5 Qualities of Great Survival Lighter [Informational Guide]

| Last Updated: March 29, 2021

The ancient Greeks saw fire as a gift from the god Prometheus. In their legends, Prometheus was punished for giving this powerful tool of the gods to mere mortals. It's easy to see why the ancient Greeks thought so highly of fire as, still today, fire is one of the greatest tools known to mankind.

If you think about it, fire is an absolute necessity for any survival situation. Whether you plan to bug out, or to bug in, you're going to need the very best survival lighter for your survival plan. But, what makes a great survival lighter?

What Makes a Great Survival Lighter?

Here's a list of the 5 very best qualities in a survival lighter, so when the end comes you won't be caught in the dark.

1. Reliability

Not all lighters are created equal especially when it comes to reliability. Matches are great, but if they get wet you're out of luck. Butane lighters don't work well in the cold, and some alternatives to butane evaporate even when kept closed.

Propane lighters are a great alternative to butane lighters as propane is more easily stored for long periods of time, and more readily available in portable tanks. However, propane lighters themselves can be a bit fickle when the chips are down.

Very few will appreciate the appropriateness of this meme when talking about propane and propane accessories.

A lot of people like wick based lighters, and they do have a lot of benefits. For example, they work better than butane lighters in the cold, and they are less likely to evaporate. However, they do have a serious fuel leak problem.

Another alternative is fuel-less lighters. There are many options of these types of lighters from arc lighters to magnifying glasses.

The benefits of an arc lighter is that they work in extremely windy conditions, extreme cold, and even in wet conditions. However, they do run on batteries that need to be charged after a while.

Magnifying glasses are great because they require no fuel or electricity and can fit in your pocket. However, low sunlight conditions do render them useless.Flint and steel lighters are great, but in windy conditions they are less effective.

A great rule of thumb is to have multiple lighters for multiple conditions in your arsenal.

2. Portability

Most lighters are fairly portable. However, when you're bugging out it's usually for the long haul, and you don't know what kinds of conditions you're going to encounter. Not all lighters do well in all conditions.

Whenever you're dealing with a fuel powered lighter, you have to carry both the lighter and extra fuel. Then, you have a slight risk of fuel leaking into your pocket, or pack. Also, if the fuel gets exposed to extreme heat there is the risk that your fuel could explode ruining your pack, and likely causing you injury.

Magnifying glasses can come in a durable plastic and will still work if scratched or damaged. They can also be thin enough to fit into your pocket or wallet.Arc lighters are the size of common butane lighters, and higher quality arc lighters carry no risks of explosion. However, they do require that you carry a charging cable, and an electricity source.

Flint and steel lighters are great because they are durable, small, waterproof, and they are fairly risk free to carry. Another great feature of flint and steel is that they will work even if slightly damaged so, you can throw them in your pack and run without worrying about what happens to them.

3. Ease of Use

Whether you are bugging out or bugging in, there will be times when you need your fire to come easily. Say you're bugged in without gas or power in the middle of winter. You're freezing, and your hands are clumsy because hypothermia has set it. You need fire now, but you're fiddling with a fire source that isn't easy to light.

The easiest lighter to work with are arc lighters. One press of a button and presto, you have fire regardless of weather conditions. Arc lighters also light things easily no matter what direction they are pointed. The only drawback is that you have to light something small enough to fit between the two contact points.

Wick based lighters are almost as easy to use as arc lighters. You just flip the top, and as long as you have fuel, you have light. Their one drawback is that since they create a small flame, the fire will always point up so, lighting things in multiple directions is difficult.

Then, you have your traditional butane lighters. These do pretty well and are fairly easy to light even with limited hand control, though they are not as easily used as wick, or arc lighters.

Propane lighters can be finicky little buggers but, when they're working right they work quickly as quickly and as easily as traditional butane lighters, if not more so depending on the type of propane lighter you purchase.

Magnifying glasses do not take a lot of strength, but they do not light quickly, and without adequate light they may not work at all. There is also a bit of skill involved in holding them at the right point, and angle to concentrate the light enough to start a fire.

Flint and steel have a lot of benefits, but ease of use is not among them. These lighters are difficult to use even under the best circumstances. It takes practice to use them reliably, and even then it's a challenge.

These lighters take two hands to get them to work, so if one hand is injured you're out of luck. Flint and steel also take quite a bit of coordination so, if you found yourself with low mobility in your hands at all, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to get them to create fire.

4. Longevity

You want a lighter that will last a good long time because, when the crap hits the fan replacing your lighter will be difficult if not impossible.

Butane, propane, wick, and arc lighters are all great lighters however, they all require fuel, or power sources to keep them working. So, as long as you have a good stock of available fuel, they will work well.However, most butane lighters are't made to last forever. Over time, their they will slowly wear out.

Propane lighters struggle even under the best possible scenarios. They way they are designed is great for storing propane inside of them, but that design also makes for some major flaws. They jam, stick, and break really easily.

Wick lighters are a little hardier than most propane, and butane lighters however, they always have and always will leak their fuel. As long as you have a high supply of fuel, these lighters will last quite some time but, no wick lighter lasts forever.

Arc lighters are metal based, highly durable, and often survive even the harshest of treatments. I knew a guy whose wife accidentally sent it through the washing machine with the rest of his laundry. It came out wet, but it still worked just as well as it did before. However, the power source is a concern. As long as you have a way to hook these up to generators, it will never fail or abandon you.

Flint and steel lighters are designed to work for the long haul. Because they are two types of metal, they're difficult to damage or break, and they'll stand up to the test of hundreds of uses.

Magnifying glasses are actually among the most long lasting lighters on the market. They still work bent, tattered, and scratched. With a magnifying glass, you'll have fire as long as the sun is shining from now, until you lose it or throw it away.

5. Cost Effectiveness

Fuel based lighters are great, but you will always need to purchase extra fuel for your lighters. To have enough to last you for months, or even years can get pricey.

Arc lighters require you to have a source of electricity to charge them. If you already have one, then you have no cause to worry because the upfront cost is far less than the space, and money it takes to buy and store extra fuel.

Flint and steel, and magnifying glasses are both one time purchases that don't require any other purchase and, they're both extremely inexpensive lighters. No matter what you decide to do, it would be foolish not to have both a flint and steel, and a magnifying glass in your survival arsenal.


Everyone should have at least one type of lighter on hand in case of an emergency. However, when selecting lighters for survival, always remember to think about reliability, ease of use, portability, longevity, and cost-effectiveness.

I would recommend having several different kinds of lighters on hand for several kinds of situations, and uses.

Fire is your number one necessity for survival whether your planning to bug out, bug in, or you're planning for both situations, it's worth the time, effort, and money to research, and purchase the best types of lighters for your specific needs.

Share to Pinterest