Bison Airlighter review: Now that’s a fire!

37
80%
80%
Now that's a fire!

The Bison Airlighter is a tad pricey for something you use to set fires, but if you BBQ with wood or charcoal frequently, or you love to hike and camp this is a handy device that's probably worth the investment.

  • 8.0
  • User Ratings (1 Votes)
    9.8

I don’t generally consider a lighter to be all that high-tech. It’s more of a commodity that you forget about until you seeing them hanging up next to the cash register when you’re checking out so you pick one up so you can light birthday candles, or maybe a candle if the power goes out. A lighter is more of a simple necessity than a high-tech gadget. The Bison Airlighter, however, is a little bit more than just a lighter.

Form

By lighter standards the Bison Airlighter is massive. This isn’t a Zippo you can put in your pocket or even a BIC lighter stick you use around the house.

The Bison Airlighter weighs about 1.7 pounds and is just over 20 inches long when completely straight (more on that under Function). It is thinner at the grip and barrel, but the middle portion that houses the motor and fan is about 3 inches wide and 3.5 inches tall.

Bison Airlighter

There is a red switch on top of the grip just below a child safety button. On the left side there’s a gray button you can use to lock the red switch in place so you don’t have to hold it the whole time. On top of the central housing there’s a gray button that enables the grip to adjust to a 45 or 90 degree angle. The bottom left of the central housing has a button for the flashlight, and the bottom right has a USB port for recharging the battery. On the very bottom of the central housing the Bison Airlighter has a bottle opener.

Function

It lights fires. At least that’s its primary function. Slide the child safety button to the right while simultaneously pushing the ignition switch forward to ignite a 4-inch flame. It’s not a flickering flame like you get from a common household lighter—it’s more like a butane torch you would use to caramelize sugar on a crème brûlée.

Bison Airlighter

Once your wood or charcoal is lit—which Bison claims should take about 20 seconds—you can switch to fan mode to accelerate the fire. You simply pull the ignition switch back toward you (the child safety button is not required for the fan) and the Bison Airlighter becomes essentially a cordless hair dryer. You can push the gray button on the side of the grip to lock the ignition switch in place so it can blow on the fire without you holding it there. I wouldn’t recommend locking the ignition switch when using the torch.

Butane fuel is added through a valve at the end of the handle. You simply insert the nozzle of the butane canister (sold separately, but included with the review unit) and push down. It only takes 5 or 10 seconds to fill it up. Bison states that a full tank of butane is good for about 15 minutes of burn time. Based on the estimate of 20 seconds to light a fire you can light 25 to 40 fires before it will be time to refill the butane fuel.

The cordless gadget has a battery that can be recharged from any USB power source. Bison estimates that it takes about 6 hours to fully charge a dead Airlighter. A fully-charged Airlighter can run in fan mode for 30 to 35 minutes. Your mileage between recharging will vary depending on how long you choose to use the fan for each fire.

There is a powerful LED flashlight at the front of the central housing beneath the barrel. It comes in handy for seeing what you’re doing when trying to light a fire in the dark or low light conditions. There’s nothing fancy or tricky about the bottle opener on the bottom. It’s just a bottle opener. If you ever go camping and forget to bring your Swiss Army knife, though, you’ll appreciate the added touch from Bison.

My Experience

It seems a bit much around the house—even for a BBQ. The grills I have owned over the last decade have almost all been gas grills anyway so I wouldn’t have any need for such a gadget. However, by coincidence I happen to have a charcoal grill right now.

The Bison Airlighter flame is more direct and powerful than my standard lighter stick so it ignites the charcoal faster. The fan helps speed up the process so the briquettes are ready to cook in about 5 minutes instead of 20 or 30.

My wife and I went camping and took the Bison Airlighter along for the ride. It’s a bit large to carry around on a hike, but the value it provides might be worth it. We weren’t hiking, though—we just carried it from the car to the campsite.

It worked as advertised for starting and accelerating our campfire. It definitely came in handy because I only barely got the food cooked before a thunderstorm rolled in. I didn’t get a chance to test out the bottle opener, but once the rain started coming down we learned the hard way that the tent canopy isn’t as waterproof as one might expect so we had to abort the camping mission. The flashlight helped us gather up our things in the dark so we could move to somewhere dry to sleep.

