Top 7 Best Survival Lighters Reviewed

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By Michael Major •  15 min read

Fire is one of the top priorities in a survival situation. Not only does it allow you to get warm, dry, purify water, and cook food but it provides a source of comfort and an ancient method of keeping the boogeyman away. Being able to get a fire going quickly is essential, and to do that you need a dependable survival lighter that will light your tinder no matter what the conditions.

Choosing the right survival lighter has a lot to do with personal preferences. Let’s discuss my top pics, experiences, and how to choose.

Tesla Lighter
  • Dual arc plasma with long battery life
  • Waterproof, Windproof, and Shockproof!
  • Built-in flashlight, rechargeable with USB, and lanyard
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Best Survival Lighters – My Picks

Best Plasma Lighter: Tough Tesla Lighter 2.0 Review

Plasma lighters are great because they do not rely on fuel to generate the heat that the fire triangle requires. This model comes encased in ABS plastic and has several other survival features in addition to the dual plasma arcs. Running off a 220 mAh 3.7 volt battery this lighter boasts being able to be used 300 times per charge. Charging is done via a micro-USB port and usually takes about 2 hours. This lighter is both waterproof and windproof and comes in bright orange so it is very visible.

Features

Pros

Cons

Customers Say

Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive with the only complaints being around battery life or quality control issues.

Verdict

This is a good lighter and the addition of a flashlight and whistle are nice bonuses. My only gripe with lighters like this is that I fundamentally do not trust anything that runs on batteries. For anyone who is not as ‘old school’ as myself or likes to run several backup ignition sources a plasma lighter like this is a good choice for your fire lighting needs.

Make sure to check out the more detailed review here. Otherwise, check out the lighter below:

Tesla Lighter
  • Dual arc plasma with long battery life
  • Waterproof, Windproof, and Shockproof!
  • Built-in flashlight, rechargeable with USB, and lanyard
Check Latest Price

lcfun Waterproof Electric Lighters

Waterproof Lighter Outdoor Windproof Lighter Dual Arc Lighter Electric...

This is one of those inexpensive Chinese plasma lighters that does the job of forming plasma arcs just fine. While it lacks the features and quality of the Tough Tesla it is still a decent choice as a pocket lighter as long as you have a few backup ignition methods. There is not a lot of info on this particular lighter and this one seems to be the same as others sold under different branding.

Features

Pros

Cons

Customers Say

Customer reviews are generally positive with the negative ones centring around quality control and the occasional faulty battery.

Verdict

This is not a horrible choice for a plasma lighter, but it would be important to have a backup ignition source or three if using it as your pocket lighter. The fact that these types of lighters rely on batteries means that you really need to make sure that you have fully charged it before every outing.

  • .Dimensions 2.7” x 1.9” x 0.7” .
  • Dual plasma arcs .
  • Waterproof and Windproof .
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Amazon.com

Best Survival Lighter for EDC – Zippo Matte Pocket Lighters

Zippo Matte Pocket Lighters

The Zippo is as classic as it is iconic and after all these decades it still finds its way into the kits of more than a few of us outdoors men and women. I personally own one and have lost more than I care to admit. These lighters are very simple but far from waterproof as they run off a lighter fluid soaked wick, lit by a simple flint striker wheel which water will hinder its ability to light. These lighters are advertised as wind proof but should be considered to be more along the lines of wind resistant. Even though the Zippo is just as effective in the bush or in a SHTF situation it’s tendency to run itself dry in the pocket make me place it in the EDC column. Zippo does however now offer a range of inserts to upgrade your lighter to a more advanced offering.

Features

Pros

Cons

Customers Say

Customers reviews are very positive with the complaints centring around being sent counterfeit goods buy some unscrupulous sellers. Overall most people seem very happy with their Zippos.

Personal Experience

I love my Zippo and carry it around often as a EDC where it seems to be best suited but also anytime I’m out in the woods camping. I just make sure to keep it topped up with fuel and I’m good to go. It is a good thing they are pretty inexpensive though since I’ve lost quite a few of them over the years.

