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Starting a fire with sticks or flint and steel is mighty impressive, but when the chips are down and you really need a flame, wouldn’t you rather get a fire going than dazzle your campmates? No matter how many ways you know how to make fire, you should still carry a lighter, preferably multiples, and one of them should be windproof. Even if it’s not the first choice for kindling a flame, it will be your ace in the hole when dealt a rough hand by Mother Nature. Here’s why windproof lighters are essential for every outdoors kit.

Short of gasoline and a blow torch, a windproof lighter is the easiest way to get a fire going. They come in three basic types: butane, electric arc, and plasma wave. Don’t worry about the technology so much as the weather features. Some are waterproof and others are not. If you really need an all-weather lighter, look for a model marketed as windproof and waterproof. You’re not going to light a fuse underwater, but the case will be sealed to keep the element dry and ready to go in any situation you are likely to encounter.

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Whether the lighter is powered by butane, plasma wave, or Tesla arc, it should be rechargeable or refillable. Many of the electric lighters work directly off of a USB connection, but that means you need a power source to recharge. The big advantage of butane is that you can easily carry a refueling source just about anywhere.

There’s something nostalgic and rugged about a flip-top metal lighter. Zippo has perfected these over the years, and their windproof version is as classy as ever. Next time your fellow campers are huddled over a pile of wet tinder and a book of soggy matchers, that distinctive Zippo “click” will let everyone know you mean business.

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