A Light in the Darkness: Best Flashlights for Camping

Even a decade or two ago, carrying a flashlight in the backpack was a smart thing to do. But with the growing popularity of cell phones and the rapid development of cell phone flashlights, it looked like our old-school flashlights were starting to lose their importance.

Photo by Wendelin Jacober

But seasoned campers understand that cell phone flashlights don’t stand a chance when it comes to a long night in the woods. Cell phone batteries die faster. If you use your cell phone every time you need light and the battery runs out, you will be in a fix when you desperately need to contact someone.

Besides, cell phone flashlights might look bright, but they usually have a lower output than a small flashlight., which makes sense because it’s just a feature and not the main function of a cell phone. Using a cell phone as a flashlight is also highly inconvenient, especially in rough terrain where it could easily get damaged. Hence, a powerful flashlight is a must-have for all campers out there.

Flashlight Features You Should Look For

When you go flashlight shopping, you can’t just pick up the first model you find! You have to check how powerful it is, whether it is easy to carry around, and several other factors. It’s time to check out the essential features to look for while buying a flashlight!

Output or Brightness

Photo by Yann Allegre

It goes without saying that this is the first feature you’ll want to inspect. Brightness is measured using a unit called the lumen. Brighter light will have higher lumens. However, if the light is too bright, it might actually make things more difficult by washing out all the fine details. Make sure the model you pick has a working range of 300 – 1000 lumens. That should adequately cover your camping as well as household needs.

You could opt for a flashlight that has brightness settings. The higher beam is brighter and more suitable in a completely dark environment and lights up a much larger area. For most ordinary situations like fishing out something from under the car, the lower setting works just fine. By using the higher beam for emergencies, you can save battery and runtime.

Portability

When we think of a flashlight, we usually think of one that easily fits in our hands. But flashlights come in various sizes. There are tiny ones that could be hung on a belt loop or those that can light up an entire picnic spot.

Choose the size of your flashlight based on your purpose. Usually, campers need flashlights that are easy to carry around, both in terms of size and weight. But if you are looking for a flashlight that will mostly be used to light up the tent, you could easily pick a bigger one.

Do you need to fit the flashlight in your backpack? Pick a smaller size. Will the flashlight stay in the trunk of your car? Then you might choose a bigger one. But make sure it’s not too light; otherwise, it will keep getting thrown around when the vehicle hits a bumpy road.

Along with the size and weight, the price of the flashlight might increase. However, there could be powerful small flashlights that are more expensive. So, take your budget into account while picking the flashlight as well.

Primary and Back-up Power Source

Photo by Andreas Dress

While battery-operated flashlights are more common, you could explore other options as well. You will find flashlights that run on solar power, chargeable flashlights, and flashlights that run on manual power such as “shake” flashlights.

If you pick a battery-operated flashlight, you should always carry spare batteries. That way, if the first set runs out, you can continue to operate the flashlight with the spare batteries. If you forget to pack a second set, you might be in trouble later.

In such cases, solar flashlights might seem like a better option. You will be camping in a natural environment and should have enough access to sunlight.  But what if you face an exceptionally cloudy day (common here in the Pacific Northwest)? Or what if you run out of charge at night? You will have no way to power up your flashlight. Sadly, solar flashlights are not reliable enough to be your sole source of light in most scenerios.

Similar to solar flashlights, flashlights running on manual power (“shaking”) can be highly inconvenient. They can be exhausting to use, especially if you need to use the light continuously. The brightness of these flashlights is also not at par with battery-operated flashlights. So, you might want to rethink before picking this as your primary light source.

If you are thinking about selecting a rechargeable flashlight, make sure you are going to the kind of campsite that offers modern provisions like charging stations. They’re also a good option for those who own an RV for camping. However, if you are more into traditional camping with minimal technological interference, you might want to walk past this one.

These days, you can find dual-mode flashlights that use two sources of power. If the battery runs out, you can charge it using solar or manual power. This makes it very useful for campers.

High Run Time

A flashlight’s run time is the time it takes for the brightness to dull down to 10%. After reaching this point, the light either goes out gradually or rapidly. That’s why no one waits for it to reach 0%. This is the perfect time to change batteries or recharge the flashlight. For camping, you will need a flashlight with a high run time, especially in the long nights of winter.

Multifunctional

Designers are getting innovative with products, and flashlights have also been experimented with. You could easily get flashlights with the following features:

  1. Strobe Mode
  2. Lantern Mode
  3. Red Light
  4. Zoom Function
  5. Taser Function or Stun Gun
  6. Morse Code Key
  7. Incandescent/Fluorescent Mode

Feel free to explore and discover how much a flashlight could do!

Other Important Aspects

Photo by Isaac Davis

When you have decided on the other factors, you should consider durability. Camping can be rough on flashlights, and your flashlight should be able to handle scratches and drops. For the same reasons, it should also have a good grip.

Don’t forget to check for accessories like hoops, belt clips, straps, and holsters. These can be really useful. And if you want to get a little fancy, you could check out the different color variations of the model that you have chosen.

Other Life-Saving Uses of a Sturdy Flashlight

A flashlight is not merely a source of light. In fact, it can come in handy or even save your life when things go south during a camping trip. Here’s how:

  • Useful Tool – During an emergency, you could use a powerful flashlight to crack ice, break glass, and pry open nuts or shellfish. Although, you might want to think carefully about whether the situation is crucial enough to sacrifice a flashlight.
  • Send Signals – A flashlight can be used to send signals from a distance, especially if you know Morse Code. This becomes much easier if it has an in-built Morse function.

The Verdict

As you can see, buying a flashlight is like trying on shoes. There is no “one size fits all” solution, and not every style serves everyone. An excellent choice is the E300 EDC Tactical Flashlight .  It is battery-operated with an output of 300 lumens and it comes with two brightness modes: high and low.

For extra performance, it also features zoom lens and strobe mode. The strobe function can be used like a distress sign to draw rescuers. The zoom function allows you to target the light on a specific object.

The E300 is built with a high runtime LED in an aluminum housing. It is highly durable, anti-abrasive, shock-proof, and water-resistant. It will be extremely useful for outdoor situations as well as household purposes.

The flashlight is not some special equipment that only campers or hikers require. It’s an essential tool for any household. We never know when we face a blackout or some other emergency situation that cuts off the electricity. Unfortunately, we only miss it when we desperately need it. So, if you don’t own a powerful flashlight, this is your cue to go out and get one!

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