Let me tell you: Making a fire without a lighter is hard work!
Even if you are a skilled outdoors person, it can still take you over an hour to get a fire going with traditional methods like a hand drill.
Since fire is so important to survival (not to mention comfort!), you’ll want to make sure you always have a reliable waterproof lighter with you.
Best Waterproof Lighters Comparison
Ease of Use
# of Lights/Sparks
12,000 - 20,000
Top 5 Survival Lighters Reviewed
UCO Stormproof Match Kit
These aren’t your standard matches! The matches in the UCO kit are designed for bad weather.
As far as water goes, the case is the first line of protection. It has a watertight seal so no water will get to the matches. The case even floats so you can find it easily if it gets dropped in water.
Even without the case, the matches are still waterproof. They also have nice features like a longer burn time (15 seconds). Note that, even though the matches are advertised as “windproof,” they will still blow out in high wind.
My favorite feature about the UCO kit is that you can replace the striker on the match case. Just cut some sandpaper to size and slide it in the slots.
If you run out of UCO matches, you can order refills on Amazon without the case.
EverStryke Match Pro
The EverStryke Match Pro is a type of capsule lighter that has extra features for bad weather. It is really popular in the survivalist community and I know quite a few people with them.
The main feature about the EverStryke is that it has an O-ring seal which keeps the fuel from evaporating. Because of this, the lighter can sit indefinitely and still light without a problem.
This isn’t a direct flame lighter, so high winds will blow it out. It also gets hot if left lit for a long time. However, compared to Zippo-style lighters, EverStryke Match Pro is very reliable – and the low cost definitely adds to its appeal.
UST Floating Lighter
Here’s another cheap lighter that is great for survival outdoors. It has a piezo-electric ignition which produces a strong, direct flame.
The flame can supposedly withstand winds up to 80mph. I haven’t tested it at this wind speed, but the flame does hold up in windy storms.
The waterproofness of the lighter is very good. It can be submerged without any water leaking into the case.
However, the lighter is far from perfect.
The case and some parts are made out of plastic, and will definitely break after a while. Lots of people find the tiny lid clasp annoying to open – especially if you don’t have long fingernails.
While UST promises that the lighter will spark up to 30,000 times, do note that you’ll have to refill the reservoir long before this. The reservoir isn’t very big, so the lighter is best for short trips or as a backup lighter.
Still, considering the price, you won’t find a better direct flame waterproof lighter than this.
Uberleben Zunden Fire Steel
As far as ferro rod lighters go, the Zunden by Uberleben is one of the best you could choose. The rod is neither too hard (which would last longer but not produce many sparks) or too soft (which would make lots of sparks, but wear down quickly).
The quality is great and the sparks really throw a long distance. It’s a heck of a lot easier to light a fire with the Zunden than other fire steels!
The striker has some built-in EDC tools like a bottle opener and hex wrench. These aren’t really necessary, but nice to have anyway. I’m more impressed that the striking surface is so long, as this really helps you get more sparks from the steel.
Yes, this fire steel costs a bit more than your standard ferro rod – but it is worth paying extra for a lighter which throws such hot sparks and is easier to use. If you are a beginner, I’d recommend getting the largest size (1/2 inch). More skilled survivalists can go with the smaller size.
UCO Stormproof Torch Lighter
If you want proof that lighters aren’t made equally, just check out the UCO Stormproof Torch lighter. It might not seem like anything special, but it’s all in the details.
Not only is the ignition well-made, but it actually lights three jets. This gives you a very hot, strong flame. You can adjust the flame as needed, which helps you conserve fuel.
True to their promise, the ignition seems to hold up. I haven’t tested it to 30,000 lights, but I’d trust it as an emergency lighter.
A nice feature is that the lighter is easy to refuel. The plastic is clear enough that you can easily check levels.
On the downside, the cap is made out of a cheap material. It seems like it would crack easily if banged around in a pack. Since the reservoir is quite large, it also means that this lighter is bulkier than some other options.
Which Lighter Do I Use?
I also have waterproof matches as a backup. After all, two is one, one is none.
For planned trips, such as camping, I carry the UCO Stormproof torch lighter. It quickly gets tinder lit in any condition.
