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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Fire Starters > The Lighter Co SOLO CANDLE LIGHTER > Owner Review by Bob Dorenfeld

BY Bob Dorenfeld
May 30, 2013


NAME: Bob Dorenfeld
EMAIL: geartest(at)sageandspruce(dot)net
AGE: 55
LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 142 lb (64.40 kg)

I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier (Nordic & alpine), backpacker. I live at 7000 ft (2134 m) in the Southern Colorado Rockies where I hike between 7000 ft (2134 m) and 14000 ft (4200 m). I'll do from 4 to 12 miles (6 to 20 km) in a day, ranging as much as 5000 ft (1500 m) of elevation change. I carry up to 20 lb (9 kg) on day hikes, about 45 lb (20 kg) on backpacks. Overnights are usually from one to three nights. Often I hike off-trail on challenging talus, snowfields, or willow brakes, with occasional bouldering.

Product Information

Manufacturer: The Lighter Company, Inc.
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: Not Available
Listed Weight: 1.3 oz (36.85 g)
Measured Weight: 1.3 oz (36.85 g)
Option: Assorted colors on plastic case (reviewing green)
Fuel: Butane
Materials: Plastic case with integrated metal parts
Dimensions, retracted: 3.75 in long x 1.25 in wide x 0.5 in deep (9.5 cm x 3.18 cm x 1.27 cm)
Dimensions, extended: 5.5 in long x 1.25 in wide x 0.5 in deep (14 cm x 3.18 cm x 1.27 cm)
Child Resistant Feature: Yes
Flame Temperature: 1800 F (982 C) (as stated by manufacturer)
Flame Adjustable: Yes
Refillable: Yes
Accessory: Vinyl slipcover

Solo lighter retracted
Solo Lighter retracted

Solo lighter extended
Solo Lighter extended

Product Description

This lighter is marketed by the manufacturer as either the Solo Candle Lighter or Solo Camping Lighter; I found it as the latter at my usual outdoor store. It's only slightly larger than the standard refillable or disposable lighter I can find at many outlets, and about the same weight. What sets this lighter off from most others is the extendable and retractable flame extension. The thumb-trigger ignition has a fair amount of resistance, which is the "child resistant" feature advertised on the package: it seems to me that it would be difficult for a young child to activate it. The butane reservoir has a clear plastic bubble over it so that I could see when to refill the lighter. The flame length is adjustable via a small wheel at the bottom of the lighter.

What Problem Does This Product Solve?

I find that lighting a white-gas camping stove can be tricky with a standard lighter since my thumb rests on the lighter's trigger next to the stove's gas well and I would risk a burn each time I flicked the lighter. Alternatives to the standard 3 in (7.6 cm) lighter include the long ones intended for outdoor grills, and matches - but I prefer lighters. The Solo Camping Lighter solves my problem not only because it's small and light, but because I can extend the lighter tip by sliding it up to 2 in (5 cm) past the thumb trigger. However, one problem is that I could not always produce a flame, especially at high altitude; more on this below in Field Use.

Field Use

I have used the lighter on six backpacking trips and at least 10 day hikes for testing, over a period of 10 months, at outside temperatures from 25 F to 90 F (-4 C to 32 C). I've been able to use the lighter successfully at most of my usual camping altitudes, at or below 10,500 ft (3200 m), but not at any place higher than that. My stove is an Optimus Nova white gas, which requires exposed liquid fuel in the bottom bowl for preheating the stove burner. I've tested the Camping Lighter in calm weather both warm and cold, and in moderate winds up to approximately 20 mph (32 kmph) (but with the stove as sheltered as I could make it). With a stove windscreen in place it's awkward to reach the bottom of the stove with the lighter, so I usually leave the screen off until I have the stove lit. But, the advantage of this lighter is the extension to make it easier to light around obstacles like a windscreen, especially in windy conditions. I've not yet had a chance to test the lighter with my stove in rain - easier to just duck into the tent and wait for the storm to pass over!

The Solo Camping Lighter is slightly wider than most plastic lighters but still fits comfortably in my hand. The translucent green plastic housing and clear plastic bubble (visible in the lower right of each photograph) lets me see the butane level at any time. I found the thumb trigger somewhat harder to press than most lighters, but after a couple of uses the resistant trigger was not a problem for me as I got used to it.

This lighter is refilled using pressurized butane available at many retail outlets, and I purchased a higher grade per the manufacturer's instructions (which come in the package). Refilling was easy: invert the lighter, insert the can's tube into the orifice, and fill for about 3-5 seconds. Viewing the clear butane reservoir let me see how full I got it. Once filled the lighter worked very well the first time I triggered it while at home before my camping trip. Extending the tip part-way or all the way did not interfere with lighting. There is a flame adjustment wheel at the bottom of the case which in my case changed the length of the flame from very low/off to very high. Using the lighter on my white gas stove was easy: extend the flame tip, press the trigger, and I have plenty of distance and time to pull my hand away while the stove's gas flares for a minute in the bowl below its burner. See more notes below about initial lighting and flame length, especially at different altitudes.

Now I was ready to take the lighter on some real trips at high altitude: I usually set up camp at 10,500 ft (3200 m) or lower. On my first trip at these altitudes the Camping Lighter wouldn't even light - very frustrating! Since I carry matches as backup I was able to enjoy hot meals anyway. After returning home, I got out the instructions that came with the lighter, and also went to the manufacturer's web site. It turns out that altitude change can affect the lighter's performance, so The Lighter Company recommends adjusting the flame level higher from the setting I may have used previously, plus holding the trigger down to let a bit of butane escape for a few seconds, then pressing it all the way to engage the sparker. I tried these suggestions and they did work for me, but only at altitudes up to 10,500 ft (3200 m) - especially the tip for pausing on the trigger before lighting. I usually adjust the flame to a length of about 1 in (2.5 cm), but be careful if you need to make changes as described above; I found that under some circumstances I could produce a flame length more than 3 in (7.6 cm) just getting it to light.

The Lighter Company also suggests that I warm the lighter in my hand before using, especially if it's stored or carried in low outside temperatures. Butane is apparently sensitive to temperature and fuel-to-oxygen ratio, which probably explains why I got poor performance at very high altitudes. The Lighter Company claims that their product works at up to 12,000 ft (3660 m) but they don't say if they were able to get reliable performance at that altitude.

I am reviewing the translucent green model, but the other colors I could see on the shelf where I purchased the lighter were also translucent, colorful but not too bright.


Overall, I am pleased with this product, at least when I use it within its known limitations. I would recommend it, with reservations, to someone else. For a simple device like a lighter, I did not expect to have to fiddle with so many variables like flame adjustment, warming the lighter first, and trigger function. But once I learned what makes it work best under different conditions (primarily altitude), I feel like I can depend on this product. I will however carry backup flame tools like matches, friction starters, or another type of lighter.

What I Liked

- Compact design
- Extendable lighter tip
- Large and visible butane reservoir
- Detailed trouble-shooting and operating instructions available on the manufacturers website:

What I Didn't Like

- Steep learning curve for a seemingly simple device
- Resistant thumb trigger
- Poor performance above 10,500 ft (3200 m)

Reviewed By

Bob Dorenfeld
Southern Colorado Rocky Mountains

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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