The discovery of fire was one of the turning points in the evolution of human beings. It allowed our predecessors to cook food, stay warm, create improved hunting tools, and protect themselves from predators. The earliest evidence of controlled use of fire is 1.7 million years old. While waterproof matches are a 20th-century invention, they have a similar purpose as those prehistoric fires: they are a survival tool.
Your bug out bag or survival kit is incomplete without fire-starting equipment. Truth be told, you don’t have to use matches. You can also use lighters or a Ferro rod. A dedicated prepper will usually have all these tools.
A Ferro rod is the most durable and reliable tool, but it is very expensive compared to matches and lighters. There’s a limited number of matches in a container, although you can have several of them. Lighters will eventually run out of fuel but it can create up to 3,000 flames. So, it comes down to your own preferences. Since all of these options are small enough and lightweight, I always have all of them at hand. Typically, I use cheap lighters. In stormy weather, I use windproof and waterproof matches. And if for any reason I run out of these options, my Ferro rod is there to save the day.
What to Consider When Buying Waterproof Matches
Matches are small, lightweight, cheap, and easy to use. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the matches, but some matches are way better than the others. Using typical, cheap, cardboard matches can be frustrating in wet and windy conditions. If you use them frequently, you have probably burned your fingertips at least once.
High-quality matches are useful even in extreme conditions and they are really easy to use.
Burn Time and Length
You don’t want your matchsticks to burn too fast. If they are short, you risk burning your fingertips. And if you move them quickly to place them, they may go out. So, it’s more convenient if matches burn longer. You can calmly start your fire without haste. Very long matchsticks take more space, so there’s a trade off. But, as long as your matches aren’t too short and the wooden part doesn’t burn up in a glimpse, you’ll be fine.
Striking surface quality varies wildly from one brand to another. This is not a big issue, but it is frustrating when you have to strike over and over again to light the matchstick. Also, low-quality striking surfaces will wear out pretty quickly and become useless. You can always have backup strikers, though.
Matches come with two basic types of containers: ordinary cardboards and plastic, usually waterproof canisters. I prefer the latter for obvious reasons: they are sturdy and waterproof. Cardboards are okay, but they can suck up the moisture if kept in a wet or damp place. Not to mention the rain or accidental immersion into water ponds. So, I don’t like to take extra care to keep my matches safe.
In all honesty, you don’t really need an unbreakable, can-take-it-all canister. It is just a storage for your matches. However, it is convenient if the container is waterproof and sturdy enough not to fall apart from the slightest impact.
Waterproof and Windproof Properties
This is the most important feature of survival matches. The ability to light them when the conditions aren’t ideal determines if the matches are good or useless. With ordinary matches, the wind will drive you crazy and they won’t be lit when wet. Waterproof and windproof matches will allow you to easily start a fire in any conditions.
5 Top Stormproof & Waterproof Matches Reviewed
1. UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case
“Stay lit, no matter what!” – It is a UCO’s slogan, and boy, it’s completely true! We tested these matches in heavy rain, immersed them into the water, buried them while lit and they kept coming back. The flame would seem to go out when immersed or buried, but as soon as we pulled them out they would keep burning. 25 matchsticks come with a plastic waterproof container and three striker stripes. Also, the flame is pretty strong and hot. I couldn’t possibly ask for more.
They are a little bit longer (2.75 inches or 70 mm) than regular matches, though. In case you need a case with two strikers, albeit just 16 waterproof matches, UCO has that too.
- Matchsticks burn up to 15 seconds
- Waterproof container
- 3 replaceable strikers
- Extra length for safety
2. Coghlan’s Waterproof 4-Pack Matches
Coghlan’s matches are simply fantastic. They are very reliable and there’s a good reason why they are so popular among fishermen, hikers, and backpackers. And the best thing – they are more affordable than the competition. Truth be told, the matchbox looks pretty flimsy and it’s not waterproof. However, both matchstick heads and strikers are waterproof.
- 40 waterproof matches per box
- Waterproof head
- Waterproof striker
3. Coleman Matches
When it comes to camping gear, Coleman covers it all. From tents and sleeping bags to propane burners and stormproof matches. These matches are practical and reliable. Matches don’t really have too many features, so they either work properly or not. These matches are waterproof and so is the striker. Also, they have extra-large match heads. While they perform great, the striking surface is not very durable. If you want to stock up, this 4-pack may also be a good idea.
- Waterproof heads
- Waterproof strikers
- Large match heads
4. Zippo Typhoon Matches
You may like it or not, but Zippo is always different and stands out of the crowd. Zippo Typhoon matches aren’t the cheapest ones but they do offer a perk or two. With very intensive flame and up to 30 seconds of burning, these waterproof matches are little infernos. Durable and sturdy containers are waterproof as well. An additional cap will keep your strike pad dry in wet conditions.
Typhoons are also extra-large. Some people find them too large though. But, their performance is impeccable.
- Intense flame
- Long burning time
- 2 backup strikers
- Waterproof container
5. UST Waterproof Matches
UST matches look quite ordinary but believe me they are not. They have successfully passed rain and immersion tests. So, they are reliable, high-quality survival and camping matches. However, a basic version offers excellent matchsticks and nothing else.
The box and strikers aren’t waterproof, so you may want to purchase a waterproof container as well. Also, the strikers are pretty mediocre and won’t last too long. However, they are pretty affordable, so you can always get a couple of extra packages.
- 40 matchsticks box
- Waterproof matches
Final Thoughts on Best Waterproof Matches
While matches aren’t my top choice to start a fire, I always have them with me and use them frequently. There’s some magic-like feeling when you strike a little piece of wood and it starts burning. There’s also a characteristic smell of burning phosphorus.
But, emotions aside, these affordable tools are convenient. Waterproof matches are often the best choice to ignite the fire in rainy conditions. If you’re skillful, you can even make them at home. But, that’s a whole different story.
The bottom line is simple, in any kind of survival or disaster scenario you should be able to start a fire. And matches are among the tools you can use.