Being a bit of a lighter hound, I was excited to see a new Windmill lighter being introduced to the market by Essential Gear. The new Trekker is designed as an emergency lighter for those dire occasions where fire is a must. Woods Monkey spent a lot of time reviewing this lighter, and once you read the first part of our article, you’ll understand why.
Over the past few months, we’ve had the chance to review several butane "storm" lighters. Storm lighters are specifically designed to withstand the elements including water and wind to provide you with that critical flame when the moment arrives. The new Windmill Trekker lighter is a handfilling beast of a lighter. It boasts a large capacity tank rated at 1,000 ignitions which is a substantial number given our experience with previous lighter models that we’ve reviewed. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a false start for the first couple of months due to problems with unreliable ignitions. As we learned in January at the SHOT Show when we spoke with reps from eGear, there’s a very specific fuel requirement for the Trekker that wasn’t really designated in the instructions. The instructions call for "premium" butane or their own Quadruple Refined Butane gas. I picked up some "premium" butane at a local store to review the Trekker and the other butane lighters. However, the Trekker requires a "more premium" than "premium" butane.
While Essential Gear carries their own brand of gas for their lighters, for some reason I can’t get my hands on any since there’s some shipping issues. One recommendation that was made was to use ISOPRO fuel which is a combination of both butane and propane. I was able to effect this change by using a filling adapter that I received from Primus a while back. I simply attached it to one of my ISOPRO fuel canisters from one of my camp stoves and I filled the Trekker from that source. From that point forward, the problems with the unreliable ignition basically went away. I say basically because there were still occasions that it took a couple of clicks to get the Trekker going. But, that was no different from the other lighters that we’ve worked with recently. Actually, it’s a bit of a different process to get the flame going. You have to be very deliberate in the ignition process. You can’t just do a quick click and get rolling. You have to slowly depress the thumb lever to allow the gas to start escaping. Once done, you complete the downward press/click to activate the Piezo ignition system. If you do all of this too fast, you won’t get a flame. It’s a bit frustrating at times since I’m very impatient, but this seems to be the norm with these types of lighter.
Once you move on from the starting process, that’s when things get interesting. As I mentioned, the Trekker has a large fuel tank, so that’s one advantage over the other lighters that we reviewed. It’s massive capacity kept the Trekker chugging right along time after time. That advantage is offset a bit by its larger size, but for this type of device, I think the larger size is more desirable. Besides getting the extra fuel capacity, it’s also easier to locate in your kit or pack because of it’s size and high visibility orange color. This isn’t a walk around lighter to keep in your pocket. It’s oversized design is intended to make the lighter easy to locate and operate. Since the controls and pieces are larger, it’s easier to use the Trekker in cold environments where the operator might be wearing glove–though you’ll want to be careful not to let the material of your glove to catch fire!
When it comes to being a "Stormproof Lighter" the Trekker has a few things in the mix that really makes it a great addition to the kit. First, there is an O-ring inside the cap area that helps keep out water once the spring-loaded cap is closed. Second, there is a buckle/clip on the side of the Trekker that helps tighten down the fit of the cap and keep it in place. Both of these work in concert with each other to not only keep out water, but also dust, sand, or other debris that could affect the operation of the lighter.
The last piece that helps keep the Trekker going in harsh conditions is the inclusion of the burner coil in the ignition chamber. Once the Piezo system ignites the gas, the ensuing flame heats the coil to a red hot state, though the flame itself is nearly invisible outside. The beauty of this design is that the hot coil continues to ignite the gas while the Trekker is being used so if you’re in windy conditions, you don’t have to worry about your flame being snuffed. The web material states that the Trekker can withstand winds of 70-80 miles per hour. Not having a wind tunnel of my own to conduct tests, I tried a couple of different things to see how well it stood up to high winds. First, I turned my large house fan to its highest setting and then placed the lit Trekker directly in front of it. No problem! The flame kept right on burning as if on a windless, summer afternoon. The next test was to jump in the car and get on the highway. After getting the little demon up to around 70 miles an hour, I held the light up and out the window like I was at a Grateful Dead concert. Again, no problems keeping the Trekker fired up during this test either. So, having done these two very scientific and independent tests, I think you can believe the claims made about the Trekker’s resistence to high winds.
All in all, I was very happy with the overall performance of the Trekker lighter once we got the issue of the right type of fuel sorted out. It’s well sealed against the weather, stands up to high winds, and has an ample fuel supply to keep you going on those extended trips. The only possible negative is its larger size, but that’s a tradeoff for the amount of fuel you get to carry. After almost four months of testing, I can attest to several thousand ignitions with this particular lighter. Provided you’re using the right kind of fuel, I believe this is a product you can trust when you’re in a do or die situation.
The Windmill Trekker lighter MSRP’s for around $55.00, and if you’re in the market for such a product, I suggest you give this one a good look!