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Tool Review

Always keep a flame within easy reach with the stormproof Azen Neo lighter

Date: 1/15/03
Tackle type: Fishing Tools
Manufacturer: Sportgear.CA
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 9.25

Fishing in the backcountry is always exciting, and often involves a little bit of extra resolve to reach the most pristine untouched waters. Venturing into the wilderness on multiple day treks its always important to carry plenty of water, warm clothes, and make sure to have the ability to make fire. That’s where Sportgear comes in. Their new line of AZEN Neo lighters are designed for anglers and outdoorsmen to be among the most reliable and durable lighters available. We take a look at the Neo lighters to see if they truly are “stormproof.”

Sportgear.CA AZEN NEO Lighter Specifications

Colors Available 3 (Amber, Forest, Aqua)
Material Lexan Casing, Rubber Protective layers
Adjustable Flame Yes (via adjusting screw)
Lock Yes
Attached via Lanyard
Water Resistant Yes
Fuel Butane
MSRP $7.95

About Sportgear: Sportgear.CA is based in Canada, and has a simple mission; To design and build gear that enhances all your outdoor activities. Sportgear.CA is the parent company to a number of brands, including Hawkeye Tackle, and the River Otter Bag company. Through these brands they have released a number of exciting products including their Tulli Chest Pack (which we just reviewed), tackle boxes, leader boards, River Otter waterproof pouches, and a number of Azen stormproof lighters.

The Azen Neo comes in 3 bright translucent colors, amber, forest, or aqua

When I first received the AZEN Neo I was impressed with the overall dimensions of the lighter. The lighter is a comfortable size and felt lightweight, yet still appeared very rugged in construction. The lighter comes in three very attractive colors that are intentionally bright and easy to distinguish when tied to gear or pocketed away. The lighter ships without fuel (for safety) and comes with a lanyard which is easy to tie onto any fishing vest or backpack, or can be used to hang the lighter conveniently from your neck.


For security the Neo implements a wire locking arm that clamps on top of the lighter. this arm also helps maintain even pressure on the cap forming a watertight seal


Field Tests: Prior to field testing we subjected our test lighters to a series of 6 foot drop and water submerge tests which the lighters passed with ease. To test the Azen lighters in the field we spent 2 days outdoors in search of trout residing in still pools, no longer directly fed by the season's once flowing rivers. At the conclusion of the field tests we dissected the lighters to determine how well they held up.


Filling the lighter is easy and takes just a quick second


Setup: Before you can generate a flame it is necessary to fill the Neo with butane fuel. We used Ronson Ultra Butane in our test lighters. The Neo lighters are compatible with the universal fueling tips found on all the multi-fill pressurized butane refill canisters. Filling the Neo takes just over a second. Simply depress the canister into the bottom of the Neo and within a second the chamber is full. Allow the lighter to sit for 15 minutes to allow the fuel to settle inside the chamber. Refilling is easy, and all three of our test lighters had excellent valves, none of which ever leaked, even after we deliberately abused them in stress tests.


Depress the cap lock switch and the spring loaded top opens instantly


Design: Unlike many other lighters this one is quite wide and easier to palm, even when wearing thick walled fishing gloves. In addition the Neo looks ready for combat with a extremely thick rubber skinned shell. Rather than make the skin smooth Sportgear applies a series of patterns and grooves over the entire lighter making it easier to grip and hold on to, even when your hands are wet. For security the Neo features both a locking arm and a push button release. The cap is on a hinge so once the button is depressed the cap will spring open providing easy access to the oversized ignition switch.

When it comes to operation this lighter is very easy to operate with just one hand. If you want to light up a cigarette or cigar and still maintain a solid grip on your rod then this lighter will fit the bill nicely. I found it easy to use my thumb to snap the locking arm open and depress the access switch. Ergonomically the Neo is top notch. To make it easy to check how much fuel you have left in the tank the Neo features a clear window on both sides of the lighter where you can check your butane levels.


