In March 2020, S.T.Dupont announced a dual flame version of its Défi Extrême torch lighter, the Défi XXtrême ($398).
This new lighter keeps much of the same design as the Défi Extrême ($260), which was released in 2012, meaning a large metal body with a guilloche, a plastic-like bumper shell that implies an X-shaped design but never crosses the center of the lighter. But it now comes with two jet flames, angled together to create a more powerful flame than its predecessor.
Unlike the original Extrême, where the S.T.Dupont Défi XXtrême aims to differentiate itself is in its ability to work in more challenging conditions. The company says it will work at altitudes up to 3,500 meters (11,482 feet) and at temperatures ranging from -10° C to +45° C (14° F to 113° F), as well as in force 7 winds, which range from 50-61 km/h (32-38 mph).
It’s available in two colors, red and black, both of which have the black guilloche. As with all of its lighters, S.T.Dupont offers a two-year warranty.
WHAT IS IT?
It’s a dual flame torch lighter designed to work in some more challenging environments, coming with not just guarantees about elevation, as has become increasingly common with lighters, but also temperature and wind statements. All those guarantees come with a price, however, as this is priced well above many of its competitors.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Like the original Extrême, the XXtrême uses a side-action trigger. There’s also the large fuel windows that runs down the opposite end of the body and a large fuel adjustment knob on the bottom. Unlike the original version and S.T.Dupont’s maxiJet, there’s no covering for the jet mechanism, meaning it’s exposed at all times, even when the lighter isn’t in use.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The first and most obvious answer would seemingly be that it’s an S.T.Dupont, and whatever cache might come with that. The company is certainly known for its commitment to quality, performance and design across its entire catalog, from its more pedestrian pocket lighters to extravagant offerings that use lunar meteorites or can light your cigar via electrolysis, which involves passing electricity through saltwater.
As for the stated guarantees of the lighter working at a range of elevations, temperatures or wind speeds, those would seemingly come in handy, though I’m not likely to be smoking a cigar at the ends of the guarantee spectrum anyway, save for maybe a very hot day in Phoenix.
- The Flame — When you want just a bit more fire than a standard single flame, lighters like this are perfect. The two jets are angled towards each other to maintain accuracy and avoid scorching the sides of a cigar while adding a bit more power to tackle thicker ring gauges or heavier tobaccos.
- The Fuel Tank — The clear, oversized window makes it incredibly easy to monitor butane usage and see how much fuel remains in the tank. Given that S.T.Dupont recommends using its own fuel, this is even more critical so you can be sure you’re topped up before heading out.
- The Texture — I’ve touched on this more and more in reviews, but when it comes to holding something capable of putting out flames, I want to make sure it’s not going to slip. The S.T.Dupont Défi XXtrême has a good amount of texture to grip onto, from the textured ignition to the plastic frame. It’s also an improvement on the design of the Défi Extrême.
- The Size — Measuring 2 13/16” long, 1 3/4 “ wide and 7/16” thick, I found the S.T.Dupont Défi XXtrême to be both a pocket and travel humidor-friendly lighter.
- The Feel — This is a bit of an intangible, but I think the S.T.Dupont Défi XXtrême simply feels good to use. It sits well in the hand, it doesn’t weigh too much or too little, the ignition is natural and easy, and there’s nothing obstructing my view of the flames.
- The Ignition — If I’m being completely honest, it’s not the best I’ve ever seen. It’s not terrible, but the first go after the lighter hasn’t been used for a bit almost always results in a failed attempt. After that first light, it’s pretty reliable, though I would still suggest squeezing it a bit slower to get the butane flowing better.
- The Fuel Flow — There seems to be something not quite right about the flow of butane to at least one of the jets, as I found it sputtering with alarming consistency during my time with it.
- The Butane — While not an absolute requirement, S.T.Dupont advises the use of its Defi Extreme Red butane, which is made specifically for the Extreme and by extension, the XXtrême. It has an MSRP of $14.33 for 90ml, compared to my go-to butane, XIKAR’s High Performance, which sells for $9.99 for 400ml.
- The Flame Adjustment Wheel — While I do like that it is large and clearly marked, and it turns just fine, but in terms of delivering a respectable range of flame heights, this fell well short. I had to keep the valve fully open to get a usable flame, and the wheel spins just about 90 degrees, much less than the range implied by the marking on the wheel. In my experience, turning the wheel just three or so degrees resulted in the flame going out or the flow of butane being insufficient for ignition.
- No Lid — A minor issue, but I’m not a fan of lighters that don’t have some sort of protective lid for the jets. Both from avoiding debris and physical damage, this would seem like an obvious thing to have.
- Editor’s Note: It’s $400, But a Bit Cheap Compared to the Original — Both Brooks and I commented that when directly compared to the original Extrême the new version just doesn’t feel as nice. It’s not as heavy, there’s more plastic and the lack of the automatic lid gives me the impression that it’s not built in the same manner as the original. — CM.
There aren’t a lot of $400 torch lighters on the market, or at least a lot that are made by the more well-known cigar accessories companies and geared towards cigar smokers, so finding competition in that category is a bit tougher. If anything, it’s almost a space that S.T.Dupont has managed to carve out for itself. But there are plenty of options in terms of body style, features and function, depending on one’s priorities.
- S.T.Dupont Maxijet ($210) — It’s a single flame without the more rugged look, but for just about half the price you can still get a very reliable and fairly prestigious lighter.
- https://halfwheel.com/colibri-daytona/258870/Colibri Daytona ($59) — When I first saw the original Défi Extrême and then the Défi XXtrême, I immediately thought of this single-flame side squeeze lighter from Colibri. It has the same basic form, the large fuel window, an even better flame adjuster, and you could get one in every color offered and some butane for less than the S.T.Dupont Défi XXtrême.
- XIKAR Allume ($79.99/$89.99) — XIKAR offers a handful of side-squeeze models, and the Allume is closest to the S.T.Dupont Défi XXtrême given that it is offered in a dual-flame model as well as a High Performance model. I reviewed a single flame model and while I wasn’t crazy about a handful of things, but it still merited consideration. It’s worth noting, the first of the Allume needed to be substantially updated less than a year after it was introduced.
- JetLine Mongoose ($39.99/$49.99) — If a side-squeeze ignition and large, visible fuel tank are higher on your priority list, the Mongoose is worth a look. It’s offered in a single or triple flame configuration, so no dual flame,
- Vertigo Commissioner ($29.99) —I haven’t had the change to review this, but I’ve generally had good experiences with Vertigo and its higher-end Lotus brand. This side-squeeze dual flame doesn’t offer the big fuel window.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
No, and it’s not simply because it’s a $398 lighter. It’s a $398 lighter that has enough flaws to make me frustrated with its performance, and frustrated in a way that a nearly $400 lighter simply shouldn’t do. That first ignition after the lighter has been at rest is consistently problematic, the sputtering ignition is annoying, and the flame adjustment wheel is borderline useless. While I like the design and basic function of the S.T.Dupont Défi XXtrême, there are simply too many issues to recommend it.
The lighter used for this review was purchased by halfwheel. S.T.Dupont advertises on halfwheel