Top 6 Best Survival Matches Reviewed for 2020: Hands-On

The ability to make fire on command is one of mankind’s oldest and most important skills. It literally lit the way for us to progress as human beings. By looking at the rules of three for survival, you get a glimpse as to the importance of what fire can do for us.

Best Survival Matches in the market
  1. Three hours without shelter. This is really referring to three hours of maintaining your core body temperature. Obviously, fire can help in warming you up in cold conditions.
  2. Three days without water. When drinking water from unknown sources, it is always best to filter and purify it before consumption. By using fire, water can be boiled which will greatly reduce your risk of becoming ill.
  3. Three weeks without food. The ability to cook food will again reduce the risk of becoming ill from any pathogens that are present. Cooked foods are also easier for the body to process, reducing the amount of energy used.

Given the importance of having fire in a survival situation, I have always carried multiple items with me in which to get a fire going. Personally I have a three-tiered system and matches fall into the middle category. They are one of the cheapest, fastest and easiest ways to get a flame. Matches in of themselves are quite simple but there have been modern innovations that have made them more effective, especially for outdoor use.

When selecting survival matches there are several factors that must be taken into consideration before clicking ‘add to cart’. At a quick glance, here are our top picks:

  • Easy to light.
  • Longer match body is easier to light even when wearing gloves.
  • Long burn time.
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  • Can be picked up at most retail stores.
  • Can be used for light duty purposes.
  • Can be used indoor.
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  • Strike anywhere.
  • Affordable.
  • Compact size.
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What To Look For In Matches?

Paper matches/book matches

Paper matches are the smallest and the cheapest in terms of cost. They come in a booklet and the match body is made from paperboard. Because of the paperboard they are extremely vulnerable to moisture and are very flimsy to use. I would pass on these as survival matches.

Penny matches

These measure in at a little over one inch long. They come in a compact box that fits nicely in a pocket or pack. The body of the match is made from wood which can be used as additional tinder. With a low burn time coupled with a small wood body that tends to snap during striking, I wouldn’t consider these a good choice for survival uses.

Standard kitchen matches

These are basically the same as penny matches only longer, measuring in at a little over two inches. I carried these around for years in my pack or vehicle but again they have a low burn time and are susceptible to the elements  

Survival matches

Most matches that are labeled as survival matches measure in at four inches or longer. They are also advertised with some attributing quality such as being waterproof or stormproof. Survival matches tend to have a much longer burn time and when lit, almost look like small flares.

Long matches

The head on long matches resemble kitchen matches with the noticeable difference of the wood body being much longer. They can vary in size and thickness but the ones I had lying around the house measure in at eleven inches.

These are typically used for lighting stoves, fireplaces, grills and the like. I have never carried these on me and don’t really consider them when preparing for survival purposes.


There are basically two different kinds of wood matches. Ones that require a specific striking surface, like that found on the side of their box. These are referred to as safety matches. The other kind are strike anywhere matches. Strike anywhere matches have all of the components necessary for ignition located in the head of the match. This allows them to be ignited by using other surfaces for striking. This can be a great option if the provided striker surface has become unusable. However it is important to note that not every surface will ignite these. I have used strike anywhere matches a ton and have found many surfaces that will work. This includes the “thumbnail” trick, though this takes a bit of practice.

Burn time

Burn time is an important consideration, especially in a survival situation where supplies are limited. The longer the burn time the more likely it will be that you can get a fire going. There are many different brands out and depending on the design of the match, this can vary quite a bit.

Wet and cold

How the environment will affect the match, its performance and how the individual can use the match is something else that should be considered. Let’s take old fashioned paper matches for example. They are unusable when wet, they are not very wind resistant, and because of their small size I find them extremely difficult to use while wearing gloves or if my hands are cold.

Pros and Cons of Matches


  • They are affordable. Even heavy-duty ones made for survival purposes are within most people’s budget
  • User friendly. Requires almost no practice in order to use
  • The body of the match acts as extra tinder
  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Can be purchased at most stores
  • Last indefinitely when stored properly


  • Susceptible to the elements
  • They can easily break
  • Moisture is the enemy of matches so a waterproof hard case should be purchased in which to store them
  • A match is a one and done fire starter. Once it is used it is gone. A finite number of them can be carried
  • For safety matches, if the striker surface becomes unusable, the match becomes much more difficult to ignite

Best Survival Matches: My Top 6 Picks

With all of that in mind, here is our list of the best survival matches to use in a survival situation. They are listed in no particular order.

1. Our Choice – UCO Stormproof Matches Review

UCO Stormproof matches Review

I was introduced to these stormproof matches years ago and they have been my go-to match ever since. They are a wood match but with notable features. A longer wood body provides for more burn time as well as extra safety by keeping your fingers away from the flame. The matches come wrapped in plastic inside a cardboard box with a striker on the side. Additional strikers are included. Most notable about these is that they are completely stormproof. Once ignited, they will keep burning no matter the windspeed or how much it is raining. They will even burn underwater!


