Survival Lighters for Long-Term SHTF: A Few Options

   12.23.13

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Survival Lighters: A Few Options

A while back, we ran a piece by Major Pandemic extolling the virtues of the Zippo as a long-term SHTF fire-starting option. After reading the piece, I was convinced and promptly ordered a chrome Zippo just like the one in the article. But then I discovered what all Zippo users know: the lighter leaks fuel like nobody’s business. Major mentioned sealing the lighter with wax to get around this issue, but that seems too cumbersome to me. So I set out on a quest for alternatives.

But before I get into the alternatives, let me clarify one thing. For short- and medium-term wilderness survival, there is no debate as to the single best fire-starting tool available: a cheap Bic. The only thing possibly better than a Bic is a windproof butane lighter, but those eat up fuel, so if you’re relying on one of those then plan on being rescued eventually. Otherwise, the Bic can’t be beat. Anyone who spends time outdoors will take a Bic over even a ferro rod any day of the week.

But the Bic isn’t a long-term SHTF option, because eventually it runs out. A Zippo makes more sense in a SHTF role because of its versatility. But still, there’s that leakage issue. Surely we can do better, no?

Zippo Plus Bike Inner Tube

Source: Instructables
Source: Instructables

One of the first ideas I ran across was a hack for the Zippo that supposedly fixes the fuel leakage issue. You take a piece of bike innertube and wrap it around the lighter. When you need to use the lighter, you just roll the innertube down; roll it back up when you’re done. This supposedly leak-proofs and waterproofs the thing, and makes it a much better option as a survival tool.

I’ve also seen people recommend putting petroleum jelly on the bottom felt pad in order to seal it up and cut down on leakage. Rubber doesn’t work in that role, because the fuel will degrade it.

I like the innertube + petroleum jelly idea, and am going to try it out. But I’m also going to try out a few other ideas on this list, too.

Maratac Peanut

Source: BladeHQ
Source: BladeHQ

Source: BladeHQ

The Peanut lighter is a popular Zippo alternative, and it’s designed as a real survival tool. It features an o-ring and a screw-on lid to prevent leakage, and it comes in brass, steel, and titanium versions.

Some people swear by the Maratac, but I’ve also seen a lot of complaints about quality control. In some cases the o-ring is exposed and slips out of its groove or degrades. In general, there are complaints about the workmanship of the device. It also has its fans, so I may order one of these and check it out for myself.

Numyth Tohil

Source: GoingGear.com
Source: GoingGear.com

User reviews of the Numyth Tohil lighter claim that it’s everything the Peanut should be. People are praising the fit and finish on this thing, so I’m definitely going to pick it up. Like the Zippo and the Peanut, it uses Zippo fuel, a standard wick, and standard flints. So this is a good, long-term SHTF option in that it has all of the flexibility of the Zippo with none of the leakage.

It’s worth noting that all of Numyth’s other products are very widely praised for their quality machining work. Their fire piston is quote popular on Amazon, and I’m thinking of adding it to my list of SHTF fire starting options.

I wish it was available in a larger form factor that I could cram more fuel into. I understand the appeal of having it be super tiny and EDCable, but I’d like a bigger version that I could throw into a possibles pouch or wear on a belt, and that would last longer.

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IMCO Triplex Super

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons
This lighter is the Australian answer to the Zippo. It has the same wicks, fuel, and flints, but it’s supposedly much better about keeping fuel from leaking out. It’s also “windproof,” which means that the wick is recessed a bit into a sleeve and is thereby protected from the wind.

This lighter seems to have a lot of fans with only a few gripes about build quality. So this and the Numyth are at the top of my list of SHTF lighters to gather and test.

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What am I Missing?

I feel like there must be other quality long-term SHTF lighter options that I’m missing, but right now the above four are my top picks. If you guys have some suggestions for other lighters to check out, I’m all ears. And like I said, I’m looking for something that I can still use with scavenged fuel, wick material, and flints a decade or two after Bics and butane refills stop being available. Any ideas?

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