Written By
Published May. 11, 2022

I’ve backpacked over 6,000 miles, climbed to 20,000 feet, and guided people into the depths of Alaska’s wilderness. Without carrying a fire source, I wouldn’t be here to tell you what camping lighters are the best of the best. One of the most critical 10 life-sustaining essentials is fire. Every time you venture into the outdoors—whether for an hour or overnight—you should be carrying the 10 essentials, including some way to start a fire. Fire does so much for you while recreating in the outdoors—from keeping you warm, heating your food, and emergency signaling to just having a great time around the campfire. 

Whether you are looking for a lighter to last you a lifetime or something to get you by on a quick overnight, I scoured the market and dug deep into my past to find and test the best camping lighters. I tested each lighter’s durability, weatherproofness, functionality, reliability, and took into account feedback from trusted experts. Here are my picks:

How I Tested Camping Lighters 

To determine my final list of the best camping lighters, I put them through a series of tests that replicated the harsh scenarios I’ve experienced in the field. 

Windproof

To test whether the lighter is windproof and to what degree, I performed two tests:

  • The blowing out a candle test creates about 3-5 mph of wind 
  • The hairdryer test on high creates about 40 mph wind

I tested each lighter several times by simply blowing on it like I was making a wish on my birthday. For the hairdryer test, I lit the lighter and then turned the hairdryer on. Everything went out in an instant except the UST TekFire and SaberLight Flameless Rechargeable Plasma Beam Lighter. Those two flickered in the wind but did not go out.

Waterproof

To find out if the lighter works in the rain, I used a spray bottle from a distance of about 1-2 feet and sprayed around the flame/spark. After they were soaked with water, I tried to light each one to see if they would light. 

Next, I checked how well the lighter worked after being submerged in water. I submerged the whole lighter in water for 5 minutes, then tried to light it. Several would not light right away, others would, and some took hours to dry out to spark up. 

Lighters were soaked with water to see how they worked in the rain.
Lighters were soaked with water to see how they worked in the rain. Justin La Vigne

Freeze Test

I put each lighter in the freezer for 2 hours, then tested each one. 

Ease of Use

I tested each lighter to see if it would light a camp stove and two of the best backpacking stoves, including a two-burner, Pocket Rocket, and MSR Reactor. Then I tested how each lighter worked for lighting campfires by filling my Solo Stove with paper and wood and lit it. 

The author testing how lighters performed while starting a camp fire.
The author testing how lighters performed while starting a camp fire. Justin La Vigne

I also evaluated each lighter’s function. All of these lighters were very simple to use and set up, and some were as easy as flip and light, while others required filling. I barely looked at any directions and had no issues with any of the best camping lighters.

Best Multipurpose: UST TekFire PRO Fuel-Free Lighter 

Key Features

  • Windproof
  • LED flashlight 
  • Rechargeable
  • Built-in safety feature

Why it Made the Cut 

The UST TekFire is simple to use and doubles as a small flashlight, the charge lasts for a long time, it stays lit in harsh winds, and it has a very durable casing.

Pros

  • Locking top with safety latch
  • Comes with a long piece of ParaTinder that doubles as a lanyard
  • Encased in a durable rubber

Cons

  • Charging port cover hangs on by a thread
  • Top lid loosened up
  • Can’t use the light and lighter at the same time

Product Description

The UST TekFire is a beefy, 2.1-ounce lighter and flashlight combo perfect for any outdoor adventure. Powered by a USB-rechargeable lithium-ion battery, I charged this years ago and have not needed to charge it since, all while using it a couple of times a month. Two clicks of the button will turn the light on or off, and pressing the button (with the lid flipped) will ignite the arc. The wire safety latch secures the lid, eliminating the worry of it flipping opening in your pocket. 
If the ignitor is pressed for more than 10 seconds by some chance, a built-in shut-off feature will stop the arc. It includes nearly 3 feet of orange ParaTinder, which doubles as a lanyard or can be used for survival needs. Best uses for this lighter include times in heavy wind and rain, plus it works at any altitude. After years of use, I noticed the top and two points of the arc look beat up but still work great. I like to have the UST TEK Fire in my pack as the backup to my Bic as it has one of the best flashlights built into a lighter, and the arc comes in handy for many uses. However, the freeze test did kill the battery, so this is not my go-to choice for my winter expeditions.

