Humans had been around for thousands of years before fire came about, but something that genuinely sparked a change in our species was how we could control fire. From cooking food to keeping wildlife at bay, learning to control fire was a significant change.
Survival matches can mean life or death when you’re not able to cook food, sterilize water, or keep warm on freezing nights. Your matches must remain usable regardless of humidity and other factors to help you survive.
There’s a surprising amount of diversity in survival matches. Here’s everything you need to know about the best waterproof matches, best stormproof matches, strike anywhere waterproof matches, and overall best survival matches.
Best Survival Matches
Here are four of the best survival matches on the market.
1. UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case
Up first on the list is the UCO Stormproof Match Kit. Included are 25 windproof and waterproof matches, three strikers, and a case with a 40-match capacity. With such a large case, you can mix the types of matches you hold inside to get a variety of survival lighting tools.
The matches are easy to light with a click flick against the striker and burn up to 15 seconds. These matches can be relit even if held underwater, so there are no worries if you get caught in the odd rainstorm.
Don’t worry if you get caught in a flood or accidentally fall into a river either. The plastic case is waterproof and floats, keeping the matches inside dry and protected. The strikers on the outside are replaceable, too, so you don’t have to get rid of the whole match set when the strikers wear out.
The matches themselves feature an elongated design and measure about 2.75 inches (7 cm), so you can hold the match for quite some time without having to worry about burning your fingers. The flame burns bright and clear, and sometimes it can be even challenging to put out — that’s how strongly it burns.
These matches would be suitable for starting a campfire in inclement weather, giving you plenty of time to catch a flame on wet tinder. The case itself is brightly colored and easy to find, making a seamless addition to your essential survival kit.
- Waterproof, weatherproof matches
- Long burn time (15 seconds)
- Replaceable strikers on case
- Matches can be relit even after submersion in water
- The case isn’t that strong and could break if stepped on.
2. Zippo Survival Tools
You’re probably familiar with Zippo lights. The brand also makes quality survival matches.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Zippo Survival Tools matches is that they’re about 60% wax. That much wax coverage is what allows these matches to have a 30-second burn time. You can safely hold the match in your hand while fiddling with the firewood without fear of burning yourself.
In fact, the long burn time has a bit of a learning curve. We’ve learned since childhood not to hold a match longer than about six seconds. Otherwise, you’ll get burned. Our first use of these matches made us waste a few since we subconsciously thought we would burn ourselves. More mindful users might not have that problem, but it’s something to think about.
Another perk with the Zippo Survival Tools matches is the water-resistant coating. The best waterproof matches have them. Even if these matches are thoroughly soaked in water, they can be lit against the striker. They can also keep their flame while getting rained on — perfect for people camping in the Pacific Northwest or other areas with lots of precipitation.
There are three strike pads included upon purchase. Striking one of these matches against their strike pad produces a remarkably bright flame. The flame would not only be useful for starting fires but as a light source, if you need to see a few feet in front of you. It doesn’t beat a flashlight, but it’s another useful purpose.
The case for the Zippo Survival Tools matches is also waterproof so that the matches will survive a quick dip in a lake or other body of water. The strike pad is also on the inside of the case, protecting it from the elements as well.
For durable survival matches from a trusted lighter company, you can’t go wrong with the Zippo Survival Tools matches.
- 30-second burn time
- Waterproof case
- Matches can be lit after submersion in water
- Sealed striker inside case
- Holds flame even when raining
- The plastic case may not survive getting stepped on.
3. Coghlan’s Waterproof Matches — 10 Pack
Just one ten-pack of Coghlan’s Waterproof Matches gives you 400 individual matches. That’s plenty of fire time for an affordable price.
Both the striker and the heads of these matches are waterproof, which is all you need to keep a flame going. While the best waterproof matches tend to have long strips of waxing going down, we found these matches from Coghlan to get the job done when starting a fire.
While we certainly like these matches for their waterproofed heads and strikers, we think they’ll be better for short-term survival use. The matchsticks themselves are a bit flimsy. While we couldn’t test them in high wind situations, we think they’d lose their flame if a strong gust of wind came forward.
However, the matches themselves are easy to light and often become aflame after one flick. They also can be lit even after a solid dunking underwater, so they’re useful even if you get caught in a storm. The striker is a bit more finicky with water, so make sure you keep it dry at all times.
Unfortunately, the company only ships to the contiguous United States. There’s no international shipping either.
Overall, these are a lot of matches for the price. The Coghlan’s Waterproof Matches give you 400 waterproof matches that would be useful in an emergency. Are they the best stormproof matches or the best strike anywhere waterproof matches? No, but they’ll get the job done for most survivalists out there.
- Waterproof strikers and heads
- 400 matches upon purchase
- Matches can be lit after submersion in water
- Easy to strike
- No international shipping
- No shipping to Hawaii or Alaska
4. Coleman Waterproof Matches
These Coleman Waterproof Matches may not be the best strike anywhere waterproof matches or the best stormproof matches, but they certainly get the job done.
The Coleman Waterproof Matches appear just like a regular book of kitchen matches except for the wax tip on these ones. They have an extra layer of lacquer to help them light even in damp environments.
However, we won’t go as far as to say that they’ll keep a flame when submerged underwater. Yes, the extra protection on the head means it will catch a flame, but the wood gets soggy and wet so that the flame won’t last long. But with 40 matches in a box and four boxes upon purchase, you’re sure to find at least one that didn’t get wet.
Another plus for the Coleman Waterproof Matches is that they’re cheap, so you can buy lots of boxes and keep them on hand should a storm come through.
But as we mentioned before, these matches aren’t stormproof. The wood breaks easily, and they won’t keep a flame should a strong gust of wind come through. The boxes also aren’t waterproof, so the matches and striker could get ruined if left out in the elements.
