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K&M Match Safe Retrospective


When I came in from the woods this evening, I found a small pile of laundry waiting for me. How convenient! I’ll just chuck my grubby duds in the washer with that load and be one step ahead. Always thinking, I frisked myself twice as I removed each layer, looking for knives, tinder, fire-starting devices and what-not, and stuck each article of clothing in the washing machine as it cleared the pat-down and was removed.



I ended up with quite a pile of gear lying on the dryer by the time I was down to my shorts and it appeared to all be accounted for. At least everything I remembered putting in my pockets before I left the house was accounted for.

From the time I was old enough to reach the match holder screwed to the kitchen wall, I have carried a small bundle of “strike anywhere” matches (and, believe me, they used to be “strike anywhere!”); Ohio Blue Tips, in fact and I still have some. Where the clumsy chrome-plated brass match case went, which was always pinned inside my chore coat as a kid, I have no idea, but it’s long gone and has long since been replaced with a K&M Match Safe.

The K&M has been a gem; it is simple and utterly durable and dependable. Embedded in its cap is a Suunto, liquid-filled compass for gross navigation (about all I need around here), it has a lanyard that threads through a button-hole in my shirt pocket and it can be opened and closed with numb, shaking fingers. Oh, and it keeps matches BONE dry.

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I never use the matches, but they are always there. Maybe I keep them as insurance and maybe I keep them as a memento of the days I spent traipsing in the woods as a kid. Maybe I keep them as a talisman, but they are always there. It is possible that you have seen this Match Safe in some of my photos because I do dig it out from time to time and use it as a prop, because I think it is an absolutely essential item which should accompany anyone outdoors.

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So, back to the washing machine. If you have not guessed by now, the unaccounted for K&M Match Safe was not noticed because I don’t take it out of my pocket, so it doesn’t show up in piles of do-dads when I empty pockets. It caught my eye as I unloaded the washer and it was almost like seeing a ghost to spot my cherished, red, hard anodized capsule containing a little piece of the sun, lying at the bottom of the washing machine basket.

I don’t know for certain why I was so aghast at seeing it there, as I was certain that the matches would still work. Yeah, I did have a flash of concern about the compass, but what probably bothered me most was that it was not where it should have been, and a simple slip like that at the wrong instant could cost one’s life at worst and one incredibly miserable night in the woods in a more forgiving set of circumstances.


“But, did the matches still work?” Silly question. Of course they did. I didn’t need to convince myself, but I thought of others when I retrieved my Match Safe from the washer and thought I might snap a few pics and share just how well the K&M Match Safe works. It’s a piece of gear I have carried for ages and have taken for granted as something anyone – everyone, else probably does as well.

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I love a product that lives up to the claims made by its purveyor and especially when it’s something on which I may stake my life. I can get a plastic case for a buck and feel reasonably certain that it will remain secure and undamaged in my pack, or I can stuff a LOT of matches in a prescription pill bottle buried even deeper in my pack, but for real peace of mind, I still want my K&M Match Safe on my person – even if I never use the matches.

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