Carry The Fire: 12 Best Survival Lighters

Photo: Exotac Waterproof Firesleeve

There are a few things that are extremely important to have access to in a survival situation – regardless of the reason your in the situation in the first place. Namely, they are water, food, shelter, and access to fire. Whether you’re stuck in your own home during a natural disaster, lost in the woods, or even in self-imposed outdoor exile, the ability to make fire at a moment’s notice can change the severity of your circumstances tenfold. Not only can fire provide warmth, but it can cook food, sanitize wounds, scare off wild animals, and more.

Unfortunately, matches – even weatherproof ones – have a finite limit to their usefulness. After all, once a match is struck and burned, it has no more ability to create or hold a flame. And that can be bad news depending upon how long you need to keep a fire going. Rather than relying on matchsticks, however, you can invest in a lighter. They can create multiple flames across a greater period of time and, if you get the right one, can survive alongside you through thick and thin, giving you access to fire whenever you desire. So, if you want to bump up the value of your bug-out bag or just make life easier in the case of a disaster, you’ll want to pick up one of the following 12 best survival lighters.

Things To Consider

A Primer

You might be thinking to yourself, can’t any lighter be considered a survival lighter? Well, the short answer is: yes and no. Certainly keeping a lighter on hand is better than nothing, but not all lighters are going to stand up to the kinds of punishment and conditions you might face in a survival situation. For instance, most disposable lighters are not windproof – which is a problem if you’re trapped outdoors during a storm. So, there are a few things you’re going to want to consider when picking up a worthwhile survival lighter. They are as follows:

Material Quality

When you’re desperate to survive, every ounce counts.No matter which way you swing it, survival situations are not ideal. Generally that means there’s going to be some real tough terrain to mow through. And if you hope to have a fire-starter at your side, you’ll want something that isn’t going to shatter the first time you drop it. Cheap plastic cracks easy – and since that’s what most disposable lighters are made of, you might want to look elsewhere. Though it might seem like splitting hairs, different materials have different weights, as well. There are plenty of super durable lighters made from lightweight polymers. There are also even more durable metal ones. The polymers, however, are lighter. And when you’re desperate to survive, every ounce counts. It’s not a deal breaker – just something to think about.


Even the most basic survival lighter should have a bit of impact resistance.Arguably more important than the material out of which a lighter is made are its resistances – though you could argue that one determines the other, to a point. If you plan to visit or live somewhere that’s especially rainy, you should be looking for waterproofing in a survival lighter. This goes double if you live or travel near large bodies of water. Nothing will exacerbate your situation like accidentally dropping a non-waterproof lighter into a puddle and ruining it. Finally, more tied-into the material construction is overall durability. A drop, toss, accidental crush, or otherwise can render cheap lighters unusable. Even the most basic survival lighter should have a bit of impact resistance.


A survival lighter isn’t going to be of much use if you can only fill the reservoir once.It would be amazing if only one bad situation ever arose in our lives. But a smart man realizes the scales of life don’t work that way. As such, you’ll want to look for a fire-starter that can be used multiple times. Yes, that means it needs to be refillable in some manner. Whether you refuel it with lighter fluid, plug it in, or pop in a new disposable, a survival lighter isn’t going to be of much use if you can only fill the reservoir once. How reusable you want your lighter will, however, be balanced by the availability of the fuel used to ignite it.

Types Of Fuel

Some lighter fuels are more accessible than others, but their functionality limits their usefulnessThe final thing you’ll want to consider when it comes to survival lighters is the type of fuel the lighter uses. This factor will not only determine the viability of using the device in a survival situation, but also the availability of refueling it, as well as the overall cost to you. Some lighter fuels are more accessible than others, but their functionality limits their usefulness depending upon factors such as the weather outside and access to a power grid.

Lighter Fluid: By far the most easily accessible combustion fuel type, you can find tins of lighter fuel in just about any grocery, convenience, or outdoor store. It’s a little bit on the wasteful size, as far as fuel types go, but the overall convenience trumps that in most situations. Many lighters that use this fuel, however, do not have windproof flames or need to be refueled often.

Butane: Another combustible fuel type, butane can be found in the bulk of lighters labeled as “windproof.” It burns hot and fast and is slightly less accessible than regular lighter fluid, but it’s not so difficult to get your hands on that you should look elsewhere.

Electric/Arc: Requiring no combustible fuel whatsoever, these types of lighters run on battery power. Some take disposable batteries, but most can be plugged in for recharging. They’re wind and splashpoof, as they do not rely on a flame, but they do need to be recharged a lot and – if you don’t have access to power plugs or a portable solar panel – this can become an issue.

Plasma: Scientifically, plasma and electricity are technically different. That being said, the reason they are different is convoluted (and argued over) and isn’t really applicable to this situation. What you need to know about plasma lighters is that they function much in the same way as electric/arc ones. They run on batteries, can be recharged, do not rely on an extinguishable flame, and are far less susceptible to moisture and wind.


The Lighters

Now that you know the kinds of things to look for in a lighter and you’ve had a bit of time to consider the types of things you need out of one, only one thing remains: choosing your ideal survival lighter. Unfortunately, even armed with the knowledge of what to look for, this can be a bummer of a task. There are just so many options out there, it’s hard to figure out which ones are worth your time. And that’s exactly why we’ve put together the following list of 12 of our favorite survival lighters of all types.

Everstryke Match Pro Lighter

This little pill is small enough to fit on your keychain and even comes with an attachment – if you’d refer to strap it to a bag. It’s not waterproof or wind-resistant, sure – but the low price and easy of use make this a far better option than even the famous BIC disposables. It’s also very easy to replace the wick and flint, should they need be.

