out in the market.
A good survival lighter can make all the difference between life and death when you are in a survival situation. It can be your best buddy in those testing times. Whenever you are out in the open, you will need a survival lighter at all costs. Whether it is for cooking hot food, boiling water (so it is safe to consume) or need to keep you warm and cozy, a fire is a must. During cold winter nights or inclement weather conditions, like heavy winds, one thing that you will certainly need to survive the cold is, again, that all-important fire. Nothing helps you to start a fire as quickly as a survival lighter.
Top 8 Survival Lighters
Here we have endeavored to shortlist 8 best survival lighters that are out there in the market. The idea is to educate you on the best choices and lighter features, so you can make an informed decision when choosing your best survival lighter.
Zippo Matte Pocket Lighters
A Zippo emergency fire starter is unarguably one of the most sought after and renowned brands out there. This pocket Zippo lighter is available in three unique styles namely; slim, with logo and without a logo. All of them have a smooth texture and it doesn’t leave any finger marks after use. It is resistant to normal scratches and there are countless colors that you can choose from.
Every lighter comes standard with a bottom stamp signifying the year of manufacture. These are refillable and hence make them your lifetime companion. They come with the distinctive Zippo ‘click’ and all-important Zippo lifetime warranty. All the windproof flame versions are made in the USA and come in a gift box package. For everlasting performance, always ensure that you use genuine Zippo lighter fluid (sold separately), a flint wheel and wicks.
lcfun Waterproof Lighter
This lighter is designed (IP56) to be specifically water resistant. It has a metal ring sealing around it and a locking clasp. The design doesn’t allow the water to seep in, whether it is raining or snow. This makes it an ideal choice for the survival gear of campers, travelers, survivalists, hikers or preppers.
It is also flameless which makes it windproof too. It is essentially an arc lighter and its lithium ion battery can be charged with a USB within 2 hours, to give you optimum performance for a long time. Hence, it doesn’t require any gas or butane fuel to get it going. This is a cost-saving feature of the butane lighter which is light and convenient to use anywhere. It has a 60 days’ guarantee if you are unsatisfied with it.
It is available in four different colors such as black, red, camouflage and cool camouflage.
Outdoors Waterproof Lighter
It is an ideal outdoor use lighter with a waterproof design. It operates through a double electric-arc pulse and hence is windproof too. This is ideal for activities such as climbing, hiking or camping. It is a perfect option for those rainy and snowy days when you need uninterrupted access to the fire.
It doesn’t require any kind of gas or liquid and is fully rechargeable. It comes standard with a USB charging cable and a built-in 220mAh battery cell which can be fully charged in an hour. It can be lit around 300 times when fully charged.
It can also be used easily for domestic purposes as well as emergencies (complementing your fire starter survival kit).
It is light and compact and can also be hung around your neck for quick and easy access. It is available in orange color only.
UCO Stormproof Torch Windproof Lighters
This UCO stormproof lighter comes as standard as refillable, windproof and waterproof. The stormproof lighter is filled with butane (which isn’t included with the product) and also includes a 3-feet utility tape for easy to use lighting.
It is a tried and tested emergency fire kit which has a triple jet windproof setting and an adjustable flame setting.
It is available in two styles i.e. a utility tape that tears easily and holds on to almost anything or with an incorporated bottle opener.
When butane gas is full, it can give you around 700 ignitions. You can count on its piezoelectric ignition system which will last you for over 30,000 uses.
Its dimensions are 1.87 x 1.25 x 4.12 inches (4.8 cm x 3.2 cm x 10.5) and it weighs around 3.4 ounces.
Witer Portable Torch Lighter
This torch lighter is a good quality product and is a great companion for smokers (cigar, cigarette or pipe). It can also come in handy in your kitchen, outdoor activities (such as hiking, camping, picnic, BBQ) or welding.
It has a turbine flame (which can be operated with a single hand) and uses very little fuel, providing you with more heat as compared to your standard kitchen gas lighter.
This lighter uses a heavy metal body and has an adjustable windproof flame. It works well in all types of weathers.
It is available in gold and black colors and priced reasonably a $16.99.
Tesla Coil Lighters
This Tesla coil lighter is rechargeable and operates with electricity (and no flame). There is no hassle of filling it with enough butane or gas. It works based on an electric arc on the press of a button. This makes it inexpensive as well as environment-friendly.
You can use it anytime anywhere and the same goes for charging it, with the help of a USB.