Most Durable: Exotac titanLIGHT Refillable Lighter

Exotac

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Key Features

  • Refillable 
  • Large flame
  • Durable

Why It Made the Cut 

The Exotac titanLIGHT Refillable Lighter is constructed of lightweight aluminum, and the tough exterior protects the wick and fuel by completely encasing them with a screw-on top.

Pros

  • Waterproof casing
  • Fuel will never evaporate
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Do not overfill, as it can leak
  • Wick is very hard to replace
  • Expensive

Product Description

The Exotac TitanLIGHT Refillable Lighter is built to take the abuse of any backcountry activity. The top and bottom cap are threaded with o-rings that keep the wick waterproof and the fuel in without any evaporation or leaking. It only takes a few drops of fuel to fill, and those few drops last a long time. The aircraft aluminum construction is lightweight, and the whole package weighs just over 2 ounces. An oversized spin wheel easily creates a spark from the included flint. Both the flint and fuse can be replaced when needed. Although the product says it has a wind guard, I found that even a small breeze would put out the flame. Still, the fact that this passed the freeze test makes it a good option for high-altitude and winter adventures.

Best Stove Lighter: MSR Piezo Igniter 

Key Features

  • Simple design
  • Lightweight
  • Perfect for fuel-base stoves

Why it Made the Cut 

The MSR Piezo Igniter is a staple included with MSR stoves but can work with any gas stove. It lights your fuel-based stove with one or two clicks of a simple button. 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Great for stoves
  • No charging or refilling
  • Lasts forever

Cons

  • Only works with gas stoves
  • Cannot light a fire

Product Description 

The MSR Piezo Igniter used to only be included with MSR stoves and now is available for purchase at a great price. It uses simple technology—when you press the button, it sucks in a small amount of fuel vapor that ignites a spark. It only works for fuel-based stoves and will not light a fire on its own. It fits pretty easily into your cook pot and works very well in windy conditions versus a traditional lighter that will blow out. Because it measures as long as a finger, there is no worry of getting your hand too close to the stove’s flame. It does not need fuel or recharging, so it’s always ready. I typically bring this on overnight adventures where I’m bringing a pocket rocket stove and want to keep my kit lightweight. 

Best Plasma Lighter: SaberLight Flameless Rechargeable Plasma Beam Lighter 

SaberLight

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Key Features 

  • Simple to use
  • Rechargeable
  • Lasts 300 ignitions 
  • Stayed lit in 40 mph winds 
  • TSA approved

Why It Made the Cut 

This lighter is a great option for an everyday carry, as it fits easily in your pocket. It recharges quickly, and one charge lasts up to 300 ignitions.

Pros

  • Sleek looking
  • Slim design
  • Quick charge

Cons

  • The ignite button can turn it on even when closed
  • A bit heavy
  • Top does not open fully (about a 65-degree angle)
  • On button is close to the top

Product Description 

The SaberLight looks and sounds like Darth Vader’s lightsaber but much smaller. The simplicity of the one-touch button is straightforward. The lid flips open with one finger, and the charging port on the bottom is easily accessible. However, I’m giving it a ding for not having a cover over the battery charging port. When I submerged it in water—which can easily happen on paddling, fishing, or backpacking trips—the battery tripped up a bit and took some time to dry out and start working again. The internal lithium battery recharges in about one hour. It is completely windproof, staying lit through 40 mph winds. Bonus: It claims to be TSA approved, although I did not test that theory. 

Best for Campfires: SOTO Pocket Torch w/ Refillable Lighter 

Key Features

  • Easy to use
  • Enhances the regular lighter
  • Option for refillable or disposable lighter

Why it Made the Cut 

The SOTO Pocket Torch provides a powerful flame at a hot temperature. 

Pros

  • Refillable option
  • You can hear it working

Cons

  • Flame is not visible in daylight
  • Not windproof
  • Not compatible with round lighters (square only)

Product Description

The SOTO Pocket Torch provides a strong blowtorch-like effect when lit. It is perfect for sticking into a campfire to light or to spark up a stove, especially if you want to look like James Bond around camp, thanks to its sleek physique. It fits in your full palm with thumb ignition. I did find the button to be a bit hard to push down and it required a lot of resistance to keep it down. The complete exterior is made of hard plastic, and the removable trigger holds a disposable lighter. There is an option to use a refillable butane lighter (comes in the package), which can save you money and the Earth. It’s a bit too bulky for backpacking but perfect for your backyard campfire or car camping. 

