lighters - a basic discussion

Items to keep you alive in the event you must evacuate: discussions of basic Survival Kits commonly called "Bug Out Bags" or "Go Bags"

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the_klenzer
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lighters - a basic discussion

Post by the_klenzer » Tue Dec 28, 2004 12:36 am

I'm looking for a lighter for my BOB. I keep a compact butane micro-torch in my bigger camping box, but want something super compact for the BOB. I'm not much into the flint/wheel type lighters, since they are mostly useless in high winds and rain (which is the most likely time for me to need it). What should I look for in a lighter, one of those windproof jet type ones? I see a bit about electronic ignition as well. Not sure what that is, but I'm guessing the trigger generates a short electric burst to fire it up, the same as on my micro torch and BBQ.

Can someone give me the scoop on what makes a good survival lighter?
Thanks!


Feel free to add in any other comments or questions.

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Post by bgaesop » Tue Dec 28, 2004 12:37 am

I use a single large Bic, and many of those small ones. Just shield them from the wind with your other hand and they light well.

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Post by Red Panda » Tue Dec 28, 2004 3:22 am

I find that the windproof lighters with electronic ignition are lousy in the cold. They need to be warmed up, before they'll work. The filament is also quite fragile, so that's another drawback to using one.

The BIC-type lighter is a good, cheap alternative, but those wheels really hurt when your hands are almost frozen.

I'd recommend at least a few dollar store lighters with adjustable flame & a poo-load of strike anywhere matches, that have been waterproofed.

And I highly recommend getting a small magnifying glass. For those occasions when you can take your time starting a fire & don't want to waste non-replenishable items. Again, another item to purchase from the dollar store.

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Post by ghostface » Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:24 am

There is no perfect way to start a fire. The key is to have a bunch of different means to light one and make damn sure that you've practiced them all. I carry a few bics, a few of the generic lighters with the mondo flames, a magnesium block, strike anywhere matches, storm matches, etc.

But in addition to all of the “normal” methods discussed, I also carry two heavy duty windproof/rainproof flares. They double as both a signaling device and a pretty foolproof way to get a flame. Heavy though.
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Post by Nightside_Eclipse » Tue Dec 28, 2004 12:30 pm

Get a bottle of Ronsonol lighter fluid. :D
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Post by Grither » Tue Dec 28, 2004 6:08 pm

I love my zippo but I have to admit, the disposable ones are a better for a BOB.
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Post by SlingsVaqueros » Tue Dec 28, 2004 7:21 pm

I had a real fancy "jet flame" lighter that set me back about 50 bucks. I dropped it once and the internal reservoir cracked. Now it's garbage. My bic lighters have lasted as long a 18 months with regular use. I have four in my BOB in various pockets so I'll always have one at hand.
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Post by Wylycoyte » Tue Dec 28, 2004 7:42 pm

While tools for making fire are often discussed, I rarely see people talking about how it's important to make a proper fire in the first place. Every single time I've made a fire and not gone through the trouble of starting with tinder, then kindling, then adding the big stuff I've had to play with the thing constantly and it never goes right, no matter how much gas or lighter fluid you dump on it. Putting the extra time in to get enough wood of the right kinds, splitting some kindling to get the dry stuff in the middle if its wet, then using decent tinder to light the whole mess is well worth the time and effort.

As for a can't-fail, I really like a flint striker and trioxane bar in combination. Petroleum jellied-cotton balls also burn pretty good even after they've gotten wet. A few shakes to get the excess water off and they should light off a good spark.
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Post by the_klenzer » Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:27 pm

Wylycoyote, you have a good point. How about starting a thread just on fire building?

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Post by Gundown » Wed Dec 29, 2004 1:42 am

the_klenzer wrote:Wylycoyote, you have a good point. How about starting a thread just on fire building?
That could be a good addition to the Knowledge Base.

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Post by RealityDeviant » Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:25 am

I'd stick with butane lighters if I could, although they can eventually just fail to spark. I'd rather just go with a pencil torch and use a Bic to light it. Of course, ideally, I'd carry a lot more than that.

I'm all for the thread on fire building. That's knowledge that could benefit everyone in the event of the SHTF.
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Post by BloodLust » Thu Dec 30, 2004 3:08 pm

I carry a torch, lighter, waterproof matches and tinder. If you want to spend a little, get the camping tinders which light even when wet. Fire paste is handy too. But I use cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly, stored in a film canister. To use, just pull 1 cottonball apart or open it up a little. Lights well and long.

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Post by ghostface » Thu Dec 30, 2004 3:09 pm

Fire paste is a good thing.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own...

