Chapter 1: Lighting Equipment for Camping and Hiking
Let’s start with the least “fussy” aspect of camping equipment, and that’s none other than lighting. While your preferences in tents might be different from that of, say, a backpacker, both of you will probably have the same wants or needs when it comes to lighting.
After all, lighting has a clear-cut primary purpose and that’s to provide sufficient illumination at night or when you’re trekking through low-light areas like caves and tunnels. Thus, the first thing you should consider when shopping for lighting kits or equipment is exactly how much light a particular device can give you.
This is probably the most common type of camp lighting because of its portable and compact design. Camping lanterns can be mounted on a wall, hung on a hook, or simply placed on the ground. While they may be bigger and heavier than torches, they’re certainly less cumbersome and heavy than other types of camp lighting equipment like floodlights and spotlights.
Camping lanterns vary in terms of power source.
Although they work the same way ordinary candles do, candle lanterns come with an improved design to increase burn time and provide better overall safety features. In terms of width of lighting, candle lighting is good enough for general lighting, such as providing sufficient visibility when cooking or cleaning your tent but don’t expect it to function as an excellent reading or task light.
One other thing you shouldn’t expect from candle lanterns is long hours of use. At most, you can probably expect nine hours of continuous use and that’s only if you utilize UCO candles.
On a positive note, candle lanterns are quite affordable, especially compared to the more advanced camp lighting models, simple to operate, able to provide warmth during chilly winter nights and create a sufficiently intimate atmosphere if it’s your intention to turn your weekend camping trip into a romantic getaway.
Liquid Fuel Lanterns
Also known as cartridge lanterns, this type of camping lantern is excellent for use in winter or cooler seasons due to the heat it’s able to generate. They offer longer hours of operation compared to candle lanterns, but they’re not great for backpacking use because of their fragile design and heavy weight.
If you’re setting up camp in a modern campground and you can drive your SUV or RV with you, then liquid fuel lanterns are a good choice.
This is arguably the most popular type of lantern because of its portability and ease of use. Besides electrical charging, these lanterns may also be battery-powered. The more advanced models even offer solar-charging options.
All in all, there’s little to dislike about electrical lanterns. As they come in a wide variety of forms and sizes, it’s easy to find something that’s the perfect size and weight for your needs. They are also more eco-friendly as you won’t have to burn fuel. In terms of hours of use, they’ll last as long as you have a sufficient supply of batteries. Compared to fuel cartridges and candles, batteries are definitely cheaper, easier to purchase, and safer to use.
Further, many electrical lanterns come with additional features like sirens and AM/FM radios. Perhaps the only downside to electrical lanterns is their inability to generate sufficient heat if you’re camping in cold weather. Then again, this could also be advantageous if you live in a particularly humid or hot area.
If you are thinking of purchasing a camping lantern, here are a few products that have come highly recommended:
Product: Snow Peak Camping Lantern S-10
This camping lantern is equipped with canister fuel. With a 170-watt light output, you can easily turn night into day at your campsite. For quick and safe storage, this product also comes with its own padded nylon carry-case.
Product: Snow Peak White Gas Lantern
Its heavy-duty body is made of brass, aluminum, stainless steel, and heat-resistant glass. It utilizes white gas, consumed 90g per hour and produces a 170-watt light output. At a little over 3 pounds, this lantern won’t be a problem to carry even if you’re just backpacking.
Although originally designed for industrial use such as mining and engineering, headlamps can certainly come in handy when you require use of both hands while travelling. For example, walking on a bridge or narrow and/or elevated trails will be safer if you can hold on to the railings with both hands.
Torches and Flashlights
Torches and flashlights are generally very useful. As they can provide lighting at greater distances, they’re excellent to use when scouting campgrounds and assessing the condition of trails. When shopping for torches, consider investing in models that utilize white LED lights as they offer better energy efficiency and more powerful lighting.
Although these are often used to provide lighting for outdoor areas in residential properties, they are occasionally used for lighting in campgrounds as well. But while they’re certainly capable producing extremely powerful lighting, they also have a lot of power requirements, and you might need special batteries.
Some spotlights need 12-volt power sources while some floodlights have to be hooked up to a petrol-powered generator. They’re also larger and heavier than most types of camp lighting, which is a problem in itself.
All in all, a complete camp lighting kit generally includes a torch and extra batteries, headlamp, and a camping lantern.