Best Lighter for Emergencies and Every Day Use

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We set out to find the best lighter for every day use (like camping) and emergencies. Sure, heavy duty matches are good, too, but a good lighter is fast and efficient. (And they don’t make matches as sturdy as they used to make them.)

These are the lighter features we are looking for:

  • How easy is it to use the lighter?
  • Does it hold a flame well?
  • Do you burn your fingers keeping the flame lit?
  • Can I throw the lighter in a backpack and not worry about it leaking?
  • Does the lighter leak or allow fuel to evaporate?

We tested five of the top rated liquid fuel lighters. One came out clearly on top, and a couple were unpleasant surprises. Just like matches, they don’t make lighters like they used to, either.

These are all mechanical flint wheel EDC lighters. Types of lighters NOT includes are electronic style lighters, butane torch lighters, flint and steel, St. Dupont cigar lighters or peanut lighters.

We generally do not recommend electric lighters, at least not for emergency use. If you want to keep one around as a candle lighter and you know you will recharge it, then it’s okay. For EMF sensitive people, the lighters are painful to use, and they can lose charge while sitting around.

Best Lighter – the Exotac titanLIGHT Refillable Lighter

Our top pick for best lighter is the Exotac titanLIGHT Refillable Lighter.

It has a durable, effectively waterproof and windproof, all metal construction with a rubber gasket. The lighter mechanism is solid and easy to use. It is also extremely easy to refill.

The Exotac titanLIGHT is expensive, but it is dependable. It has good spark throwing capacity and the cap catches any leaks in storage. The titanLIGHT can spark tinder even when there is no fuel left in the lighter.

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It can use almost any lighter fluid, but be careful with cheap fuels. When we tested cheap fuel, it leaked inside the cap, and we had a wide burst of flame when we first ignited it. There was no leakage inside the cap with better quality fuels.

It’s an excellent choice for heavier use, because you know you can depend on it to work every time. There are videos online of it being dragged behind a boat and used right after to light a fire.

You also don’t need to hold a fuel button down to keep it lit, so you can keep your fingers away from the flame.

PROS: Durable, all metal, water resistant, wind resistant, wick and wheel can be replaced, it is easy to refill and can use inexpensive fuel.

CONS: Price

Note for Carrying Lighters with Exposed Buttons

Most lighters have an exposed button that feeds fuel to the flame. If this button is pressed down (in a backpack, for instance), they leak fuel.

To avoid this, keep the lighters with buttons inside a sock, cardboard tube, or other container that keeps the button from getting pressed. The titanLIGHT does not have this issue, and is self-contained.

BEST INEXPENSIVE OPTIONClipper Solid Colors Reusable Reflintable Lighters

The Clipper Lighter is a great EDC (everyday carry) lighter, because it’s smaller and less expensive than the Exotac. It’s better than the BIC because it’s sturdier and both the sparking and lighting mechanisms are better.

For the price it is still very functional, and can definitely light a fire in breezy conditions. We really like the wheel ergonomics. As a bonus, it can be refilled and the flint can be replaced. Some other versions of the Clipper also have adjustable flames.

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PROS: Inexpensive, fuel does not evaporate, smaller, refillable, flint can be replaced. It is somewhat water resistant. We LOVE the wheel.

CONS: Requires more expensive fuel, more difficult to refill. No adjustable flame. Potential fuel loss from accidental button-pushing.

SCRIPTO Lighter 7 Count

The Scripto Adjustable flame lighter 7 Count are great inexpensive lighters. Check the price, as it varies widely from website to website.

The Scripto lighters have an adjustable flame that varies a lot. The wheel is smooth and operates easily right out of the package. They are roughly the same size as a full size BIC.

PROS: It lights easily and the flame is nicely away from the button. The wheel is ok and gives a good spark. Adjustable flame.

CONS: The only real disadvantage is that they are not refillable. If you push the button in storage, you will lose fuel.

Djeep Lighters (Pack of 4) Assorted Plain Colors

The Djeep lighters work, but they are not a top choice. The wheel is similar to the BIC and it is larger, but it’s a little tougher to light.

They have an adjustable flame, but it doesn’t vary much. Your finger does stay farther from the flame. It is about the size of two BIC mini lighters. It has the exposed fuel feed button.

BIC Classic Lighter, Fashion Assorted Colors, 10-Pack

NOT RECOMMENDED BUT USABLE

We used to love BIC lighters when I was back in the Boy Scouts many years ago. Unfortunately, they changed the design, and we do not recommend the BIC lighter.

These inexpensive disposable lighters work, but not very well. Both the Classic and Mini aren’t very comfortable or easy to use, and we had issues with the sparking assembly seizing up in storage. Some people modify them to work better, but this may cause catastrophic failure.

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PROS: Inexpensive, somewhat water resistant, widely available, small.

CONS: Not refillable, flimsy construction, potential fuel loss from accidental button-pushing.

Are Zippos the Best Lighter?

The “click” of the Zippo is iconic. Unfortunately, Zippos are not the best anymore. The fuel evaporates so quickly that this is impractical for nearly all uses.

We were very disappointed in the Classic Royal Blue Matte Pocket Zippo Lighter. It did light a fire, but even sitting upright on a shelf, the fuel evaporated in just a few days.

We recommend any other lighter than the Zippo, or find an older Zippo from when they were made better.

PROS: It makes a funky noise when opening and is made in the USA. The wheel created good spark.

CONS: Expensive, not water resistant, fuel evaporates quickly even with “ranger” band. Tricky to use in rough conditions.

Conclusion

There are lots of alternatives, such as electronic lighters, but we were looking for a dead simple reliable liquid fuel EDC lighter and/or heavy duty camping lighter. All but the Zippo fit the bill.

Our best lighter pick, the Exotac, is awesome if you need one that is 100% reliable, waterproof, and doesn’t leak . The inexpensive CLIPPER is our winner for everday carry.

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