Tested: The Top 5 Most Reliable Cigar Lighters
By Gary Korb
You could say that a cigar smoker without a lighter is like a carpenter without a nail gun. Sure, you could use a match to light your cigar, or a hammer to build a shed, but why would you want to work that hard? In the world of cigar lighters the choices are virtually endless (certainly more than the choice of nail guns), and with all of the different makes, models, and price points to choose from, it might be easier to compile a list of New York City restaurants. That said, you wouldn’t want to eat in just any of those restaurants, and if you’re into smoking cigars, you don’t want to buy just any cigar lighter.
Did you know that most cigar smokers don’t own just a single cigar lighter? They own a drawer full of them. Collecting lighters excluded, the primary reason is that a lot of lighters either break within the first year of use or sooner, or just don’t work all that reliably.
So, how do you find a cigar lighter that works every time? I can tell you one thing: if you think you have to spend a fortune to own the most reliable cigar lighters, you’re wrong; even Ferraris and Bentleys eventually run into mechanical problems. OK, maybe not as often as Fords and Chevys, but let’s face it, cigar lighters go through about as many or more ignitions as your car, and ultimately, something’s gonna go kablooey. Therefore, the least a consumer can do is find a lighter that’s trustworthy, while the most a manufacturer can do is offer a great warrantee.
Although price is a factor, features tend to play a big part in the lighters cigar smokers choose. From the way the lighter looks and feels, to the type and/or number of flames it has, to the extras like a fuel gauge window, a cigar punch, a golf ball marker or divot tool, etc., our decision to buy is more often based on our personal preferences than reliability. We just assume the lighter will work well, either because of its brand name or how much we paid for it.
I’ve had a lot of reliable cigar lighters over the years, and found some to be more dependable than others, but I can’t say why – they just were. I’ve included a couple of them in this report, but I also did a little digging by speaking to the workers in our retail cigar store, the associates in both our Customer Relations department, and some customers, too. (A few of them told me that the best lighter they ever bought was a $1.99 convenience store cheapie. Go figure.) After studying the results, here are five of the most reliable cigar lighters you can buy:
Blazer Micro Torch – Single jet flame
“Keep it simple” is the order of the day here. Blazer already has a rep for making some of the most reliable cigar lighters, and though they’ve riffed a few variations of their Micro Torch model, sometimes, the original is the best. This single jet flame lighter features a unique design that, ironically, looks more like a fire extinguisher than a fire starter. I had a yellow one I picked-up on sale for $10 many moons ago, and I got at least five years of use out of it. It has a really powerful, adjustable flame, holds plenty of fuel, which you can see clearly in the base, it’s lightweight, and fits neatly in your pocket. The cap, attached to a chain, has to be lifted off, but I never minded it. Though a spring-action cap might be more convenient, it’s also one less thing that can break.
Lotus is another cigar accessory manufacturer that has earned the respect of a lot of cigar smokers. This Fury model was recommended by one of our Customer Relations reps, who owns one, himself. It’s not only reliable, it comes with some neat features like a push-button ignition, plus, the overall design looks like something out of the Star Wars saga. (The blue model shown here looks like a box-pressed version of R2-D2.) But if you’re more the Star Trek type, you’ll appreciate the little Trek-like symbol on the ignition button. Sci-fi pop culture references aside, it’s the pinpoint flame that makes this lighter a real stand-out. Rather than having both flames firing in parallel, they’re angled towards each other to form a sword-like “V.” It also has a fuel window and a cigar punch, making this neat little lightsaber a good all-around value, too.
Here’s another lighter that’s done right by me for a long time. In fact, I own two of them. Once upon a time, I was looking for a good triple flame lighter and this Vector Heatran struck my fancy. Plus, I knew a lot of other cigar smokers who swore by their Vector cigar lighters. They have a real solidly-built look to them, and this model has some nice weight to it when you hold it. The smooth shape is really comfortable, and the way it positions itself in your hand, your thumb can flip-up the cap and pull down the ignition switch with barely any effort at all. The flames are arranged in a triangle for ultimate coverage when toasting your cigars, and they’re mighty powerful, too. Two nice little extras are a fuel window and a punch cutter. Just one caveat: If you share this lighter with a friend, be sure to tell them to flip the lid up first, because the Heatran has the appearance of having a spring-loaded, flip-top cap.
Xikar may be known best for their cigar cutters, but they make some pretty good lighters, too. I chose the Xikar Cirro because it does something that even the most reliable cigar lighters can’t do: it works at elevations up to 12,000 feet above sea level. Now, THAT’S reliability. So, if you ever find yourself stranded near the summit of Mount Fuji, you can still make a campfire and enjoy a good cigar until help arrives. Seriously, though, if you live in the Rockies and other high climbs, it can be a godsend. But even if you don’t, it’s nice to know that your lighter will hold-up under extreme conditions. Other neat features include a fine-looking, yet highly resilient metal housing, fuel window, and an easy flame adjustment wheel.
Why, among all of these jet flame lighters, am I including the wick-based, flint-sparked, soft flame Zippo? Because they’re built like tanks, and rarely, if ever, fail to light. Yep, good ‘ol American-made ingenuity is what makes these babies rock, and they haven’t changed very much since they were introduced in the 1930’s. I’ve always been impressed by how wind-proof Zippos are, too; that crazy, perforated screen flame housing is amazing. A lot of cigar smokers avoid using a Zippo because it runs on oily lighter fuel, the smell of which they say can get into your cigar, but I’ve never had a problem with it. Personally, I prefer a jet flame, but I always keep my Zippo “Lady Luck” model handy because, in a pinch, I know she’s gonna do right by me.
Finally, only you can truly know how reliable your cigar lighter is. No one’s going to come up to you and ask, “How’s your lighter working today?” Perhaps the best advice to take away from this report is, do your homework. Ask around, read and compare customer reviews – and most of all, once you’ve found a good lighter, take care of it properly. That’s the best way to get the most life out of it.
* Prices shown are the manufacturers’ suggested retail prices at the time of publication.