It has a safety lid that doesn’t allow the lighter to function when closed.
It is safe, slim and has an elegant design and makes for a perfect gift for family or friends.
It is available in funky looking and solid colors such as gunmetal, blue and rainbow.
Sirius Survival ZeuX Electric Plasma Lighter
This electric plasma lighter can be relied upon in any outdoor condition or weather, as it is wind resistant (withstand wind up to 80MPH) and water resistant, that is the arc can work even when get wet. It doesn’t require any butane refill.
It is easily chargeable with a USB device through a wall adapter, portable battery bank or even solar panel rechargers.
It is operable by a push of a button utilizing its dual arc plasma technology. It is ideal for outdoor adventures such as camping or even in survival situations or emergencies.
It comes standard in a bright and durable casing and is perfect for a survival bag.
It is available in black and orange colors only and priced reasonably at $15.99.
Icfun Water proof Lighter (Camouflage & Orange)
This lighter is made out of the metal case and a locking clasp. This ensures that it stays waterproof even in the toughest and inclement weather conditions. It is for this reason that this lighter is your automatic choice for all outdoor activities such as camping, traveling, hiking et al.
This lighter comes in with a very handy feature i.e. a flashlight. This flashlight has three modes (low light, highlight and flash mode). This is perfect for emergencies and survival situations.
It has a built-in rechargeable lithium battery (giving you 2 hours of ignition when fully charged) and doesn’t require butane or any other gas to perform. Hence, you save money on refills and get a compact device that is good to use anywhere. It automatically shuts off in 7 seconds to avoid short circuit and as a general safety measure.
It is available in two colors: camouflage and orange.
Here are some key aspects that you need to bear in mind when choosing the best lighter.
When you are met with a survival situation, it is about sustaining yourself and allocating and using your resources wisely. You never know how long the status quo will prevail!
In such a situation, you will certainly need fire to thrive and survive and for such purpose, reliable fire starters are a basic need that you must have.
If that is a survival lighter, then you should have ensured that you bought something durable, high-quality and sturdy. We know that cheap ABS plastic items will not be able to withstand for long and hence you cannot solely rely on a disposable lighter, which is what most people do (without thinking it through).
One of the best choices for lightweight lighters on the market is polymers. These are meant to be more durable than the very popular metal ones.
In an emergency survival situation, you would want to pack as lightly as possible. Picking a lightweight and sturdy lighter is just a prudent decision, which will help you in those tough situations.
Survival situations or emergencies are not guaranteed to happen only once or twice in our life. No one has a crystal ball to gaze and assess that. Similarly, we should be thinking about our fire-starting device such as a survival lighter. For all you know, you may need to use it for multiple purposes in a tough situation which may go on for days or months. With that in mind, you should always opt for a refillable lighter.
A refillable light can take many shapes and forms (lighter fluid, gas, USB charging or disposable lighters which can be refilled). No matter which one you choose, when you are choosing a lighter, it won’t be of much value in the long term, if it is only refillable once or a few times.
Moreover, the reusability of your lighter is also linked to the fact that you need the required type of gas or combustible fuel source or charging to be available, for the reusability feature to make sense. In other words, your reusable lighter is as good as your supply of combustible fuel or availability of charging.
A good survival lighter needs to be a practical one. Whether you can ‘use’ a lighter effectively and efficiently in a given situation, largely depends on a few important factors.
The first aspect is lightweight. The lighter it is to carry the better. This will make sure that it is a portable device that you can use instantly during the time of need. Some lighters are so compact and slim that they are even built-in to your key ring or chain. This can stay in your pocket or dangle around your neck for easy and instant access.
If it is a lighter fluid or gas-based lighter then you must make sure that compatibility of such fuel with the type of lighter you have. For this reason, try to opt for a lighter that can use any type of fuel to give you optimum performance.
Lighters that are made up of zinc alloy or other durable material will make their usability better and for longer periods.
Some of these lighters come with a cap or lid to protect the lighter from damage and avoid any safety or hazard concerns, such as accidental ignition or spillage of lighter fluid.
A lighter’s resistance is meant to be a more important feature than the material with which it is made. It is arguable though that one depends on the other or that they are in a way interlinked.
If you happen to abode in a region which sees consistent rainfall or snow or you regularly visit places which do, then you should be looking for a lighter that has high waterproofing qualities. This will hold you in good stead when the going gets tough.
