I don’t smoke, but I like fire. In fact, I make it a point to always have at least one method of starting a fire with me at all times. Preferably two. You just never know when you’re going to have the need, especially if you’re out in the woods.
The same applies to a good knife or multitool.
I’ve always had a thing for the classic Zippo lighter. As a kid, I stood by the little rotating racks in hardware stores admiring all the cool little design. My father, rest his soul, indulged my interests even at a young age. I had quite the collection for a middle-schooler.
A couple years back, as I started getting more interested in bushcraft, I wanted something a little more elegant than the standard bulk-buy BIC lighter. There’s nothing wrong with the classic BIC. They’re a damn useful piece of kit to keep around, but they don’t speak to me the way that a Zippo does.
But let’s be honest, Zippos have their limitations.
The Problem with Zippo
The biggest issue with the classic Zippo is the fuel. It uses lighter fluid soaked into cotton batting and wick. The issue here is that the fuel evaporates over time. The Zippo, as classic as it is, doesn’t keep fuel around very well. You’re going to end up refilling it every week or two, depending on how often you use it.
Carrying a Zippo for a long trip means also carrying a bottle of fluid to refill it with.
It’s not a unique problem to Zippos. Nearly any of the classic metal lighters, from the WWI trench lighter to the Austrian IMCO have the same issue with evaporation. It’s just part of doing business.
Switching to Butane
When my wife gave me a nice heavyweight Zippo brass edition for my daily kit, I was thrilled. I’d spent quite a while hinting at it, as well as another accessory.
To get around the evaporating lighter fluid problem, I picked up a butane insert from Thunderbird. They make several varieties, including torch models like you’d see on a lot of cigar lighters these days. I grabbed the yellow flame version, which is the closest in appearance to the classic Zippo.
This insert refills through a nozzle at the bottom, like many other cigar lighters. It’s been really neat to have, actually. I recommend them. One of the key functions of the little guy is the hinge opposite the striker. On a classic Zippo, this is what holds the door open and makes the appealing “Click” sound as you open it.
On the Thunderbird, it serves a dual function of starting the gas flow. If you think of other butane lighters, it’s the equivalent of the half-press you give it before you hear the gas flowing.
Why do I mention this? It’s an important function to talk about with the Thrym.
Enter the Thrym Pyrovault
After I’d been carrying my brass Zippo with Thunderbird insert for about a year, I saw a press release about Thrym putting out a Zippo case. I was familiar with Thrym through their battery storage products.
The new Pyrovault case is made of the same polymer material as their other products. It includes a rubber o-ring system to seal the device and dramatically slow down the evaporation of lighter fluid.
Well, since I replaced the original Zippo insert with the Thunderbird, I had an extra one laying around to experiment with. I dropped a hint, and my wife’s family delivered for my birthday.
The Thrym Pyrovault comes in five colors: Black, FDE, OD green, Blaze Orange, and Urban Grey.
Obviously, I went with the green option.
By itself, the polymer case is very lightweight. My mother-in-law wasn’t sure what she was looking at when she got it and questioned whether she’d purchased the right thing.
The Pyrovault does a few things differently.
First, it includes it’s own spring in the hinge, so the little hold-open lever isn’t used at all.
Second, it has it’s own latch. Press the button and the hinge pulls the door open. Well, that’s what’s supposed to happen. If I haven’t opened it in a while, I have to open the latch and then physically push the door out of the way.
If I’ve been playing with it, the latch releases the door just fine.
Maybe it’s the new o-rings and it takes time to wear in. It’s not as convenient as it should be, but I don’t think it’s a big deal.
I tested the Thrym Pyrovault with my butane insert as well, but it’s not the right solution for that. The Thunderbird fits just fine, but since the Pyrovault doesn’t have a “fin” on the inside to pull against the spring arm, as with a standard Zippo case, there’s nothing to activate the gas flow.
That’s not to say that other butane inserts won’t work. If it uses a pushbutton type, it’ll probably be fine. But the yellow flame Thunderbird model is a no-go.
Something else to note is that when the door is open, the lever arm of the latch slightly blocks the flint wheel. It’s not a lot, but you have to move the wheel across the top rather than down the side.
Verdict on the Thrym Pyrovault
It’s a cool little gizmo.
I can’t say how well the polymer hood would last if you accidentally left it in the flame, but the polymer does feel pretty stout like a PMAG. I haven’t tested the thing for how long the fuel will take to evaporate, but I estimate that it will last quite a bit longer.
But, from a practicality perspective, I think this is more of a “
If you’re interested in picking one up as a stocking stuffer, or just like the look of it, you can pick up a Thrym Pyrovault on Amazon.