It can be difficult selecting just the right cigar lighter from all of the different styles available, made by all the different manufacturers such as Xikar, Colibri, Zippo and many others. For the most part, if a lighter is being purchased as a gift by a non-cigar smoker, the appearance of the lighter and its price are usually the determining factors in making the selection. But be careful not to ignore the most important features that are of utmost importance to the cigar smoker who is going to use it.
Torch Lighters Preferred
Although no two cigar smokers are exactly alike, most would prefer a torch lighter with a jet flame instead of a traditional soft flame lighter used by cigarette smokers. However, if the lighter will primarily be used indoors on thinner cigars, then either type of lighter may suffice. Thick cigars with large ring gauges almost make a torch lighter a necessity, and if the lighter will be used outdoors, then a torch lighter is a must regardless of the size of the cigar. Torch lighters are wind resistant but not windproof (unless specifically indicated). Cigars should not be smoked in high winds anyway, so a wind resistant torch lighter should normally be sufficient.
Disposable Bic lighters are not usually given as gifts, but such lighters are used by many cigar smokers from time to time. For one example, since torch lighters are not typically permitted on airplanes, you can't bring it along when you travel, but Bic lighters are permissible. However, if a soft flame lighter is preferred by a particular cigar smoker, then the lighter selected should run on butane gas fuel as opposed to liquid naphtha. A butane flame is odorless, and will not infuse a premium handmade cigar with the aroma or taste of gasoline. As an aside, never light a cigar with a scented candle or any other heat/flame source that will interject a nasty flavor into the cigar.
Two Flames Better Than One
Now that we have ruled out traditional flame lighters in most cases, what kind of torch lighter is the best? I prefer a double jet flame more than a single or triple flame. Cigars with large ring gauges can take a long time to light, and a double torch reduces that time significantly. In addition, a double torch lighter is more wind resistant than a single flame. So why not buy a lighter with three (or more) flames? Torch lighters use fuel in a hurry, and you don't want to keep refueling the lighter after every two or three cigars. Three or more flames is overkill anyway, at least in my opinion.
What other features does a cigar smoker want or need in a lighter? Remember, function takes precedence over appearance. That fancy Xikar lighter pictured on this page sure looks nice, but notice that the open lid that covers the torch on the top of the lighter can easily get in the way when trying to light a cigar. This is especially the case when trying to touch-up an already lit cigar that has an ash on the end of it. The lid should retract when the lighter is ignited, or at least be designed to move out of the way. Another good feature to have on a cigar lighter is a fuel indicator or window. If you know how much fuel is in your lighter before heading out to the golf course, you won't have a problem lighting your second cigar on the back nine because your lighter is empty. The double torch lighter (also pictured) having all these features is made by Cigar Savor. However, the fuel tank on that lighter should be larger, and it would be nice if the flame adjustment control on the bottom of the lighter was large enough to adjust by hand, without having to search around for a tiny screw driver or flame adjustment tool.
If a cigar lighter will be used at high altitudes, in a city like Albuquerque for example, then make sure to read our article about high altitude cigar lighters.
In conclusion, for most cigar smokers, I recommend a double torch lighter with the features described above, made by a reputable manufacturer such as Xikar, Colibri, Zippo or others having a lifetime warranty. The price range and appearance are up to you, as long as the lighter also has the features that will make its user one very happy cigar smoker.