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Reviews > Cook Gear > Fire Starters > Essential Gear Windmill Trekker Lighter > Test Report by Roger Ault

ESSENTIAL GEAR WINDMILL TREKKER LIGHTER
TEST SERIES BY ROGER AULT
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - October 14, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 24, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 30, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Roger Ault
EMAIL: chance4272ATyahooDOTcom
AGE: 46
LOCATION: Spencer, Indiana USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 276 lb (125.00 kg)

I have been camping for several years. I had limited chances as a child but have been camping a lot the past 20 years. I love backpacking and consider myself moderately equipped although I can never have enough gear. I want to spend more time winter camping. I typically carry 25 - 45 pounds (~11 - 20 kg). I generally use a tent for shelter. I generally hike in the woods and rolling hills of Indiana.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Essential Gear
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: Essential Gear
MSRP: US $55.00
Listed Weight: 2.5 oz (71 g) on website, 2 oz (57 g) on package
Measured Weight: 2.5 oz (71 g)
Listed Length: 3.7 in (9.4 cm) same on both the website and the package
Listed Diameter: 1.2 in (3.05 cm) on website,1.5 in (3.8 cm) on package
Measured length and diameter are consistent with measurements listed on the website.
Wrist lanyard is a piece of cord 19.5 in (50 cm) long that loops through the case and has a locking device to hold the two ends and a cord lock to adjust the size of the loop.
Colors available: Blaze Orange (tested), Matte Black, Clear, Smoke Black and Smoke Green

From the website:
The TREKKER has all the standard features of the Windmill Stormproof Lighters, Plus

Extra Large Fuel tank
Over 1,000 ignitions on a single fill
Easy grip rubberized case
Includes wrist lanyard
Fuel capacity of 4 grams
Standard Windmill Lighter Features include:

Catalyzer coil provides ultimate windproof flame
Withstands winds of 70-80 miles per hour
Burns with clean hot flame at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit
Flame Indicator Window located on side of combustion chamber glows when lighter is ignited
Fuel Level Indicator visually reveals fuel level
Piezo-Electric Ignition System eliminates need for batteries or flints, which fail when wet.
Piezo-electric system permits easy, one-handed operation good for over 30,000 ignitions.
Water Resistant O-Ring Seals keep water out when lighter cap is closed

The packaging and the website are inconsistent in their weight and size descriptions. Perhaps the packaging can be modified to be more accurate. I believe that the website is accurate from my own measurements.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Trekker came packaged in a plastic clamshell which included a folded piece of heavy paper that lists features and specifications on the outside and when opened it reveals instructions. Also received with the Trekker was a can of fuel. This is a 3.38 fl oz (100 ml) container of pressurized butane that says it is "quadruple refined".

The insert in the package reads "WATER RESISTANT 5 O-ring seals keep out when cap is closed" This reads a little strange to me. I think they meant "keep *water* out". Although this appears to claim there are five O-rings, I can only see one where the cap meets the body of the lighter.

Filling the lighter was quite simple. I simply inverted the lighter and inserted the tip of the butane canister into the fill valve on the lighter and depressed the tip until the lighter was filled. Looking through the window on the side of the lighter can check this.

The lighter is enclosed in a somewhat soft textured case. The top is hinged and is held closed by both a stainless steel wire catch and a small catch that is spring loaded. When the button is depressed (with the wire catch released) the lid pops open via a spring loaded hinge. I fear this hinge could be a potential weakness because it appears to just be plastic and does not feel very sturdy to me. Once open all I need to do is depress the "ignition lever" which is simply a thumb button.

When lit the flame is difficult to see in the light but the flame indicator glows and lets me know it is lit. The first few times I tried to light it I had to try multiple times to get it to light. After adjusting the flame level I had much better luck. The flame is adjusted by turning an adjustment ring located at the fill valve. It is clearly marked with a double pointed arrow with a + at one end and a - at the other to indicate which way to adjust to raise and lower the flame.

The lanyard is long enough to easily go over my wrist and could quite easily go over a larger wrist than mine.

