Unlike our caveman ancestors, modern man does not need to rely on fire for light when spending a night in the wilderness. Since the first flashlight was invented in 1899, humans have been coming up with better and better ways to bring electric lighting with us — even when home is hundreds of miles away.
But are all flashlights made equal? Of course not! In the nearly 120 years since the first flashlight appeared on the scene, flashlights have become more diverse and specialized in their design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re bringing the very best camping flashlight with you when you’re out exploring the wilderness. It’s not just about light anymore. It’s about getting the most utility and functionality out of every piece of gear in your pack.
What to Look For in a Good Camping Flashlight
Why it’s important: For both safety and convenience, you want to make sure your camping flashlight can produce enough light to see, even in the darkest situations. So what’s the right amount of light? Anything between 500-2000 lumens is probably ideal for camping. Anything brighter and you’re looking at a jump in size and anything dimmer won’t be ideal if you need to search or signal your location.
Why it’s important: If brightness is important, than being able to reliably control your light is a close second. There’s nothing worse than getting a bright flash to your eyes in the middle of the night. Having a flashlight that always turns on at the lowest setting is a surefire way to prevent such mishaps.
Multiple LED Outputs
Why it’s important: When picking out a camping light, look for lights with different output options to get more functionality out of your gear. Red LEDs are perfect for preserving night vision and high CRI LEDs produce better colors and details for up-close work.
Another advantage of red outputs? Much like an ultralow default, red is perfect for searching through your gear without bothering a tent mate. The dimmer output will also attract less insects if you’re camping in a particularly buggy area.
Why it’s important: It may seem like a no brainer, but size is a key consideration for any camping light. Whether you’re car camping or hiking deep into the backcountry, you’ll probably want to avoid lugging around a bulky or heavy torch.
The good news is that modern flashlights are constantly getting better and better performance out of smaller and smaller flashlights. If you’re car camping or don’t need to worry about space and weight, options like the Concept 2, TM10K, or TM28 can provide full campsite lighting that can instantly make it feel like daylight. But for mInstead, look for smaller flashlights that can fit in your pocket.
Why it’s important: Your flashlight is only as good as the battery powering it. Once that runs out, if you don’t have a way to change or recharge your batteries, you’ll literally be in the dark. If you have room in your gear for a solar panel or power bank, having a USB rechargeable flashlight means you can easily recharge and extend your battery life as needed.