Strike anywhere matches are quite an amazing invention that the majority of us take for granted. We’re so accustomed to having access to portable fire that we forget how this wasn’t always the way it was. In fact, my guess is that few people are even conscious of the fact that matches were invented. They didn’t just happen. They were developed like any other product you see on the market today. The match evolved over time and the strike anywhere match is the result of centuries of refinement.
Not only will I show you the best strike anywhere matches but I’ll also give you a brief history of matches and explain how they work. You can always scroll past that part if you’re uninterested, but you wouldn’t do that, would you?
Humans have been fascinated by fire since the beginning of time. The earliest recorded history of matches is from an ancient text dating back to AD 577 China which refers to a sulfur match as “small sticks of pinewood impregnated with sulfur.”
Throughout the years since many people have worked on their own version of matches and many early version were completely impractical, like the version by Jean Chancel who came up with a method which required that the, “match was ignited by dipping its tip in a small asbestos bottle filled with sulfuric acid.” Well, needless to say this was extremely dangerous and too expensive to manufacture on a large scale, but this was also the precursor to our modern self-igniting matches.
In 1830 the use of sulfur was replaced by the newly discovered white phosphorus by Frenchman Charles Sauria. But sadly, unbeknownst to scientists throughout much of the 19th century, the use of white phosphorus continued to be used as a main component of matches – until it was discovered to have horrific consequences, such as phossy jaw and other bone disorders.
Working conditions in the match factories were so bad that in 1888 a group of women went on strike at a London factory. That was an unusual act for those days so you can imagine how bad things were.
Finland was the first to ban white phosphorus in the manufacturing of matches while other European countries followed their lead over the years. What I find intriguing is the fact that the USA didn’t ban it until 1913 and Canada waited until 1914. Seems irresponsible to wait that long to take action against a known toxin but I suppose such behavior still exists today.
In 1892 the first official patent for matchbook matches was declared by Joshua Pussey. And in 1894 the Diamond Match Company purchased the rights to the patent, which happens to be one of the manufacturers on my list of the best strike anywhere matches.
I didn’t set out to give a history lesson but I was quite fascinated by my research on matches and I thought I’d share some of it with my you. Either way, you can read a more thorough overview on the history of matches at, where else? Wikipedia: The History of Matches
Strike Anywhere Matches
There are two type of matches: Safety matches and strike-anywhere matches. Safety matches are what most people think of when they conjure up an image of matches in their mind. A safety match requires you to strike it against the ‘striking surface’ of the match flap or box, whereas a ‘strike-anywhere’ match can be ignited by using any solid surface.
If you look closely at the head of a strike-anywhere match you’ll notice that a small portion of the tip is a different color, nowadays most tips are white which can be attributed to zinc oxide. The tip is composed of phosphorus sesquisulfide and potassium chlorate – which is the same material that you’ll find on the ‘striking surface’ of a matchbox. The tip also contains powdered glass for added friction and inert filler materials to modulate the burning rate.
With strike-anywhere matches the manufacturers simply combine the striking surface and match head from the traditional safety matches; placing them close together so when you strike a surface the phosphorus creates enough heat to ignite the oxidizing agent, which is a mix of chemicals that occupy the rest of the match head.
Strike anywhere matches are the perfect tool for outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists, hikers, and for anyone who needs a dependable way to start a fire to either cook or stay warm. Either way, strike anywhere matches are far more versatile than safety matches and are typically used for survival purposes, although the conditions and circumstances that they are used under differ. Survivalist will certainly have strike anywhere matches in their Bug Out Bag or even better – stormproof matches – which I’ll be covering briefly at the end of this article.
You should also know that it’s quite rare, if not impossible, to find strike-anywhere matches at your local stores so rather than spend your free-time looking for them you’ll be better off purchasing them online. Save yourself the hassle of searching for them.
If you want a more contemporary solution to fire starting then look no further than fire pistons — an excellent tool for the modern age of survival and outdoor adventuring.
UCO is an excellent brand with a focus on outdoor related products. Thankfully, they also make great strike anywhere matches. I love that UCO provides great information to consumers on their website — unlike most match companies. They’re a company focused on making products for outdoor enthusiasts, which means they’re far more than a match company.
If you need quality strike anywhere matches then the UCO brand is my top recommendation. Highly durable and easy to ignite on hard surfaces. These matches do exactly what you’d expect.
- Kitchen-sized matches.
- Can be ignited on the majority of dry abrasive surfaces.
- Made in Chile.
- Strong carbonized match stick allows for safer fire starting.
- Well-suited for camping, fireplaces, gas stoves, BBQs, candles, etc.
- Each box has 250 matches.
The Diamond Match Company has been around for a very long time. In the late 19th century they were the biggest match manufacturer in the United States. The company started out in Barberton, Ohio as the Barber Match Company, founded by O.C. Barber in 1864. Mr. Barber was also referred to as “America’s Match King.”
