Thanks to Prometheus and good ol’ modern engineering, we all have the power of fire at our fingertips. The humble pocket lighter is a powerful, essential tool. From lighting campfires, pizza ovens, candles, cigars, and more, a lighter is a specialized, useful piece of EDC gear. Bic lighters are totemic examples of the modern lighter. Ubiquitous and reliable but ultimately rather cheap. In the last few years we’ve seen significant improvements to the classic pocket lighter with some embracing impressive designs and others relying on a cool factor. Whether you’re looking for a good lighter or a cool lighter, the answer is there are far more options now than a classic Bic.
So, What Makes a Good Lighter?
We’re firm believers that a quality lighter is an essential everyday carry item, even if you’re not using one to light cigars or other things. You never know when you’re going to need light or heat, and a good lighter is the kind of object that easily becomes a family heirloom later on down the line. If you invest in a quality one, that is. No one ever inherited their grandfather’s plastic gas station lighter.
So when it comes to the qualities of a good lighter, we’re always keeping in mind a few things.
Flame and fuel type. Is the lighter rechargeable or does it require refills? What type of fuel am I using? How strong is the flame? These are all important considerations and if you find a lighter with customizable flame strengths, that’s an immediate positive in our books.
Material. If you’re taking your lighter on a long camping trip, you’ll want something made with durable, weather-resistant materials. Plastic simply doesn’t hold up well in the great outdoors. You might need to splurge for some higher-end lighters but in the end, they’ll last you for years to come.
Use. Cigar smokers know that a torch flame lighter is the way to go for enjoying a fine stogie. For a deep candle, you might want a lighter with some serious reach so you don’t burn your hand. If you’re lighting backyard firepits, you might want some wind resistance. And if you’re just interested in aesthetic purposes, narrow your search to a cool lighter.
And How Does a Bic Lighter Compare?
Plastic, iconic, and ubiquitous. We don’t have anything fundamentally against the Bic lighter. Despite its cheap materials and omnipresence, there’s still something reverential about the classic Bic. It’s easily customizable so you’ll often find them branded by your favorite local dive bar, music venue, or dingy diner. On the other hand, you’ll also find plenty of bland branded Bics with uninspired designs.
A Bic is a simple, relatively reliable lighter. But, it certainly does not deliver the same performance as other, more expensive lighters. And while a Bic will likely go down in the pantheon of cool lighters, there is a myriad of alternatives offering better flame control, wind resistance, and durability. If you need a light in a pinch, a cheap Bic lighter will do. If you want something that will last a while, continue reading for our review of the best lighters you can own.
The Coolest Lighters
EDC Waterproof Peanut Lighter
Peanut lighters are another classic EDC essential everybody is familiar with. This EDC peanut lighter features the same classic waterproof design everyone knows and loves, in a package that can easily fit on a key ring or strap band. This particular model features a new design, including a long-lasting replaceable wick, and each package includes six flints, one windproof wick, and two waterproof O-rings to make sure your lighter stays dry and ready for use any time, anywhere.
Ultimate Survival Technologies Floating Lighter
We take our everyday carry items seriously, which means being prepared for the worst, even when things appear to be their best. Example? The UST Stormproof Floating Lighter. Whether you’re out in the elements piecing together a fire or on the back deck burning some tobacco, this water-buoyant lighter is engineered to perform flawlessly in winds up to 80 mph. The Piezo-electric ignition can light up to 30,000 times and works in sync with a die-cast wind guard and lever. There are also flame adjustment options, a nylon fuel tank, and even optimization options that allow for better performance at different altitudes. If you’re looking for a do-all EDC lighter that won’t come close to breaking the bank, this is it.
SOTO Pocket Torch
The SOTO Pocket Torch combines the best of both worlds thanks to its detachable cap which converts a simple pocket lighter into a powerful torch lighter. While the Bic-like pocket lighter is perfectly fine for small tasks, the torch lighter is ideal for lighting cigars or outdoor adventuring. Plus, this torch lighter is wind resistant so you can light a fire with ease in the great outdoors.
Zippo Windproof Lighters
The tried and true classic, we knew there was no way we could put together a roundup of durable lighters and not include the Zippo Windproof. The classic Zippo lighter comes in a huge variety of styles and models, but we’re fans of the simple brushed chrome. What we love most about them is that not only are they windproof, but they also feature a durable all-metal construction, are refillable, are made in the U.S.A., and feature Zippo’s famous lifetime guarantee. If simple and reliable are what you’re after, a Zippo lighter is timeless perfection.
