Six Lighters and Torches to Keep Your Fires Burn­ing This Win­ter

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Front Page - By Pa­trick McCarthy

Hy­pother­mia sets in quickly dur­ing bit­terly cold win­ter weather when you’re un­able to main­tain your body heat. But even in warmer en­vi­ron­ments, a harsh wind chill or cloth­ing soaked by an un­ex­pected rain­storm can lead to a dan­ger­ous and po­ten­tially fa­tal drop in core tem­per­a­ture. For these rea­sons and many more, a re­li­able source of fire is an es­sen­tial part of any emer­gency kit, and some­thing you should con­sider and test thor­oughly.

You cer­tainly don’t want to learn about a flaw in your fire-start­ing plan when you’re al­ready shiv­er­ing, numb, and los­ing mus­cle co­or­di­na­tion.

Last win­ter in Is­sue 18, we fea­tured a buyer’s guide for man­u­ally op­er­ated fire-starters, in­clud­ing ferro rods, mag­ne­sium bars, sev­eral types of matches, and even a prim­i­tive fire bow. This time around, we’re fo­cus­ing on tools that can cre­ate an in­stant flame.

Lighters vs. Torches

These two de­vices share many sim­i­lar­i­ties, but can be dif­fer­en­ti­ated eas­ily by ob­serv­ing their flames. Lighters pro­duce soft and flick­er­ing or­ange flames from flammable fluid or liqui­fied gas, while torches re­lease a fine stream (or streams) of gas at higher pres­sure to gen­er­ate in­tense blue jets. Some of these fire-starters blur the line, of­fer­ing a man­ual ad­just­ment that can achieve ei­ther type of com­bus­tion.

Both lighters and torches can eas­ily ig­nite a camp­fire, and many share the same bu­tane fuel, but there are func­tional dif­fer­ences as well. Lighters gen­er­ally of­fer even heat, and sim­ple ig­ni­tion and fuel sys­tems for long-term dura­bil­ity. Torches gen­er­ate more pow­er­ful and fo­cused heat — enough to solder wiring, braze metal pipes, va­por­ize mois­ture, and brûlée fancy desserts — but their fu­els and Piezo­elec­tric ig­ni­tion sys­tems may be more sen­si­tive to en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions.

We ob­tained three lighters and three torches, and eval­u­ated each based on ease of use, re­li­a­bil­ity, power, fea­tures, and cost. Read our im­pres­sions and de­cide if one of these fire-starters is hot enough for your bug-out bag or win­ter sur­vival kit.


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