You’ve got to hand it to a company that specializes in and produces products within one category. It takes ingenuity and focus to keep your product line narrowly defined, not spiraling out into every conceivably related field. Such is the vision apparent within Exotac, a company which is centered around Ranger TV: fire and fire related accessories. Lately, I’ve been taking a look at three of their products, the CandleTIN, the MATCHCAP and the fireSLEEVE.
While all three products focus on prioritizing fire as a survival resource, they approach the matter in three different ways:
- CandleTIN: A three wicked candle in a tin the size of a can of chew. A double-thick version is also available, and the wicks are offered in fast burn or slow burn. My review sample is a standard thickness, slow-burn version, which gives 4-12 hours of burn time.
- MATCHCAP: This is a metal tube, (presumably aluminum) designed to hold matches in a waterproof fashion, with an o-ring sealed cap. There is a replaceable strike pad on the bottom of the tube (external), and another on the outside of the tube (covered by the closed lid). Advertised as holding 12-20 matches.
- fireSLEEVE: This is a waterproof floating cover for a Bic Classic lighter. As an added twist, there is a small loop of polymer that can be stretched over the gas button on said lighter, allowing you to keep the flame burning for longer, without getting a hot thumb. Bonus points for the glow in the dark option!
After some hands-on time with all three of the above products, here’s what I think:
As far as the candleTIN goes, it’s a nice candle in a good design. Candles are about as simple as they come, this one provides 1-3 wicks worth of heat. For boiling water or preventing hypothermia, this is a last option. For a little light or a big morale boost when you’re ice cold, this is a very handy item to have around.
The MATCHCAP is extremely light, coming in under .8oz. The tube is nearly crush-proof, despite its scant weight. I was able to get about 14 household matches in, staggering some head-to-toe. While the presence of two striker pads is nice, the manner in which the bottom striker pad is affixed is insufficient. Immediately after getting wet, mine fell off. A cursory glance at purchase reviews shows this happens often, with a number of repeat buyers stating they just add better glue out of the box.
The fireSLEEVE is a simple polymer slip with a hard plastic cap. It’s straightforward, easy and it works. The number of times I needed to use a lighter extensively enough to risk burning a finger have been few, but memorable. More often (and more memorable) have been the times I needed to use my lighter, but found out it had gotten wet. The cap, once removed, fits nicely on the bottom of the lighter. It also has a nice loop to be used for a tiedown or carabiner.
All three of the above Exotac products did exactly what they were designed to do. They make your time in the wilds more streamlined; protecting and enabling your ability to get fires going quickly and reliably. Prices range from $8.95 (candleTIN) to $15.95 (fireSLEEVE) to $28.95 (MATCHCAP). While the occasional weekend camper might find ~$30 for a matchbox to be a bit steep, experienced (and hardcore) woodsmen will see the value in extremely lightweight, durable products that help disaster-proof one of the most important elements of human survival. Check them out!