The Best Strike Anywhere Matches Available Today (Or Lack Thereof…)

After striking over 150 strike anywhere matches across a number of surfaces, we can confidently say that the UCO Strike Anywhere Matches are the best strike anywhere matches available today.

However, there’s bad news.

According to Industrial Revolution, the maker of UCO products, they have — like many other brands — recently discontinued their strike anywhere matches:

An email from Industrial Revolution, maker of UCO products, stating that they have discontinued their UCO Strike Anywhere Matches due to hazmat shipping fees

Due to this, the UCO matches are now becoming harder and harder to find. If you’re lucky, you might find them at Academy or Cabela’s. (The ones I used for this test I purchased at Academy.)

If you can’t find the UCO matches, the Runner-up brand from our tests was Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches. Though some online commenters talk poorly about these matches, we found the large ones to work well. They were a close second to the UCO matches. According to Jarden Home Brands, the maker of Diamond Greenlights, here’s where you can find them:

An email from Jarden Home Brands, maker of Diamond brand products, explaining in which stores one can find Diamond products

The final brand we tested was Penley Strike Anywhere Matches. They were by far the worst. They’ve also been discontinued for a while now. While you may be able to find these matches online, as I did, I recommend you first read about why I’ll never buy strike anywhere matches online again.

Besides figuring out which strike anywhere matches are any good, our hands-on tests taught us that strike anywhere matches are a dying breed. Diamond Greenlights are the only strike anywhere matches widely available today. All other major brands, including everyone’s favorite Ohio Blue Tips, have been discontinued.

If you are serious about finding strike anywhere matches, though, this is my recommendation to you:

First, visit your local Academy and Cabela’s stores. You might, if you’re lucky, find some UCO Strike Anywhere Matches. However, if you don’t, next visit the stores mentioned in the above email from Jarden Home Brands and look for Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches. If you still haven’t found any after that, you might be SOL.

On the other hand, if you just need reliable matches that are easy to light, I recommend you consider waterproof matches and stormproof matches (stormproof matches are windproof and waterproof).

Why You Should Trust Me

First off, we didn’t accept any matches for free from any companies. Instead, we spent our own money to purchase the strike anywhere matches included in this test.

Second, I spent the better part of a day testing the matches side-by-side by striking over 150 of them on a number of different surfaces and recording the results. It is from these results that I have drawn my conclusions.

The 150+ strike anywhere matches that I struck in my side-by-side tests

The 150+ matches I struck in my side-by-side tests.

How I Decided Which Strike Anywhere Matches to Test

We usually have a selection process to narrow down the number of products included in a side-by-side test. For this one, though, I didn’t do that.

Why not?

Because most brands of strike anywhere matches have been discontinued. So, instead, I decided to test every brand of strike anywhere matches I could get my hands on. I scoured the internet and purchased the ones I could find there (something I’ll never do again), then I drove around to five different stores in my area and searched there.

After all that, I had three different brands of strike anywhere matches:

The three brands of strike anywhere matches we included in our side-by-side tests: UCO, Penley, and Diamond Greenlight

To my knowledge, there are no other brands of strike anywhere matches widely available in the United States at this time.

How I Tested

My goal in doing these hands-on tests was to find which strike anywhere matches were best. To me, the best strike anywhere matches were the ones that would most reliably light when struck on an assortment of surfaces.

My tests focused around striking the matches on a number of surfaces you might find in the outdoors or around your house. The surfaces tested were:

  • Side of the matchbox
  • A piece of firewood
  • A rock
  • A brick
  • Another match

I also hand counted and weighed two boxes of each brand to get an average match count and weight and lit five matches of each brand and timed how long it took them to burn to get an average burn time. Finally, I kept a tally of how many matches of each brand broke while trying to strike them.

Our Top Pick (if You Can Find It)

A box of UCO Strike Anywhere Matches After all our tests, we think the UCO Strike Anywhere Matches are the best strike anywhere matches available today. However, as I mentioned above, they have recently been discontinued.

