If you start reading about real-life survival scenarios, one of the common themes you'll see in most of them is the difficulties people have in starting a simple campfire. Many people carry around magnesium fire starters or ferro rods with them while camping and backpacking. Too many don't learn how to use them properly before heading afield, and this leads to some real difficulties in getting a blaze going when they need it the most. Having those types of fire starters is never a bad idea in an emergency kit; however, we like redundancy. We want those fire starters to be our second option.
That's mostly because there is a better option that will help start a fire faster in a survival situation--windproof and waterproof matches. These aren't the matches your grandfather used to light his pipe. We are talking about heavy-duty strike-anywhere matches that have extended burn times and often can be completely submerged in water and still re-light instantly. Today, we'll briefly discuss why these are a better option, especially for beginning campers, and we'll look at the best options currently made.
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Why Waterproof Matches?
We already mentioned how other fire starters do require some bushcraft skill to strike up a fire. If you haven't practiced sparking tinder with a ferro rod, the last place you want to learn is when you are cold and your life is on the line. Matches offer greater accessibility because everyone knows how to strike a match. We also prefer them slightly over a lighter because the fluid can go bad, or the striker can malfunction, and then you might be out of luck.
There are a lot of waterproof match options out there, but we prefer the ones that are usually labeled as "storm matches." These are more expensive because they are built to give a longer burn time and light under the direst of conditions. As an example, UCO Titan stormproof matches have a potassium chlorate coating. This coating covers a larger area on the much-larger-than-normal match sticks. It just helps to give a little extra burn time that is not present in a standard box of matches.
Additionally, these types of matches are made to be windproof and waterproof. Most can literally be dipped in water and will re-ignite if they are pulled out and exposed to the air again. I have stuck these types of matches in a snowdrift, and they still lit back up. That is a huge advantage if you need a fire while it is snowing or raining. Storm matches also just burn a lot hotter, which is going to help them catch wood that might be wetter. Most come in a handy waterproof match case that is easy to toss in a backpack or place in the glove box of a vehicle where they are handy when you need them. Now, let's look at some of the best options on the market right now.
1. The Best Overall Waterproof Matches
UCO Stormproof Match Kit, $9.90, Amazon
I recently tested these UCO stormproof matches, as they were included in a Decked X Uncharted D-Bag Emergency Kit. I found they are supremely impressive. I dipped the submersible, long-burn matches in snow during my testing and was pleasantly surprised by how they immediately lit back up. I found the advertised 15-second burn time to be right on the nose. UCO includes one of the better waterproof containers with these types of fire starters. It has a quality O-ring that helps keep moisture out. UCO also includes some replaceable strikers that easily slide into place on the matchbox. At $10 for 25 of them, they are not cheap. However, even the most inexperienced backpacker should be able to stoke up a fire with these.
2. A Longer-Burning Option
Zippo Typhoon Match Kit, $16.95, Amazon
Zippo may be known for its lighters, but it has made some incredible matches with this option. These 4-inch matches have a 30-second burn time, which is one of the longest offered by any match type. Like other options on this list, they are windproof and water-resistant to stand up to the elements. One feature we like about Zippo's match case over the others is that it put a strike pad under the end cap to help keep it dry and protected until you need it. The downside of these matches is that they are a little more expensive at $16 and you only get 15 of them for the money. However, if you don't want to take chances on your fire starting kit, these are a fantastic option.
3. The Most Affordable Option
Pine Mountain Waterproof Match, $4.24, Walmart
The best bargain on the market for storm matches is this low-cost option from Pine Mountain. For less than $5, you get 25 matches that are wind- and water-resistant. The burn time is advertised as 25 seconds. These are probably best as a refill option if you already have a nice waterproof match case, as they come in a simple cardboard box that isn't going to stand up to the elements well. However, if you are looking to get some powerful matches to light your campfires, this is the cheapest option out there right now.
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram. For original videos, check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
READ MORE: WHY A GUITAR PICK DESERVES A SPOT IN YOUR SURVIVAL KIT
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