Verdict

The Zippo is a good EDC lighter if you are going to use it often, and remember to fill it regularly. However, it is probably the best option for when SHTF as you can burn a wider variety of fuels in it and in a pinch improvise the wicks and flints. Another reason it makes the overall pick for EDC lighter is that it is slim enough to go virtually noticed in the pocket.

  • Dimensions 2.25” x 1.5” x 0.5” weight 2.0 oz .
  • Requires lighter fluid .
  • Wide variety of colours and finishes to choose from .
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Amazon.com

True Utility FireStash Lighter Multi-Tool

True Utility FireStash Lighter Multi-Tool

I like this one for EDC for the simple reason that it fits on a key chain. It is claimed to be waterproof and because of that should not run dry as fast a Zippo does. This lighter runs off regular lighter fluid and is very tiny. It’s small size of course means that it will not have much of a run time. Weighing in at only 2.9 oz you’ll hardly notice this little lighter in your pocket.

Features

Pros

Cons

Customers Say

Reviews are pretty positive with some negativity around quality control and the difficulty in disassembling the unit to refuel it. Overall it seems that a majority of customers are happy with their lighters.

Verdict

This is a budget EDC lighter for those who want something that is going to be inconspicuous and inexpensive. This would be a good buy for those who want an EDC lighter but rarely ever have occasion to need one. I would not trust this as a primary fire starting tool but as a backup to a back up I think it would do just fine.

  • Dimensions 1.8” x 0.6” weight 2.9 oz .
  • Includes 20 mm key ring .
  • Waterproof .
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Amazon.com

Best Waterproof Survival Lighter: UST Refillable Floating Lighter

UST Refillable Floating Lighter with Waterproof, Windproof and Impact...

This lighter is not only water and windproof but also floats and is orange for high visibility. The folks at UST definitely thought this one through when designing it. The piezoelectric ignition is good for when your hands are cold and numb and the 2000 degree adjustable flame will get your fire going with ease. This lighter runs off of butane which is good because unlike a Zippo you wont find that lighters like these run dry without use. The piezoelectric ignition is rated for 30,000 uses even when wet so there is little risk of this lighter running out of spark. The butane fuel is widely available and easy to fill lighters like this up. Overall it is a good choice especially when out on the water.

Features

Pros

Cons

Customers Say

Majority of customers are happy with their purchase the exceptions to this seem to revolve around the usual quality control issues.

Verdict

I really like that this lighter floats and is orange which is what I want in a dire emergency. Being able to quickly and easily locate my lighter when hypothermia is setting in and time is of the essence is a huge win. I like these piezoelectric ignitions as well since they are very easy and fool proof to operate. The only downside is that butane lighters start to have difficulty at higher altitudes but as long as you are not climbing above treeline you should be ok with a lighter like this.

  • Dimensions 2.6” x 1.6” x 0.6” Weighs less than 1 oz with fuel .
  • Piezoelectric ignition .
  • Good up to 8000ft in elevation .
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Amazon.com

UCO Stormproof Torch Windproof Lighter

UCO Stormproof Torch Windproof Lighter with Bottle Opener

This UCO lighter took the runner up spot only because it is not advertised to float and does not appear to be engineered to work up to 8000ft like the UST Floating lighter. Aside from that it is an all around decent refillable butane lighter that operates just as you would expect.

Features

Pros

Cons

Customers Say

Customer sentiment is a bit mixed on this one with almost an even split between the most positive and most negative reviews. The negative reviews are usually in regards to getting faulty product or having the lighter fail soon after purchase.

Verdict

This lighter is the runner up because of the negative customer reviews and that it is not as lightweight or as well thought out as the UST Floating Lighter. As with the other butane lighters it will have trouble at altitude.

  • Dimensions 4.12” x 1.8” x 1.25” weighs 3.4 oz .
  • Piezoelectric ignition .
  • Butane fuel .
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Amazon.com

Honorable Mention – UST Trekker Stormproof Lighter

UST Trekker Stormproof Lighter with Lightweight, Rugged Construction, Turbo...

