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The Best Survival Lighters to Stay Prepared

Best Survival Lighters 00 Hero
Photo: Exotac Firesleeve Lighter Case

There are a few things that are extremely important to have access to in a survival situation – regardless of the reason you’re 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 over 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.

Best Survival Lighters Breakdown

Things To Consider

Enlight Before You Ignite

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 splashproof, 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.

BIC Classic Lighter

BiC Classic
  • Goes through rigorous quality and safety testing
  • Lots of color options
  • Lasts for 3,000 lights
  • Not very durable

Best Cheap Lighter: A Classic BIC won’t be the most durable lighter on the block, but this iconic staple can give you solid performance on a budget. Averaging just over $1 each, the lighters still undergo rigorous quality inspection for safety and are child-resistant. Available in an array of colors, these lighters boast 3,000 lights for each unit’s lifetime, which claims to be around twice the amount of its competitors.

Fuel Type: Isobutane
Resistances: N/A
Reusability: None

Zippo Windproof Lighter

Zippo Chrome Lighter
  • Super reliable
  • Nice classic appearance
  • Fuel is readily available for refills
  • Cheap
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Not as rugged as other options, but great for the price

The Traditional Pick: 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

Exotac Firesleeve Lighter Case

Exotac Firesleeve Lighter Case
  • Waterproof shell
  • It floats
  • Holds down fuel button for you
  • Cap can be finicky

Best Protective Sleeve: 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

Soto Pocket Torch

Soto Pocket Torch
  • Turns lighter into 2,300-degree torch
  • Windproof flame
  • Can burn up to 20 minutes straight
  • Company has great customer service
  • Performance can be inconsistent

Best Torch Converter: 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

UST Tekfire Lighter

UST TekFire
  • Requires no fuel
  • Water- and wind-resistant
  • Rechargeable
  • Prongs may be too close to light cigars

Best Runner-Up: Think of this lighter kind of like the Tesla coil of lighters. Rather than a traditional combustion flame, this 2.1-ounce 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 300mAh Battery

Frog & Co.Tough Tesla Lighter 2.0

Survival Frog Tough Tesla
  • Lights really quickly
  • Comes with flashlight and emergency whistle
  • Super rugged
  • Rechargeable
  • Could use a bigger battery

Best Overall: Like UST’s TekFire, the Tough Tesla from Frog & Co. can ignite a fire simply from an electric spark. However, this unit uses a unique dual-arc technology that lights fires 5 times faster than single-arc lighters. Not only that, but the ABS plastic case is both waterproof and shock-resistant to protect the 220mAh Li-Polymer battery inside so that you won’t be compromised in the most extreme conditions. Weighing just 2.1oz, the unit charges up in just 2 hours and can be used 300 times before charging. Doubling as a survival tool as well, the Tough Tesla features a 120-decibel whistle and a built-in flashlight.

Fuel Type: Electric/Arc
Resistances: Waterproof, Shock-Resistant
Reusability: Rechargeable 220mAh Battery

Exotac ET5500OD titanLIGHT Refillable Lighter

Exotac ET5500OD titanLIGHT Refillable Lighter
  • Made to stand up to toughest conditions
  • Evaporation-proof
  • Uses any lighter fluid to refill
  • Made with aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Easy to deploy
  • Pricey but worth it

Best High-End Lighter: If money is not an issue, you should definitely check out Exotac’s titanLIGHT, a refillable lighter that uses lighter fluid from any Zippo or the like. Made for the harshest environments, the unit is waterproof, leak-proof, and even evaporation-proof thanks to the aircraft-grade aluminum housing and O-ring seal. Incredibly easy to replace, the high-spark flint wheel gives you a reliable flame every time while the quickTHREAD cap untwists in just one revolution for quick access.

Fuel Type: Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Resistances: Waterproof, Evaporation-proof, Leak-proof
Reusability: Refillable, Replaceable Flint

Basic Survival Skills Every Man Should Know

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Having the right gear for a survival situation is only half the battle. Dive deep into our guide of the basic survival skills to ensure you’re equipped for whatever life throws your way.