Like pipes of different quality and cost, lighters are very similar. While there is a point you get diminishing returns for the price on both, I’ve found that the difference between this lighter I’m reviewing and say a zippo pipe lighter is like night and day.
Kiribi lighters are brand new to the pipe scene with their entry into the market place this year and have a very interesting story in how they came into fruition.
The lighter and its name is the brainchild of Laudisi Enterprises – who you might recognize as the parent company for smokingpipes.com. Laudisi was looking to bring a new lighter to the market that had high quality, workmanship, and a great price point that meets or beats similar lighters such as the Old Boy.
In their search to find a quality manufacturer they found a perfect match in Tsutobo out of Japan.
“Tsubota was always a top candidate for production as we admired pipe-lighter lines they’d made in the past, ” says Jonathan Turner of Laudisi Distribution Group (LDG).
The new pipe lighter was originally conceptualized and prototyped in 2013 and took a year of development to get it to the market including picking out the new name for the series of lighters, Kiribi.
What’s in a Name?
Kiribi is the name of a custom in Japan in where a loved one is sent off by striking stone with steel so that sparks would shower the persons back. The sparks are supposed to keep the person from harm or injury. The origins of this custom can’t be fully traced because it’s mixed with several other customs over the years. Laudisi’s marketing states: The practice hearkens back to the famous 8th century legend of Prince Yamatotakeru, and the aunt who gifted him the firestone and striker which saved his life along perilous travels.
Additional research I’ve found some more detail:
The idea of “purifying” something or someone spread from theyamabushi (mountain ascetic hermits) to the common people, and mixed with other beliefs. Over time, people came to believe that sparks could drive away evil and bad luck. You can check out a video of this being done here. [43 seconds in]
I did most of my research prior to ordering my lighter so as you can guess I was excited to receive it in my grubby hands. There are several models available ranging from approximately $68 to $108 the latter of which includes a built in tamper and scraper. I chose the Kabuto Black Nickel lighter.
“The exterior of this dapper design hails from the apex of the Art Deco era, the ‘roaring 20s’, and the element which links this singular personal statement to its namesake, is the wing-like toggle of the cap, reminiscent of the fukigaeshi (crescent like wings on the side of the kabuto).”
When I received my box I immediately noticed the great attention to detail on the packaging. Laudasi pulled out all the stops by having the artwork done by Academy Award winning animator Jeremy Casper.
Care was taken with a custom artwork sleeve over a black box that opens to reveal the lighter cradled in a form-fitting nest. It includes an instruction paper and a warranty card with a bit of the history behind the lighter.
The Kiribi is very solid, and has some weight to it, which gives it a great tangible feel and is heavier than a solid brass zippo by a good half ounce.
One of the more interesting features of this lighter is the fact that it has a dual-flame or rather if you look closely at the butane spigot there are two holes.
In doing this dual-flame light you get a slightly larger circumference of flame to light up your bowl, and at the same time you still have the control to use it similarly like you would a match to ensure all of your tobacco is lit. As Jonathan puts it in jest “A wider flame will get a bowl of pipe tobacco sparked up nice and quickly compared to a Bic – which will do the job, only about half as efficiently (if my math is correct). Triple-flame lighters however are absolutely useless – efficiency maxes out with two flames. :)”
The lighter is very easy to light, and fires up on the first strike with ease. Personally the control I have with this compared to my zippo or my xikar lighter is awesome.
Another difference between the Kiribi and one of the more popular IM Corona Old boys aside from the 1-2x greater butane capacity is the cap-arm of this model that makes opening and striking so much easier and with a bit of practice can be done quickly and easily in a fluid motion with one hand.
After continual use for a solid week I’m still on the initial fill of butane which is one of the things that Jonathan stated was the goal. The case and the tank for the butane are one in the same where-as a comparable lighter will use an internal separate tank that takes up room. Thus the additional capacity saved removes additional points of failure and provides the edge over butane storage.
When discussing the quality, workmanship, and warranty, Laudisi has seen very few warranty issues with them and offers a 2 year warranty to cover any issues. The attention to choice of materials was done just so you have something that lasts. For instance “the hinge spring is made of a special polymer; a material which is over 200% more resistant to fatigue than steel.”
In summation I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Johnathan Turner of LDG for answering my own pipe-geek questions, and fellow forum member msandoval for the excellent help on the pictures of the un-boxing. My expectation is that this new lighter will give me many years of care-free lighting and will become my go-to lighter. I will of course update everyone on how well it fares a year or two down the road.
James Foster goes by the online handle of Pylorns in the forums, and he is the creator of an app for keeping track of your tobacco cellar inventory called The Pipe Tool and serves as the President of the Austin Pipe Club.