Let there be light - how to choose torches and other light sources for your camping equipment invent

By: Mark Moon


Choosing a torch for a camping trip might sound like a simple affair, but are you making the most of your light? With so many types available on the market, what are the qualities that any prospective camper should be looking for in their illuminations? The answers lie in the type of trip you're planning and just what you intend to use the torch for.

For basic camping needs, such as providing light inside a tent or putting a couple outside to illuminate guy ropes, then a lantern-style torch is the best bet. They are simple to operate and can be suspended or sat on the ground and can provide comfort and practical safety measures for adults and children alike. In this case, it might be worth considering using LED technology. LED torches not only consume less battery power but, in the event of the lantern being hung up in or placed close to a tent, it is worth noting that LED bulbs do not heat up as quickly or as much as traditional bulbs.

For walking in the dark, either on a camp-site or out in the wilds, a hand-held torch is more practical; it offers a more accurate beam-direction and some torches are designed so that the width of the beam closely matches the human peripheral field of vision. Many of these torches also come with varying levels of beam-brightness to provide different lighting in different situations.

For the hardier camper, a headlamp might be the better option. This piece of camping equipment can simply be attached to the head and offers practical solutions to many situations, such as erecting a tent in the dark or walking through poor lighting and allowing the hands to be free to do other things. They also move with the wearer's head, illuminating what is directly in the field of vision. They are small and compact and also available with LED bulbs. Many of these headlamps have an 'alert' function, where the light can flash off and on continually, working as a distress signal if required.

An important factor to consider in a torch is its durability; you may want to consider a torch that is waterproof and/or shockproof. Camping offers many unexpected situations and the weather is never guaranteed, so it pays to be prepared. There is also the issue of power consumption. We have already seen that LED torches and lamps consume much less power than standard ones and reduce the necessity for extra batteries. However, for the 'green-minded' camper, there are further solutions to the problem - eco-friendly or 'self-sustaining' torches. These work using an internal dynamo to charge the torch, so all you have to do is wind it up and generate your own power. Many of these come with chargers as a back-up system, and use LED bulbs to optimise the use of power. While these types of light can be more expensive, they soon pay for themselves, as you are not buying constant streams of batteries to fuel them. They also reduce the size of your camping carbon footprint, which fits in nicely with the general camping ethos.

The other consideration is size. Torches certainly reinforce the maxim that 'size isn't everything'; with advancing technology, the smallest lamp can provide sufficient illumination for a camping trip and stow away neatly and conveniently.

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