I’ve been a fan of Xikar cigar lighters and cutters for several years because of their design, performance, reliability, and superb customer service with no questions asked lifetime warranty. Beyond lighting cigars, torch style lighters are a great utility item for emergency kits, and they’re just generally useful around the home or out at camp. Just before Christmas my local cigar shop – The Cigar Shop in Athens, Ga – had a Xikar event with sales rep Kelly Enter. Besides Kelly being a great and knowledgeable guy, and Glynn and the crew at the shop being gracious hosts, I picked up one of Xikar’s Stratosphere lighters.
The Stratosphere is Xikar’s flagship outdoors use lighter, it’s highly wind resistant, and it’s even high altitude rated. At $30 MSRP this a very reasonably priced lighter. During recent cold weather here in Georgia I was able to test the Stratosphere outside in slightly more fitting conditions. The stratosphere performed flawlessly in the cold, and has performed flawlessly since I bought it. To further test its cold performance I stuck it in my freezer for two hours hours while I was out getting dinner. Not surprisingly, it didn’t light immediately after coming out of the freezer. However, it lit off at full performance within one minute of coming out of the freezer, and being held in my hand while I clicked the ignition switch every 3 to 5 seconds. This is impressive performance even for a higher end outdoors lighter. If one keeps the lighter in an interior jacket pocket or the like to prevent it from literally freezing when out in extreme cold I have no doubt the Xikar Stratosphere will perform in conditions when you absolutely need to start a fire or get a camp stove going. Previously I’ve tested this lighter in front of a box fan to simulate strong sustained wind, and it stays lit. I’ve even blown it out, which adds exhaled CO2 for further flame suppression. Because of the recessed jet and floating heat coil it immediately relights itself.
My only major complaint is how close the ignition button is to the flame jet. This isn’t too bad with bare hands, but I noticed that extreme care must be taken with gloved hands when I was doing outdoor cold weather testing. I even lit on fire a tiny part of the thumb of my glove while taking example photos for this article. The only other minor issues are that the tiny lid latch can be a bit difficult to operate with gloved hands, and that the internal fuel tank is a bit small. I’ve found a work around for the fuel capacity issue that I’ll be reviewing very soon. I’d really like to see Xikar adapt the Stratosphere’s wind proof, high altitude rated jet, to their Tech line of lighters which have a very large transparent or translucent fuel tank body, and lid that self opens when depressing the ignition button. More importantly the Tech’s ignition button is located a bit further away from the flame jet.
Overall, I really like the Stratosphere. It’s an extremely reliable tool that will light your cigar, light your camp stove, or start a wood fire in some truly nasty conditions. Be careful while using it when wearing gloves, and fill the tank before heading out. At $30 or less street price the Xikar Stratosphere is also a tremendous value.