Discontinued products usually aren’t included in our articles, but I chose to include these matches for two reasons:

  • Any brand of strike anywhere matches is hard to come by in the US at this time
  • You still might be able to find some UCO matches at Academy or Cabela’s

The UCO matches received our Top Pick award because, when we struck them across all our testing surfaces, more of them lit than any other brand. Here is how many lit during our tests, broken down by striking surface:

  • Side of matchbox: 10/10
  • Wood: 10/10
  • Brick: 10/10
  • Rock: 10/10
  • Another match: 1/10

These matches were also easy to light. They mostly took just one or two strikes.

A match from each of three different brands I tested placed side by side to compare length and thickness

From top to bottom, UCO, Penley, Diamond Greenlight

The UCO matches were shorter and thinner than the other two brands in our test, but — besides a shorter average burn time — there was no real downside to this. I was anticipating that the UCO matches would break more often than the other brands, but this was not the case.

Finally, because the UCO matches are shorter, thinner, and come in small boxes with 32 matches, they are ideal for camping, backpacking, or any outdoor activity where you want to minimize pack weight. The average weight of a box of UCO matches was 0.23 oz as compared to over 2.4 oz for the other two brands.

An unfortunate reminder, though, is that you likely won’t find these matches. They have been discontinued. Your best best is to visit your local Academy and Cabela’s, but I predict they will soon be gone from store shelves.

Our Runner-up (You’ll Probably Have to Buy This Brand)

A box of Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches The Diamond Greenlight Strike Anywhere Matches were a close second to our Top Pick. Due to that, we gave this brand our Runner-up award, and it’s the brand you’ll probably have to get if you’re serious about buying strike anywhere matches.


Because they are, as far as I can tell, the only strike anywhere matches widely available in the United States at this time. See the email in the introduction for information on where you can find them.

Some people talk poorly about them online, but the large ones performed well in our tests. They lit easily on wood, rock, and brick, though not as easily or consistently as our Top Pick. Here are the results, broken down by striking surface, of how many matches lit successfully:

  • Side of matchbox: 10/10
  • Wood: 10/10
  • Brick: 8/10
  • Rock: 9/10
  • Another match: 1/10

These matches burned for an average of nearly 40 seconds during our Burn Time Test, the longest of the three options.

One downside for campers and backpackers, though, is that these matches come in large and bulky boxes. The average box weight was 2.785 oz. For that reason, these matches aren’t the best for taking camping or backpacking. If you want a lightweight box of matches for those activities, I recommend you look for our Top Pick or a box of waterproof or stormproof matches.

The Third Brand We Tested & Why You Should Avoid It

A box of Penley Strike Anywhere Matches The third and final brand in our side-by-side test was Penley Strike Anywhere Matches. We do not recommend you buy this brand at all — even if it’s the only one you can find.

It was very difficult to light these matches on any surface other than the side of the matchbox. Here are the results, broken down by striking surface, of how many matches lit successfully:

  • Side of matchbox: 10/10
  • Wood: 3/10
  • Brick: 3/10
  • Rock: 1/10
  • Another match: 1/10

In our minds, with these paltry numbers, the matches shouldn’t even be called strike anywhere matches.

You won’t find these matches in any stores. They have long been discontinued. I included them in the test because I bought them online. However, I recommend you read about why I’ll never buy strike anywhere matches online again before deciding to do so yourself.

NOTE: Some people reminisce online about these matches as if they were high-quality. Though unlikely, I could have received a bad batch.

A Good Brand Available for Canadians

This site is targeted towards a US audience, but we do have a fair amount of Canadian readers. So, I wanted to share with our Canadian readers something that turned up in my research.

A fourth brand, Redbird Strike Anywhere Matches, appears to be widely available in Canada. You can buy the matches at stores such as Canadian Tire. You lucky Canadians!

What’s more, they appear to work very well as demonstrated in this video (the kid in it lights matches by striking them against glass and his teeth, among other things):

Also, side note, I know nothing of the shipping laws in Canada regarding strike anywhere matches. I recommend doing a little research into the laws yourself if you want to order some online.

Alternatives to Strike Anywhere Matches

Strike anywhere matches are harder and harder to come by with each passing year. So, to conclude, I wanted to suggest some alternatives if you can’t find — or decide you don’t want to buy — strike anywhere matches.

If it’s matches you want, consider a box of good waterproof or stormproof matches. Or, if you just need to start a fire, you could always get a good backpacking lighter or fire starter.