It appears that the cigar industry has its first COVID-19 pandemic-inspired lighter.
As the story goes, the Visol Ridge was inspired by observing the experience of a cigar smoker in a cigar lounge during the pandemic, specifically what they wanted to use when they wanted to put their cigar down. Due to the health concerns regarding the virus and concerns regarding how transmissible it was, a lot of cigar shops began removing shared accessories, while some cigars smokers didn’t want to use a shared accessory including an ashtray to rest their cigar.
While there have been a number of lighters that have curved lids, the Visol Ridge raises the stakes by making the rest from one side of the lighter’s body.
WHAT IS IT?
At its most basic, the Visol Ridge is a single flame torch lighter. It adds a fold-out punch cutter and a cigar rest, but unlike its competitors, creates the rest by curving one side of the lighter’s body. The result is a device that offers a lighter, (punch) cutter and cigar rest—arguably the most secure cigar rest option for a lighter—all in one category.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The Visol Ridge has an MSRP of $39.99.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
As a lighter, you flip open the lid, pull down on the ignition to start the flow of butane and provide the spark, then release when you are done lighting your cigar.
As for the cigar rest, you lay the lighter on its backside so that the curved, colored side is facing up, and then lay your cigar in the rest.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
The curved body shape that provides a stable resting place for your cigar is the biggest selling point of the Visol Ridge.
It works as advertised, and is definitely more stable than competitors that use a curved lid to provide a place upon which to rest your cigar. Even without the COVID-19 pandemic, this kind of design seems to make a good bit of sense for those times you’re enjoying a cigar without an ashtray or other convenient place to rest your cigar, so it seems like it could be a design that could outlast the health concerns about shared cigar accessories.
- The Cigar Rest Works — Since the curved side is the main selling point of the Visol Ridge, I’m happy to report that it works as advertised. It seems best suited for a robusto vitola, yet worked with everything from a lancero to a 60 ring gauge gordo. It doesn’t clamp down on the cigar, so you still have to balance it properly and a stiff wind could knock a cigar from its perch, but overall it works quite well.
- It Has Some Substance — There is something substantial about the body that it produces a solid feeling and sound when closing the lid. A small detail, maybe one that is purely cosmetic, and certainly one that doesn’t result in a more well-lit cigar, but one I like enough to mention.
- The Fuel Window is Huge — I’ve barked when lighters don’t have a fuel window, so I’ve got to give Visol credit for making the one on the Ridge so functional. It’s also tinted red for easier visibility.
- It’s A Good Sized Single Flame — This doesn’t feel quite as big as some other oversized single flames, but it’s no slouch. I prefer a single flame for the most part, and only when smoking a 60 ring gauge did the Ridge feel a bit inferior to a double or triple flame. But the accuracy more than makes up for it.
- The Punch Cutter Works — I’m not a regular user of a cigar punch, but the one on the Visol Ridge works. It might not be quite as sharp or as deep as other ones I have used, but this will certainly do the trick.
- It Struggles to Light on the First Try — Unless you are very intentional with the first ignition after a bit of rest, you likely won’t get a flame. I’m inclined to think that with a normal ignition motion, there simply isn’t enough fuel being delivered to the jet, though that is speculation. This can be remedied with a slow pull of the ignition mechanism if you remember to do so. How annoying this is to you might vary by the moment, as it does with me.
- I’m Still Not Sold on Leaving the Burn Line on the Paint — In the five or so weeks that I used the Visol Ridge, I experienced just a slight bit of discoloration when leaving the burn line on the painted side. It wasn’t a lot, and I’d argue that it’s barely noticeable so far, but given that there’s been some, I’m inclined to think that there could be more in the future, so be mindful of that if you decide to pick one up. I don’t think this should be a huge problem if you’re mindful of how you rest your cigar, but it’s something to consider, especially if you might get absent-minded when it comes to how you set the cigar in the rest.
- It is Heavier Than Average — Average is somewhat relative to a product category, but if you’re used to using an economy single flame lighter, you will definitely notice that this is heavier than those. Not a huge thing, but this means it’s not quite as pocket-friendly.
- The Flame Adjustment Mechanism — The classic design that requires you to use a screwdriver or other flat-sided implement is what the Visol Ridge uses. But it’s a bit wider than what my XIKAR MTX scissors offers, and a bit wider than previous generations. I’d love for this to have the flip-out tab design, but I’d settle for it working better with my existing cutter’s offerings.
As I’ve noted, the combination of a single torch lighter with a cigar rest and punch cutter is pretty rare. So expect to give up something if you want to consider something other than the Visol Ridge.
- Visol Rhino Quad Flame ($50) — This quad-flame option from Visol offers a good-sized curved lid that serves as a rest for your cigar. I haven’t used it, but if you don’t need a punch cutter and you lean towards cigars with a thicker ring gauge, this could do the trick.
- Visol Denali )$40) & Visol Saddle ($30) — Two more options from Visol, a quad- and triple-flame, respectively. The lids are curved to function as cigar rests, though the reduced width isn’t as stable as what is offered by the Ridge.
- JetLine Bugle ($29.99) — This lighter came out in 2018 and was notable for its curved lid that functions as a cigar rest. Prior to the Visol Ridge coming out, it seemed to be the biggest cigar rest and likely the one I would have recommended. It doesn’t offer a punch cutter, but when it comes to lighting a cigar it holds its own. Its price has come down from $49.99 as well, making it that much more appealing. There’s also the quad-flame Bugle Master if you want more torches.
- XIKAR Tactical 1 ($99.99) — It’s called a crenelated cap, but the function is the same: giving you a place to rest your cigar. It works, but it’s probably my least favorite option as the curves aren’t as deep and it’s the narrowest rest of the options. But as a lighter, it’s great, offering a high-powered single flame torch that is still precise. It’s also well built and marketed on its durability, plus it’s one of the only lighters that offers a pocket clip.
- Lotus Monarch Quad Flame ($39.95) — I haven’t used this lighter, but if you want the power of a quad flame, a built-in punch cutter, and a curved lid, this is one to consider. It’s not a huge rest for your cigar so stability might be an issue, but otherwise this is worth a look.
- Vertigo Tee Time Golf Lighter ($19.99) — This single flame, golf-themed lighter comes with a divot repair tool and ball marker, as well as a curved lid upon which to rest your cigar in between shots. I haven’t used it, and while it’s a bit of a niche design, if you smoke cigars on the course or just really like golf, it’s worth a look, even though the rest is fairly narrow.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
If you think you’ll use the cigar rest on a regular basis then yes. If that’s a must or even a highly desirable feature, the Visol Ridge is a great option, quite possibly even the best option in the category, even with some flaws with the ignition. The Visol Ridge provides a cigar rest that is head-and-shoulders above the curved lid option, which while good simply doesn’t offer the same surface area that the Ridge does.
But if you don’t need or want a cigar rest, I’d say there are at least a handful of as-good if not better single flame torch lighters on the market to consider. While that doesn’t affect my recommendation, it does mean you’ll have to figure out how much just how much having a built-in place to rest your cigar is worth to you.
The lighter used for this review was provided by Visol.