Camping Gear Guides: Are Waterproof Electric Lighters Any Good?

If you grew up using traditional lighters or fire starters, you might be a little skeptical when it comes to waterproof electric lighters.

Are these lighters actually useful? Can you use them for camping or hiking? What about everyday carry?

We know you have questions, and we’re here to help! Below we’ve painstakingly put together a comprehensive guide on electric lighters. You’ll find:

  • What they are and how they work.
  • All the pros and cons of waterproof electric lighters.
  • A quick list of the best waterproof electric lighters.
  • And answers to some common questions!

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

Table of Contents

Click on any of the links below to jump to the desired section!

  1. First Things, First: Is It Called an Electric Lighter, Plasma Lighter, or Arc Lighter?
  2. How Do Electric Lighters Work?
    1. Generally, You Charge Them With a USB Cable
  3. Are All Electric Lighters Waterproof?
    1. Do You Really Need a Waterproof Electric Lighter?
  4. The Pros and Cons of Waterproof Electric Lighters
    1. Pro: Waterproof Electric Lighters Are Windproof and Coldproof…
    2. Pro: No Fuel Equals No Leaks 
    3. Pro: Electric Lighters Are Reliable…
    4. Pro: Waterproof Electric Lighters Are Built to Be Robust…
    5. Pro: 1–2 Hours of Charging Equals 200–300 Lights….
    6. Pro: Waterproof Electric Lighters Tend to Be Affordable
    7. Pro: You Don’t Have to Refuel or Buy a New Lighter…
    8. Con: You’ll Need to Replace the Battery Every Few Years…
    9. Con: Some Designs Are Harder to Use Than Others
    10. Con: There Are a lot of Knock-Offs on the Market
    11. Con: These Lighters Shouldn’t Be Exposed to Temperatures Above…
    12. Con: Most Waterproof Electric Lighters Are Made in…
  5. So: Are Waterproof Electric Lighters Good for Camping and Everyday Carry?
    1. For Camping, They’re Definitely Useful
    2. They’re Not Bad for Everyday Carry Use
  6. The Best Waterproof Electric Lighters
    1. The Most Color Options: Green Vivid Waterproof Electric Lighter w/ Emergency Whistle ($)
    2. The Smallest: Suprus Mini Waterproof Electric Lighter w/ Emergency Whistle ($)
    3. Multi-purpose: Suprus Waterproof Electric Lighter w/ LED Light and Emergency Whistle ($)
    4. Our Favorite: LcFun Waterproof Electric Lighter ($)
    5. Unique Design: LcFun Waterproof Electric Lighter ($$)
    6. Most Expensive: Sirius Survival Arc4 Waterproof Electric Lighter ($$)
    7. Bonus…
  7. Waterproof Electric Lighters: FAQs
    1. Knock-Offs vs. the Real Deal: Does It Matter? 
    2. Can You Charge a Waterproof Electric Lighter With Solar?
    3. What Happens if You Touch Yourself With an Electric Lighter?
    4. How Do You Use An Electric Lighter?
    5. Do Electric Lighters Really Work?
    6. Exactly How Waterproof Are the Waterproof Electric Lighters Mentioned Above?
    7. We Know the Lighters Still Work When It’s Cold Out, but What if It’s Super-Hot Outside?
  8. Final Verdict
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First Things, First: Is It Called an Electric Lighter, Plasma Lighter, or Arc Lighter?

A plasma ball in a super dark room
(Photo: Nothing Ahead)

Technically speaking, all three names are accurate! These lighters are powered by electricity and produce an arc of plasma. But for simplicity’s sake, we’re going to refer to them as electric lighters going forward (though, arc lighter does sound pretty badass, right?).

How Do Electric Lighters Work?

Don’t worry, we’re not deep-diving into the physics at play here. Essentially, electric lighters work by passing a high-voltage charge through two electrical nodes. This creates a super-hot arc of plasma, which can then be used to light stuff on fire!

That’s it!

If you’re really curious, Popular Mechanics goes into a little more detail on how electric lighters work.

Check out our demonstration!

Generally, You Charge Them With a USB Cable

There are probably exceptions, but all the waterproof electric lighters we’ve come across are charged via a micro-USB cable.