Today, the Diamond Match Company is owned by the Jarden Corporation; a relative newcomer that’s only been in business since 2001. Based in Florida. They appear to sell a wide range of products with no particular focus. Their website states, “offers a portfolio that contains over 120 trusted and globally recognized brands.”
The Diamond Greenlight matches are good quality matches overall. Second on my list of the best strike anywhere matches, and if you’re at all concerned about our environment then you’ll be happy to know that the wood from the splints comes from sustainable forests.
It’s very well-rated on Amazon with a 4.1 rating (out of 5). Most of the complaints from customers seem to be from years ago. When I check Amazon reviews I always check the date and whether or not the comment comes from a “verified purchase.” Often manufacturers improve their product so what was once true is no longer valid. Just something to be aware of when you evaluate online products.
Penley strike anywhere matches will likely become increasingly more and more scarce as they have apparently been absorbed into the Jarden Corporation the parent company of the Diamond Match Company; apparently to minimize competition but don’t quote me on that. My recommendation is to buy Penley strike anywhere matches now, while they’re still available.
Some suggest that Diamond is phasing out their stock of Penley. It’s just a rumor but as you know there’s often truth at the core of a rumor.
These are also made in Chile, the same as the UCO brand of matches. I wonder if they’re made in the same factory. Or is it just a coincidence. Hmm.
Redbird | Strike Anywhere Matches
The Redbird strike anywhere matches have the best packaging of the bunch. I know it doesn’t matter but I do like the nostalgic design on the box. How are the matches? Funny you ask. Overall, they’re good. Easy to light but the splints are thinner than the others, making them more prone to breaking. Not the best of the pack but still respectable.
Available at ScoutTech Outfitters.
Even Better | Waterproof & Storm Matches
I started this article with a focus on presenting you the best strike anywhere matches on the market but I’d be foolish not to show you one more excellent product made by UCO: Stormproof matches — guaranteed to allow you to light a fire under any environmental conditions. If you don’t believe me just watch the video I’ve added to this post and see for yourself.
Either way, it’s up to you to determine the best matches for your particular needs. All of the matches in this article are worth considering.
The UCO Stormproof Match Kit would be my top pick for survival matches. Why? Because they’re waterproof and windproof. When you’re out in nature you can be sure that the conditions will vary. When your life is at stake you want to ensure that nature doesn’t ruin your plans for staying warm and cooking food.
The Best Waterproof Matches
These matches light even when they’re wet. How’s that for dependability. Let’s face it, it’s going to rain when you’re in the wild. The wind will blow. The rain will fall. The UCO Stormproof matches are almost bulletproof. And on top of all of those features, these matches come in a waterproof case. I’m not sure what more you need.
The only knock against them is that they’re not “strike anywhere matches,” but the trade off is worth it in my humble opinion. You get three striking surfaces as well so you don’t have to worry about wearing the original surface out. The striking surface is attached to the outside of the case for easy access.
I think these UCO matches are the perfect solution for serious outdoor exploration or to have on hand for emergencies or survival related scenarios.
The UCO Stormproof matches are ideal for camping, hiking, emergency kits, fishing trips and any other outdoor excursion you have planned. Comes with a total of 25 waterproof matches.
Watch this video and you can see for yourself how impressive these matches are:
These matches are extremely well reviewed on Amazon. With over 870 reviews it has a rating of 4.6 (out of 5).
- Floating waterproof case will keep your matches dry and protected.
- Molded case allows you to easily hold on to it when it’s wet.
- External striking surface is always available —and also replaceable.
- Comes with 25 (total) windproof and waterproof matches, 3 strikers and case.
- Case holds up to 40 matches.
- Matches can be reignited even when they’re wet.
- Will burn for up to 15 seconds.
- Designed for safety. A longer than normal match reduces chance of burning yourself.
The UCO Stormproof matches are exactly the same as the UCO Stormproof Match Kit with the only difference being that they don’t come in the plastic waterproof case. So, if you just want the matches for around the house then this is the version you should buy.
These Coghlan 940BP Waterproof Matches are made by a Canadian company named — you guessed it — Coghlan. They specialize in a large variety of outdoor products. I happen to be Canadian so I’m happy to add their matches here. When I originally wrote this article I wasn’t aware of this product but now that I stumbled upon it I want to share it with my readers.
From the Coghlan site:
Founded in 1959 and based in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada; Coghlan’s is a family owned company and has built its reputation on core values of product quality and innovation. And it all started with a toaster…
To see more of their great products view them on the Coghlan company page on Amazon.
- Waterproof strikers and heads.
- Safety matches can not light accidentally. Must be struck on waterproof striker surface of box.
- Approximately 40 matches per box.
- Ideal for Hunters, Fishermen, Campers or Outdoor Workers.
If you need a waterproof case for your matches then consider the UST Marine Waterproof Match Case.
This UST Waterproof Match Case is a made from a durable, composite plastic. The container with screw-top lid and O-ring seal that will keep your matches dry for when you need them most.
- Spare flint on the bottom of the container.
- Matches not included.
- Size HxW: 3.1” x 1.1” (78 x 28mm).
- Weight: 0.5 oz. (14g).