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Backpacker Magazine

What’s a Good Windproof Lighter?

What would you suggest for a windproof lighter that is simple and dependable?


What would you suggest for a windproof lighter that is simple and dependable?

Submitted by - Bill, Lenexa, KS


At the last Outdoor Retailer trade show, I scored a very cool lighter from a Japanese company, Soto, that’s trying to commence business in the US. I love this lighter because, although it’s a bit heavy and bulky (2.2 oz. and about 4 inches long) it kicks ass. I left it outside my tent one horrid night in Wales on our Editors Choice Trip, and it puffed right to life for my morning brew-up. It’s windproof, submersible, but the cool thing is that, rather than refilling it with butane (which can be a hassle), you just pop a fresh disposable lighter into the handle, and it powers right off that (not Bics, but the squarish generic lighters found everywhere).

I mention this lighter because it’s cool. Problem is, you can’t get it in the US just yet, and disposable lighters do make me a feel guilty on the green front. So I’ve got some other options, too.
E-Gear’s refillable Windmill ($45. weighs only 1.1 oz. It keeps a flame in howling winds, and a rubber o-ring keeps it dry even if gets dunked. A much more affordable and equally awesome option is the Primus Power Lighter ($17,, which weighs 1.7 oz. and refills off an almost- spent fuel canister using the Primus Filling Adapter ($15). I love this refilling tool. It’s a great way to suck out and make use of the dregs of a fuel canister.  —Kristin

1 Comment

  1. Jim in California

    Regarding the Soto lighter.
    As I write this, REI, no longer carries this item.

    At sea level, the Soto operated perfectly. But up at 10,000 feet, no way. What was most surprising, is that when needing this during a heavy rain storm, we tried to light the Soto with the flame from another lighter….and I am reporting that the Soto WOULD NOT LIGHT!

    When we came down from altitude, to Mammoth Lakes, elevation @8000, the Soto still would not light. Taking off the cap, and activating the plunger, there was no spark.

    Getting back home to Anaheim, elevation @140, the Soto lit properly. Taking off the cap, and activating the plunger revealed a very feeble spark.

    Attempting to light the Soto with the flame from another lighter (140′ altitude), I am reporting that the Soto, again, WOULD NOT LIGHT.

    The problem is obviously with the piezo electric system. Perhaps if the Soto would use a flint based lighting system, it might work.

    The Soto is too unreliable, as for me, most of my backpacking is in the High Sierras.

    The Soto will be returned to REI.

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