ESSENTIAL GEAR WINDMILL TREKKER LIGHTER
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY
INITIAL REPORT - October 21, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 27, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 24, 2010
5' 11" (1.80 m)
220 lb (99.80 kg)
I've been backpacking, climbing, ski-packing, bushwhacking, and snowshoeing throughout the mountains of Oregon and Washington for the last 25 years. I'm an all-season, all terrain, off-trail kind of guy, but these days (having small kids) most of my trips run on the shorter side of things, and tend to be in the temperate rainforest. While I've carried packs (with winter climbing gear) in excess of 70 pounds (32 kilos), the older I get the more minimalist I become.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Essential Gear, Inc.
|Photo Courtesy of Manufacturer
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.essentialgear.com/
MSRP: US $55.00
*As listed at Website: 2.5 oz (71 g)
*As listed on retail packaging: 2 oz (57 g)
*Empty: 2.4 oz (68 g)
*Filled: 2.6 oz (74 g)
Color Tested: Blaze Orange
Also available in: Clear, Matte Black, Smoke Black, and Smoke Green
Other details (From retail packaging and website):
*External Dimensions: 3.7 x 1.5 in (9.4 x 3.8 cm)
*Windproof to 70-80 mph (113-129 kph)
*Water Resistant (5 O-ring seals)
*Hi-Temp flame, controllable gas flow for use to 10,000 ft (3048 m)
*Refillable with premium butane gas
*Extra-large fuel tank, 1,000 ignitions on a single fill
*Piezo-Electric ignition system (good for over 30,000 ignitions)
*Easy grip rubberized case
*Ergonomic design fits comfortably in hand
*Includes wrist lanyard
The Essential Gear Windmill Trekker lighter arrived in its retail packaging, consisting of a plastic blister pack with a paper insert (which opened to reveal instructions). The manufacturer also included a can of premium butane fuel as shown in the photo above.
Upon opening the package, the lighter appeared to be well constructed. The lighter's lid is kept closed by both a wire bale (referred to in the instructions as a "metal lock handle") and a small lever closure (referred to in the instructions as the "side switch"). Opening the wire bale followed by depressing the lever closure opens the spring-loaded hinged cap, revealing the business end of the lighter.
|Lighter in Retail Packaging with Fuel Provided
On the bottom of the lighter is the inlet valve used for filling the lighter, which is surrounded by the flame adjuster. I found I was able to turn the flame adjuster with my thumbnail, but a small screwdriver or similar device would clearly have been easier.
The case itself is a bright orange color, and is constructed of a material that is easier to grip than, for example, hard plastic. It is, nonetheless, quite firm and seemingly durable. Also, there are windows on each side of the lighter that allow me to view the fuel level.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Windmill Trekker Lighter, and was anxious to fill it up and put it to use.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions are well-illustrated and very clear. They cover basic safety information and instructions on filling, adjusting flame height, igniting, and extinguishing the burner. In addition, the instructions include ignition and operating tips and contact information for the manufacturer.
In all, the instructions seem complete and easy to follow.
TRYING IT OUT
Using the fuel provided by the manufacturer, I followed the instructions by turning the lighter upside down, inserting the filler tip of the fuel container into the inlet valve, and pressed firmly for a few seconds. The lighter was full almost instantaneously. This concerned me a bit as the instructions also said to fill with gas slowly and not to overfill. In looking at the fill window, it appeared the lighter was full, but not over-full. In the future I will press gently when filling, rather than firmly.
Next came the moment of truth . . . following the instructions, I pressed down until I heard gas flow, and then pressed further to achieve ignition. I had flame! The flame is a brilliant blue that is almost invisible in bright light. It also is extremely hot, which I confirmed by holding my hand above the flame, finding it much hotter than a normal disposable lighter. I released my thumb from the ignition lever, and the flame continued. The instructions had warned this may occur right after filling, and following the instructions I turned down the flame adjuster and it quickly extinguished.
After this initial experiment, I tried several other things, such as igniting it upside down and while blowing on it (hard), and it has always ignited first try. I have also tried just pressing the ignition lever all the way down as fast as I can, and it has always ignited. I suspect that under some conditions, like heavy wind, it might be necessary to use the two-step process of ignition (waiting for the sound of gas before pressing all the way down to ignite), and look forward to seeing if this is the case.
The only other initial observation I made is that the metal ignition lever gets very hot if you keep the flame going for about 45 seconds. It does seem to cool reasonably fast, however.
All in all, I'm very impressed with the Essential Gear Windmill Trekker lighter. It appears to be a well-designed and well-constructed lighter that provides a very hot, reliable, wind resistant flame. I look forward to evaluating it under field conditions.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have used the Essential Gear Windmill Trekker lighter on 5 nights backpacking, 6 day trips, and numerous times around the house. Weather conditions have been dry, raining, windy (up to 45 mph - 72 kph), and snowing on the various trips, and temperatures have ranged from 15 F (-9 C) to 60 F (16 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Essential Gear Windmill Trekker Lighter has performed extremely well for me in the field.
