As we continue in our series on the Ten Essentials for outdoor activities, we will next look at matches and/or a fire starter – item 8 on the Boy Scout list. On The Mountaineers classic list, the two are split out as items 8 and 7. We will also consider fire starters in a separate post. On The Mountaineers updated list, the two are consolidated together, under fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles).

Matches are ubiquitous, having many uses beyond outdoor recreation or wilderness survival. This is one of those items that many of us take for granted, but do we really know what they are? Just to be sure, we looked up “match” at and found this definition:

a slender piece of wood, cardboard, or other flammable material tipped with a chemical substance that produces fire when rubbed on rough or chemically prepared surface.

The word originated between 1350 and 1400, from  Middle English “macche” wick, Middle French “meiche,” OldFrench “mesche,” or Vulgar Latin “mesca” lamp wick.

The Mountaineers updated list indicates that the matches should be waterproof. This can mean that the match heads are coated with a waxy substance, or that they are stored in a waterproof container. It is also important to have an appropriate striking surface, against which to rub your dry matches.

We carry waterproof matches in waterproof containers. We also carry Bic lighters (no, we don’t smoke), flint & steel, and other fire stating devices, in addition to a bit tinder.