Camping is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re camping with a four-legged companion, friends, family, or just by yourself, it’s always a fulfilling way to spend a long weekend.
Camping is especially amazing at night. You’ve settled in with a hot mug of cocoa next to the fire, the stars are in full display in the night sky, and you’re relaxing comfortably for the rest of the night. Fast forward a few hours later and the fire has gone out, the woods are pitch black around you, and you realize that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to drink a full cup of cocoa right before bed.
The last thing you need is to be stumbling around in the dark looking for a place to go pee. This is when you’re going to want to have a good flashlight on hand.
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What is a camping flashlight?
A camping flashlight operates in the same way a normal flashlight does. In the simplest of terms, it lights the way. However, because camping flashlights are often used in the wilderness where there is little to no auxiliary lighting to guide the way, many campers expect more out of their flashlights than the average flashlight user.
After all, stumbling in the pitch black forest in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night is not a good way to spend a weekend in the woods.
Benefits of a Camping Flashlight
Camping flashlights are absolutely essential when out in the wilderness. Venturing out into the woods without a light is not only inconvenient, but it is also dangerous and potentially deadly. A sprained ankle that would just be a quick visit to the ER in the city can be a death sentence in the middle of nowhere.
1. Prevent falls and accidents
It’s easy to get hurt in the wilderness, especially if you’re hiking or walking in the dark. A camping flashlight helps to illuminate loose rocks, gnarled roots, and other objects that would otherwise cause an accident or inadvertent trip.
2. Provide safety when it’s dark
Most camping flashlights are made from aircraft grade aluminum, which is highly resistant to impact. This makes them a great self-defense weapon in case of an unfortunate encounter. In addition, shining a bright light into an animal or attackers eyes in the dark is a great way to disorient them and give you time to get the hell out of there.
3. Save the battery life on your phone
Phones have become a standard for nearly everyone on the planet. Your phone has a variety of uses: making phone calls, taking pictures, and a GPS. Why waste the battery using it as a flashlight? Bringing along a dedicated camp flashlight will help save your phone battery and the light on a flashlight kinda sucks anyway.
4. Proper tool for the proper job
There’s the old saying, “Use the proper tool for the proper job.” A flashlight can be carried in your hand, backpack, clipped to your bag, and some even come with a belt clip. Most importantly, a flashlight is meant to light your way and is the strongest source of light on dark nights around the campsite.
5. Provide a beacon in emergency situations
Getting lost in the wilderness is no joke. On a dark night, the human eye can see a candle flickering from 30 miles away (source). You can use your flashlight as a signal if you get lost or separated from your group in an emergency situation, in other words, it can save your life.
What to look for in the best camping flashlight
When shopping for a new camp flashlight, there are several factors to account for that will decide how well your flashlight works in different situations. Take a close look at the features and make sure that you’re choice meets every one of your personal requirements.
Light output is measured in lumens. It is the intensity of the light emitted from the flashlight on the highest settings with brand new batteries. Light output can range anywhere from 10 lumens to 3500 lumens, and the higher the lumen output the more powerful the flashlight is.
Lumens are the unit of measurement used to indicate the intensity and brightness that a flashlight produces (source). The more Lumens a flashlight has the brighter the flashlight is going to be.
Lumens are to light, as…
- Pounds are to steel
- Liters are to water
Beam distance is the distance a light will shine, calculated in meters before it diminishes to the light of a full moon. Because it is considered safe to travel by the light of a full moon, flashlight efficiency is judged comparatively. Beam distance is an important factor, imagine a flashlight that only lights up 3 feet in front of you, it’s basically worthless.
Water resistance is typically measured by the IPX system, which has 8 different ratings.
- IPX1: This indicates that dripping water won’t harm the flashlight.
- IPX2: This indicates that dripping water won’t harm the flashlight even when tilted at 15°.
- IPX3: This indicates water falling as a spray won’t harm the flashlight.
- IPX4: This indicates the flashlight is splash resistant from all angles.
- IPX5: This indicates the flashlight won’t be harmed by water projected by a nozzle.
- IPX6: This indicates the flashlight won’t be harmed by water expelled from a jet.
- IPX7: This indicates the flashlight can be immersed up to 1m for up to 30 minutes.
- IPX8: This indicates the flashlight can be continuously immersed in liquid.
This is the measure of how many times you can drop the flashlight before it stops working. They basically drop the flashlight from a distance (measured in meters) 6 times and see how many drops it takes to break. You end up with the impact resistance rating of something like 2 meters, or the furthest distance it can withstand 6 drops.
It’s important to consider your needs when choosing what size flashlight you want. Smaller flashlights will typically last longer because they need less power and they are easier to pack with you. However, larger flashlights tend to give off more powerful light beams, however, they are more cumbersome to take with you.
Flashlights typically tend to come in either aluminum or plastic casing. Plastic flashlights tend to be lighter, but are also less durable. Aluminum flashlights are impact resistant and tend to be heavier and more durable than their plastic counterparts.
