A couple of days ago, I took delivery of a windmill lighter I'd had on order from ODS. I got the glow-in-the-dark model, as I wanted a backup burner for camping as well as general use and I thought the bright colour would be useful in the woods at night.
I was surprised at the diminutive size of the lighter, having seen the "hand-grenade" stormproof models, I was expecting something quite large and was pleasantly surprised. In the pic below, you can see it compared to a very old brass Zippo and a £1 disposable Cricket lighter...
Although it looks similar in size to the Zippo, it feels quite a bit smaller, certainly a lot lighter - closer in weight to the disposable.
The material is polycarbonate - basically tough plastic and does feel "plasticky" to the touch. It has a quite smooth finish, which is a little slippy when your fingers are wet. I would have preferred some touchy-feely texture thing, but it's not a problem. The hinge is made of the same material, infact the whole case is probably injection molded. It's pretty tough though, so I dont forsee a problem with hinge failure - actually, I'd bet It'll probably wear better than the hinge on my Zippo. There is a sturdy lanyard attachment too, making hooking it onto you pack a cintch - nice touch, though defacto for all such lighters now. The lid springs open when you release the catch. It's spring loaded, so holds it's open postion in whatever orientation you hold the lighter until you shut the lid. Though the hinge doesnt open a full 180deg, it does flip back far enough for you to get the flame into whatever position you should need to...
The above pic shows the lid open to it's max position, there's plenty of "flame clearance". There is a snug-fitting rubber O-ring which seals the lighter and the lid closes into the clasp with a very positive and audible click. It passed several dunking tests with no water ingress at all. I dont know what it'd be like at depth, but you could certainly use it in driving rain or leave it in a puddle for a couple of hours and I doubt anything would seep in.
The glow-in-the-dark case is probably the same compound you'd find in any kids Halloween toy. It certainly does glow in the dark, looking like some lump of radioactive waste (a la Homer Simpson), but you have to energise the material with some light source first.
The above pic was taken in a dimly lit room, with no flash on the camera, after the lighter was zapped for a few seconds with a super-bright surefire torch. It glows brightly for a few seconds, then diminishes rapidly. However it does retain some "glow" for several hours afterwars. It is also still highly visible in dimmed conditions even when not energised with a light source. The inclusion of a beta isotope, such as the Gaseous Tritium Light Source (GTLS) you find in glow rings or Traser watches would have made this perfect.
The metal parts of the lighter seem quite well made, not rough and tinny, but well engineered and finished. The piezo ignition works well, with pretty much 100% flame ignition on the first try. The flame is supposed to burn at somewhere around 1200C depending on what review you read, but it's clearly very hot.
The flame is barely visible when lit though (the above pic shows it quite brightly, but this is due to the sensitivity of the camera and dim room light - it's not nearly that bright under normal conditions), ...so aiming it at the tip of a cigarette can be problematic if you want to keep your eyebrows. I dont see this as a problem when lighting a fire though - the hot spot is about 1/2" to 3/4" away from the lighter and burns in whatever direction you point it. The flame is adjustable by a wheel on the botton with a thumbnail or coin groove. However, there is no "constant on" feature and the blue "hot" flame cant be turned into a yellow "cold" flame. The thumb button does get quite hot after being lit for more than a few seconds, so you need to get whatever you are trying to light, lit pretty quick. One of the big boasts of these lighters, is thier windproof lighting system - well it lights while I'm blowing on it and I couldn't blow it out - good enough for me.
On the base of the lighter is a small screw. The instructions say "do not remove this screw". After I had removed it, I found the inner lighter assembly just eases out of the polycarb case - just as I suspected it would...
The guts of the lighter seem very well enginered. There are a total of 3 rubber O-rings sealing the sensitive stuff away from the forces of entropy. This seems identical in spec to it's larger and beefier hand-grenade brother. I suspect that the internals are identical in both models, with the hand-grenade version being an exercise in marketing, more than an attempt to up the level of weather resistance. Even the little screw has a rubber grommet (just visible in the pic). I would think this model is just as wind/storm/weather proof as it's bigger brother.
The refill window works quite well. There is a level indicator and you can easily see the bubble showing the fill level. A nice touch as the lighters capacity is not huge. It'll need refilling at fairly regular intervals - especially if you use it to light cigarettes. For the lighter to work properly, you have to have the flame burning quite high. I noticed I was adjusting the flame "up" quite often to compensate for used gas.
It's a small window, positioned just under the lanyard attachment point, but in use you can easily see the bubble indicating the fill level.
To sum up, a really nice little all weather outdoor lighter. Light and compact, with a fierce flame that should ignite the most stubborn stove or campfire. Not the best lighter for smokers, the poor visiblity and aggressive flame make it less than ideal for that, though perfectly possible of course. The gas tank isn't the biggest. If you smoke 40 a day, you'll probably need to take gas with you on a week long trip. Though if you are just using it to light fires and stoves, one fill should last a few weeks (obviously this depends on your technique - it wont last as long if you're trying to set fire to a 12"x3" wet log). Without doubt it's weather proof, I doubt you would need anything better, even for a marine survival raft. The lanyard attachement is a nice feature. I would have liked to see a version with tritium illumination, but this one is still very visible in dim conditions - no complaints. The body shell is a little too slippy with wet hands IMO, though can be remidied with all sorts of home-spun inventions. The flame isn't really suitable as a full blown gas torch though. Soldering with it may be possible, but keeping the button depressed would burn your fingers before the solder melted. If you *need* such a torch, probably the PB-207 Blue Flame Pocket Micro Torch would be a better (albeit larger, heavier, uglier, none-weatherproof, none-windproof) option. As all school kids will remember, all you need to do, to make a Bunsen burner's flame go yellow, is to shut off the oxygen supply. Some sort of rotary valve on the burner, would have made it a good yellow flamed cigarette lighter as well as Bunsen burner.
Excellent lighter, very pleased, not perfect, but very, very good. Between this and the PB-207, i'd go for this. The benefits of sleek, compact ergonomic design, combined with the weatherproof and windproof funtion of the windmill, win out against the functionality of a higher-capacity tank with a better flame of the PB-207. Other people may disagree.
This lighter is available for £25 from ODS at email@example.com