EASE OF USE:
The Essential Gear Windmill Trekker Lighter has been relatively easy to use. I've not had any difficulty in operating the lighter, including the bale and release button, entirely by feel with bare hands. The only problems I've encountered have been during cold weather while wearing heavy gloves. With winter gloves on I was still able to operate the lighter by feel, but it took some effort to release the bale on the lid and to find the button. Still, it worked fine under all conditions I encountered. While the instructions described a two-step ignition process where the button is pressed down part way to start gas flow, I pause, and I continue pushing to ignite, I've not found it necessary to do that. Whenever I just push it all the way down, it has ignited. I do, however, generally follow the instructions, as it has become intuitive with a little practice.
So far the lighter has held up fine to all the abuse I've given it. It's bounced around in pockets, been dropped repeatedly from waist height, and dropped in puddles, and other than some soiling, it looks like when I got it. The attached cord has proven handy for hanging the lighter around camp. The view window for viewing fuel is handy, but can be hard to see in low light.
ABILITY TO IGNITE STUFF:
Holy cow, this thing is hotter then heck. It's the first lighter I've ever felt comfortable lighting my pop can alcohol stove with, as it ignites the fuel when the visible flame is still 1 in (2.5 cm) away from the fuel. Lighting my white gas stove has given similar results, and though I haven't timed it, I believe heating the priming coil with the lighter's flame has greatly reduced priming time. The lighter also does an excellent job of sealing the ends of cut cord and rope, and can be done while holding the rope further away.
The lighter has performed very well under all conditions. The flame has stayed lit even under the windiest conditions I've encountered with no shielding of the flame. It lights quickly and easily, and has proven very reliable.
Regarding fuel consumption, it seems to sip fuel. I've only refueled it twice since it's initial fill. After the initial fill I was a little worried, because it was empty after a couple days of playing with it. I topped it off again, and it was days before the top of the fuel was even visible in the window. Now that I've gotten used to it, I believe I use far less fuel then I would with a conventional lighter because I am able to light things from a greater distance (and thus hesitate less) and am able to invert the lighter without any impact on the flame.
The Essential Gear Windmill Trekker Lighter has performed well under a broad range of conditions. I love the fact that the flame is extremely hot, allowing me to ignite fuels from a greater distance. I also enjoy the fact that I can invert the lighter and not burn my thumb. While it can be a little tricky to operate in the dark with heavy gloves, it has performed admirably. It seems to be very efficient in terms of fuel, though this may be because it is so hot I don't keep it ignited as long as I do normal lighters.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Long-term testing of the Essential Gear Windmill Trekker lighter has occurred in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains of Washington State from sea level to 5,600 ft (1,700 m). It has consisted of use on over a dozen dayhikes, 4 nights of backpacking, and additional use around the house. Temperatures encountered have ranged from 28 F (-2 C) to 65 F (18 C). The lighter has been used in moderate to heavy rains and on dry days, and in winds ranging from calm up to about 20 mph (32 kph).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Essential Gear Windmill Trekker lighter has continued to perform well during Long-term testing. Despite the varied temperature, elevation, and precipitation conditions I have encountered, none of these factors have seemed to impact its performance. It will flicker somewhat in a stiff breeze, but has not blown out and still produces more than enough heat for my ignition needs under windy conditions, without the need to carefully shelter the flame.
I suspect at this point I have probably ignited the lighter several hundred times, though usually it is only for a quick second (since it generates so much heat it ignites most things, like stoves, instantly). I haven't fueled it since the second fill that was mentioned in the field report, which I find incredibly impressive! The fuel window still shows the fuel as being almost full, which I find absolutely amazing given it's use. The manufacturer's estimate of 1,000 uses per fill I would consider quite reasonable given my experience so far.
During field testing, I used the lighter in the field primarily for starting alcohol, isobutane, and white gas stoves and for starting campfires. At home I used it for starting fires in my fireplace, and melting the ends of cut cordage. It performed well in all regards for all of these tasks.
The Essential Gear Windmill Trekker Lighter has proven to be a reliable, hot burning, practically windproof, and fuel-sipping lighter. The fact that it can be lighted upside down is a tremendous asset for me. While my thumb gets hot pretty quickly when I keep it ignited, I haven't ran into any problems, as the flame is so hot I don't generally need to hold it on very long. It has performed well, and other than being slightly heavier than other lighters I have used, has outperformed every lighter I've ever used in every way.
I will likely continue to use the Essential Gear Windmill Trekker lighter for backpacking when its weight is not an issue for me or as a primary lighter for trips of all length in foul weather. I have been very impressed with its usefulness and reliability, but will need to weigh the additional weight of it versus a few windproof matches in "good" conditions. I will probably carry it on all my coastal trips, where matches and other lighters are difficult to work with due to the constant onshore breezes.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank Essential Gear, Inc. and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Windmill Trekker Lighter. This concludes my report.
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Read more gear reviews by Mike Curry