Depending on the model you buy and your power source, a full charge takes 1–2 hours.

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Are All Electric Lighters Waterproof?

Definitely not!

LcFun waterproof electric lighter from the top down.
LcFun’s standard waterproof electric lighter.

Electric lighters meant for camping tend to be waterproof (or at least water-resistant), but ordinary electric lighters aren’t usually designed this way.

Do You Really Need a Waterproof Electric Lighter?

For camping, we would say this is a no-brainer. You don’t want a normal electric lighter to short out because of rain or dropping it in a pond, etc. And since most camping lighters are relatively cheap, it’s not like you have to pay a premium to get a waterproof option.

On the other hand, you can probably get away with a non-waterproof electric lighter for your everyday carry (what is everyday carry?).

The Pros and Cons of Waterproof Electric Lighters

Let’s keep things simple: here are the most important pros and cons of waterproof electric lighters.

Pro: Waterproof Electric Lighters Are Windproof and Coldproof (Usually)

Ignited electric lighter
Look closely and you’ll see the twin plasma arcs.

Ordinary lighters and matches can be tricky to use in windy conditions. Electric lighters, on the other hand, are virtually unaffected by the wind. 

Waterproof electric lighters also tend to be insulated from the cold. And while we haven’t tested them in Alaska-during-the-middle-of-winter conditions, we haven’t run into any issues using them in freezing or near-freezing temperatures. 

That said, investing in some waterproof matches for emergencies is wise. UCO’s stormproof match kit is a decent option that’s relatively affordable.

Pro: No Fuel Equals No Leaks 

If a traditional lighter breaks, it may leak fuel. At best, this is an annoyance that means you’ll have to dish out money on a replacement. At worst, it’s a safety hazard! It probably doesn’t need to be said that walking around with lighter fluid on your clothes is dangerous.

Since you don’t need to carry fuel for an electric lighter, you can allocate that storage space elsewhere and there’s no need to worry about fuel spills.

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Pro: Electric Lighters Are Reliable (Because of the Simple Design)

There’s nothing fancy about the electronics inside of an electric lighter. You have a battery that’s wired to two electrical nodes: simple. And that simplicity translates to reliability!

silver kerosene lighter that's ignited
Traditional lighters can leak fuel if not properly maintained.

Pro: Waterproof Electric Lighters Are Built to Be Robust and Durable

The model we have (the LcFun waterproof electric lighter) has been dropped, fully submerged, and used in freezing temperatures and has yet to fail. Across thousands of reviews, we’ve found limited evidence to think otherwise.

Pro: 1–2 Hours of Charging Equals 200–300 Lights (or Uses)

Fuel lighters simply can’t keep up with the efficiency of electric lighters. 

Whatever you’re trying to light with an electric lighter is going to catch fire fast: dry paper, kindling, and other thin, light materials usually combust immediately.

And while fuel lighters often advertise hundreds of uses per refueling, the reality is usually a different story. This is especially true if you’re in windy or adverse weather conditions. Not to mention that fuel lighters (outside of butane options) are much slower at achieving a flame.

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Pro: Waterproof Electric Lighters Tend to Be Affordable

Okay, so there are definitely some options that cost over $30, as well as some super whamodyne options that cost way more. But here’s the thing: we found very little difference in the build quality or performance between expensive models and cheap options.

a vintage jug of kerosene oil
Traditional lighters typically use kerosene or butane for fuel. Neither are great for the environment.

You can easily find $10–$20 waterproof electric lighters that get the job done. And considering the cost of traditional lighter fuel alone, this feels like a good deal.

Pro: You Don’t Have to Refuel or Buy a New Lighter (They’re Eco-Friendly)

Speaking of lighter fuel (i.e., butane, kerosene, the blood of a virgin, etc.), you don’t need to refuel an electric lighter. 

Sure, you have to charge them—and if you want to get technical, charging does cost money—but we’re talking about pennies. Plus, it’s way easier to charge an electric lighter than to go buy fuel (which isn’t always easy to find).

Con: You’ll Need to Replace the Battery Every Few Years (and Some Models Don’t Make This Easy)

The one thing that a quality traditional lighter has over a waterproof electric lighter is that, in theory, it can last forever with maintenance and refueling. 

