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Soto Pocket Torch

rated 3.0 of 5 stars
photo: Soto Pocket Torch fire starter

The Soto Pocket torch is an excellent concept for turning a cheap butane lighter into a super hot wind resistant torch. I have found this lighter to be excellent around the house, but weight and bulk may put some back packers off when it comes to carrying it on the trail.


  • innovative
  • hot
  • wind resistant
  • solid construction
  • long lasting fuel efficient


  • bulky
  • heavy for a lighter
  • not eco friendly

I purchased this product as soon as I saw it available at REI in 2010.   I have used this lighter extensively at home for things like electrical shrink insulation, lighting the fire pit, countless grill/charcole lightings, candles, fireworks,  you name it. 

I tend to shy away from carrying it on the trail because it tends to be a bit heavy and bulky and somewhat "overkill" for a lighter. The weight without lighter "cartridge" is 1.8 0z and probably a little over 3 oz when loaded.  The Pocket Torch is very efficient. While I have not tested a stand alone lighter against using it in the Pocket Torch, I believe that the fuel is consumed much more efficiently. I can see the uses for it in winter, when a campfire is more likely, and in windy, wet conditions, it would be very handy indeed. 

Some caveats in using the pocket torch:

1. Do not hold a sustained flame for more than one minute.  The longer the flame burns, the less reliably it extinguishes quickly, and you could also damage the regulator. 

2. Only one particular type of lighter will work.  Fortunately they are very inexpensive and relatively readily available.  I suggest you take a long look at the model pictured in this review, it works well.  You may also take the empty with you for comparison.  I say all this because I have purchased ill fitting, slightly different models that would not work.  The key is the shape of the lighter reservoir, and the height of the burner section. 

I must say that this is avery good product and has been super reliable for 3 years of regular use.  I have found the novelty of the Pocket Torch is also appealing.  I mean, you can take an ordinary cheap lighter and convert it into a 2300 degree mini torch! 

One other thing worth mentioning, is that while the Torch is reuseable, the lighters required are not.  This concept is a little more wasteful than a unit that can be directly filled with butane. 

In Summary, the pocket torch, while it earned the Backepacker Editors Choice Award in 2010, is impractical for the ultralight minded fair weather hiker. Thus, I have awarded it a "3".   In winter, it could prove worthy of its weight in cold windy conditions.  If you do not mind 3.5 oz for a lighter, and you have a little extra space in your pack, then by all means this is an excellent piece of gear. 






Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $20.00

Works very well, the only drawback is finding "square" lighters in some places but they can usually be found at discount stores.

The other problem I encountered is that the lighters I was able to find were too short. This was remedied by folding up a very smal piece of paperand placing it underneath the bottom of the lighter to raise it up 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. After that it fires every time.

Price Paid: $20

I both experimented and searched on-line about how to trouble-shoot this lighter, and I failed to be able to make it work satisfactorily.

After looking for 2 weeks to find a disposable lighter that fit, I found them at the Dollar Store; however, the Soto will only remain ignited for 5 seconds and then will not light again for about half an hour. 

I may remove the cheap lighter inside and it lights and remains lit every time. I have tried to place small  "lifts" in the bottom of the Soto to try to improve fuel flow. I can hear the butane hissing when the Soto button is depressed, but after the initial 5 second burn, the Soto is out and will not re-light. Therefore, there is something wrong with my Soto. 

I ordered it on line from REI and $19 is not worth the return shipping and repeated hassle for me.

If you get one make sure it stays lit for the amount of time you will need it. I test lit it and thought I was ready, because it initially ignited; however, when I needed it, it failed to remain ignited long enough for me to start my fire. 

I will return to my larger, heavier, butane canister fed, adjustable-flame Williams and Sonoma kitchen torch.

Price Paid: $19

Replacement for matches and other lighters.


  • Worked great right out of the box
  • Nice flame
  • No problems


  • Haven't come across any yet...

Bought this lighter at REI over a year ago.  Read where it only uses "square" lighters (Scripto).  At first I couldn't readily find them but came across a pack of them at Walmart. Worked right out of the box.

I really like it.  I don't need to keep "flicking" to get a flame and keep it like other lighters. I don't use it much but it's nice to have when I do.

Funny... I trained my Rottie not to charge the fence when a "certain" dog walks by lighting a firecracker. She hates the noise and will run into the house. After only 3 times all I have to do if another problem arises is grab this lighter and she heads right back into the house.  :)

Bought one for my husband and put it in his Christmas stocking. He likes his too.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $20

Really great idea. But it doesn't really work consistently.


  • Really hot, if you can get it to light.


  • Doesn't work at altitude.
  • Difficulty getting it to light.

