By Steve Schantz

In every survival situation you need fire to endure the conditions. So, what can you do if you’re faced with the need to make a fire? You can try to keep a lighter handy, but keeping it dry and operational is often difficult.  Enter matches. Matches come in various forms, shapes and designs, are light-weight and are very basic. For this edition, I tested a Stormproof Match Kit from Industrial Revolution, marketed under their UCO label.  UCO stands for Utility, Comfort and Originality.  According to their website, Industrial Revolution has been manufacturing and marketing camping gear since 1971.

The Stormproof Match Kit is an all-in-one kit that comes complete with 25 matches, three integrated strikers and a waterproof case. The case is made from heavy-duty durable plastic, has exterior ribbing and has a screw-on top with an O-ring to keep the contents dry. The case contains a location on the exterior to hold the striker, which is replaceable. According to Industrial Revolution, the case can hold up to 40 matches. Upon opening the kit, I first noticed the top contained a small portion of cotton which I can assume is not only to protect the match heads (which are placed flint side up) but also provide tinder to start a fire.  The matches are wood, measuring approximately 2.75” long, with the match head and tinder portion measuring approximately 1.5”.  The strikers are approximately 1.75” long by ½” wide.  Industrial Revolution states the matches are wind and waterproof.

I tested the products in various forms and situations, and of course, I did burn myself. Typical Marine, we love fire!  First, I started by submerging the case in water for 15 minutes. The matches and strikers inside stayed dry; however, I found that if you leave the striker attached on the outside, it virtually made it useless (Duh!)  Next, I submerged a few of the matches.  After submersion, the matches appeared intact and did not crumble apart. The next portion of the test did not work as expected.  I first attempted to strike 10 matches. Out of the 10 matches, four broke and three did not light at all.  This may have been due to a transfer of some of my skin’s oil when I pulled the matches, package head up, from the kit.  If purchased, I would turn the matches up-side-down so the sticks were at the top.  During my test of the first 10 matches, I wore out two strikers. Then I attempted to strike the matches on other rough surfaces and None of the matches actually lit, if using the striker. When I did get the matches lit, they burned on average of 10 seconds, with a few burning up in less than five seconds.  Knowing that, you needed to start your fire very quickly. The matches that did light, burned in a strong wind, and all the matches that were submerged in water did  eventually light.

During the testing, I did identify some positives and some negatives. First, the positives. I found the case to be durable, waterproof and small enough not to be cumbersome.  I would buy the kit just for the case.  There were some negative though. I found the matches appeared to be prone to breakage, were hard to light, and were quick to burn out.  I also noticed the match box contained a warning to store the matches and striker separately, which essentially means you need two waterproof cases to properly store each product.

In my opinion, the case is a superior product that I would buy and use.  However, the matches did not work so hot. (Pun intended.) For my money, a magnesium fire starter or fire steel is better, more durable and dependable.