Before You Go Exploring, Buy These Mind-Bending Matches
Our Backpack
Before You Go Exploring, Buy These Mind-Bending Matches

With international travel largely shut down, many Americans are spending their summer discovering the great outdoors closer to home. We’ve recommended a few different products in the BioLite FirePit and CampStove 2 that will help you stay warm and cook a good meal while you’re camping, but whether you’re using these high-tech stoves or building a more rustic campfire yourself, you’ll want to bring along some of UCO’s Stormproof matches to light it.

What Are Stormproof Matches?

While they come in a few different sizes and bundles, UCO’s standard Stormproof matches (also available at REI) will stay lit for a full 15 seconds, and their long, easy-to-grip wooden handles keep your fingers at a safe distance from the flame. If you’re buying your first set, you’ll want to get them with UCO’s waterproof storage container, which also holds a replaceable strike strip that will light your matches consistently and easily every time, but you can also get them in a standard match box.

But what makes them “stormproof,” exactly? Unlike traditional matches, they’ll stay lit even in pouring rain and heavy wind. Likewise, if you drop a lit match onto the soggy dirt, you’ll be able to pick it right up without re-lighting. And most unbelievably of all, you can even drop it into a cup of water, pluck it out, and watch the flame come back to life instantly. Yes, I’ve tried it myself, and no, it’s not magic. It’s just science and clever design.

How Do They Work?

Most match sticks have a small striking head made from a solution containing potassium chlorate. This is used to strike the match, but once the head burns out, the flame will quickly consume the rest of the wood or cardboard unless you blow it out. UCO’s matches, by contrast, are longer, and are half covered in a chemical coating that keeps your flame smoldering even in the wind. Finally, the matches are dipped in a very thin layer of wax to keep them waterproof. As the flame moves down the match, the wax melts away while protecting the embers of your flame, even if the match is submerged, drenched, buried in the mud, or subjected to heavy winds. Once you light one, you basically can’t put it out no matter how hard you might try; you just have to wait for it to burn itself out.

Which Ones To Buy

The matches come in two different sizes: regular matches that burn for 15 seconds, and come in packs of 25, and Titan matches that burn for 25 seconds (also available at REI), but come in a pack of a dozen. The standard matches should be sufficient for most campers, but the Titans are so large and burn for so long that you could effectively use them as fire starters. Alternatively, UCO also sells Stormproof fire starters, which are lit just like matches, but burn for up to seven minutes in any conditions.

Needless to say, on a nice, sunny day, you won’t need Stormproof matches. Any old pack of matches you picked up a wedding would do. But you don’t always know if you’ll get stuck in a sudden downpour, or accidentally fall into a river and soak your gear. UCO’s matches cost more than regular matches, sure, but they aren’t expensive, so it’s definitely worth keeping a container in your backpack, just in case. Happy exploring!

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