This is a really great idea, and I really wanted it to work. I've tried it with several different cheap lighters, and it doesn't seem to make a difference. When it works, it is great. But six times out of ten I end up getting frustrated and taking the lighter out of the unit just to get a flame.

I have also found that on backpacking trips high in the mountains (say anything above about 5000-6000'), it never works. At one point I thought it might have been defective, so I took it back to REI and traded it for another. Didn't seem to make a difference.

Again, I really liked the concept, and wanted to love this thing. But somehow the execution just doesn't make it.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $20

I picked up this little lighter at the local mountain gear shop while renting ice axes for a summit of Mt. Adams in southern Washington. It looked too good to be true, but I was wanting a torch style lighter, so I thought I'd try it out. I'm sure glad I did.

The flame isn't as big as some torch style lighters, but it's still impressively hot and completely functional for all camp use. Our base camp was at 7400 feet, and the lighter worked fine. At the higher elevation, it did take a few clicks to get it going, but it always lighted easily. It also worked fine in windy conditions, which we experienced on our second night.

The bonus with this little guy is that there is no messing around with recharging it. Just pop in a cheap cigarette lighter and you're ready to go. This product is a no-brainer for any backpacker or camper. At only nineteen bucks, this will be my gift item of choice for my outdoor friends.

Price Paid: $19

This lighter is way cool. The Pocket Torch was shown and given to me at a trade show. It's an interesting gadget just as a windproof/weatherproof mini torch, but didn't stand out from similar items from Brunton and eGear until the rep popped the top off to show the cheap, disposable lighter used as a fuel cartridge. That's the downside to other windproof lighters is finding butane canisters and then using them can become a hassle, but the lighters used in the Soto Pocket Torch are readily available at probably any truck stop, Wal-Mart, gas station, etc.

If you're looking for a bomber fire source that will hold up to rain, wind, and snow--this is it.

According to Soto, they're available at only three retailers in the U.S. starting in mid March 2010:

· Summit Hut in Tucson, Arizona, Phone: 520-618-1485
· Blue Ridge Mountain Sports in Virginia
· Fin & Feather, Iowa City, Iowa Phone: 319-354-2200

Price Paid: $0 - Free demo

The instructions on my Soto Pocket Torch clearly specified that Bic lighters would not work, so maybe not every unit gets the same set of instructions. Perhaps the ones that have been sitting in stock longer don't have updated information. 

I bought a pack of cheap lighters at the dollar store, and they worked fine. I took it on a backpacking trip, and it worked well in almost every situation. 

The only thing that keeps it from getting a perfect score is it doesn't work in very windy conditions, unless it's shielded. Even then you can use it, if you're careful. 

It was a big hit with everyone on the trip, and the first thing we would take out when it came to lighting a stove, or starting a fire. Great product.

Does NOT work at 11,996 feet elevation. Does work at 5,724 feet elevation.

I only attempted to use it at those two elevations so I do not know the maximum elevation at which it will work. I live in Colorado, so the Soto Pocket Torch is collecting dust in my basement, awaiting my next garage sale.


  • Looks cool


  • Does NOT work at altitude

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Do not remember

Read a very positive review in popular backpacking magazine. So went out and purchased one. Got taken in by the review.


  • Hotter than average flame.


  • Does not perform in wind.
  • Not able to function in higher altitudes.

Brought one after reading a leading outdoor magazine's editorial review giving it an award.

This is not a piece of gear for serious backcountry use. Found many drawbacks that limited the use of the lighter in most circumstances I would encounter outdoors.

Works well for someone who smokes a pipe and that's about it. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $20

i got this for a birthday present. i got a nice $10 lighter for the inside and tried it out for 10 minutes and it did not work so i took it back for another one. it did not work too.

i did some research and ordered a iroda keychain torch and got it today and it worked right out of the box and i live in denver colorado which is high above the sea.

Price Paid: $30

All of the advertisements and instructions indicate that this torch will work with any lighter.

Wrong. It will not work with Bics because they are too thick. It will not work with cheaper flat lighters found at the dollar store. It gives absolutely no recommendations about what lighter actually will work. 

It is a great idea, but the advertisements and instruction are completely misleading.


Price Paid: $12

one word: awesome

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Price Current Retail: $21.95
Historic Range: $13.93-$21.95
Reviewers Paid: $12.00-$30.00
Weight 1.8 oz / 50 g (without disposable lighter)
Dimensions 4.3 x 2.4 x 0.9 in / 110 x 60 x 23 mm
Burning time approximately 20 minutes per disposable lighter
Fuel cartridge disposable lighter
Product Details from Soto »

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