The Verdict

The Bison Airlighter is solidly constructed and works well for its intended purpose(s). At $80 it’s certainly pricey for a lighter and probably not an investment you’d make unless you BBQ with wood or charcoal briquettes or go camping frequently.

If that describes you, though, you should consider it. It lets you light a fire faster and more safely than traditional methods. You don’t need to use lighter fluid so you can enjoy the smell of the charcoal or wood instead. The fact that it also includes a powerful flashlight and the bottle opener is just a bonus.

Share.

About Author

I have a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security--and a desire to help others understand how technology can affect or improve their lives. I also love spending time with my wife, 7 kids, 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 rabbits, 2 ferrets, a pot-bellied pig, and sulcata tortoise, and I like to think I enjoy reading and golf even though I never find time for either. You can contact me directly at tony@xpective.net. For more from me, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

37 Comments

  1. OK yeah, it’s a giant lighter, but it’s really cool, and that right there is enough to make me want one.

  2. We camp all year round, and I never learned how to properly start a fire, so a bottle of lighter fluid is always packed — the Bison Airlighter may be heavy, but not as heavy as my lighter fluid!

  3. Like Tony, I use a gas grill, but a lot of my buddies use wood smokers and would really appreciate this. It might be handy to light up my fire pit, although I only use it a couple of times per year.

  4. Christopher Wunker on

    I have a pretty decent sized fire pit in the back yard and the BIC lighter stick isn’t working as well as I had hoped. This sounds like the perfect lighter for the pit though!

  5. Ever have to start a fire to get the coffee going in the rain with water flowing through your firepit? As a historical reenactor, this scenario is all too familiar! This would be great in the morning (before camp opens to the public, that is…;-)

      • Absolutely not. Would only be for use in the early morning with no one around. (The public usually doesn’t see us bleary-eyed stumbling about at 6 am. That’s why we need the coffee!) Done my share with flint & steel, tho.

  6. If I got this, I would no longer have an excuse to not get a grill. That would make my wife happy. And everybody knows, happy wife, happy life.

  7. I think this looks like an awesome product to have on hand. We have a firepit out back and what a fun way to lite the logs.

  8. Dana P. Henry on

    Size-wise seems a bit intimidating, but other than that looks like a reliable product!

  9. Michael Johnson on

    I grill several a month between March and November, and this thing just makes me drool. I want one real bad.

  10. I keep one of the wife’s old hairdryers in the garage for starting stubborn fires or on wet days, and carry a small bellows camping. This would be a great alternative, one of those “whish I’d thought of it first” gimmicks.

  11. Steven Spiegel on

    I grill with wood all the time. Just what the doctor ordered; I’d love one.

  12. This is a great solution to starting grills, camping and our wood stove. Sign me up!

  13. Al del Rosario on

    Wow, starts fire and opens bottles too! With a little (a lot of) care, it might double as a hair dryer …

  14. Rhonda Callow on

    I really like that it has a built-in LED light. When you’re struggling in the dark to get a fire going (or candles when the power goes out), it’d be great to have a two-in-one to free your hands.

  15. Sounds like a pretty useful lighter to have around to light a BBQ faster. Unfortunately, I just don’t grill enough to justify paying $80 for a lighter, even as good of one as this Airlighter.

  16. Now that is something that would get a lot of use at my house. The auto lighter is constantly breaking down.

  17. I love BBQs and this powerful lighter with led light and bottle opener would be awesome to be won, so that I can easily have more BBQs with my friends! 🙂

  18. Michael Slansky on

    Great lighter with a lot of conveniences. I particularly like that it’s rechargeable. Would really like to win it

  19. This would be great to do responsible activities like grilling, campfires, etc.
    *Beavis voice* FIRE! FIRE!

  20. the flicker flame lighters never worked well for me. This one looks like it works great.

  21. What’s not to like? A mini-flamethrower that eliminates the need for lighter fluid or tinder. Count me in.

  22. This looks like of cool, but I do like the ideal of the USB recharging the battery