At some point over the last 18 months or so, a new segment emerged within the cigar lighter market, though it doesn’t seem like there’s an official name for it.
The oversized single flame? Single flame plus? Whatever it’s called, it has become a viable option for those looking for a lighter that seeks a balance between power and precision, and one that nearly ever accessory maker has released at least one option.
Vector’s Maxtech ($35) is one entry in the wave of single flame torch lighters that offer a larger flame than a standard single flame, but without necessarily sacrificing the accuracy of a traditional single flame. In the case of the Maxtech, Vector says it has the same size as two traditional flames.
WHAT IS IT?
The Maxtech ($35) is a fairly straightforward single flame lighter that is friendly to both the wallet and the pocket. measuring about 3 1/2 inches tall, with the body 7/8″ at its widest and about 3/4″ at its narrowest. At 3.7 oz (104 grams) it offers good presence in the hand without being unnecessarily heavy or clunky.
Vector says that it will work at elevations up to 12,000 feet.
The Maxtech is available in six colors: gunmetal satin, rose gold satin, black matte, blue matte, red matte, and yellow matte. Like all Vector lighters, the Maxtech comes with Vector-KGM’s “no proof” warranty, meaning that you do not need to provide a proof of purchase in order to receive warranty service on any malfunctioning Vector lighter, though warranty service isn’t free, costing between $5 and $17 depending on the model.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
While it might look like a single action lighter, the Maxtech requires that the lid be flipped up manually before the ignition slider is pulled down to start the butane flowing and provide the spark that will fire the torch. Beyond that, it doesn’t offer many extras. There’s no punch cutter or oversized flame adjustment wheel, just a decently sized, untinted fuel window.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
This relatively feature-free lighter is centered around its torch, which the company bills as being the same size of two merging flames. For fans of precision, the Maxtech is able to offer that, while those who gravitate towards double or triple flame lighters should be more than pleased by the way it can handle cigars with thicker ring gauges or heavier tobacco. It’s not the most precise nor the most powerful lighter on the market, but if you’re looking for a combination of those two things, it offers a very respectable option.
- The Ignition — It’s the most fundamental part of any lighter, and the Vector Maxtech’s is remarkably good. Misfires were incredibly rare, and with a slightly slowed pull on the ignition, they’re almost non-existent.
- The Fuel Window — For a lighter that’s not loaded with features, the fuel window does its job pretty well. It’s not tinted, something that has become an increasingly common feature on lighters.
- The Flame Adjustment Range— While I don’t like the flame adjustment wheel—more on that below—the Maxtech has an impressive range when it comes to calibrating how much flame you want. I found that just getting the tip of the flame past the lid balanced both power and precision, and there was plenty of room on either side of that setting.
- The Texture — I’ve come to appreciate this a lot more in recent years, and the Maxtech, at least in this rose gold satin finish, doesn’t have a lot to hold onto. The ignition’s ridges are about the only thing to latch onto, the body is pretty smooth, and while the air intake vents could provide some texture, they don’t line up with my fingertips. It’s not a slippery lighter, but it’s nowhere near as textured as other offerings on the market.
- The Flame Adjuster — It’s the default option that requires a flathead screwdriver or similar tool to adjust the flame, and while it works fine, I would have thought most—if not all—lighters would have moved on from it by now.
- The Misleading Base — With its ridges, it would look like the base of the lighter would be the flame adjuster, something that has been found on lighters from other manufacturers. Yet it’s not, which is a bit disappointing.
The field of large single flame torch lighters has definitely grown in the last year or so.
- XIKAR Tactical 1 ($99.99) — Without a doubt one of the closest competitors to the Maxtech, the Tactical 1 offers a handful of upgrades, including the removable belt clip, the crenelated cap that doubles as a cigar rest, the huge flame adjuster wheel on the bottom, and a lot more texture. I have a hard time saying that all that is worth $65, but this still sets the bar for the oversized single flame pocket torch.
- JetLine Bugle ($49.99) — If you’re looking for a few upgrades but not the notable cost increase, the Bugle is a worthy competitor. It offers a curved lid that provides a place to rest your cigar, as well as a larger flame adjustment wheel. It’s also a larger lighter if you prefer something more substantive in your hand. Just don’t confuse this with Jetline’s Bugle Master, a similar-looking four-flame torch that won’t be as efficient with the fuel or as precise with the flame.
- JetLine Jetmaster ($12.99) — Going the other way on the price scale gets you to the Jetmaster, a no-frills single flame torch with a large translucent tank and a small, flip-out flame adjuster. It looks like a big bottle of nail polish, but its simplicity is impressive and its price hard to ignore.
- Vertigo Javelin ($24.99) — Similar in design to the Maxtech, the Javelin debuted in the summer of 2019 adds a fold-out punch cutter for those that like having one built-in to their lighter. I haven’t used this lighter, so I don’t have first-hand feedback on it.
FOR THE ENGINEERS
While most torch lighters seem to have a number of small pinholes on the top plate of the burner, I was intrigued to see that the Maxtech did not. I reached out to James Park, president of Vector-KGM, to see if he could explain it, which he did.
He explained that the Maxtech’s burner is a two-piece design, with a large opening directly under the top piece. This plays a vital role in creating both a thicker and broader flame, when compared to traditional “star-shaped” burners, according to Park. The main function of the holes it to facilitate the intake of oxygen to combust with the butane gas that is carried by a hose between the burner and gas tank valve.
Additionally, there is another tiny part that factors into the equation, something that Park referred to as a metal chip. When looked at under a microscope, they have many tiny holes, which determine whether the flame will be long or short, as well as thicker or sharper.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
Yes. From a performance perspective, this is a solid lighter. That said, it lacks the added features of the higher-end options, but it offers more design than its more basic competitors, putting it as a midlevel option. If you’re looking for a lighter in the single flame plus segment, the Vector Maxtech is definitely worth a look.
The lighter used for this review was purchased by halfwheel.