Also included in the shipment were a 2010 Essential Gear Catalog and a letter from the President of the company. The letter states that Premium or Quadruple refined fuels are recommended for all windmill lighters. It also says this type of fuel is a blend of butane, propane and isobutane, which can be stored under higher pressure and that the higher-pressure fuel burns cleaner.

It also says that Trekker lighters work reliably up to 9,000 ft (2700 m) and claims they have had them work at 12,000 ft (3600 m). They suggest leaning the gas mixture by turning the adjustment towards the "-" as altitude increases.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

IMAGE 2

The included instructions are clear and concise. I did not find it necessary to read them to get the Trekker to work but after reading some tips on adjustment and operation it became easier to adjust and operate the lighter more efficiently.

TRYING IT OUT

After playing a bit and getting used to the operation of course I wanted to see how it worked in wind. Just my luck it was a calm day. I did not let that deter me from testing it further. My first "wind" was a fan. The Trekker stayed lit when held in front of the fan, but I was careful to hold it so that the flame was blowing away from my thumb. I wasn't satisfied with just the fan so I later held it out the window of a car at about 35 mph (56 kph) and it again stayed lit. I think I will try it at higher speeds during testing.

IMAGE 3
This is one large lighter

IMAGE 4
Flame indicator window

IMAGE 5
Flame difficult to see

PLANNED USES

I will be using the Trekker for all of my fire starting needs during the test period. Mostly lighting my liquid fuel stove and my candle lantern. I will be using it for some campfires since the weather is getting cooler and I need to test this lighter.

SUMMARY

Overall I am happy with the product so far. My only concern is the hinge on the cap. I will be watching it closely to be sure it will hold up to regular use. This lighter is rather bulky but I suppose that is the price to pay for waterproof and the large capacity fuel reservoir.

While I doubt it could affect performance, I do wonder if the soft rubberized surface will collect residue from handling and cause the Trekker to look dirty.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I took the Trekker along on what started out to be a one-night stay at McCormick's Creek State Park but turned into two nights. Arrived about dark on October 30th and stayed until November 1st. It was raining pretty hard upon my arrival and continued into the night. The temperature was in the 60's F (upper teens C) and some wind but not a lot. The day after I arrived was quite windy with gusts up to 30 mph (48 kmh) all day.

I took the Trekker along on December 31, 2009 on an overnight trip to try out a new sleeping bag. It was about 28 F (-2 C) when I left home and it got down to about 16 F (-9 C) overnight. This was in a river bottom area where it floods regularly and there is plenty of driftwood available for a fire.

I have experimented with lighting various stove and lanterns at home also.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

My trip to McCormick's Creek started out very wet. I started setting up camp in the campsite I had reserved, although I doubt anyone would have cared what site I chose. There was no one else there, I presume due to the weather. I had purchased a cheap tarp and I proceeded to tie it off to the two posts that are provided to string a clothesline. I used the Trekker to melt some nylon cord so the ends would not fray as they do when cut. I did this several times in fairly heavy rain and the Trekker worked every time. The lighter was exposed to the rain at various times but usually shielded when trying to burn the cord.

Once the tarp was up and I started to shake off the water from my rain jacket, I moved the fire ring over to the sheltered area. I had to wait for a fire because I had requested that security drop off a bundle of wood as they came around later. The rain slacked off long enough for me to get my tent set up with minimal moisture getting in it. I was using a solo shelter with a mesh bug net for the main body with a rainfly. It is difficult to set this shelter up in rain without getting moisture inside.

I then set up my stove and used the Trekker to light my stove for a warm meal. I found that I had left it laying in a wet area on the picnic table that was part of my shelter support on one side. I picked it up and flipped the top lid open and it lit right away. I had also brought a homemade alcohol stove to play with so I also lit it to make a cup of coffee.

I went for a walk in light rain and when I returned my firewood had been delivered. They were even nice enough to put it under the shelter to help keep it dry. Lighting chunks of split firewood with a lighter is nearly impossible so I never even tried. Instead I shaved off some wood with my knife and used some dryer lint soaked in alcohol to get a fire started. It was getting late and by the time I got somewhat dry, it was time for bed.

