I’ve built enough campfires over the years to know that there are many factors that go into making a good one. Dry wood is essential: more than once, I’ve struggled to keep flames going because the wood hadn’t been properly dried. Good kindling is also important, be it small pieces of wood or a premade fire starter (or both), since a campfire is dead on arrival if you can’t get the big logs going in the first place. And log arrangement can matter, too, although I’ve found that quality wood covers a lot of sins there.
I tend to take it for granted that I need something to start the fire. I like to use matches, because they make for a bit of extra kindling to help get things going, but a small butane lighter also does a good job, especially in higher winds when I’m having trouble keeping a match lit. I usually pack a couple for campfires, while my father-in-law usually brings one or two for lighting everything from charcoal to tiki torches. They certainly are multi-purpose.
In the summer, Aldi sells some multi-purpose lighters under its Range Master private label. Range Master Multi-Purpose Lighters are an Aldi Find, which means they’re only in stores for a short time. In the year we bought them, the lighters came in a 3-pack that totaled $4.99. That’s often the same price we usually pay for just one, so this 3-pack is a great deal, in my experience. It’s too bad Aldi doesn’t keep them in stores longer, but that’s how it is.
According to the packaging, the lighters are made in China, and they comply with Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for a multi-purpose lighter (yes, there is such a thing) 16 CFR 1212. The packaging also contains plenty of warnings, which you should follow. This is, after all, a device that uses flammable fuel to create a tiny blowtorch.
If you’ve used these kinds of lighters before, you’ll feel right at home, as the functions look much like other brands I’ve bought over the years. The three-pack contains two standard lighters and one flexible lighter, and while there are some small differences we’ll get into in a second, they have a few common features. One, all three have ergonomic handles and U-shaped hooks that can be rotated out from the end of the lighter for hanging purposes. Two, all of them have fuel level indicators on the side, so by holding it vertically you can see how much is left. And three, they all operate using three different controls: a trigger, a child safety button, and an output level switch.
Before you start the lighter, you’ll want to decide how big a flame you need. The little tab on the top of the lighter lets you choose between low fire on the left and high on the right. High burns more fuel but produces a bigger flame, so I usually go with low unless the wind is so bad I can’t keep a flame going. It depends on your needs.
The adjustable one also has a nifty neck that can be bent around a little if you need to put your flame in a space that a straight lighter isn’t ideal for.
To start the lighter, you have to hold down the child safety button while you pull the trigger. With lighters like these, it can take a few pulls of the trigger to get the fire to catch. These Aldi lighters actually did pretty good in that area, lighting after just a pull or two, and the flame burned bright and consistent.
We did notice a difference between the straight lighter flame and the adjustable lighter flame. The straight lighter was bigger and brighter, a bit more like a candle, while the adjustable lighter was smaller, more like a torch. The adjustable lighter also hissed as the flame was running. Both worked fine, though, and are perfectly suitable to lighting fires.
Aldi’s portable multi-purpose lighters are quality little lighters. They work easily, light quickly, and do the job as well as more expensive name brands I’ve tried, and for a lot less money. It’s too bad they only come around every once in a while.