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Headlamps, Torches and Lanterns
When embarking on your next adventure race, night hike, overseas trip, or camping holiday with friends and family, lighting should be an essential part of your equipment list.
Whether you need a headlamp to light up the trail, find check-points, or work hands-free in the dark; Or a torch to search for some gear at night in your tent and help find your way to a midnight toilet stop; Or a lantern for a more luminous light source to light up your camp and cooking area, you should consider your lighting requirements for your after-dark activity and ensure you always pack the lighting that you need. It can be as simple as having a reliable light source for emergencies to give you peace of mind in case one day you may need it.
Choosing the correct light for your needs:
Before you leave on your big adventure is the best time to plan and choose the right lights to suit your needs. Most trekkers and bushwalkers will carry either a small personal torch or headlamp. But when a larger group decides to go car camping they normally prefer lighting from a source like a lantern to light up eating areas and the camp site.
Torches that are battery powered are a very common light that is used in the bush as they can be high powered, compact, easy to use, and lightweight. Most will normally have a focused beam so you can direct the light exactly where it is needed. Things to consider when buying your torch are brightness, functions, and durability. Brightness is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens, the greater the brightness. A general purpose torch will generally be between 100 and 400 lumens. The output for high powered torches is between 400 and 1000 lumens, with ultra high performance torches rated in the 1000's of lumens. Functions are another option that you may like to consider when purchasing your torch. Does it have various brightness levels to conserve battery life, and if required, does it have a strobe light for emergencies or to use as a guide in darkness. And depending on the environment, how durable to you need your torch to be? Is it waterproof? Is it impact resistant? Choosing the right torch for your needs will give you hours of the right type of light when you need most.
The best thing about headlamps is that they free up both of your hands. Whether your gripping hiking poles, reading maps, climbing, fishing, riding, cooking, reading, searching for something in your backpack or tent, or simply getting around the camp site after dark. They usually have an elastic strap that goes around your head to keep them in place and come in a multiple of different options with some great functionality. From reactive lighting that automatically adapts the brightness to your needs, to infra-red modes that are ideal for situations where you are switching between darkness and low light requirements. Headlamps today are also extremely durable with many models being both waterproof and shock resistant. Choose the right headlamp and it will become your best friend every time you need to light up the dark.
Lanterns are made to illuminate large areas and are great for more social campsites with more people so that everyone can see what they are doing whether it is cooking together or just socialising. There are different kinds of lanterns, some are gas powered, some are re-chargeable, and others are battery powered. Many re-chargeable and battery powered lanterns these days are dual purpose giving you the flexibility to use the lantern as either a broad light source, or an overhead light source in your car or tent. Some include built in torches that can be used independent of the lamp itself. When choosing the right lamp for your next trip, think about your needs, weigh up the options, and take a close look at all the different functions each lantern offers.
Choosing the right lighting source
When selecting the correct light for your trip you should ask yourself some questions to help narrow down the best lighting source for your needs.
In most scenarios you will find people like having a lantern for general chores around the campsite and also having a headlamp or torch for sorting out gear in the tent, walking at night or reading in the tent. Because of its versatility, a head torch is a far superior option, if not indispensable. Finally, the best tip to remember when you pack for your next adventure is to always carry a fresh pack of spare batteries, and a spare bulb, and even a back up torch... just in case.