Similarly, if you live or visit places that are surrounded by water or near it then it is a no brainer that you will need a strong quality lighter which can withstand water impact or wetness, in case you accidentally drop it or find yourself in water for any reason.
Impact resistance is another big concern that you must take into account. For that, you need a durable lighter which can put up with your day to day or excessive impacts (if you like). Such as drop, toss, crush from an accident or exposure to friction when rubbing with other items in a box or kit for example.
Types of Survival Lighters
The survival lighters today have evolved a great deal. The technological advancements have ensured that you have a variety of options available to suit your needs and style. Here we will look at the three most common and broad types of mechanisms used in survival lighters, that are available in the market today.
Electric lighters are preferred by many over the regular lighters for a variety of reasons. They are flameless (which makes them wind-proof). They are butane free which relieves you from the hassle so there’s no need to worry of buying and refilling the gas, time and again. Their plastic-free properties make them sturdy and tough which can withstand the usual wear and tear from constant use.
They are also chemical-free (which along with the butane free feature) makes them environment-friendly.
Plasma lighter is a variant of the electronic lighter. It is also rechargeable and hence guarantees you an uninterrupted and continued supply of fire, wherever you need and whenever you need it.
They are also flameless and hence wind-resistant. This makes them ideal for using outdoors (such as camping, hiking or picnics) and even in emergencies.
This type of lighter uses a plasma beam to kindle the fire. This is a much safer option as compared to an electric lighter (as discussed above). This is because plasma lighters don’t crack and hence rule out the hazard of spilling of the lighter fluid that can be toxic.
Plasma beam lighter operates with the help of electrodes (with either a single or dual arc lighter feature) that emits plasma beams. When you press the ignition button, the ignition system generates a spark that produces the plasma beam and then maintains a lower voltage that helps in sustaining the beam (reaching 900 degrees Celsius). This is how you get the instant and uninterrupted fire at the click of a button.
It also features a safety mechanism in the form of a cap or switch. When this is turned off, the electrical arc will not work and there is no chance of an accidental spark, leading to an unintended fire.
Butane lighter is your standard pocket lighter that you use on a routine basis to create a flame. We use this every day to ignite a gas stove, candles, cigarettes or even fireworks.
Depending on the brand and type, it can be made from metal or plastic container which is filled with pressurized liquid gas or a burning lighter fluid which is highly flammable.
These lighters are less reliable than electric lighters as they are not wind resistant and aren’t even water resistant. These two aspects make these butane lighters a back up option for survivalists or preppers, with their primary reliance on electric lighters for fire-starting purposes.
How to Refill a Survival Lighter?
Never refill your survival lighter immediately after use and allow it to cool off. Always ensure that lighter is away from your face while refilling and is turned upside down to avoid air getting into the lighter. Turn the adjusting screw of flame height to a minimum. Do not force or exert undue pressure on it.
Shake the butane gas can well. Press the refill nozzle directly in the refill valve on the bottom of the lighter and hold it in a straight position for around 5 seconds. Repeat for shorter intervals if required. Let the lighter to rest for 3-4 minutes so the gas reaches room temperature. Finally, return the flame height adjuster to normal.
If there is no flame after a refill then repeat the process. If you are concerned that there is a gas leakage and you hear a hissing sound during the refill process, then either you haven’t held the gas can properly or the gas can’s stem is not compatible with the lighter that you are using. If that is so, you will require an adapter that generally comes with the gas can.
When Do You Need to Use a Survival Lighter?
Lighters are simple but effective at the same time. Fire provides us with heat energy. And with a lighter designed to provide fire and be by your side, you can access it whenever you want and wherever you want. They can be used by survivalists to:
- Keep warm
- Sterilizing and boiling water
- Cook food
- Illumination in darkness or as a call for help
- Protection and keeping predators at bay
A survival lighter is often overlooked and underestimated as a survival tool. We take the ‘ready-made’ flame for granted. It is only in emergencies and survival scenarios that we think of them as a life-saver.
These lighters have come a long way and have effectively replaced the primitive ways of kindling fire. Imagine the stress and hard work that we used to put in to create a simple fire. We achieve that miraculously now with just a touch of a button!
The purpose of this guide was to educate you on the factual and technical aspects of various types of available lighters on the market. Keep in mind that this will help you make the best decision in the interest of your life and your families. More importantly, this should also awaken in you the sense of realization as to how important and amazing this survival tool is. Happy lighting!