One of the most underrated parts of camping in the great Australian outdoors is star gazing and sleeping under the starts with no light pollution. However, at the same time, maneuvering around the camp can be quite difficult with starlight being the only source of illumination. That being said, every camper should look to get a reliable and portable light source in the form of a torchlight, headlamp, or lantern. Camping lighting solutions have come a long way since the old and oftentimes dangerous gas lanterns, and nowadays, you can pick from a wide range of lighting solutions made with advanced LED technology.
That being said, the world of camping lighting solutions is huge, meaning you’ll have to make a lot of choices in order to get the best solution for your specific camping needs. Some of the first things you need to consider before you even start buying are whether you need multiple light sources, the amount of space you have to store and carry it, and whether you’ll need spare batteries and a charger. While it’s always recommended you pack more than one camping light source, sometimes space won’t allow it, which may end up forcing you to get one, compact and lightweight torch instead of getting a lantern, for instance. If you do have enough space, then you might be better off with a lantern for illuminating your campsite, and a basic handheld torch for making your way around the woods.
Once you’ve figured out what you can bring and what you need, you can decide on the type of camp lighting you want to shop for. You have a couple of options, including the aforementioned torches, headlamps, lanterns, but also spotlights and tent lights.
- Torches are the ideal handheld solution, and they’re usually the most powerful option out of the bunch. Torches made for the outdoors are typically easily portable, durable and high-end models are water-resistant. They’re also the best solution when it comes to preciseness and dexterity
- Headlamps are ideal for situations where you need freedom in both hands, such as when putting up a tent. The key to selecting a headlamp is to get one with an adjustable strap and beam, so that it’s comfortable to wear and versatile to use
- Lanterns have been used for thousands of years, and they’re the perfect 360° illumination. Some models come with a hook while others have handles, and you can carry them by hand or hang them somewhere. There are even models that come with a remote control, which can be useful for when you’re already inside your sleeping bag and want to call it a night
- Spotlights are ideal for situations that require a concentrated beam of light far ahead of you
- Tent lights are similar to spotlights and lanterns, except they’re a bit more specialised
Then, you’ll have to consider the type of lighting bulb the camping lighting equipment incorporates. There are three basic types of light bulbs – incandescent, fluorescent and LEDs. Incandescent bulbs have been around for the longest, and they still offer some benefits over other types. For example, they reach their full brightness potential immediately, and they produce warm-coloured illumination. Fluorescent bulbs are more durable than incandescent lights and provide ample light. However, they’re usually larger than LED and incandescent lights, so they should only really be considered if space allows. And lastly, LED lights are the new cool kids on the block. They’re the most durable and most energy-efficient option out there. Further, they’re safe and generate little to no heat. On the downside, LED lights are the most expensive option.
Worth noting is that the power of the light is determined by three factors – the brightness, which is measured in lumens (if the bulbs are LED), the colour and the beam. Basically, the more lumens a light source has, the brighter it will be. As far as light colour goes, different lights produce different light colours, which are usually either blue, white and yellow. The brightness is expressed in Kelvins, and the more Kelvin a light has, the whiter it is. And lastly, the beam of the light can be either narrow and focused, or wide and spread. Most high-quality light options let you switch between a wide and narrow beam.
And lastly, you need to consider the light’s power source. Most camping lights are battery-powered, but there are also gas models (still common for lanterns). When you’re comparing different lighting solutions, look at the type of batteries they use and how costly are they to replace. Are they disposable, or rechargeable? How long will you typically be using the light before its batteries die? Rechargeable 18650 battery are more expensive than disposable ones, but they’re more cost-effective in the long run. Keep in mind that the more powerful the light is, the faster it will drain the batteries, and as the battery drains, the beam distance and intensity may be reduced.