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Post by SMERSH » Thu Dec 30, 2004 9:08 pm

fire paste: just go to you local pharmacy and get a tube of petroleum jelly, and while you are there pick up a 5 pack of bic lighters for $5.99
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Post by Wylycoyte » Thu Dec 30, 2004 11:25 pm

GunDown wrote:
the_klenzer wrote:Wylycoyote, you have a good point. How about starting a thread just on fire building?
That could be a good addition to the Knowledge Base.
Since there's some interest, I'll type something up. I'm on vacation this week and entertaining a guest, so it'll have to wait til next week.
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Re:

Post by Dogan » Wed Feb 10, 2010 1:55 pm

Grither wrote:I love my zippo but I have to admit, the disposable ones are a better for a BOB.
Yes but with a Zippo you can use gas, rubbing alcohol, or high test booze for fuel.
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Re: lighters - a basic discussion

Post by Invis » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:31 pm

I know I'll hear back on the price but I have been using a Brunton Helios for several years now and it has served me well. Not too big and real hot!


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Re: lighters - a basic discussion

Post by phalanx » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:43 pm

A six year thread necro.

Impressive.
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Re: lighters - a basic discussion

Post by killzombies » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:05 pm

phalanx wrote:A six year thread necro.

Impressive.
Hey, at least he searched.

I like matches for dry firestarting personally. Wet fires are hard, I used a plastic bag to get it going or chips if I have them. Also got kicked out of a bar for proving to my friends that chips are in fact quite flamable. I heard that the bics don't work well in the real cold.
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Re:

Post by sotik » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:25 pm

BloodLust wrote:I carry a torch, lighter, waterproof matches and tinder. If you want to spend a little, get the camping tinders which light even when wet. Fire paste is handy too. But I use cotton balls coated in petroleum jelly, stored in a film canister. To use, just pull 1 cottonball apart or open it up a little. Lights well and long.

And man do they burn for a long time. I once went to light a fire with one and ended up boiling water on the cotton ball flame alone, went out shortly after the water started to boil but it was water from my tap so was safe enough to drink anways, was just testing out a hobo stove I made.


As for the lighter I have to say go with a bag of Bic lighters. You get 8+ depending on the bag you get, they last forever, can be disposable, and cost anywhere from one dollar to less then a dollar. I was tempted one time to get one of those "uber" survival lighters that was suppose to be usable in the rain, wind etc, etc, but it's price tag was $50. For that price I could get myself 500 bic lighters that would work just as well if I covered them with my hand when I went to use them. Choice is yours though, if you have the cash then there are some "survival" lighters. However Bics will work just as well.

Damn this is a old thread, didn't even notice.
Last edited by sotik on Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: lighters - a basic discussion

Post by aa1pr » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:41 pm

Last year I bought a Ronson windproof lighter that resembles a Zippo as someone stole that one. The Ronson is a POS, some things just can not be duplicated...

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Re: lighters - a basic discussion

Post by spyderco monkey » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:01 pm

I'm working on a comprehensive lighter review that I'll have up in a week or two.

Short answer till then- Zippo's > and Bic's are the only things I'd trust with smoking, much less with my life. Austrian fuel lighter is a great design but with poor materials (tin/ flimsy/complex springs.) County Comm peanut lighter is neat idea, but also with poor materials, poor ergonomics, and totally non-windproof. Most jet lighters, from $10-$100 ones I've tested, work great in the house, but fail in the field, either due to carbon fouling in the igniter, loose wiring, or general murphy's law. Best of the Jet's is the "Windmill," used by navy seals blah blah- works well, but I still don't trust it, worth the $20 I paid, but NOT the $40 they go for.

Get a Zippo. Add 3-5 spare flints under the cotton fuel resevoir. Top off the fuel every sunday night, and have a small bottle of fuel in your BOB- even 1oz of fuel will last for at least 5 weeks of regular use.

As a backup, make a mini-bic keychain, and have it on your keys. (Link to DIY in my sig)
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Re: lighters - a basic discussion

Post by iamkwood » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:17 pm

ZIPPO! i got my first one when i was 12. love it. in brasil they love it too. the only thing is that the fuel may not last very long. but you can carry extra. the GI used it in war and it was good in the monsoons.
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Re: lighters - a basic discussion

Post by Kabong30 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:41 pm

Ya know, I was in Scouts as a kid, and camped all over AZ growing up, but I'll be damned if I can make a decent fire that doesn't have to be constantly messed with to get it going. My wife on the other hand, never been camping before she met me, but her stepdad used to sell firewood. Fire built and roaring in like 2 minutes. Let's just say that I was very humbled that first camping trip with her.
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