Heading off into the wilderness without a flashlight is the outdoors equivalent of bringing a knife to a gunfight. Put simply, Mother Nature is stronger and more ruthless than you.
Even if you plan to walk between sunrise or sunset, many reasons could change this, from spending too much time in that purdy little village back up the track, to finding the camp site closed, and it’s a potentially perilous trek to the next one.
Once the sun goes down, that delightful Disney-esque fairy tale mountain trail can mutate very quickly into a Grimm obstacle course of steep ravines, potholes, pitch blackness and 101 ways to snap a tendon or a bone.
If you have to wild camp, if nothing else, you’ll want to see what sort of terrain you face.
What you need is a piece of kit that will give you a good, wide light for some yards up the track, but will not need large batteries taking up much-needed space.
Do you feel safer with 12 inches of stainless steel needing up to six large, heavy batteries? If not, we’d suggest a torch a lot smaller and lighter than that. But do research. Will anywhere along the trail allow access to electricity to recharge your kit? Will you need to bring your own adapter? Or are you happy with one-use lithium or alkaline batteries?
Alternatively, avoid batteries altogether and go with a hand-cranked model. Or at least carry a small, cheap one like the MECO Emergency Flashlight (below) as a backup.
A heavier, tactical flashlight with a beam like the smile of a Hollywood superstar is great if you’re camping with the car, and weight and size is not an issue. Plus, they’re also useful for self-defense. However, if you’re not expecting the zombie apocalypse then something as small and as light as possible is what we’re looking for. Every ounce counts when coming to the end of a long, long day.
You’re hauling your home and everything needed for survival on your back. Each item must justify its inclusion, so again something small yet powerful is what we need. If hiking with a friend, are even two lights needed? A small, tactical flashlight may be best.
Some flashlights give off such a strong light that they’ve been known to set undergrowth or pieces of paper on fire – no seriously, we are not making this up. You need something to help you stay on a mountain trail if the sun’s gone down and there is no moon. You may not need something with the strength of a car headlamp. Remember, you are not a lighthouse. You are not even a car. And unless you are in the Government or in a homage to ET, you do not need a piercing beam that will look brilliant but rather spooky when it bounces off the trees.
More lumens means less run-time. And when you’re miles from the nearest convenience store, making your batteries last as long as possible could be a lifesaver.
A traditional style of flashlight may not even be needed. High-powered but small ‘wearable’ lamps could well be the way to go. The obvious option is the headlamp, but you could even go for models you carry on your wrist or even on a lanyard.
The E-SMART Super Bright Wrist LED shown here is a good option, but there are also models with built-in watches and compasses, or with the flashlight concealed within fingerless gloves.