For the fourth release in its flagship ICON line, Vector-KGM joined a growing number of companies in getting into the wide flat flame segment of the cigar lighter market.
Flat flame lighters have been around for many years, though were originally on the smaller side of the spectrum. Instead of a traditional pointed torch, a flat flame lighter redirects the flow of butane through the burner in such a way that it flattens out and becomes wider, creating a flame shape that often resembles a spade, with a wide base that comes to a point. This allowed a lighter to deliver a wider flame that dispersed the heat a bit better while still only consuming as much butane as a typical single flame.
But as cigars have steadily gotten thicker and ring gauges have crept past the 60 mark and into the 70s, cigar lighters have had to keep up. In the case of flat flames, that meant widening the size of the flame so that it was between two and three times as wide as those original designs.
Several companies have released wider flat flame designs, with one of the latest to be Vector-KGM by way of its ICON IV. The ICON line is known for its touch-sensitive ignition panel, which replaces a mechanical piezo ignition with one powered by a rechargeable battery inside the lighter. The original ICON is a triple flame torch with the three burners aligned in a row, while the ICON II moved those burners into a triangular shape and adjusted the body to match that design. The ICON III is the biggest of the bunch, as it is a quad-flame tabletop lighter.
WHAT IS IT?
The Vector ICON IV is a lighter that offers a wide flat flame, one of the most recent entries into a growing subsegment of the flat flame category that seems geared towards those who smoke thinker cigars or just want a bit more firepower from a flat flame. The lighter measures 3 1/4 inches x 1 1/2 x 5/8 and weighs about 3.8 ounces, giving it a good presence in the hand without being overly bulky.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
It’s offered in eight color options: gunmetal satin, black matte, black crackle matte, sparkle blue, sparkle black, red lacquer, prizm, copper satin. The company offers a no-proof warranty policy, meaning you don’t have to send proof of purchase to have it serviced, though the customer is responsible for paying for the shipping.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
To use the Vector ICON IV, you first flip up the lid, which starts the flow of butane, then touch the panel on the front of the lighter to provide a series of sparks that gets that butane burning. Once that is done, you have a thin, wide flame with which to light a cigar, and you don’t have to continue touching the panel in order to keep the flame going. When done, simply flip the lid down to cease the flow of butane and extinguish the lighter.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
There are a few things that make the Vector ICON IV notable: first, the wide flat flame makes it notable since it is one a handful of options in this small but growing segment of the lighter market. Second, the touch panel is notable, as it is found on only a handful of lighters, most of which come from Vector-KGM. That touch-sensitive screen is tied into a USB-powered, rechargeable battery, which isn’t found on many lighters, either. Finally, it is one of the lowest-priced options in the wide flat flame segment.
- The Ignition is Flawless — As long as there is fuel in the tank and the battery has a charge, it is virtually guaranteed that you’ll get the butane burning on the first try. This is due not only to the series of sparks provided by each touch of the panel, but also because the butane has been flowing from the moment the lid was opened, ensuring there will be some ready to be ignited.
- It’s Also Incredibly Easy to Use — If you have issues using other lighters due to hand issues, a touch-sensitive option like the Vector ICON IV is worth a look. All you have to do is tap the panel to ignite the butane, and there’s no ignition mechanism to hold in or hold down in order to keep the lighter burning.
- There’s a Fuel Window and a Battery Gauge — While I have my issues with a lighter needing a battery, I appreciate that there is a four-step display that shows how much of a charge is left. The three dots on the touch panel indicate how much of a charge is left, so if you see it getting down to only two or one dots illuminated, it’s time to plug the ICON IV in and recharge it. The large, square fuel window on the back of the lighter is a great addition as well.
- It’s Pleasantly Ergonomic — I really like the feel of the Vector ICON IV in the hand. Its thin and curved body really fits nicely in my hand, making it very easy to handle and use.
