[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ome of us don’t leave home without one. Survival lighters, the fuel to your main source of warmth, food and even water. With the volume of choices though, how are you to pick the best? I always have at least a few with me in the outdoors as they’re also an essential piece to my bug out bag.
When cold strikes, warmth in your fingers is some of the first to escape. The human body can last just a few hours without warmth in dire cold. When you need a fire fast, the last thing you want to worry about is getting your lighter started.
Some of the hardcore survivalists might argue lighters as a cheat, but when you’re in a survival situation, you’ll be glad you had one of them handy handy. They are useful for much more than just starting a fire, perhaps you need to burn the ends of some Paracord to build a basic snare?
The Quick and Versatile Zippo Lighters
Time has proven that these are both durable and come with a long lasting shelf life. Zippo themselves is willing to guarantee it so much as to replacing them for free, you just pay the shipping.
Zippo lighters offer a simple and useful solution, or I should say, solutions. In the case of hypothermia or frostbite, you may not have the dexterity to even get a bic lit. You can light a zippo just by running the striker wheel on your pants leg and don’t have to keep that little lever pressed down. Along with the ease of lighting it, you aren’t forced to hold down the small lever to keep it lit, thus making it a hands-free device.
The Zippo lighters are easy to refill with any naphtha based lighter fluid or butane fuel that will fit the valve. Given the options of burning diesel and gasoline with these is significant, however, not always preferable. When SHTF, you need more fire-starting options than one. The more options you’re equipped with, the better, and fuel is one. Cost effective, the fuel should only cost around $3-$6.
You can refuel these with almost any flammable, spark-ignited fuel. Saving flints from your Bic lighter is helpful in the case that you need use them for you Zippo lighter. It works! Be aware, however, they can go bad in just a couple of years in what is known as “flint rot.”
One downside with the Zippo lighters is that the flame only goes up. When trying to light a ground fire or something at an angle proved to be a major struggle for me.
I was also forced to carry extra fuel with me on longer trips as the gas tends to evaporate in the Zippo lighters over time. Overall I think the goods outweigh the bad for me on this one, but all of these specs are something to consider when it comes to picking your survival lighter.
The Beauty of the Butane
Let’s just get the bad out of the way shall we? These lighters, at least the piezoelectric type, will help when you have cold or wet hands. Bic lighters will sometimes not work in extreme cold weather. Butane boils at .2 Celsius. Anything below it will keep it in a liquid state.
The cheaper Bics run around $8 for a pack of 5 lighters, but can fall apart, use just a fraction of the fuel and or jam up.
However, some of the more expensive have also been found to fail at higher elevations. Keep in mind that these are a one-time use lighter. They’re easy to replace and are mostly affordable to buy even in bulk.
Zippo lighters have the capability of multiple types of fuel to refill them with. Butane lighters like Bic, however, are unfortunately limited to solely compressed butane.
That out of the way, there is a lot of good to these lighters. To start with, they’re easy to light things at ground-level because the pressure inside that pushes the flame further out. They’re extremely light and portable for carrying multiple backups.
If you find yourself in a sticky situation and run out of fuel, these lighters will at least produce sparks for you. I cannot express what a relief it was to have the capability of starting a fire with the sparks that I had, versus nothing at all. Be aware that if the lighter gets too wet, it will often times not produce a spark.
They’re not ideal in some ways, but simple is sometimes best in many situations. I think that these, when combined with other lighters, make for an excellent back-up source.
Windproof Survival Lighters that Withstand the Sketchiest of Weather
Lighters like this floating lighter are perfect for cold weather and windy conditions (up to 80 mph) and are accompanied with the push-button activation.
These work at elevations up to 8,000 feet by allowing you to adjust the flame with right oxygen mix.
If it’s accidentally dropped in water, it floats as well and is easy to spot with its bright color. These will strike, even when wet. And with its piezoelectric ignition, your fingers are sure not to struggle to light it even in cold conditions.
The Ultimate Survival Technologies Floating Lighter doesn’t leak or evaporate fuel frequently, but can become tiresome when it’s time to refill the fuel.
As well, it can be difficult to ignite at a downward angle. But at a price point of around $15, it’s hard to complain much about this lighter. Keep in mind that the fuel is sold separately.
Then there are the Zippo Black Crackle Lighter. They’re hardy with extreme weather as well. Used by the US military, they’re tried and true.
These are made in the USA with quality materials. However, the solid brass can be heavy depending on what you’re planning on using it for. They’re refillable and with the capability of replacing its flints, I can use it until I lose it.
One downside is that they’re pretty terrible with elevation, with only functioning at a max elevation of around 980 feet.
Flame temperatures reach up to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit and have the capability of burning at any angle you wish, including bottom up.
The Zippo Black Crackle Lighters are offered with a free lifetime warranty to guarantee their long-lasting capabilities.
The Toughest Torch for Your Survival Kit
Having a direct flame is extremely helpful when it comes to needing a lot of power and quick-starting fire materials. In case of heavy winds or wet-like conditions, a torch flame withstands these conditions better than most alternatives.
These are often known for their excellence in their non-leak, non-evaporating fuel powers.
Taking care with lighting it, I was forced to prime it before activating it to light. You need to wait until you hear the gas leaking a bit before you click the igniter. It took some work, but was fine after I was used to it.
There are a few cons with Scorch Torch. They are mostly that it is bulkier and heavier than most other lighters. When you think about long-distance camping, trekking, etc. every little ounce matters and adds up in your pack. Finding that right balance of durability and lightness can be a struggle, but it’s one to pay attention to when choosing your primary lighter.
The punch cutter tool is nice in theory, but doesn’t offer much sharpness or effectiveness for its added weight. This lighter is elegant in looks and made with good quality materials, but outside of that I don’t find a huge perk over the alternatives out there.
The Scorch Torch Dominator Triple Jet Flame is a solid package for the right scenario with its capabilities and sure-in price point.
Your Best Survival Lighter Combination for TEOTWAWKI
Each of our stories is different. Depending on where you live in this world, your climate and therefore scenarios will vary. My suggestion to you is to experiment with the options given and find the best combination of those that suite you.
Never rely on just one product. With that in mind, use your favorite type as your primary survival lighter and complement its drawbacks with another option.
Again, Bics are not heavy and make for an excellent backup to any other more durable lighter. If you’re camping and lose your one source to fire, that’s on you. Always prepare for any kind of potential disaster with providing yourself an out with other options.
I will wrap a few of my lighters with important materials such as fishing line, duct tape, fish hooks and sewing needles for emergencies or repairs.
I often carry an extra in my pocket in case of being separated from my other gear in any situation. Be ready and prepared for a number of situations so when SHTF, you’re not fiddling around with one of the smallest, yet most important items needed.
Be ready and have a few techniques to start a fire and with that, a variety of different sources for it to be lit with.
A solid survival kit or bug out bag is crucial in a time of catastrophe. What’s the most versatile combination of lighters you could mix to provide security in your area of retreat?