For those situations where space is at a premium this lighter is a good all around choice being  a cylinder this lighter will fit in a lot of spaces that the others on this list will not. This is a very similar lighter to the other UST lighter on this list but is not designed to float but maintains the ability to operate optimally up to 8000ft. This lighter also runs on butane and is piezoelectric ignition as well.

Features

Pros

Cons

Customers Say

Customer sentiment is generally positive with the only negative reviews centring around quality control issues.

Verdict

I like that this lighter is a cylinder and will slide nicely in the elastic holders in many of the pouches available on the market. This is the primary reason I chose it to be best for a day pack or bug out bag. The only real downside is the tendency of butane to not work well at high altitudes.

  • Dimensions 3.7” x 1.4” x 1.1” weighs 2.4 oz .
  • Piezoelectric ignition .
  • Butane fuel .
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Amazon.com


What to Look For in a Survival Lighter

Fuel

This is probably the most critical of your choices. The main options are plasma arc, lighter fluid, and butane each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Durability

If this lighter is to be intended for a survival situation then it must stand up to abuse so it is there ready to go when your life depends on fire. Often the plastics used are very tough such as ABS but other lighters may be constructed of metal which is also very resistant to damage.

Waterproof/Windproof

This is important for any situations that you may encounter where you may find yourself soaking wet in the midst of a storm looking to get a fire going. Water is the kryptonite of most lighters and matches so having one that can be fully submerged and still light is a definite bonus. Even though your lighter may be windproof what you’re lighting is not so keep that in mind when building your fire in the wind.

Ease of Use

When you need a survival lighter to work, your motor skills are probably going to have gone to hell in a hand basket. When you are cold and numb operating a lighter can be a challenge or downright impossible. This is where piezoelectric ignition start to shine as I can tell you from personal experience that operating a Bic or a Zippo’s flint striker wheel when you can not feel your fingers is incredibly difficult. The plasma lighters are a good option for ease of use because they run off a simple button.


Open Questions…

Why does butane not work well at altitude?

It’s not so much the butane that gives the trouble but the style of lighter. A simple BIC lighter ignites the butane into an orange flame with the trade off being that it is far from windproof. The windproof butane lighters on this list have a higher temperature flame that is more like a jet than a flame. This requires an optimal mix of oxygen and fuel to light and the reduced oxygen at altitude can give problems lighting where a regular BIC lighter or a Zippo will have no issues.

What else should I have along with my survival lighter?

Your lighter is useless without tinder and if you are in a true survival situation a good tinder source will mean the difference between life and death. I recommend having a minimum of three tinder sources with you in the bush at all times. Any of the commercially available tinder or some home made varieties will be sufficient just make sure to also have at least 2 more methods of lighting the tinder as well.


Verdict

If you are looking for a reliable plasma lighter then you can’t go wrong with our top pick of the Tough Tesla. The only downside I see is the reliance on a battery but since most of us only go into the bush with multiple methods of fire lighting, that shouldn’t be an issue. These lighters burn extremely hot and since they do not rely on a flame they are truly windproof lighters.

As far as the butane options go, the UST Floating Lighter tops the list solely because it is the best of the bunch. The ease of use and the waterproof and windproof attributes make this one perfect for when life depends on you getting that fire going. I would be remiss if I did not give a mention to the classic Zippo in this verdict. I’m rarely in the woods without one in my pocket and I love the fact that I can use multiple fuels and easily find both flints and wicks to keep it running. I like to think of the Zippo as a true end of the world lighter.

Tesla Lighter
  • Dual arc plasma with long battery life
  • Waterproof, Windproof, and Shockproof!
  • Built-in flashlight, rechargeable with USB, and lanyard
Check Latest Price

Michael Major

Michael is a survivalist, traditional bowhunter, student of traditional and primitive skills, as well as a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. He is also a husband and father and makes his home in British Columbia, Canada. Read his full interview here.