Most of the lighters that get reviewed on halfwheel come from the companies and brands you are likely to find in your local brick and mortar retailer. But as we all know, not everyone shops at such stores; many people choose to shop online. And many of those people likely shop at one of the biggest retailers in the world: Amazon.
As such, when it came time to find a lighter to review, I borrowed a page from Charlie Minato’s reviews of several humidors in the $175 and 75-count range and picked what was designated as Amazon’s Choice, which is likely what a good number of cigar smokers might select if they were looking for a lighter on Amazon. That recommendation, as of late March 2021, was this lighter, the Topkay Triple Jet Torch. It’s a no frills lighter that debuted on Amazon on Sept. 1, 2019, and as of this writing ranked #32 in the store’s lighter category, which includes everything from bulk packs of BICs and fireplace lighters to lighters gated towards cigars and beyond. It’s also picked up—as of this writing—1,587 ratings along the way, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Editor’s Note: The Topkay is no longer “Amazon’s Choice” for a cigar lighter as of May 20. It now recommends a tabletop lighter. — CM.
Having reviewed a number of lighters, the design is immediately familiar: a translucent plastic body with a flip-up lid and push-down ignition, and no real features beyond that. It’s a design used by seemingly every lighter manufacturer in some form or another, each modifying it a bit to provide a somewhat distinctive design to a common form.
WHAT IS IT?
The Topkay Triple Jet Torch is an economy-priced triple flame torch lighter that is thin on features and geared towards those looking for a low-key and fairly high-powered method by which to light their cigars. It’s pocket-friendly, measuring 2.92 x 1.48 x 0.92 inches and weighing just 2.1 ounces, easily one of the lightest lighters I have used.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The alleged MSRP is $24.99 for a pack of two lighters, though Amazon seems to regularly sell them for $14.99 with an online coupon, which works out to $7.50 per lighter.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Topkay Triple Jet Torch features a single-action ignition, though more on that later. Simply press down the ignition button to open the lid, start the flow of butane and provide the requisite spark to ignite the fuel, though as discussed below, the single-action ignition doesn’t quite work as expected.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Without a doubt, it’s the price and whatever convenience you find from being able to order it from Amazon. At $7.50, it is easily one of the cheapest triple flame lighters you will find on the market and it offers a pretty good bang for the buck.
- It’s a Cheap Lighter That Works — For an $8ish dollar lighter, this more than does the job of any triple flame torch on the market, which is always the main thing I look for when reviewing a lighter. It’s fairly easy to use, puts out an even, consistent flame, and will light your cigar about as well as any other brand or model you’ll find.
- It Offers a Lot of Flame — As with other triple flame torches, this is best suited to light thicker cigars, which it does with ease. That means you have to be a bit more cautious with smaller ring gauges, but with a careful technique it will handle those as well.
- The Flame Adjuster is Easy to Use — While I still prefer the flip-out tab version, this is about as easy of a lighter to adjust as there is. It’s marked clearly, but if you remember “righty tighty, lefty loosie,” you’re good to go.
- It’s Not Really A Single Action Ignition — I tried to find a setting where I could make the flame ignite as part of the single-action ignition, but simply couldn’t.
- It Also Requires Two Clicks to Ignite — After the lighter has been at rest for a bit, you’re almost guaranteed to need to click it twice to get it to ignite, and maybe even three times on occasion. This seems to be a function of an insufficient amount of butane getting to the jet, so you can either accept the dual click method or try and push the ignition button down really slowly to feed the butane up the line, but even then I don’t think I’d say you’re guaranteed a successful ignition.
- The Flame Adjustment Wheel Doesn’t Offer a Lot of Range — At least not as much as I’d like to find. The lower end of the spectrum doesn’t result in ignition and makes the flame sputter, while there’s a bit of range between where it will light and where it tops out, though it’s a matter of diminishing returns as I don’t think you need as much flame as this offers to light a cigar.
- It Gets a Bit Hot — Not a surprise here, but it puts off a lot of heat, which you have to be careful about so as not to burn your fingers or other body parts when lighting your cigar. The metal part can also get rather hot after a couple seconds of use, so you have to be mindful of touching that or putting the lighter in your pocket if the top is hot.
- It Goes Through Fuel Quickly — Again, this should be one of those things that doesn’t come as a surprise to users of triple-flame torches, but the Topkay Triple Jet Torch isn’t shy about slurping butane. A full tank will easily last a couple of cigars, but if this is your everyday lighter and you smoke one or two cigars a day, be sure to have a can of butane nearby.
- I’m Concerned About the Lid Latch — The latching, spring-loaded lid design has fallen out of favor as it was discovered that the latch eventually wears out, meaning the lid stays open. While mine lighter hasn’t had any issues, I do worry that it will eventually wear out.
- Don’t Expect a Warranty — There is no warranty information in the product listing, other than to contact the manufacturer directly, which seems easier said than done.
There is no shortage of options in affordable triple flame torch lighters, but here are some of the most similar to the Topkay Triple Jet Torch that you are likely to come across:
- JetLine Pocket Torch Triple Flame ($14.99) — When it comes to value-oriented lighters, the JetLine Pocket Torch has long been my go-to. It’s a no-frills torch available in single-, double, or triple-torch options, offering nothing more than a big tank and reliable ignition. It also comes with a warranty should you need it repaired. You can also consider the JetLine Super Torch, a very similar model with the same price.
- Palió Vesuvio ($8.99) — If you want a brand name option without paying a lot for it, the Palió Vesuvio is likely your best option. I’d also venture to say that the ignition is better enough to justify the minor increase in cost when compared to the Topkay. It also comes with a two-year warranty.
- Vertigo Rocket ($9.99) — While the Vertigo Cyclone II ($15) may be the more common and well-known, the Rocket shaves off a couple bucks in its quest to be a barebones, low-cost triple torch. Both are solid, go-to options in this segment, and had I been introduced to either of them before the JetLine, they would likely have become my go-to lighter. Both also come with a lifetime warranty.
- Vector Triforce ($24.95) — The Triforce might not be a true value triple flame, but Vector claims it works at elevations up to 14,000 feet. It also comes with Vector’s no-proof warranty coverage. I don’t know if it’s worth the 3x premium over the Topkay, but it is a reliable lighter all the same.
- Firebird Afterburner ($9.99) — Firebird, which is Colibri’s value brand, doesn’t get as much notoriety as some of the other brands on this list, but it’s as viable of an option as any of them. Again, no frills except the flame adjuster base, but for about $10, it will do a good job lighting your cigar.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
One of the few things that the Topkay Triple Jet Torch should do well is ignite without frustration, and it simply doesn’t do that. If this ignited with a single click with any semblance of regularity, it would get an easy recommendation, but it doesn’t. If you’re willing to put up with that and want to save—literally—a couple of bucks, go ahead and pick up a set because it works well otherwise, and seems to be on par with its competition based on the several weeks of use that I have given it. If anything, the lighter is fairly impressive once it is lit, as the flame is even and steady, something I haven’t always seen in the value segment. But when looking at the list of other options, there are just too many that could be had for a few dollars more that I think deliver a bit better performance.
The lighter used for this review was purchased by halfwheel.