Monday, January 19, 2009

Gear that Works: K &M Match case and REI Matches.

This month's theme seems to be matches. 

Good gear stands the test of time. I have a book containing a photograph of a civil war Union infantryman's personal gear, among which is a waterproof, tubular case filled with "Lucifers", as early friction matches were known.

I bought a K&M match case because internet reviews made it sound better than my Silva match case. It is. And as before with other high-quality gear, I contacted the makers and discovered salt-of-the-earth people behind the product. Keith and Marge ("K&M") Lunders machine these at their home in Elk River, Idaho. 

They're made from either aluminum or brass, with an excellent Suunto compass inletted into the top. Two O-rings make it waterproof, and a clever lanyard arrangement keeps it closed.

$21 plus shipping may cause you to balk at buying one. But when you hold it in your hand and see the quality of the materials and workmanship, you'll realize that it's a bargain. It will please you every time you use it, the compass won't let you down when you need it, and you'll be able to pass it on to your heirs. 

The Lucifers you should put inside your case are REI "Stormproof Matches". They look like larger versions of the NATO "lifeboat" matches. $4.15 for a box of 25, but worth it when your hands are numb, the wind is blowing and the tinder is damp. A dozen of them will fit inside the case, along with the extra striker strips that come in the box. They burn almost like little sparklers for about ten seconds, and can't be blown out. If you dip them in water, they'll reignite as soon as they're exposed to air again. If you're as cheap as I am, they'll even improve your fire-laying skills, because at 17 cents apiece you won't want to waste any.

No comments: