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FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I took the Trekker along on what started out to be a one-night stay at McCormick's Creek State Park but turned into two nights. Arrived about dark on October 30th and stayed until November 1st. It was raining pretty hard upon my arrival and continued into the night. The temperature was in the 60's F (upper teens C) and some wind but not a lot. The day after I arrived was quite windy with gusts up to 30 mph (48 kmh) all day.
I took the Trekker along on December 31, 2009 on an overnight trip to try out a new sleeping bag. It was about 28 F (-2 C) when I left home and it got down to about 16 F (-9 C) overnight. This was in a river bottom area where it floods regularly and there is plenty of driftwood available for a fire.
I have experimented with lighting various stove and lanterns at home also.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My trip to McCormick's Creek started out very wet. I started setting up camp in the campsite I had reserved, although I doubt anyone would have cared what site I chose. There was no one else there, I presume due to the weather. I had purchased a cheap tarp and I proceeded to tie it off to the two posts that are provided to string a clothesline. I used the Trekker to melt some nylon cord so the ends would not fray as they do when cut. I did this several times in fairly heavy rain and the Trekker worked every time. The lighter was exposed to the rain at various times but usually shielded when trying to burn the cord.
Once the tarp was up and I started to shake off the water from my rain jacket, I moved the fire ring over to the sheltered area. I had to wait for a fire because I had requested that security drop off a bundle of wood as they came around later. The rain slacked off long enough for me to get my tent set up with minimal moisture getting in it. I was using a solo shelter with a mesh bug net for the main body with a rainfly. It is difficult to set this shelter up in rain without getting moisture inside.
I then set up my stove and used the Trekker to light my stove for a warm meal. I found that I had left it laying in a wet area on the picnic table that was part of my shelter support on one side. I picked it up and flipped the top lid open and it lit right away. I had also brought a homemade alcohol stove to play with so I also lit it to make a cup of coffee.
I went for a walk in light rain and when I returned my firewood had been delivered. They were even nice enough to put it under the shelter to help keep it dry. Lighting chunks of split firewood with a lighter is nearly impossible so I never even tried. Instead I shaved off some wood with my knife and used some dryer lint soaked in alcohol to get a fire started. It was getting late and by the time I got somewhat dry, It was time for bed.
I ended up staying another night and I used the Trekker several more times for coffee and meals as well as starting a campfire. I did purchase some firestarters made of wax and small twigs in a paper cup with a wick inserted. These were fantastic for starting a fire. It was windy all day and the Trekker worked quite well with no issues keeping it lit.
On December 31, 2009 it was below freezing and some snow was on the ground. It had just got below freezing that evening and the ground was soft and everything was wet. I was able to light a campfire and my stove with no problems at all. The only problem was keeping a fire going nicely with wet wood. I don't like large smokey fires because I end up smelling like smoke and sparks and flame are not exactly compatible with my gear. Unfortunately when everything around is wet I always have to build a larger fire to keep it going.
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The picture above is from my December 31 trip. My dog is 14 and he always wants to go when he can. It was quite cold that night and you can see a corner of my 3/4 length pad sticking out from the vestibule where he slept.
I have also used it at home to light a couple of different white gas stoves, alcohol stoves that I was experimenting with making in my garage, a Coleman camp stove, Coleman propane lantern and even burning some paper trash. The only time I had a problem was with trying to light the propane lantern. The flame from the Trekker doesn't reach up far enough to light the lantern mantles.
The Trekker has performed quite well in every instance so far. I have not been able to test at any high altitude but otherwise I have used it many times and it worked every time.
It is somewhat large for a lighter but I can always find room for it. I would use it on all trips unless I become a true minimalist.
So far the hinge on the lid has held up well. I was concerned about it initially and I still am somewhat. I haven't babied it but it hasn't been abused either.
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The only damage I can see at this point is a small part of the rubber sleeve on the wire clip is missing. I am not sure how this happened. Everything still works fine but I wonder how well the spring clip will work if the rest of the rubber comes off. I will keep an eye on it and see what happens.
I would like to thank both Essential Gear Inc. and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Windmill Trekker Lighter. Check back in approximately 2 months to see how it fares in over the long term.
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