Next to your tent, a flashlight is probably the most important piece of equipment you will need when heading into the wilderness to go camping. A flashlight will not only provide you with a good light source for camping activities like cooking and midnight bathroom breaks, but it can also act as a survival tool if needs be.
The best flashlight for camping must provide several vital functions while you are in the wild, including offering a good light source, be tough and durable, be easy to carry, and have long-lasting battery life.
So, what type of flashlight should you get for camping? This will depend on your need and the environment in which you plan on using the flashlight. How much light do you need? How long do you need the flashlight batteries to last? Are you looking for a lightweight, pocket-friendly flashlight or something bigger?
Let’s take a look at some of the best flashlights for camping and what they have to offer.
What are the Most Important Functions of a Flashlight?
A flashlight is an essential everyday tool that can be used for a variety of activities, including camping. If you are heading out into the great, wide yonder, a good flashlight is an invaluable tool that provides you with several benefits.
1. Provides a Source of Light
Having a good light source while you are camping is essential. A flashlight not only lights up paths and trails, helping you to avoid roots, rocks, and holes that can cause trips, falls, and injuries, but also offers light for camping activities like pitching your tent, cooking in the dark, and finding the bathroom at night.
2. Emergency Signal
A flashlight can be used for signaling for help in emergencies. If you become separated from others on a hike or have a fall and are injured, you can use the flashlight as a beacon for help.
3. Self-Defense Weapon
It can also be used as a weapon of self-defense. Wild animals are usually drawn to campsites by the smell of food, and a flashlight with a bright beam can be used to startle or temporarily blind any creatures lurking in the dark and hopefully scare them off. It can also be used as a blunt weapon if need be.
4. Saves your Phone Battery
In today’s world, our smartphones tend to rule our lives, and while your phone may be the one thing you want to leave behind when heading into the quiet of the wilderness, it’s a good idea to take it along in case of emergency. And to save the battery for that very reason, a flashlight is a good tool to have to prevent you from using your phone as a light source and draining the battery.
What are the Most Important Features to Look for in a Flashlight?
When it comes to finding a great flashlight for camping, there are a few aspects to take into consideration ranging from brightness and battery life to size and durability. The most important features of a good flashlight for camping include:
Battery Life / Run Time
Weatherproof / Water-Resistant
The main function of a flashlight is to channel light to an area to see it more clearly in the dark, therefore the two most important features would be the output of light or lumen rating and the beam distance.
Brightness / Light Output
This is the most important factor of a good flashlight and you want one that provides enough light for your needs. The brightness of a flashlight is measured inlumens. Lumens (lm) are a measure of the total amount of visible light to the human eye that is emitted from a lamp or light source in all directions. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light.
Flashlights have lumen ratings that range from 100 in basic models to 300 in high-tech models, however, the best flashlights for camping should produce between 160 and 200 lumens. This will give you plenty of light for navigating the wilderness in the pitch dark, providing light for camping activities, and scaring off any unwanted intruders.
Some flashlights have different modes of light that provide low, medium, and high levels of brightness. A low light setting is good for finding something in your tent as you don’t want to waste too much battery power or blind yourself looking for objects in a small, closed space. Higher settings are best used in an outdoor setting when you need brighter light or a greater beam distance.
BEST BUY: TheB.A.M.F.F. 10.0fromSTKR Concepts offers outstanding light output with no less than 1,000 lumens of light and a powerful CREE LED spotlight for long-distance visibility. TheFLEXIT Headlamp PROhas 650 lumens and a CREE spotlight that projects 350 lumens into the darkness.
The beam distance of a flashlight is equally important as the lumen rating or brightness of the light. The beam distance is how far a light will reach and a 100-yard beam distance will usually allow you to see 100 yards in front of you.
While lumens and beam distance are the two most important functions of a flashlight, it does depend on what you require the flashlight to do. The beam distance is important if you plan on using the flashlight for night hiking or exploring caves as you will need to see into the distance.
Some flashlights have different types of beams, including:
Flood (or Wide):A flood or a wide beam is useful for general camping activities like pitching tents and cooking over a fire, as well as reading and intricate, up-close work like watch-making. Flood beams are broad-scope beams that do not cover a great distance.
Spot (or Focused or Narrow): Spot beams, also known as focused or narrow beams, are the best form of light for long-distance viewing. This type of beam is best for navigating terrain and hiking trails in the dark or exploring dark caves.
Flood/Spot: This dual-beam type is the most versatile type of beam as it can be adjusted to cater to all activities from caving and hiking to camping and cooking.
Battery Life / Run Time
The battery life or the run time of a flashlight for camping is another important factor as you don’t want your light source to die when you need it most. The battery life of a flashlight will depend on the type of batteries that the flashlight uses and whether they are rechargeable or not. The battery life or run time of a flashlight is essential if you plan on doing a long night hike.
BEST BUY: TheILLUMiDOME fromSTKR Concepts is a lightweight, waterproof lantern that is compact and extremely durable, and boasts up to 100 hours of runtime. TheFLEXiT 4.0 fromSTKR Concepts is another great flashlight with 400 lumens of light, five different light modes, and 70 hours of runtime.
The power source of a flashlight is an equally important factor to consider as it could be the difference between camping with light or not. While most flashlights use batteries as a power source, they are not the only way to power your flashlight.
Flashlight power sources can include:
It’s a good idea to get a flashlight that offers two power source options such as battery and solar power options.
Most flashlights on the market are operated by batteries, however, carrying batteries can be bulky and heavy. Rechargeable batteries are a good option as they can be charged up again and again and are most cost-effective than having to buy new batteries all the time.