It’s an excellent purchase if you’re going camping and want to start a fire even if it starts to drizzle. And the Coleman Waterproof Matches will be fine if you’re camping on a budget, but they’re not the strike anywhere waterproof matches, the best stormproof matches, or have anything else to make them more competitive than the other matches on this list. That’s why we’ve put them last.
- Waterproof tip
- Fragile, breakable matchwood
- matchbox isn’t waterproof
- Not stormproof or strike anywhere
There were many great survival matches to choose from, but we came with this specific list to help you out on your next camping trip. While we’d recommend every survival match on this list for various reasons, our top choice is the Zippo Survival Tools matches.
This stormproof and waterproof match kit has it all — durability, ability to light, and toughness. They’re the best waterproof matches on this list because the case protects the matches, and the matches themselves have ample ways to ward off water. These flames burn brightly and powerfully, and they’re affordable to boot.
30-second burn time is incredibly useful when starting a fire in the wild. You don’t have to keep wasting matches to get the fire to start, making them an economical purchase. For serious survivalists who need seriously tough matches, we strongly recommend the Zippo Survival Tools matches.
But for more casual campers who want to spend, say, a week in the woods but don’t see the need to go all-out, the Coleman Waterproof Matches are an affordable option that gets the job done. They’re not as tough as the Zippo matches, UCO matches, or even Coghlan’s, but they’ll strike a flame even when wet.
Those were some of the best survival matches on the market. Order a set today to get through whatever elements nature throws at you.
What Is a Survival Match?
A regular match is made from some wood and a red top made from wax. When striking the head against the edge of the box, the little bit of friction ignites a chemical reaction to light the small piece of wood. It then burns for about six seconds before the flame gets too close to your fingers.
There’s a lot of reasons why regular matches aren’t fit for survival. First of all, they’re finite. A small matchbook holds around 20 matches. The second is that you can’t use them if they get wet, as the water negates the friction needed to make the flame. If your matchbook gets caught in the rain, you can forget having a fire that night.
Even small pocket lighters won’t last very long in the wild. You can use them after they get wet, but the small amount of fuel isn’t enough to help you survive because it runs out so fast.
Pocket lighters aren’t a safe option because they use a small plastic or metal case. Fuel can leak and end up in your survival kit, compromising other important survival items. Besides, a lot can go wrong when relying on a finite source of fuel to stay warm.
Survival matches are the way to go for serious survivalists out there. Some survival matches have infinite uses. Others will still work if you submerge them in water. Do you only have a random rock or the button of your pants to light a match? Some survival matches will work in these conditions.
Even though it’s possible to start a fire without using matches, survival matches are a useful item for acting as an emergency form of light, warding off insects, or helping alert surrounding vehicles or airplanes of your existence. Durable survival matches are essential to making it out of long-term wilderness camping unscathed.
Different Types of Survival Matches
Here are the main types of survival matches you should know about.
No accidental pyrotechnics with this one. The match lights only when struck against the red strip of phosphorus against the matchbox. This intentional action improves safety when using these matches, giving it the name. They’re also easier to store and transport as a result.
The name says it all. The match itself contains all the ingredients to hold a flame, so the only additional item needed is friction. Whether it’s a rock, tree bark, or the bottom of your shoe, you can use these matches even if you lost the matchbox.
Most matches use a layer of paraffin wax to keep moisture out of the head. This layer of protection means you can use the match even if it gets wet.
Unless the wax extends down the match, the wood usually lacks such protection. Therefore, the flame can go out once it reaches wet wood.
Stormproof matches are a step up from waterproof and weatherproof. Stormproof matches are not only water-resistant but can light a flame in strong winds. They’re usually wider so that they don’t break as easily as regular matches either.
If you see a matchbook that has “stormproof on it,” they’re usually good for survivalist purposes because they use thicker, stronger materials.
When you think of a match, you probably think of a kitchen match. Kitchen matches can help you survive in the woods, but they’re not protected from the elements or offer strike anywhere features that a survivalist would need.
These matches are longer, about 2.5 to 4 inches, and have a thicker wax coating. The flame not only burns longer, but you can use these matches in high wind situations too. The container for these types of matches also withstands weather and abuse.
How to Use Survival Matches
Most survival matches work like any other match to which you’re accustomed. There will be a match with wood and a head of wax that you’ll flick against a striker. The flame will catch, and you can use that brief flame to light whatever you need.
All the matches on this list use wood. However, newer models don’t require wood at all. Some are made completely from metal and use a flint mechanism to create a spark. You can fill these matches with oil or use another organic, replaceable material to hold the flame.
Strike anywhere waterproof matches are perhaps the easiest to use outdoors. No matter what material you have around, you can get a good flame — even if it just rained. You can use the best waterproof matches even after they’ve been submerged in water. The construction of the match will protect the chemicals from water damage.
You can use survival matches even in tough circumstances. You can light some in the middle of strong wind, in the rain, or after having your matches submerged in water. Surviving in the woods isn’t easy, so you need survival matches to handle whatever nature throws at them.
How to Choose the Right Matches
Best is subjective, so the best survival matches will depend on the survival situation in which you’ll be.
For example, will you rely heavily on fire for warmth? If so, you’ll need the best stormproof matches allowing you to set up a fire no matter the circumstances outside your tent. Warmer camping spots that don’t need constant fire require less heavy-duty matches.
If you’re camping on foot, say hiking the Appalachian trail, you’ll probably be alright with survival matches with a lighter case for easier portability. Campers who will be around cars a lot may want to invest in matches that can withstand getting run over.
The particularities are up to you. In general, though, the best survival matches have the following criteria:
- Strike anywhere
- Durable casing