- The Wide Flame Feels Quite Thin — This is better explained in the video, but the flame of the Vector Icon IV seems really thin, and thus it takes longer to light each cigar. I wish I had a technical explanation for this, but I simply don’t. This also doesn’t seem to be remedied by simply turning up the flame adjuster, as that just makes the thin flame taller while increasing the amount of heat coming from the lighter. And while that thin flame is hard to see, the heat from it is easy to feel.
- The Body Gets Really Hot — This is particularly problematic because the thin flame seems to take longer to light a cigar, so you have to have it burning for a longer amount of time. Once you feel that first bit of heat, it means the rest of the body is about to get quite hot and uncomfortable to hold.
- You Have to Keep It Charged — While I love the ignition, which provides several sparks in rapid succession to start the flame, it comes with the requirement that the lighter be charged. This meant I had to get in the habit of keeping it charged, which is a requirement of varying headaches, as it does take some time to charge a completely drained battery. Once that battery loses it charge, the lighter becomes essentially useless as it won’t ignite, so remembering to plug it in once you see a dot or two darken on the display is a must.
- When the Lid is Open, the Butane is Flowing — This is a minor gripe, and I understand that it’s how things seemingly have to work given the ignition, but I wish there was a way to prevent the butane from flowing when the lid is open. I feel for someone who leaves the lid open and later finds out the lighter is empty. At least there is a slightly audible sound of the gas flowing, and refilling the butane is a much quicker process than recharging the battery.
Not that long ago it would have been hard to find any competitors to the Vector ICON IV, now there are several, at a growing number of price points and with some features unique to each option.
- Caseti BigFlat ($120) — For a bit more money, I think you get a noticeably better lighter, particularly in the flame quality. It also comes with a punch cutter, if that is of importance. I liked the way this side squeeze ignition lighter worked, though I wasn’t crazy about the price. Still, if I had to have wide flame lighter, I’d pony up the extra bucks for this, which does the lighting part about as well as any I’ve seen in the category.
- S.T.Dupont megaJet ($320) — Further up the price scale is this lighter, which I reviewed and found to be far too overpriced for what it offers. From a design perspective, it is fairly similar to the Caseti, but my testing suggested that some of the megaJet’s internal mechanisms weren’t properly calibrated, leaving a lot to be desired in practical use, including a flame that took a while to extinguish. Until I see a revamped version of this, it remains a pass for me.
- Porsche Design Spacecraft ($200) — I really enjoy the Porsche Design aesthetic, and the Spacecraft is no exception. This is more than twice as expensive as the ICON IV, though the design might win me over if we’re being honest. Like the Caseti, it offers a large flat flame and a punch cutter, with the Spacecraft a bit more design-forward. If money’s not an issue, I’m probably taking the Spacecraft over the other options, though I’d be just as happy lighting a cigar with the Caseti.
- Vertigo Zephyr ($19.99) — If flat flame lighters are still a foreign concept, spending $20 to get the Vertigo Zephyr is a great entry point. It is a standard-size flat flame, but easily capable of filling the role of an everyday lighter as it can handle both thick and thin ring gauges with ease. This remains one of a handful of lighters I keep in a desk drawer to have on hand in a pinch.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
While I have been known to rail against many lighters being overpowered for the cigars they are tasked with lighting, this one feels a bit underpowered, which is surprising given my experience with other wide, flat flame options. And that’s not in the quaint way that a match might be considered underpowered. For some reason, the way that the Vector ICON IV spreads out its flame results in it feeling really thin, meaning it takes longer to light a cigar. This in turn means the body of the lighter gets quite hot in the process. The ignition is a mixed bag for me, as it works great as long as there is a charge in the battery, so that added responsibility should be a consideration. If this put out just a bit heartier of a flame—and more than what is achievable by simply turning up the flame adjuster—it would be much closer to getting a recommendation, as I have to think it would negate the corresponding heat issue. Overall, this is a good, usable lighter with some notable drawbacks and things to consider before buying.
The lighter used for this review was purchased by halfwheel.