I have to admit, I don’t use matches much in the woods anymore. Generally I use a firesteel, or even flint and steel just to keep in practice. There’s something traditional and simple about matches though that keeps them a part of my kit nonetheless. They’re handy for lighting camp stoves, you can sneak them into the base of a fire to get your tinder going, and sometimes they’re just more convenient to use.
While I have a few nice, high end match cases of machined aluminum, it’s always nice to know there’s a less expensive option out there for folks who don’t want to drop a lot of cash, or who are trying to outfit multiple kits. The new Uco Stormproof match Kit from REI is a great choice for just those situations.
The Uco kit packs everything into a 1.15 x 3 inch bright yellow plastic case. The case has a screw on cap with an O ring gasket to keep things waterproof, and a striking surface on the side. I liked the bright yellow color a lot. It’s easy to see when you set it down, and easy to see inside your pack when you’re hunting through all your other gear looking for your matches. The material is a durable plastic and its lightweight at only 1.7 ounces loaded with a full payload of 25 stormproof matches and two extra striking surfaces. The really nice thing about this set up is that it is indeed a kit, not just a match safe. It comes with the matches already in it. The matches themselves are longer than a standard strike anywhere match and windproof and waterproof. They’ll still light even after being submerged in water. The kit comes with a piece of cotton stuffed into the lid to pad the matches during transit. It also gives you a handy extra piece of tinder if need be as well.
I tested out both the matches and the case to see how they fared under wet conditions. I first ran one of the matches under the kitchen faucet for about a minute and then tried to light it. On my third strike the match ignited without issue into a substantial flame and a fair bit of smoke (much to my wife’s dismay). My daughter attempted to blow it out three times before she gave up and I ran it under the faucet again to douse the flame. While the flame did go out, as soon as I pulled it out from under the water again it reignited. Impressive! I did eventually put it out but after that test I’m pretty confident that the Stormproof matches will hold up well under any sort of rainy conditions you’re likely to encounter afield, or after being dunked in a creek or lake.
To test the match safe itself out I first removed the matches and put in a piece of tissue paper to see if it gathered any moisture at all. I once again ran the whole safe under the kitchen faucet for about a minute before drying it off and opening it up. The interior of the safe was nice and dry and the tissue appeared to be untouched. Next I submerged the whole match safe in a container and let it sit for a half hour. I had to put a weight on top of the safe to do this as it floats unless you do. That isn’t a bad thing as I believe my machined aluminum cases would likely sink in similar conditions. Even after a half an hour completely submerged the match safe and its contents remained dry. Not too shabby.
If you’re looking for a match case for your kit it’s hard to beat the REI Uco Stormproof Match Kit. At only $5.95 you really can’t go wrong. The matches themselves are $5.50 for two boxes of 25 each, so refills are affordable as well. Even if you don’t find yourself using matches very often this REI kit prices and packages them so that it’s easy to keep them around as a back up to your other fire starting methods.
Match Kit Discussion Thread on the Woodsmonkey Forum