Fuel Type: Lighter Fluid
Resistances: Impact-Resistant, Waterproof
Reusability: Refillable, Replaceable Wick & Flint

Purchase: $10

Zippo Windproof Lighter

Zippo has been the gold standard for lighters for nearly a century at this point. And even though their classic flip top lighters aren’t the most rugged fire starters available, they’re still pretty formidable for their solid metal cases, reliability, American-made craftsmanship, and availability of fuel. Plus, every single one comes with a lifetime warranty.

Fuel Type: Lighter Fluid
Resistances: Impact-Resistant, Windproof
Reusability: Refillable, Replaceable Wick & Flint, Lifetime Warranty

Purchase: $13

UST Floating Lighter

One of the best things to look for in a survival lighter is whether or not it can survive a dip in a pool, pond, puddle, or ocean. And this one certainly does. Powered by butane, the casing on this lighter floats even if the reservoir is full. And, thanks to a handy latch on the lid, it’s also leakproof. For such a low price, you could do far worse.

Fuel Type: Butane
Resistances: Impact-Resistant, Waterproof, Buoyant, Windproof
Reusability: Refillable

Purchase: $13

Exotac Firesleeve Lighter Case

Granted, this isn’t a lighter itself – it has to be loaded with a disposable. But, it does take the benefits and availability of disposable lighters (which can be found in just about any gas station around the world) and turns them into waterproof floating versions. It can also hold down the fuel button for you, so you can focus on applying the flame, rather than pushing down on that annoying button. Even better, it’s USA-made.

Fuel Type: Lighter Fluid
Resistances: Impact-Resistant, Waterproof, Buoyant
Reusability: Uses Disposable Lighters

Purchase: $16

Saberlight Sparq Plasma Lighter

Light a lighter straight out of Star Wars, this battery-powered plasma lighter has no fuel reservoir to speak of. Rather, you can recharge it by plugging it in. And since it doesn’t rely on a flame, you don’t have to worry so much about wind or falling rain. Plus, it looks pretty cool.

Fuel Type: Plasma
Resistances: Windproof, Splashproof
Reusability: Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Fuel Cell

Purchase: $16

UCO Stormproof Torch

Not only is this lighter refillable, waterproof (when closed), pack- and keychain-friendly, and durable as hell – but it also has some other handy additions. For instance, you can choose one that has emergency duct tape wrapped around it. Or, if you prefer, there’s one with a bottle opener built into the base. Either way, it’s a nice little extra to your survival tool.

Fuel Type: Butane
Resistances: Windproof, Waterproof, Impact-Resistant
Reusability: Refillable

Purchase: $17

UST Tekfire Lighter

Think of this lighter kind of like the Tesla coil of lighters. Rather than a traditional combustion flame, this lighter creates an arc of electricity across its contact points that can ignite tinder, tobacco in a pipe, or whatever else you need to light. And, on top of the water- and wind-resistant ignition system, it’s also rechargeable and quite tough.

Fuel Type: Electric/Arc
Resistances: Windproof, Splashproof, Impact-Resistant
Reusability: Rechargeable 300 mAh Battery

Purchase: $18

Soto Pocket Torch

Like the Exotac Firesleeve, this is not a stand-alone lighter. But, when you’ve put a disposable lighter inside of it, you’ll end up with a torch that turns that disposable lighter into a fire-starter that gets up to 2,300-degrees Fahrenheit, lasts for 60% longer, creates a windproof flame, and will burn for up to 20 minutes straight.

Fuel Type: Lighter Fluid
Resistances: Windproof, Impact-Resistant
Reusability: Uses Disposable Lighters

Purchase: $20

Zippo Emergency Fire Starter

This is the only lighter on our list that doesn’t rely on any of the five most common types of fuel. Instead, this emergency lighter comes loaded with a series of wax-coated tinder sticks. The benefit? They’re water-resistant, can be removed from the lighter, and wont dry up or evaporate without use.

Fuel Type: Waxed Tinder Sticks
Resistances: Water-Resistant, Impact-Resistant
Reusability: Refillable Waxed Tinder Sticks

Purchase: $25

Windmill Delta Stormproof Lighter

This survival lighter features a super tough and water-resistant case, but also comes with a viewing window so you can see exactly how much fuel is in the reservoir. It’s also very lightweight, said to last through 30,000 uses, and can withstand up to 80 mph winds while staying lit.

Fuel Type: Butane
Resistances: Waterproof, Windproof, Impact-Resistant
Reusability: Refillable

Purchase: $33

Blazer CG-001 Butane Torch

Another example of a super-tough survival lighter with a viewing window, this lighter creates a spark – which can be used to ignite fuel – even if the reservoir is empty. So, if you want to smoke a cigar, but you don’t have any butane handy, this one should still work.

Fuel Type: Butane, Piezoelectric Ignition System
Resistances: Waterproof, Windproof, Impact-Resistant
Reusability: Refillable

Purchase: $50

MeArmy X7S EDC Lighter Kit

While a survival lighter is great on its own, one that has a few other handy built-in tools is even better. And that’s exactly what you get out of the MecArmy X7S. Not only does this device feature a refillable lighter, but it has a built-in LED flashlight and a storage container. If you’re looking for the most functionality out of your survival or everyday carry gear, this one is probably the best value proposition.

Fuel Type: Lighter Fluid
Resistances: IPX8 Waterproof, Impact-Resistant
Reusability: Refillable

Purchase: $100

Survival Gear Essentials

A lighter is only one of the things you’ll need in a worst-case scenario. Find out what other gear you should stash away for emergencies on our list of survival essentials.