  • Easy to light
  • Longer match body is easier to light even when wearing gloves
  • Long burn time.
  • Incredibly difficult to extinguish once lit
  • Affordable


  • They cannot not be extinguished by blowing them out or by using water. This can pose a safety concern when considering your environment, so use caution.
  • Requires the striking surface on the box in order to ignite
  • Don’t recommend using these indoors as they produce more smoke than regular matches and have a strong odor to them.
  • Don’t recommend using them for simple tasks, such as lighting a candle.
  • Once the main body of the match has burned the flame will go out
  • Because of the larger size, I recommend purchasing the advertised carrying container
UCO Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case, 25 Stormproof Matches and 3...
  • Includes 25 windproof and waterproof matches, 3 strikers and match case that can hold up to 40...
  • Matches are easy to light, will burn up to 15 seconds each and will relight after being submerged in...

Last update on 2021-01-24 at 23:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Best Budget Survival Matches – Diamond Strike Review

Diamond Strike Anywhere Matches Review

Right off the bat, these are not specifically advertised for survival use. But because they are strike anywhere matches and incredibly cheap vs the amount you get, I have carried these around in packs for years. They are an average sized wood match with a striking head. One problem I have run into with these is that not all of the match heads are equally coated. In fact, some of them don’t have a match head at all. The matches that are not properly coated are still perfectly usable against the striking surface of the box but they don’t fall into the category of strike anywhere.


  • Incredibly cheap. For a few bucks you can purchase a box with 300 matches
  • Can be picked up at most retail stores
  • Can be used for light duty purposes
  • Can be used indoor


  • Can be a little difficult to use with gloves
  • Low burn time for the match head
  • Safer to use because they can be easily extinguished
  • More susceptible to the elements, especially once lit
  • In my experience, not every match head in the box is coated equally. Thus, not all of the matches are truly strike anywhere
Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches (3pk = 900 Total)
  • Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches (3pk = 900 Total)
  • Strike Anywhere Matches cannot be shipped through the United States Postal Office and will be...

Last update on 2021-01-24 at 23:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. Ultra Compact – UCO Strike Anywhere Matches Review

UCO Strike Anywhere Matches Review

These strike anywhere penny matches are different from the Diamond brand listed above as they come in a more compact, pocket sized box. Featuring a wood body these matches are advertised to be able to be struck on different surfaces other than the match box. Roughly 32 matches per box.


  • Strike anywhere
  • Affordable
  • Compact size


  • Susceptible to the elements
  • Small wood body
  • They break easier
  • Difficult to use while wearing gloves or with cold hands
UCO Compact Strike, Anywhere Matches
  • Compact-sized strike anywhere matches
  • Strike anywhere matches allow for ignition without the use of a standard striker

Last update on 2021-01-24 at 23:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Runner Up – Zippo Typhoon Matches Review

Zippo Typhoon Matches Review

Features a larger, bolder design than most matches. These matches can stand up to almost anything that is thrown at them. Once lit they are windproof, and water won’t even put them out. With an extended overall length of four inches this match provides for a longer burn time of almost thirty seconds.


  • Windproof
  • Water resistant
  • Incredibly hard to extinguish once lit
  • Easier to use with gloves or cold hands
  • Won’t break as easily when striking


  • You will pay a little bit more for these. Roughly 0.33 cents per match
  • Don’t’ recommend using them for light duty tasks such as lighting a candle
  • Don’t recommend using them indoors
  • Because of the larger size, I recommend purchasing the extra carrying container for them
  • They cannot not be extinguished by blowing them out or by using water. This can pose a safety concern when considering your environment, so use caution.

Last update on 2021-01-24 at 23:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Good Choice – UCO Titan Matches Review

UCO Titan Matches

Coming in at 4.125 inches long, a Titan match certainly stands up its name. Probably one of the largest survival matches available, these matches are not only wind and water proof but boast a long twenty-five second burn time.


  • Large size is easy to use with gloves or cold hands
  • Long burn time
  • Resistant to wind and water


  • Will certainly have to make a little extra room in a side pocket for these large matches
  • Cannot be blown out or extinguished with water. This can pose a safety threat when considering your environment. Use caution.
UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit with Waterproof Case, Replacement Strikers...
  • Includes 12 Titan matches, 3 replaceable strikers, waterproof case and cord

Last update on 2021-01-24 at 23:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Good for Camping – UCO Long-Burn Matches

I know at the beginning of the article I said that I didn’t really consider the longer matches for survival prep. But I can see these being carried by many outdoorspeople as they are not as long as regular fireplace matches. I wanted to add them to the list because in my opinion UCO makes a darn good match. These matches measure in at 3.75 inches and are advertised as having a sixty second burn time. That being attributed to the burning of the entire length of the wood body and not the match head. Although this burn time doesn’t seem to be equal among users.


  • Can be used for light duty use
  • Can be used indoors
  • Extra wood body can be used as tinder
  • Added safety due to the length


  • Susceptible to water
  • Susceptible to wind
  • A bit pricey for what they are
  • Would be harder to use with gloves or cold hands

FAQS about Matches

  • The first self-igniting match was invented by K. Chancel in 1805. The matches never became popular because of the chemical make-up. In order to be lit, they needed to be dipped in sulphuric acid
  • In the United States, approximately 500 billion matches are used every year!


When time is of the essence and you need a fire now, our choice as the best survival matches are UCO Stormproof Matches. Due to their affordability, performance, and size I will continue to carry these matches into the foreseeable future in my bug out bag.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below and stay warm!

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021. Read more of Bryan's articles.

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