Once the battery of an electric lighter completely fails (i.e., it doesn’t hold a charge), it’s useless until you replace the battery. And only some models let you do this easily. 

The good news: an electric lighter battery will probably last a few years before needing to be replaced.

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Con: Some Designs Are Harder to Use Than Others

Most waterproof lighters follow a very similar design, with two important distinctions

Some options produce a vertical plasma arc that can be slightly hard to maneuver around whatever you’re trying to light. We find this version to be a little safer because you have to be more deliberate in how you use the lighter, but others find it annoying.

While other models produce a horizontal plasma arc that requires almost zero thought to use. 

desert camping
If you like to camp in the desert, it’s wise to keep your electric lighter out of the heat. (Photo: Mario Cuadros)

Con: There Are a lot of Knock-Offs on the Market

We’re not entirely sure what company/inventor came up with the original waterproof electric lighter design, but if you search for them online, you’ll find that the vast majority of products are very similar to one another. So similar, in fact, that they’re likely made by the same manufacturer.

Unsurprisingly, we found that the differences in performance were also pretty minor after testing a few different options out. 

This is kind of a double-edged sword: you can basically choose the cheapest option because the differences between models are minimal, but that also means if you don’t like any of these different designs, you’re SOL.

Con: These Lighters Shouldn’t Be Exposed to Temperatures Above 120℉

First, let’s note that this doesn’t mean you can’t bring this lighter with you to the desert, it just means you should be extra cautious with it any time you use it in extreme heat.

Con: Most Waterproof Electric Lighters Are Made in China

While this isn’t necessarily a red flag (well, aside from China’s literally-red flag), we know many EDC and camping gearheads prefer to avoid Chinese products because of the country’s shoddy reputation as a manufacturer.

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So: Are Waterproof Electric Lighters Good for Camping and Everyday Carry?

Generally speaking, waterproof electric lighters are pretty great. Most are inexpensive, so you get a good value for a relatively small investment.

For Camping, They’re Definitely Useful

Waterproof electric lighters offer a quick and easy way to light a fire. We’ve used them extensively at campgrounds and other spots (like Carrizo Plains National Monument) without issue! 

They’re compact, reliable (even in cold temperatures), and typically last a few trips before needing to be charged. Though, we recommend charging them before each trip to be safe. 

That said, one of our core camping tenets is redundancy: we don’t recommend relying solely on an electric lighter. If the battery dies or fails, the lighter becomes useless. But as long as you have some other means to start a fire, there’s no reason to worry!

Bonus: a solar charger like this portable panel from Goal Zero produces enough energy to fully recharge a waterproof electric lighter. Just note that most solar chargers need a lot of exposure to sunlight to work correctly and aren’t foolproof.

They’re Not Bad for Everyday Carry Use

Unless you’re a smoker, lighters probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of everyday carry gear (what is EDC, by the way?). But if you do need (or want) a lighter in your everyday carry, waterproof electric lighters aren’t a bad choice! 

You won’t need to buy fuel (butane, lighter fluid, etc.) and they’re way more efficient than buying crappy disposable lighters all the time. Plus, if you happen to get stuck in the rain you don’t need to worry about it shorting out!

Of course, everyday carry is personal stuff—so you can bring whatever makes your heart content (check out our review of our favorite Trayvax wallet if you want a good example).

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The Best Waterproof Electric Lighters

Now that we’ve established what they are, let’s review a few waterproof electric lighters

Note: pricing on waterproof electric lighters seems to change often, so let us know if any of the pricing info is inaccurate. Cheers!

The Most Color Options: Green Vivid Waterproof Electric Lighter w/ Emergency Whistle ($)

Price: About $12

Arc Orientation: Horizontal

Weight: 1.8 oz

Color Options: Black, Blue, Generic Green Camo, Orange, Orange w/ Black Trim, Dark Orange, Red

Case Detachable: Yes

This Green Vivid lighter pretty much performs as advertised: 100–200 lights with a full charge, a waterproof casing that’s removable, and a micro-USB cable. For reasons beyond our understanding, though, only two of the color options come with the whistle. However, the whistle’s quality is almost non-existent so don’t base your decision on it.