Best Refillable: Zippo Chrome Lighter 

Key Features 

  • Flip lid
  • Compact
  • Quality built

Why It Made the Cut 

The Zippo’s calling card is its reliability over time. 

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Refillable

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Not windproof

Product Description

The Zippo has been around since 1933 and remains a staple product. I have the one my father-in-law used in the Vietnam war, and it still works, proving it lasts a lifetime. The lid flips up and down with a satisfying click and puts out the flame. It’s refillable with lighter fluid or naphtha poured onto cotton or batting in the bottom of the lighter. The Zippos can be used over and over again. I find myself filling it once or twice a year and replacing wicks every couple of years. Although Zippo says they are windproof, that is not the case with the standard one as a simple breeze can blow it out. In a pinch, you can even use a Zippo as a candle as the lid stays open and the flame will stay lit until the oxygen source is cut off. It is made of durable metal in the U.S. Bonus: Zippo has a lifetime guarantee and will fix it for free.

Best Budget Lighter: Bic Lighter Classic 

Key Features 

  • One-handed use
  • Easy to identify
  • Lights on first try

Why It Made the Cut 

The BIC Lighter is the most recognizable and reliable lighter around. The price is hard to beat, and they are simple to use and lightweight.

Pros

  • Available to purchase anywhere
  • Simple to use
  • Safe to use
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • One time use 
  • Easy to lose
  • Not recyclable

Product Description

The BIC Lighter was invented in 1973 and sells more than 250 million individual lighters per year in North America. It is a butane-filled lighter that is inexpensive and strikes aflame with a spin wheel and depressed button. Its function is a safety mechanism so it’s harder for children to start. The BIC can be used about 3,000 times, and the .9 ounce weight is unbeatable. During my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I only needed one for the entire 2,181 miles. Some models can be refilled but rarely are since they are so inexpensive. Unfortunately, they are hard to recycle, and more than 350 million end up in landfills every year. I stash a BIC Mini in my first aid kit for emergencies and usually have one in the hip belt pocket of my pack. Of course, I also have the long-handled Bic at home in my junk drawer for lighting candles, stoves, and my fire pit.

How to Choose the Best Lighter

First, know what your intentions are for that lighter and ask the following questions. 

  • Are you going to use it for multiple purposes or a singular use? Do you want the ability to refill it with butane or fuel? 
  • Do you want one that is going to last a lifetime or a quick fix that is disposable?
  • Do you like the ability to recharge a lighter and not deal with flames or fuel? 

If you like simple and quick, the standard Bic has become the most recognizable lighter in the world. I suggest you try several options before choosing just one. You may find something new and tailored for different fire-starting activities. 

The author's testing station.
The author’s testing station. Justin La Vigne

FAQs

Q: How much does a camping lighter cost?

A camping lighter can cost anywhere from a couple of dollars to almost $100. Visit your local outdoor store and look over the options or hop online and see how many there are.  

Q: What is the best lighter on the market?

That is a matter of opinion and your intended use. As I said, you should try many options and not just always flock to the easy option (BIC).  

Q: Are camping lighters worth it?

If you are camping, backpacking or spending any amount of time in the outdoors, a camping lighter is definitely worth it. They tend to be beefier and stand up to the elements and can be refilled. They provide you flame in lots of variable weather conditions and can last a long time, if not a lifetime. These are a lot better than a disposable lighter that pollutes the landfill.

Q: What is the best windproof camping lighter?

My tests and experiences show that the best windproof lighters are electric arc and plasma lighters like the UST TekFire or SaberLight Flameless Rechargeable Plasma Beam Lighter.  

Final Thoughts 

Fire is safety. Fire is warmth. Fire is food. As I stated in the beginning, you should always carry some type of fire source when exploring the outdoors. In fact, I carry two of the best camping lighters, as you never know what is going to happen. Each of these picks will serve you well, but experiment with the options to choose what is best for you and your intended uses. 

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