As cigars have gotten bigger, so too have the lighters used to set them ablaze. While triple flame lighters have generally been the biggest you could get, the accessories market has seen more and more quadruple flames in recent years, and JetLine has contributed its share to that emerging segment, including two in the past year.
One of those is the JetLine Avalanche, a tabletop lighter that offers a number of features in addition to its sizable flame that is geared towards lighting thicker cigars, or those with heavier tobaccos.
WHAT IS IT?
The Avalanche is a quad-flame torch lighter that is billed as a tabletop lighter but could be transported in your pocket if you didn’t object to carrying what could amount to a second cell phone. It measures 3.94 inches tall, 2.17 inches wide and 1.06 inches thick, while weighing a hefty nine ounces (254g). In a way, it reminds me of the old T-Mobile Sidekick phones, though this is a bit shorter and heavier.
At the top of the list of unique features is a color-changing flame, something achieved by three plates that sit over the jets and add a reddish color to the flame, which has been said to enhance the visibility of the flame in certain conditions.
Additionally, it features a push-up ignition mechanism as opposed to a pull-down, push-button or side squeeze. It’s something found on a small but growing number of lighters, including several of JetLine’s recent models. Beyond that, it offers a fold-out punch cutter, a large fuel window, and a flame adjuster that features a flip-out tab to make it easier to get the perfect flame height.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
$59.99 for any of the four color options: copper, chrome, red or gunmetal, all of which accent a central black body.
It comes with a lifetime warranty, though it is subject to certain restrictions.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Getting the JetLine Avalanche is a two-step process; first, flip up the lid, then push up on the ignition slide to begin the flow of butane and provide the spark to ignite the flames. Given that it is still a fairly new style of ignition, the mechanism will likely be new for many. While it may be new and thus a bit unfamiliar, it should be pretty easy to learn. Flame adjustment is done via a mechanism under the fold-out punch cutter, a design that features a flip-out tab to make it easy to adjust.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
First, the quadruple torch flame. Second, the flame changes color. Third, the push-up ignition. Between those three things, the JetLine Avalanche separates itself from most of its competition in at least one way or another. Depending on your preferences, you may or may not find all of those things special; for me, the one that stands out is the push-up ignition. It’s arguably the most novel part of the lighter, and certainly the least gimmicky.
- The Colored Flame Fades Away — I hate a gimmick, and when I saw the colored flame, that’s what immediately came to mind. Thankfully, after about two or three weeks of regular use, it stopped, as whatever was coating the three plates has burned off.
- The Upward Ignition — I remember first seeing the push-up design on the Colibri Slide, though that moved the entire body along an outer shell. While unfamiliar at first, the more time I spent with it, the more I liked it and thought it might start showing up on more lighters. I’m hesitant to say it feels more natural, but once familiar, it definitely feels comfortable.
- The Flame Adjuster — If I had to pick one design, the flip-out tab style flame adjuster would be my favorite. It’s easy to use and requires no tools, and the fact that this one is tucked away under the punch cutter is an added bonus. In the words of the TV pitchman Ron Popeil hawking the Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ, simply set it and forget it.
- It Puts Out a Lot of Heat and Flame — If you primarily smoke thick cigars, meaning those around and above 60 ring gauge, or cigars that use heavier tobaccos, this is certainly a good choice to get those cigars toasted fairly quickly.
- It Doesn’t Sacrifice All of Its Precision — At a certain level, a quad flame lighter, especially in a square configuration where the flames aren’t angled together, is going to give up the precision of a single flame torch. However, the Avalanche isn’t some wild flame thrower; the individual torches are pretty precise individually, and with a bit of a skilled hand, you can easily light a lancero without scorching the sides.
- The Punch Cutter is Very Good — I don’t use a punch cutter very often, but I make it a point to do so when it’s included in a lighter, and the one on the Avalanche is more than capable. It feels a bit more geared to bigger cigars, which would make sense given the number of flames, but on the whole, it was very easy to use.
- The Colored Flame Fades Away — While I don’t like it, you very well might. If you buy this for the colored flame aspect, know that it doesn’t last forever, and it’s not something covered by the warranty.
- Those Elements Could Also Become Problematic — The longer the flame burns, the hotter the flame gets, and the chance that the elements might warp or melt and thus block the jets. This was relayed to me as a caution from a JetLine representative, so it’s coming from a trusted source. It’s not necessarily a cumulative effect, but if you like to do a long toast of your cigars, or you’re going to have the flames burning for an extended period of time—such as lighting multiple cigars back to back—this is something to keep in mind.
- There Is a Lot of Heat — This should be no surprise, but the Avalanche offers a lot of heat. The flame is the biggest source, and it reaches well beyond the height of the flame that you can see. If you’re one to light a cigar while it’s in your mouth, start the lighter a bit farther away than you might otherwise. Some of the heat also is felt through the backside of the lighter, so you’ll quickly learn where to put your fingers.
- Be Mindful of the Wind — When the flames of the Avalanche are confronted with wind or other air movement, they seem to splay out and lose any notion of aiming at the same target.
- Four Flames are a Lot — If you smoke thick cigars exclusively, this likely won’t be of much concern, but if a quad lighter is your only option and you smoke cigars with sub-50 ring gauges, I think you’ll tend to find a mismatch between the two. I find it to be preferable to have a slightly under matched lighter that needs a bit more time to light your cigar than to have too big of one. It’s simply another version of drinking from a fire hose theory.
If you’re looking at the competition for the JetLine Avalanche, the first place to start would be other quad-flame lighters. Fortunately, there are a decent number of them on the market these days.
- JetLine Bugel Master ($49.99) — This was announced at the same time as the Avalanche, and builds off a single flame model called the JetLine Bugel. It’s a bit more compact than the Avalanche and offers a side-squeeze ignition, an oversized flame adjustment wheel, and a curved lid that doubles as a cigar rest. It doesn’t have a built-in punch cutter, however.
- XIKAR HP4 Quad Lighter ($119.99) — Like the Bugel Master, this is geared to be a bit more pocket friendly and offers a number of similar features. The ignition is a pull-down style, but the flame wheel is oversized and easy to turn. There isn’t a punch cutter, and it doesn’t have the curved lid, but it’s an option worth considering if the price isn’t a turnoff.
- XIKAR Volta Tabletop ($149.99) — If a tabletop design is your preference for a quad-flame lighter, the Volta is an interesting option. This thick cylindrical design is known for its lid, which is inspired by a camera aperture, meaning you twist the top to reveal the jets. The base is also the flame adjustment wheel, making it arguably the easiest lighter to adjust that I’ve ever used. A big push-button ignition also makes it easy to light. It’s hefty and on the more expensive end of the spectrum and while I haven’t done a formal review on it, it’s a pretty reliable lighter.
- JetLine Luxe ($39.99) — If you really like the design of the Avalanche but four flames are just too many, the Luxe is a dual-flame lighter. I haven’t had a chance to use it, but I definitely think it could be a viable option.
- JetLine V-6 ($129.99) — If you need four torches, you might as well get six, right? You shouldn’t. For a number of reasons, I would not recommend the V-6.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Yes. But I will say that this lighter has me as close to being on the fence as any I have reviewed.
In terms of build quality, or if you simply prefer a quad flame lighter, the Avalanche is a solid choice. Yet with the issues with the color-changing elements, it gives me a good deal of pause in recommending it, and I have some reservations about recommending a quad flame as anyone’s only lighter. But on the whole, while there were some things I didn’t like about it, I didn’t find much to fault with the JetLine Avalanche.