Rechargeable batteries also take up less space in your backpack – you won’t have to carry packs of extra batteries – all you need is a small recharger for the car or a portable or solar charger. Rechargeable batteries are also far more environmentally friendly than regular batteries as a camper, the environment should be important to you.
A rechargeable flashlight is a good idea as it will save you money on batteries in the long run, but you will need to travel with a portable USB charger to recharge your flashlight. You can get solar-powered chargers, but if the sun doesn’t come out, you may be without light. If you have a rechargeable flashlight, make sure the campsite has a constant power outlet.
This is a great option for saving on batteries but is very dependent on the weather. They cannot be recharged in very cloudy weather, or during the night and if you run out before nightfall, then you are stuck without the light.
Also known as “shake flashlights” this type of flashlight must be shaken to create a power source, however, they don’t produce a very bright light and are best as backup flashlights.
BEST BUY: TheFLEXIT Solar Light fromSTKR Concepts is an excellent option for a solar-charged flashlight. This hands-free, flexible LED flashlight has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be charged via the sun or with a USB cable.
You want a flashlight that is tough and durable and can handle bumps, knocks, and drops and that will serve you for years to come. Our flashlight should fit your needs and the type of adventures you enjoy.
If you tend to have water-based adventures, then a waterproof flashlight is your best bet, while climbing and mountainous activities will require an impact-resistant flashlight. Check the housing of the flashlight and make sure it is made well.
This is an important factor to keep in mind when looking at flashlights for camping. It’s a good idea to get a weatherproof flashlight (can withstand very cold temperatures, hail, snow, sleet) and water-resistant to withstand rain or being dropped into water.
Water-resistance in flashlights is measured using an IP rating system and is divided into eight categories:
IPX0 - No Protection
IPX1 - Protection against condensation or water dripping vertically
IPX2 - Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 15 degrees vertically
IPX3 - Protected against spraying water when tilted up to 60 degrees vertically
IPX4 - Protected against splashing water from any angle
IPX5 - Protected against low-pressure water stream from any angle
IPX7 - Protected against submersion in one meter of water for 30 seconds
IPX8 - Protected against submersion past one meter (specified by the manufacturer)
BEST BUY: TheILLUMiDOME fromSTKR Concepts is a fantastic option for a waterproof and weather-resistant light source for camping. This lightweight, waterproof lantern is compact and extremely durable and boasts 220 lumens of wide-angle light with four light mode settings and up to 100 hours of runtime.
The size and weight of the flashlight is an important issue and will depend on your needs. Do you want something small and portable that fits you’re your pocket, or do you want a large flashlight with plenty of handgrip space and an extra bright light source?
Smaller flashlights are lightweight and portable and don’t take up much space in your backpack, but larger flashlights can be brighter, have a longer beam distance, and be more durable. Look for a flashlight that does both – is lightweight, portable, and easy to carry, and has a good lumen rating, beam distance, and durability.
BEST BUY:TheFLEXIT Auto Light fromSTKR Conceptsis an ultra-thin, super-lightweight, hands-free, flexible LED flashlight that has a durable Shape-Loc frame that can be bent, folded, wrapped, stuck, or hooked onto any surface.
Some flashlights have multiple light modes, allowing you to adjust the brightness from low to medium to high as needed. Others may offer three or more modes, including:
Strobe (or Flash) mode: This mode acts as an emergency blinker and can be used in the case of emergencies. Some models may even offer a choice of strobe or flash modes with slow and fast options.
Low-mode: This is the standard mode used for general camping activities like pitching tents, unpacking and packing, and cooking. This is also the best option for walking along an easy hiking trail at night.
Mid-mode: The mid-mode is provided on some headlamp models to offer you more choice.
High (or Max) mode:The high/max-mode is best used when bright light is required.
Boost (or Zoom) mode:This mode can be found on certain models only. It omits an extra-intense and super bright light beam for just a few seconds, allowing you to have a quick look at something. This mode is highly energy-consuming and drains the batteries quickly, hence the reason it is designed to last only a few seconds.
Bear in mind, multiple light modes will use more battery power, so the type of batteries you use will play a role in this factor.
BEST BUY: TheFLEXIT Solar Light fromSTKR Concepts packs a punch when it comes to providing light in four different modes. It has five light modes, including high spot and flood, high flood, low flood, red night vision, and a strobe light mode for emergencies.
Another good buy is theMobile Task LightfromSTKR Concepts. Housed in a tempered steel exoskeleton and powered by dual lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, this light has four modes ranging from a high-powered spotlight that lights up a large area to a strobe light.
Some flashlights have multiple switches to allow the user to quickly operate the light in different situations. These switch types can include a tail-cap switch or a body and head/tail twist switch. A tail-cap and body switch can either be a simple on/off switch or one with different modes.
Rotating or twisting switches on flashlights are the best kind of switches if you want to prevent the light from accidentally being switched on.
Most flashlights use small LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which are preferable to other bulb types as they produce stronger lights, don’t drain the battery as much, and have a higher resistance to impact.
They use a semiconductor to produce light, are also more easily adjustable than other types of lights, have lower power consumption, and excellent durability. The technology for LED lights continues to improve every year.
A good flashlight is an essential part of your camping gear and it is important to find one that suits your needs, so you have enough light when it’s required the most. Whether you are going camping with the family for a weekend or heading into the mountain for a week-long sojourn away from civilization, a good flashlight can make or break your trip. A great option is to find a rechargeable flashlight that has a bright light, multiple light settings, is weather and water-resistant, and durable.
Anything can happen at any moment in time. Being prepared can make a major difference in how safe you remain during an emergency. It’s recommended that everyone has an emergency kit ready so that they are prepared anytime that the unthinkable happens.