9 Best Windproof Lighters | March 2017
- o-ring sealed with locking clasp
- comes in bright orange or black
- not especially reliable
|Brand||Ultimate Survival Techn|
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- 15-second auto safety shutoff
- up to 100 uses per charge
- not great for starting actual fires
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- manually-opening safety cap
- textured grip on lighting switch
- somewhat cheaply constructed
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- includes a wall hook for hanging
- sliding safety mechanism
- materials may degrade quickly
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
- igniter is rated for 30000 uses
- abs body with silicone cap
- may take multiple clicks to ignite
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- easily visible fuel gauge
- bottom wheel adjusts flame
- lid hinge is a bit flimsy
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
- up to 300 uses on one charge
- free of harmful butane
- great for impressing friends
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
- sturdy all-metal construction
- backed by lifetime guarantee
- finish is scratch and chip-resistant
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
- works for up to a week on one charge
- simple push-button activation
- recharges via micro-usb
|Brand||Tesla Coil Lighters|
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
The Windproof Lighter: For Convenience And/Or Survival
There are few items out there which can at certain times seem like nothing more than a way to make a basic task simpler, and at other times may well be the fulcrum of a life or death situation. The windproof lighter falls into in this decidedly narrow category, straddling the boundary between convenience and necessity.
Whether you are simply getting a cigar lit in a matter of seconds despite the breeze blowing down the street or you are firing up the grill on a blustery afternoon, a good windproof lighter gets the heat where it needs to be. This is also true if you're trying to get a road flare lit during a storm or you are trying to get the tinder beneath a campfire caught so you can brave the icy night ahead while stranded in the wilderness.
Most windproof lighters are compact and lightweight and are priced to sell, too. There are some designed to be stylish, and there are some that are all about function over form. Choosing the right windproof lighter for you depends on your lifestyle, your hobbies, and your desire for preparation. This is a product category where, you'll be glad to know, budget is hardly a concern: most windproof lighters cost between ten and twenty dollars.
Choosing The Right Windproof Lighter
There are many types of lighter that fall under the umbrella heading of "windproof," and first, to be clear, no lighter is truly 100% windproof. A hurricane force blast of wind is going to extinguish that flame, so in fact these lighters should more accurately be thought of as highly wind-resistant. (Certain types of electric lighters offer the best wind resistance, but the heat they produce is harder to use to start fires, so this benefit is mitigated.)
For the cigarette smoker, an electric "plasma" lighter is an ideal choice. These lighters create a small arc of electric heat so hot it can almost instantly ignite the tip of a cigarette or small cigar, and they work well even in high winds, as there is no true flame to blow out.
For the cigar or pipe smoker, a "jet flame" torch lighter is a better choice, as they require a larger flame to ignite all the tobacco at once.
And for use lighting the charcoals of a grill or starting a campfire (or what might be a survival fire, given the situation), a double flame torch lighter fueled by refined butane is a great choice, especially if it's one with a cap that seals tightly, protecting its flame element when not in use.
Yet another category of windproof lighters uses the same approach as the cigarette lighter (now more commonly thought of as a DC power outlet) in your vehicle, relying on electricity to heat a small element much like a miniature burner of an electric stove. These are some of the safest windproof lighters, as there is no open flame of any type produced, but they are also very ineffective for anything but lighting cigarettes, smaller cigars, or perhaps the fuse of a bottle rocket on the 4th of July.
Thanks to the relatively low cost of most windproof lighters, there may be no need to choose just one type as your go-to heat source; the answer to which windproof lighter suits your needs best might be to reject choosing only one, and instead to keep one lighter on hand for firing up that cigar, and a different type in the glovebox or hiking pack for helping you weather the unexpected storm.
Windproof Lighter Use And Maintenance
A standard windproof jet flame type of lighter requires re-filling from a pressurized bottle of butane once its reservoir is empty. The refilling process is easy and takes only a few seconds. Once these lighters have a problem with their electric ignition system, though, there is usually no cost-effective way to fix them, and they must be discarded and replaced.
An average arc flame lighter requires charging via USB after an average of 200 uses; some last longer, some last less time. An advantage to this type of lighter is that their fuel source is readily abundant, but a disadvantage is that they lose their charge over time, while a butane lighter, for example, retains its fuel for months on end. Make sure to keep the area between the lighter's nodes clean and free of lint or other debris, as of course there's a fire hazard with a lighter.
The iconic Zippo lighter is the most basic item that falls into the windproof lighter category. They use regular cloth wicks and burn liquid fuel, and in fact it is their physical design, not their burner or fuel, that makes them wind resistant. The small holes bored into the windscreen frame around the wick allow wind to pass around the flame, which causes it to dance and flicker, but does not allow for direct exposure to a gust that could extinguish the flame.
These lighters look great and work well in dry conditions, but they require extensive maintenance, with the wick and flint requiring regular replacement and the re-fueling process being involved and occasionally messy.