USB rechargeable lighters have been around for a few years now, and they certainly have their place. They’re not affected by temperature or altitude, and they can be easily charged in the car on the way to the trailhead or campsite. I spent a few weeks with the SOL Fire Lite Fuel Free Rechargeable Lighter and here’s what I thought.
The SOL Fire Lite weighs next to nothing, but then again, most lighters do. At under two ounces, it’s not something you’d notice in your pack. I found the plasma arc to be very effective at lighting newspaper, fire starters, candles, my camp stove, and even birch bark. It also performs quite well in the wind. This was probably my favorite feature, as it made fire starting on windy days easy to do.
The case on the SOL Fire Lite is waterproof, and the micro USB port is inside where it can’t be damaged from the elements. I found the ignition button to be a clever design, because when the lid is closed, it turns on the light. It’s not a light that you’d use for hiking, but it provides enough light to dig around in your cooler or make your way to the bathroom.
Overall, I thought that the SOL Fire Lite Fuel Free Rechargeable Lighter was an effective, well designed piece of gear. Some people would say that the battery powered aspect of it is a negative, because it could fail. I wouldn’t disagree with that, but I always recommend carrying a second fire source, and don’t see it as a problem. For me, the ease of starting a fire easily in windy conditions outweighs the unlikely odds of the battery somehow failing. If it did I’d be prepared anyway.
The last thing I’ll say is that it’s great for anyone who is introducing kids to the fire building part of camping because it’s safer than matches. Yes, it can still burn your finger, but the “push and point” way of starting a fire is very safe. You can still teach kids about tinder and kindling (which is the most important thing to know anyway), and they’ll feel like they helped out in setting up camp.
The SOL Fire Light Fuel Free Rechargeable Lighter worked as well (or better) than a standard lighter in almost every situation I used it in. The little crackling plasma arc isn’t a gimic – it actually works incredibly well. As I said earlier, I always carry two fire sources, and I’ll be using this one as my go-to moving forward.