The main igniter switch is enlarged and easy to depress even with gloves on


Performance: There's just something splendid about a cool lighter. Perhaps its the ability to command a force as strong as fire with the touch of a button, or maybe its just plain satisfying to be able to light your stoves and campfires with just one click. In any event the Neo ignites in style. Also key to note is that the Neo ignited upon nearly every attempt. Almost no gas is wasted as a result of misfires. Depress the black plastic igniter and a blue jet of flame springs forth from the lighter. This jet can be adjusted by opening the valve wider with the adjusting screw at the bottom of the lighter. This jet flame is also the reason why this lighter is considered windproof. Unlike conventional lighters the jet is much more impervious to to blustery weather and is able to withstand over 30mph gusts of winds! During our trip we encountered some strong wind about 15-20mph and the Neo was easily able to maintain its flame even when we held the lighter up to expose it to the full force of the flurry.


Testing the waterproof performance of the lighter was simple. We found a nice fishing pool and tossed the lighter into the water and proceeded to fly fish. When we were ready to move onto the next pool we would reach into the icy cold water and pick up the completely submerged lighter and ignite it. Throughout the entire trip not one of our three test lighters failed to fire up as a result of submersion. In fact almost no water gets through the tight seal formed by the rubber casing. The same couldn't be said for our comparison BIC lighter which was out of commission after an encounter with the very first pool.

We took apart the test lighters and after plenty of abuse in the field all the interior components were still in top notch condition

Durability: Before the trip we were wincing when we dropped the lighters from a 6 foot ladder onto the hard concrete. But after a few drops it was clear this was a rugged lighter. The thick rubber skin does an excellent job absorbing shock and protecting the machined sealed lighter innards. By the time we head into the wilderness we were tossing the lighters against granite boulders. When we got home we dissected the lighters and found absolutely no damage to the interior lexan housing, or critical moving components. The Neo can really take a beating and keep on igniting.


The Neo delivers a consistent and reliable blue jet of flame

Applications & Price: What will anglers use a Neo lighter for? Remember how important it is to carry a reliable flame with you when adventuring in search of surreptitious waters. But for those that never stray further than their local lakes and rivers I found that the Neo was the perfect lighter to use for unpretentious lure making. I often use a candle or traditional lighters to make simple egg pattern flies. This is done by heating up a barbless hook and a plastic bead then molding them together with a pair of pliers, forming a simple lure for steelhead and trout. I often burn or deform beads with traditional flames due the inconsistency of the flame and the varying heat. The Neo is extremely accurate and it is easy to focus the heat of the flame exactly where I wanted, making it effortless to create these homemade lures. Having a lighter around is always useful, and anglers will appreciate the Azen Neo's clever design...but most of all the amazing price! We found other manufacturers, including Bass Pro Shops, selling similar lighters with almost the exact same specifications for around 40 dollars, making the Neo's $7.95 price awfully attractive.



Sportgear.CA AZEN NEO Lighter Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Very high quality construction, We even broke down this lighter to examine all its guts and still was impressed with the material build quality...and even more so when we considered the price 9
Performance The Azen Neo performed excellent. Very few misfires and it lived up to its promises of wind and water resistance 9
Price Mind blowing....for a little more than the price of a disposable lighter you can have a rugged stormproof Neo 10
Features Plenty of features for a lighter, including a wire lock, spring loaded self sealing top, adjustable flame, and bonus lanyard. A very nice overall package 9.5
Design (Ergonomics) The Neo is designed well and is easy to operate with one hand 9
Application While probably not on your list of normal everyday tackle lighter is absolutely essential if you are a outdoorsman or enjoy fishing in the backcountry. This is the one tool that can save your life if the conditions turn from bad to worse 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Top notch design L Hard to buy locally
J Excellent Price!!!  
J Great features  
J Easy operation  

Conclusion: This is one great tool, this is now the second Sportgear product we have had the pleasure to field test, and the Sportgear philosophy of designing diverse tools to make outdoor activities more enjoyable comes shining through with the excellent Azen Neo implementation. The Neo proved to be a quality product that lived up to our lab and outdoor field tests. Whether you are looking for a lighter replacement, a safety tool, or just a gift, the Neo is an excellent choice, especially when you consider the amazing price of only $7.95! The only downside is the Neo may be hard to find in local stores. For those who want to order one directly from the manufacturer go to Sportgear.ca for more info. We highly recommend this quality tool for anglers on the go, and especially those that choose to venture into backcountry territory in search of furtive fishing hotspots.


Until next time...Tight Lines!









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