Tetra Slide Lighter
While it doesn’t offer the insane functionality as some of the other lighters on this list, the Tetra Slide Lighter is an undeniably cool lighter with a hint of nostalgia. By sliding down the top panel, you reveal an electric heated-coil mechanism that immediately heats up. No flame is produced, but the power is sufficient for lighting candles or rolled smokes. Keep it comfortably in your pocket or display it in your home for some old-school cool points.
Tsubota Pearl Stick Lighter
Another entry into the cool lighter cannon comes from the retro-inspired Tsubota Pearl brand. The Stick Lighter is about the same shape and size as your favorite EDC pen meaning you can tote it in your backpack or pocket without taking up space. Uncap the top to reveal the ignition wheel and a cotton wick. It won’t deliver as much power as a Zippo but it looks just as cool and can handle most tasks any lighter could.
Nomatiq Rechargeable Electric Dual Arc Lighter
For a cool lighter with a bit more power, turn to the Nomatiq Dual Arc Lighter. This rechargeable electric lighter is reliable and classy with its brushed chrome aesthetic and it doesn’t require any fuel refills. Plus, it’ll produce a powerful flame perfect for camping trips, backyard bonfires, or wherever you might need a lighter.
Gingko Element Flameless Lighter
In most cases, the remarkable part of a lighter is the flame itself. But, this sleek and subtle lighter produces no flame at all. Simply unscrew the gold cap, blow on it, allow a few seconds to heat up, and you can light just about anything. The lighter’s long and thin construction makes lighting things at a distance extremely easy. Plus, the Gingko flameless lighter shuts off automatically and features a cap for added protection. Keep this in your pocket, backpack, or coffee table for a conversation piece that doubles as a cool, useful lighter.
Tsubota Pearl Tortoise Lighter
We’re cheating a bit with two entries from Tsubota Pearl, but we couldn’t help ourselves. These chunky, retro lighters scream vintage cool and deliver with a satisfying snap of the lid and click of the ignition wheel. We’re particularly smitten with the tortoise colorway of this cool lighter which perfectly matches your favorite sunglasses. Fill this lighter with Zippo or Zippo-style lighter fluid and add this lighter to your EDC lineup.
Dissim Inverted Lighter
The concept of an inverted lighter is so simple that we’re shocked it took this long to bring one to production. But the folks at Dissim have quite literally flipped the lighter on its head with their unique and extremely effective Inverted Lighter. This refillable metal lighter uses a ring grip to allow for ease of use whether you’re holding it rightside up or upside down. There’s also a flame control wheel for safety and the angled flame port allows you to direct the flame. Ideal for everyday use, the Dissim Inversted Lighter easily fits in your pocket and it’s perfect for lighting candles without singing your fingers.
Douglass Field Lighter L Brass
When we look at our favorite lighters, we’re interested in three things: Simplicity, dependability, and good looks. The Douglass Field Lighter makes all three marks with ease. Based on a very popular lighter style from the early 20th Century, the Douglass Field Lighter is sealed by a series of O-rings to help prevent fluid evaporation, and is engineered to light in most inclement weather. A spare flint is stored inside the cap of the fuel chamber, so you’re never left without spark when you need it, and it’s durable but not bulky, so it won’t weigh your pockets down. All in all, it’s one of our favorite lighters on the planet.
IM Corona Old Boy Chromium Lighter
If you ask us what our favorite lighter design in history is, we’re going to say the same thing time and time again: Classic lift-arms. We absolutely love these things. A little taller and thinner—like today’s modern Bics—these lighters are hefty, solid, and generally feel good in the palm. The classic lift arm lifts up to reveal the flint, and when you’re done, you just clasp the arm down and snuff out the flame. The Old Boy by IM Corona is very handsome, and features a chromium finish, as well as polished accents. It also features a fully adjustable flame, which makes lighting everything from pipes to cigarettes easy and safe, along with a larger fuel tank without changing the dimensions of the lighter, which means you get more flame in between refills. It’s a little spendy, but for something that’s going to last forever, we’re more than willing to pay the price.
S.T. Dupont Slim 7 Lighter
If you’re less concerned about surviving the elements and more about sleek modern styling—and don’t mind spending some coin on a life-long lighter—the Slim 7 by S.T. Dupont is an excellent option. It’s just 7mm thick, weighs less than 2oz, and will fit absolutely anywhere without feeling bulky or heavy in your pockets. It’s not S.T. Dupont’s high-end Paris line of lighters, but if you’re looking for something more affordable (And by “more affordable” we mean 155 bucks) with the same quality standard as the original, these little guys are great and will take whatever beating you throw at them.