LED flashlights are the most popular flashlights for outdoor enthusiasts, they offer more light for a longer time with less power consumption. In the past LED lights were significantly more expensive than a standard bulb, however, as technology has advanced the price has become on par with incandescent bulbs.
Flashlights with rechargeable batteries are desirable because they save money in the long run. Instead of buying new batteries when your flashlight dies, you can simply plug the flashlight into a charger. A portable charger is a good idea to carry with you anytime that you have electronics charge and no outlets in the area.
The Best 5 Camping Flashlights
The best camping flashlight will contain a well-rounded balance all of the features listed above. Here are our picks for the top 5 best camping flashlights.
GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000
- 10 times brighter than incandescent lights
- Can be used with rechargeable or disposable batteries
- Water resistance means it can be temporarily submerged in water
- Comes with 2 flashlights and 2 bonus cases
The Gearlight LED S1000 is a durable handheld flashlight made of military grade aluminum. It’s built to last, featuring water resistance, a fall rating of 10 feet, and an anti-slip aluminum grip.
This flashlight offers an exceptional value at an affordable price. The S1000 can illuminate objects up to 1,000 feet away and comes with 5 different settings for every situation. It also a wide to narrow beam zoom, meaning you’ll be able to illuminate your surroundings easily.
The GearLight S1000 is a great flashlight for the camper on a budget. It’s accessible price and great value makes it a useful addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s pack.
- Flashlight lens can’t be removed
- Switch fails
- You’ll need to switch out the initial bulb for best results
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Outlite A100 Portable Ultra Bright Handheld LED Flashlight
- Long-range observation up to 600 feet
- Skid-proof and water resistant
- Can be used with disposable or rechargeable batteries
- Features 5 light modes
The Outlite A100 is a neat little flashlight that won’t leave you in the dark! It features an intense spotlight mode for long-range observation while it’s circle floodlight is made specifically to illuminate large areas.
Designed to last long, the Outlite A100 features a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours and is designed from high-quality aluminum alloy, meaning it can handle whatever life throws at it! The flashlight is also water resistant, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally dropping it in water.
In the event of an emergency, this is a great flashlight to have. The long-range observation mode makes you visible up to 600 feet and it also has a strobe and SOS mode.
- Several different modes to choose from
- Batteries not included
- Insides can rattle
- Consumes a lot of power
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Anker Super Bright Tactical Flashlight
- 900 lumen output
- Up to 6 hours of continuous output
- 5 adaptable settings
- Worry-free 18-month warranty
The Anker Super-Bright is sure to illuminate the way with its impressive 900 lumens capacity. It offers a wide range illumination of over 660 feet and can shine up to 1000 feet, the length of over 3 football fields!
Made from durable aluminum alloy, the Anker Ultra-Bright has an IP65-rated water resistant, meaning it is designed for use in heavy rain. Couple that with its shock resistant handling and you’ve got a flashlight that’s built to last!
The flashlight features an easy screw-in design that makes swapping out different parts and batteries a piece of cake! It comes with a rechargeable battery, micro USB cable, and wrist strap.
- Wide-range and long-range illumination
- IPX65 rating
- Rechargeable battery
- High price point
- Only features 1 button
- The switch has to be removed to charge the battery
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Soonfire Ultra-Bright Tactical Flashlight with 18650
- Direct charge design
- 1050 lumen output
- A lifespan of 50,000 hours
- 5 brightness settings and 2 flash modes
The Soonfire Ultra-Bright is a heavy-duty flashlight that’s designed to handle rough situations. Featuring an IPX8 rating, the flashlight is submersible up to 2m and its aluminum alloy build makes it shock and impact resistant.
When it comes to features, this flashlight does not skimp. It utilizes a separate on/off switch and power mode toggle for ease of use and also offers 5 brightness settings in addition to 2 flash modes.
The Soonfire Ultra-Bright comes with extra goodies as well, including a spare O-ring, holster, lanyard, rechargeable battery, and pocket clip.
- Easy-to-use design
- Extra accessories
- Fixed beam
- No wall adapter
- Higher price point
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BYB F18 LED Tactical Flashlight (Rechargeable)
- 800 lumen output
- IPX6 rating
- 5 modes
- 18-month worry-free warranty
The BYB rechargeable flashlight is a great option for the casual camper or EDC enthusiast! Featuring a sleek, futuristic design, this flashlight is a stylish accessory and offers a good value for its low price point.
With an IPX6 rating, the flashlight is fairly durable and should be able to withstand most trials on the trail. Its military-grade aluminum alloy body makes it impact and scratch resistant and the battery offers up to 60 hours of continuous brightness, meaning the BYB rechargeable flashlight will last you a quite a while.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to conserve your battery, it also offers a battery-conserving ultra-low beam along with its regular standard high, medium, and low modes!
- Stylish design
- Long battery life
- Detachable pocket clip
- Low lumen output when compared to similar flashlights
- There’s only one button, so you’ll need to cycle through modes
- The off button is not instant
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