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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Fire Starters > Exotac MATCHCAP XL > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

By Raymond Estrella

August 29, 2012


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 51
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.

The Product

Manufacturer: Exotac Inc. Now that's hot
Web site:
Year manufactured: 2012
MSRP: US $31.95
Weight listed: 1.25 oz (35 g) verified accurate
Length listed: 3.6 in (9.1 cm) verified accurate
Diameter listed: 1.2 in (3 cm) verified accurate
Color reviewed: Blaze Orange

Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

Undoubtedly the nicest match case I have ever used the MATCHCAP XL is a thing of beauty while also being rugged, tough and practical. Able to carry the longest storm matches with room to spare this is now a permanent addition to my gear. Please read on for the details.

Product Description

Where's the matches?

The Exotac MATCHCAP XL (hereafter referred to as the Matchcap XL as I don't want to yell all through my review ;-) is a bigger version of the company's regular MATCHCAP, holding twice as many matches as the original.

The body is made of aircraft grade 6061 aluminum. It has been anodized (orange in my case) and laser engraved for durability.

The tubular Matchcap XL is made in two pieces as may be seen above. The top, or cap has a wide thickened section that has grooves around the outside to give a firm grip. The inside of this band is where the cap has been threaded to screw to the lower portion. The threads are square-cut for extra strength.

At the top of the cap is a 0.75 in (1.9 cm) wide lanyard loop. Not only will this fit most cording but even nylon webbing or strap will fit if so desired.

The lower body is the main match storage portion. The bottom of it has a thick knurled area to provide a good grip even with wet hands or gloves on. The two pieces thread together and when closed the O-ring seal makes it waterproof to 5 m (15 ft) according to the manufacturer An extra O-ring is thoughtfully provided. The Matchcap XL floats well, even full of matches.

There they are

The body is scalloped to give easy access to the stored matches, as may be seen above. There are 22 storm-proof matches in the Matchcap XL in this photo. It will hold 25 max, or will hold 40 of the smaller common kitchen matches.

On the back of the scalloped inner case is a red phosphorus striking pad for both storm matches, normal kitchen safety matches and even paper book matches. Exotac says that the striking pad will last for 25-50 strikes. It can be replaced and Exotac sends extras with the Matchcap XL. They also sell refill kits for it.

On the bottom of the body is a round abrasive patch for strike-anywhere matches. (The kind that has phosphorus sesquisulfide on the tip.) These matches may also be lit by striking on the knurling of the body. The abrasive patch is replaceable too and extras were sent also.

The Matchcap XL comes in a very nice box along with a user's manual and the extra parts.

Field Data

I took the Matchcap XL on approximately 10 two or three-day backpacking trips and two camping trips, all in Minnesota. Locations have been along the Red River of the North, Paul Bunyan and Two Inlets State Forests, Chippewa and Superior National Forests, Lake Bronson and Old Mill State Parks. Temperatures have ranged from lows of 34 F (1 C) to highs of 88 F (31 C) in conditions from sunny, hot and humid to stormy and raining. Here is a shot of it in Lake Bronson State Park.

Come on, light!


Most of the time on my backpacking trips I use either a fire striker or a butane lighter to light my stoves. But last fall I took on a project to use only wood for cooking, a project that went through spring and most of this summer too. I was using a Trail Designs Sidewinder system (inside the blue sack) and the way it is made does not lend itself to using a lighter very easily. I decided that matches would work better.waiting for dinnertime
I have a few plastic match cases collected over the years but did not care for any of them because none of them will fit a storm match. I have to take side cutters and snip off the last 0.5 in (1.25 cm) of the match stick to make them fit. I knew of Exotac as they made the nanoSTRIKER that I carry on every trip (see review). I knew they made match cases and I picked up a Matchcap XL just to use along with the Sidewinder.

I loved it at first sight. Just like the nanoSTRIKER, the Matchcap XL is like a piece of art. The craftsmanship is impeccable. There is not a single flaw on it, no rough spots, no burrs anywhere. Every edge be it the body, ridges, knurling, or threads is perfectly smooth. Plus besides a beautiful design job the Matchcap XL is the most well thought-out match case I have ever seen.

I love the way the red phosphorus striking pad is protected from the elements and abrasion by being placed inside the cap. It works very well too, although all I have used are the big storm matches. I am wearing my first one out, but just on one side as I seem to always strike on the right. I can probably use it another six months just by thinking about using the left portion. Of course I have the extra pads Exotac sent for when it does need replacing.

The Matchcap XL seals very well. At least half of my backpacking trips this year have seen rain so it was nice to always have dry matches.

Even when I have it full of storm matches there is still extra space inside the Matchcap XL. Exotac suggests all kinds of things that could go in the protected space but I like their suggestion to keep tinder in it. While I kept tender in the pot I was using with the Sidewinder, now that the project is done I am going to put a couple pieces of WetFire tender in the Matchcap XL and keep it in my car at all times. Well, except for when I need it backpacking. I will end this review with a photo of it at Halverson Lake at dinner time.

Now we're cooking with fire.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Fire Starters > Exotac MATCHCAP XL > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

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