K&M Matchcases

History of our little Match Case company

The first K&M match cases were built in the mid-80s as a solution to a one too many time failure of the venerable 1890s designed Marble’s match case, a product that was for many years the official Boy Scout match case. Having carried a Marble's case since the mid 50's with complete confidence in its dependability, it was nothing short of a shock to open it to find wet matches inside during an elk hunt in miserable wet weather. Thinking it was a fluke unlikely to repeat itself the match case was dried, the matches were replaced, and it continued to be a trusted piece of Keith’s hunting gear – until it happened again.

The K&M match case was born that night on a small lathe in a service truck. The original had a single O ring, no button on the bottom, no knurl, no compass, and no string – just a simple tube with a simple Keith & Marge Lunderseffective plug. Several were made for family and friends and proved adequate to the task.  Initial added developments to the design included a button on the bottom of the tube to hold a lanyard and the addition of a second o-ring (after an o-ring breakage during installation).

At some point within this time frame, a highly scientific and rigorous test was devised by Keith and his sons.  They love to fish for brook trout in Elk Creek, a beautiful and pristine mountain stream in Idaho. The best fishing is in the nearly impenetrable alder brush that stretches several miles upstream from town. Accessing the creek involves wading crotch deep through black muck with the odor of rotting mammoths. The water is just barely warm enough to flow while the merciless sun bakes everything above the constantly changing water line. The hike out must be accomplished on near-frozen legs while sweat pours off your upper half. The unavoidable return trip through the muck leaves you smelling like a rotting elk carcass, hence the deceptively benign-sounding name, "Elk Creek". Thankfully, the road is fairly close but you’ll have to arrange your own transportation, since no sane person will allow you to ride in their car.

Keith and his sons calculated that tying match cases to their ankles while fishing this stretch of Elk Creek would most likely duplicate or exceed anything normal people would encounter on this planet. After much testing without so much as a single failure on the part of the match cases, Keith’s wife finally figured they’d proved themselves well enough that he and the boys could do more work and less fishing.

While looking for modifications and improvements, the idea of adding a compass to the already proven design seemed natural.  After long years of chasing leads that all turned into dead ends K&M finally hit pay dirt in 1991 with a small apparently high quality button compass (imported by Guttman Cutlery).

Sample match cases were machined and mailed to several large catalog stores. Prior to mailing a note reading “If this paper is wet or the match won’t light you probably won’t be interested in this product.” was inserted into the case along with one “Strike Anywhere” match. The cases were then placed into small bottles of water along with a prayer that the US Postal Service wouldn’t open any of the packages. Apparently they didn’t because all got through. Bean’s buyer called immediately upon receiving the packet to say the match lit on the first strike. She also said the case was of “heirloom quality” and exactly the type of product they were looking for. She informed Keith that they wanted them in the fall hunting catalog.

To say it took off like a rocket is almost an understatement. Bean featured it in a fall hunting catalog and their initial order of 300 disappeared like sourdough hotcakes in a logging camp. By the time the season ended they had sold over 3000 match cases. A buyer later told Keith it was the top selling item in that first catalog and placed in the top ten in every subsequent catalog featuring it. Many large orders were filled in the following years - each with their own trials and tribulations.  Few changes have been made since that initial run for Bean (mostly related to production equipment).  K & M match cases have since been featured in numerous articles, accepted by U.S. Military personel, and added to "hundreds of thousands" of survival kits and private survivalist collections.  

Don't take our word for it, search the web or ask anyone who owns one, and you will find the K & M match case is quite simply the best way in the world to keep your matches dry.