Beyond that, there’s not much else to this lighter! If you want a more complex tool, you’ll want to check out the options below.

The Smallest: Suprus Mini Waterproof Electric Lighter w/ Emergency Whistle ($)

Price: About $15

Arc Orientation: Horizontal

Weight: 0.6 oz

Color Options: Generic Green Camo

Case Detachable: Yes

Suprus’ mini waterproof electric lighter is the smallest model in this bunch. Otherwise, the Suprus mini is essentially the same product as the Green Vivid lighter above (but about ⅔ the size). 

To us, this is a double-edged sword. The smaller design is nice for small hands or anyone trying to conserve as much space as possible.

But we found this design to be a little uncomfortable to hold. And in our minds, the smaller design isn’t worth the sacrifice, especially since this lighter costs more than Green Vivid’s lighter. However, we also get the necessity for saving space!

Multi-purpose: Suprus Waterproof Electric Lighter w/ LED Light and Emergency Whistle ($)

Price: About $15

Arc Orientation: Horizontal

Weight: 1.8 oz

Color Options: Black, Red, Generic Green Camo

Case Detachable: Unclear

Suprus’ full-size waterproof electric lighter trades the smaller size of the Suprus mini for a three-mode LED light and more comfortable grip. While space-savers may not love the bigger size, the addition of the LED adds a little more versatility to an otherwise one-dimensional tool.

In terms of performance, though, this lighter is essentially the same as the others.

The three LED modes:

  • Full brightness
  • Half brightness
  • Strobe

Alternatively, if you just want a decent mini flashlight, check out the OLight i1R keychain light.

Our Favorite: LcFun Waterproof Electric Lighter ($)

Price: About $15

Arc Orientation: Vertical

Weight: 0.9 oz

Color Options: Black, Red, Generic Green Camo

Case Detachable: Yes

The LcFun waterproof electric lighter is nearly identical to Green Vivid’s model (in fact, they’re probably made in the same factory), except its nodes are oriented vertically instead. While some users may find this version to be a little hard to use, we prefer it because it requires you to be a little more deliberate when lighting X, Y, or Z. In other words, it’s a teensy bit safer to use.

Badge of honor: this LcFun product is also the only electric lighter we keep with our camping gear (and occasionally, our everyday carry). It’s survived multiple excursions, including an unplanned test of its waterproofing (solid), and has yet to give us any problems since we first bought it last August!

Unique Design: LcFun Waterproof Electric Lighter ($$)

Price: About $20

Arc Orientation: Horizontal

Weight: 0.9 oz

Color Options: Black

Case Detachable: Unclear

LcFun also makes a slim waterproof electric lighter that doubles as a low-end LED flashlight. But unlike the Suprus lighters, the LcFun slim doesn’t sacrifice comfort in order to achieve its compact design, and the flashlight uses the same button for both its flashlight function and the plasma arc.

When the lid is open, the arc lights—when the lid is closed, the flashlight turns on. The transition is clean and smooth.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to though: a few reviewers complain that the flashlight is too easy to turn on when it’s in your pocket, wasting the battery.

As such, we’re not as smitten with this version as we are with our first LcFun entry. However, if you’re able to stow the slim version somewhere it won’t accidentally turn on, it’s obviously the more versatile of the two lighters.

Most Expensive: Sirius Survival Arc4 Waterproof Electric Lighter ($$)

Price: About $25

Arc Orientation: Horizontal

Weight: 0.9 oz

Color Options: Black, Generic Green Camo, Red, Orange w/ Black Trim, Blue

Case Detachable: Yes

The Sirius Survival Arc4 is a lot more expensive than the other options. So why are we including it here?

Comparison value: waterproof electric lighters are good products, but there’s very little difference from one option to another. As far as we can tell, most or all these products are made in the same factory!

That said, it’s hard to criticize a $10–$15 product that works as advertised. Which brings us back to Sirius Survival…there’s simply no reason for us to pay $10 more for the same thing. Save your money and choose one of the options above!

Or better yet…

Bonus: Pair Your Waterproof Electric Lighter With a Bushcraft Survival Ferro Rod Kit

Instead of buying the Sirius Survival electric lighter for $25, you can pair a $10–$15 waterproof electric lighter with a ferro rod, such as the kit sold by Bushcraft Survival, as a backup option.

