Your significant other might need a fraying thread capped. Your evening might need the help of an ambience-enhancing votive. And then there’s always that Cuban Montecristo No. 2 your thoughtful uncle brought back that needs to be properly ignited. A lighter is rarely a survival piece of EDC (fire-starters work best for that), but in non-life-threatening situations, it’s the invaluable, consistent flame that makes light from dark.
The lighters below are reliable, convenient to carry, and incredibly easy to operate. Some, like the Zippo, nod to tradition while still maintaining affordability. Others, like the Numyth Tohil, aim for convenience while keeping size to a minimum. Then there are heirloom-worthy versions from high-end manufacturers, like S.T. Dupont and Davidoff, that mate stunningly with high-end watches and pens. Whatever route you choose and for whatever purpose you light the flame, these selections bring heat.
S.T. Dupont Ligne 2 Montparnasse Vertical Lines
Best Heirloom Lighter: With a name that long, you know it can’t be cheap, but this Parisian beauty has heirloom written all over it. S.T. Dupont’s fine lighters are known all over the world for quality, longevity and that mellifluous “cling” when you flick open the heavy lid to light up. The Ligne 2 Montparnasse Vertical Lines is crafted from solid sterling silver and activates with a flick of the finger along its long, round switch. This isn’t the kind of lighter you lend to a buddy — it’s the kind you pass down.
Best Bargain Executive Lighter: You don’t have to spend serious coin to get a good gentleman’s lighter. The clean lines, flip-top and push-button activation of the EX make it handsome and easy to use. It uses butane, and there’s no jet flame, so it’s TSA compliant. It’s also backed by XIKAR’s limited lifetime warranty, so if anything should go wrong with it (shy of running it over or whipping it in anger), they’ll replace it with no questions asked.
Best Traditional Lighter: Nothing says slick style like a Zippo. There’s something about the Zippo “click” when you flip the top, and their no-nonsense reliability. The Venetian adds style to tradition with its high-polish brass finish and sophisticated etching on the head and body that just might make you want to pair it with a sweet pair of cowboy boots.
Davidoff Prestige Accolades Gilded
Best Showoff Lighter: Similar in execution to the fancy Dupont, the Prestige exudes pure class. Its high price means Davidoff delivers heat in a superbly stylish manner with a gold herringbone-style case that looks as great as it feels. The case houses a burner that fires a fan-style flame with two opposing gas streams, catering to the cigar smoker by providing a fuller flame for maximum coverage without burning the cigar’s wrapper (a big no-no).
S.T. Dupont Minijet
Best Slim Lighter: The Minijet is a bargain for a Dupont lighter, and it’s both easy to carry and built to last. The lightweight brass body is gently curved to feel good in hand, but is tough enough for years of use. The single-action side button triggers a single-torch flame that’s hooded over automatically when finished. In personal use, mine has lasted 15 years without a hiccup.
Best Emergency Lighter: Just because it’s a “peanut” lighter doesn’t mean it’s laughable. In fact, the Tohil is one of the best compact emergency lighters around. Made with CNC-machined aluminum alloy that’s been hard anodized, it’s as slick as it is practical. It’s watertight thanks to an O-ring seal, which also prevents the lighter fluid from evaporating. It can also stand on its end and act as an emergency candle.
Best Mod Style Lighter: If you’re the kind of guy who cares about modern design along with utility, the Apollo is an excellent choice. Its matte blue-hued metal case with angled flip-top and geometric-patterned actuator button are eye-catching, and its highly wind-resistant double flame ensures heat in blustery circumstances. It also comes with its own side-mounted cigar punch tool.
Best Tabletop Lighter: The Thundra is as it sounds. It’s the big-gun lighter of the group that’s meant less for pocket carry and more for home use or carrying in a backpack. The fact that it can take on enough butane to last just about forever without refilling is a huge convenience. Its massive metal body provides heft, while its triple burner lights up barbecue coals, singes rope and fires up stogies without even trying.