I also pack a ferro rod and striker as a backup. I’m never in a rush while camping, and it’s fun to light a fire with this traditional method.
Choosing a Waterproof Survival Lighter
The most important thing when choosing a lighter is to get the right type for your needs. If we define “lighter” as “anything which produces a spark or flame,” then we can break it down to 6 types of lighters.
Why does lighter type matter so much?
Because each lighter type has certain pros/cons to be considered. For example, a torch lighter produces a strong windproof flame – but will also eat up fuel quickly.
There is no one “best” lighter for survival and prepping.
It depends a lot on your skill level, how often you’ll be using the lighter, whether you want to worry about refuelling, and so forth.
Because each lighter type has downsides, I’d actually recommend using TWO different types of lighters – one as a primary and the other as a backup.
Typical matches aren’t waterproof. And using matches to light a fire in stormy conditions doesn’t always work well – the flame flickers out because of wind and doesn’t produce enough heat to light damp tinder.
However, matches are the cheapest and most readily-available waterproof lighter.
You can even make your own waterproof matches by dipping them in wax, check out the video below for instructions. There is no worrying that the ignition will fail, or that the fuel will evaporate.
If you need a lighter for general disaster preparedness, stockpiling waterproof matches is a must. We have a great free offer on waterproof matches here.
2. Rods and Strikers
Rods and strikers don’t make a flame. Rather, they produce a spark by striking two materials together. Traditionally, flint and steel were used. More advanced systems that you buy online are Ferro rods with high-carbon steel strikers.
Strikers are probably the most reliable fire-lighting method available. They don’t require any fuel and are completely waterproof.
However, strikers are only good choices if you know how to use one!
It takes a lot of skill to be able to quickly make a fire with a striker.
Read these tips on using a Ferro rod.
3. Capsule Lighters
Capsule lighters are tiny lighters that have been fitted in a small, waterproof casing. They are sometimes called peanut lighters because of their shape.
A good capsule lighter will have a waterproof seal which also stops fuel from evaporating. The only real downside to capsule lighters is that, because they are so small, you don’t get many lights before having to refuel.
4. Floating Lighters
A floating lighter is any lighter that has been put in a case which will float. Unfortunately, this almost always means that the case is made out of plastic – which obviously isn’t the most durable material.
The waterproofness of floating lighters is generally very good. However, there are definitely issues with fuel evaporating, so don’t leave the lighter sitting around for months and expect it still to work.
5. Torch Lighters
Also called “storm lighters,” these lighters typically use a coil ignition system. You just push the button to spark the fuel and create a flame. The flame heats the coil, which will then continue to make a flame even if it is very windy.
You get a VERY strong, hot flame that can be used in any direction.
The best torch lighters will have features like o-rings to prevent fuel evaporation and keep water out of the ignition. Just be warned that quality can vary drastically on torch lighters.
Cheap torch lighters aren’t very waterproof and their ignition systems can fail. They also use up fuel very quickly, so you should make sure to have a more reliable waterproof lighter (such as matches or a ferro rod) handy in the field.
6. Electric Lighters
Recently, there has been a lot of innovation in electric lighters – such as the cool Tesla Lighter.
While these are great for everyday use, I still wouldn’t recommend them for survival or outdoor situations. Though they are windproof, electric lighters are NOT waterproof. Even humidity could affect their parts. Plus, you have to worry about the battery power running out.
Alternative: Get a Waterproof Case for Your Lighter
Don’t want to invest in a good waterproof lighter?
A basic disposable lighter will still do the job. If it runs out of fuel, you can still make a fire with an empty lighter.
However, you will have to take care to make sure your disposable lighter stays dry.
Zip-lock bags work well enough for rainstorms, but you’ll want something more hardcore for survival situations.
I like this case, which is completely waterproof, very durable, and fits most lighters.
What type of waterproof lighter do you use? Let us know in the comments!
Diane Vukovic spent her childhood roaming the woods of upstate NY, making brush shelters, backpacking and orienteering.
Now she is the proud mother of two adventurous girls whom she takes wild camping and teaches survival skills and self-defense. Learn more about Diane here.