Ferro rods are super handy for camping trips because they require minimal space and are supremely useful for starting campfires. Bushcraft Survival’s version, isn’t too pricey, has sterling reviews, and is made of high-quality materials. It does exactly what it’s supposed to: it creates big sparks so you can create big fires (responsibly!).

There Are Two Versions

Waterproof Electric Lighters: FAQs

Before we finish up, let’s cover a few more lingering questions (and if we missed something, definitely let us know!).

Knock-Offs vs. the Real Deal: Does It Matter? 

Normally, we’re very much on the side of choosing the original product over knock-offs. Copies tend to trade durability and performance for affordability.

But for waterproof electric lighters, we’re not sure there’s any real difference between so-called premium options and the cheaper lighters that flood the market.

Can You Charge a Waterproof Electric Lighter With Solar?

Absolutely! For one, this is an eco-friendly way to charge your lighter. Two, portable solar chargers like the Goal Zero Nomad 5 solar panel we mentioned above are increasingly finding their way into camping kits.

Note: Goal Zero also makes 10, 20, and higher-watt solar panels too.

Goal Zero Solar Panels

Nomad 10
Nomad 20
Nomad 50

What Happens if You Touch Yourself With an Electric Lighter?

Good Lord, why? It’s going to hurt. A lot

Electric lighters don’t function like tasers; they superheat whatever the beam comes into contact with. If you touch the beam, it’s going to burn the ever-loving crap out of you.

Please don’t be stupid and burn yourself with an electric lighter.

Bonus: If you want to learn about more camping do’s and don’t’s, we debunk a few terrible camping hacks (Part I) in this guide!

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How Do You Use An Electric Lighter?

Simply open the cap and press the power button to ignite the plasma arc.

Do Electric Lighters Really Work?

Haven’t you been paying attention? Of course they do!

Exactly How Waterproof Are the Waterproof Electric Lighters Mentioned Above?

We only tested the standard model sold by LcFun, but there was zero evidence that water penetrated the outer casing after about 10 minutes of being fully submerged in about four inches of water. And the lighter performed as usual right after.

Beyond that, none of the products we looked at offered a maximum depth so it’s hard to say what each model can handle. 

Our guess: the lighter will survive a puddle without issue, but its survivability likely plummets the deeper it drops.

Waterproof electric lighter fully submerged in about 3 to 4 inches of water
This was taken about 10 minutes after we dropped the lighter in the bowl…
Wet waterproof electric lighter is still functional after being dunked in water
…And as you can see, it still works fine!
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We Know the Lighters Still Work When It’s Cold Out, but What if It’s Super-Hot Outside?

All the options we researched have a maximum heat tolerance of around 120℉. This isn’t because of the lighter itself, though; it’s due to the lithium-ion battery.

green waterproof electric lighter with an "explore" decal on its side
Don’t forget to “explore!” The lighter told you too…

Final Verdict: Electric Lighters Are a Valuable and Inexpensive Addition to Your Camping Gear

Waterproof electric lighters aren’t going to dramatically change your life, but for a small investment, they free you of the burden of finding, carrying, and replacing lighter fuel. That alone is worth the $10–$15 price tag!

However, if you’re expecting something that will last for decades, you’ll need to explore an alternative solution. Most waterproof electric lighters are made in China, which is pretty notorious for lax craftsmanship (to put it mildly). We’re willing to forgive that fact because these lighters should still last at least a few years, and you can usually change the battery if it fails.

That said, you’re placing your faith in the wrong thing if you expect this gadget to last beyond its anticipated lifespan.

So above all, consider waterproof electric lighters a camping convenience rather than a camping necessity!

Not Happy With Our Selection? Let Us Know!

If you’re not sold on any of the options above, be sure to let us know why you went with a different choice! If we like your selection, we’ll add it here so others can benefit, too.

The operators of Renegade Camping may receive a commission for purchases made through links on our site. But that doesn’t mean we’re shilling random crap! We thoroughly research and/or own all the products we review on our website. We want to build unshakeable trust with our readers, and that means offering honest, transparent reviews and guides. Cheers!

– The Renegade Camping & EDC team
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