I ended up staying another night and I used the Trekker several more times for coffee and meals as well as starting a campfire. I did purchase some firestarters made of wax and small twigs in a paper cup with a wick inserted. These were fantastic for starting a fire. It was windy all day and the Trekker worked quite well with no issues keeping it lit.

On December 31, 2009 it was below freezing and some snow was on the ground. It had just got below freezing that evening and the ground was soft and everything was wet. I was able to light a campfire and my stove with no problems at all. The only problem was keeping a fire going nicely with wet wood. I don't like large smokey fires because I end up smelling like smoke and sparks and flame are not exactly compatible with my gear. Unfortunately when everything around is wet I always have to build a larger fire to keep it going.

IMAGE 1

The picture above is from my December 31 trip. My dog is 14 and he always wants to go when he can. It was quite cold that night and you can see a corner of my 3/4 length pad sticking out from the vestibule where he slept.

I have also used it at home to light a couple of different white gas stoves, alcohol stoves that I was experimenting with making in my garage, a Coleman camp stove, Coleman propane lantern and even burning some paper trash. The only time I had a problem was with trying to light the propane lantern. The flame from the Trekker doesn't reach up far enough to light the lantern mantles.

SUMMARY

The Trekker has performed quite well in every instance so far. I have not been able to test at any high altitude but otherwise I have used it many times and it worked every time.

It is somewhat large for a lighter but I can always find room for it. I would use it on all trips unless I become a true minimalist.

So far the hinge on the lid has held up well. I was concerned about it initially and I still am somewhat. I haven't babied it but it hasn't been abused either.

IMAGE 2
Damage to sleeve



The only damage I can see at this point is a small part of the rubber sleeve on the wire clip is missing. I am not sure how this happened. Everything still works fine but I wonder how well the spring clip will work if the rest of the rubber comes off. I will keep an eye on it and see what happens.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I went for a hike on January 30, 2010 that was about 15 mi (24 KM) total. The temperature stayed below freezing and got to a low of 12 F (-11 C).

I went on a short overnight hike on February 27, 2010. I walked about 6 mi (10 km). The temperature was near 55 F (13 C) that evening and got down to freezing overnight. There was very little wind and I was at approximately 700 ft (200 m) elevation. The ground was a little sloppy on the way there and was slightly crusty with ice by the return trip.

I went for a walk in the rain on March 13, 2010. I don't have any idea of actual distance but I walked for about 3 hours in light rain with the temperature near 45 F (7 C). I wore the Outbound boots with gaiters through mostly wooded and slightly hilly terrain at 700 - 800 ft (200 - 240 m) elevation.

I went walking after work on March 30, 2010. I went approximately 6 mi (10 km) before setting up camp for the night. (12 mi (20km) total) It was about 60 F (16 C) and fairly calm.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have used the Trekker for all of my firestarting needs during the test period. I have used it in wind and rain as well as fair weather. The lighter has performed flawlessly so far. Sometimes it takes two or three tries to produce a flame but this is no big deal. The flame is very hard to see so I probably try again sometimes even though it is lit.

I filled the lighter with fuel upon arrival and I have only refilled it once. It never actually ran out of fuel. I decided to refill it after lots of use trying it out and there fore using excessive amounts of fuel due to repeated lighting of the flame.

SUMMARY

The Trekker has performed quite well in all conditions for me. I thought the size would be somewhat cumbersome, but it has not proven to be so. It always produces a very hot flame within one or two pushes of the Peizo ignition button.

CONTINUED USE

I plan to carry this lighter a great deal. I will definitely take it whenever I feel that I may encounter wet weather.

I would like to thank Essential Gear for providing this lighter to test. Also thanks to Backpackgeartest.org for providing the opportunity.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Cook Gear > Fire Starters > Essential Gear Windmill Trekker Lighter > Test Report by Roger Ault



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