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Lights for Tripping

Apr 27, 2020
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Rochester NY
Hello all,

I have a question on lights used on your trips. This is another item that I have too many of, but can't seem to to find the perfect balance.

I have been bringing 4 - a Petzle headlamp, a Black Diamond that I hang from the ridge of my tarp, a mini Mag Lite as a back-up, and a Luci light that resides in my backgammon board.

I rarely use the Luci anymore. Nothing against it - just never reach for it so I'll probably start leaving that home.

Curious as to the set up you guys use for, say a portage trip. The Petzle is fine. How do you illuminate under your tarp? Do you bring a separate light source or use your headlamp? If you do use a separate source please let me know what it is - I need to upgrade. How many of you bring 2 headlamps for redundancy's sake?

I keep going back and forth on those candle lanterns. I like the old world feel of them, but how well do they work?

I have an old Optimus lantern that I have not used in years - it looked good next to the Svea stove and Palco canteen. This is way back and I think I am missing a part. If anyone wants it I am more then happy to send it to you free of charge, assuming Chick hasn't tossed it.

So for portage trips, how do you light up your life?
I bring two headlamps, which I can hang under a tarp, from a branch or in my tent, plus always using one for reading at bedtime. Since I often fall asleep reading while the light is on, I have to bring plenty of fresh batteries.

I realized I don't have much use for handheld flashlights, and don't care for a candle flame inside my tent.

I bought two Luci lights on sale a couple of years ago, but have never tripped with them and probably won't. Don't really care for the unfocused, shadowy light they throw, and I find solar charging to be an unreliable hassle. I'd rather carry AAA batteries.
Candle Lanterns are better than Luci for warming and taking the damp off the inside of a chill tent. That said I dislike them and carry one Luci. There are an awful lot of Luci models out there. Make sure you get the Luci you dream of. They take up zero space. Headlamps x 2. I find some of the latest headlamps annoying as I cannot remember how to turn them off and on.. lock and unlock red and clear.. And I brought the directions which promptly got damp! Its been a long time since I wore a mini Maglite.. I used to have one in my EMS holster for patient evaluation. The rig had a five D cell one which once came in handy with a violent patient who was choking me.. Knee rap.
I like to use two black diamond headlamps one in the 600lm range and another in the 300lm range. Also use their Moji lights. Love them for around the camp. The headlamps and the Moji all take AAA batteries. This year for Christmas my wife picked me up one of their Apollo Lanterns. I've used it a couple times and like it so far. One feature I like about all of them is you can dim them down to a level that is comfortable late at night or early morning. Run time for all of them are pretty good also.
I like the UCO candle lantern for hanging on a tarp line or tree as a secondary light around camp as to not trip on guy lines, tree roots, etc. I primarily use an old style oil lamp with a plastic globe. I like the light they cast, it’s bright enough to read by, and silent. I carry the oil (4 or 5oz for 3-4 nights) in a Nalgene. A bit heavier and bulkier than some options, but I stay up late occasionally and sometimes I want more light than just a fire.

I use a Luci light or flashlight in my tent, but I don’t care for the LED color temperature- too harsh for any amount of time.

I dislike gas lanterns- way too noisy.

I bring two Black Diamond headlamps, with rechargeable batteries. One BD Apollo lantern, which has been nothing but trouble for me, and this is my third warranty on it. UCO candle lantern with the reflector and sometimes a Luci inflatable solar light. I may end up trying out the Goal Zero lighthouse or the Luminaid
I bring a head lamp and spare AAAs. That gets used for task work like cooking, tent set up, and nav if you have to paddle or walk in the dark.

I carry two Luci lights, which have replaced candle lanterns in my pack. The lanterns and spare candles were far heavier and didn’t provide as much light. I did like the ability to burn citronella candles to minimize bugs in the tent, but fire was always a risk. Now, one Luci gets hung in the tent and one goes on the table or tarp if erected. I can read by the Luci And love not having to worry about spare batteries. The Luci lights go on top of the packs for recharge while paddling, but I think they’d last for several nights without recharge. Using them, I can minimize use of the head lamp which extends their battery life.

True, the Luci casts a different hue of light, just as many LED bulbs do. I’ve gotten used to it, and now older incandescent lights, to me, cast a reddish brown light. I think it’s all what you’re used to.
Two Petzl Zipkas has been enough for me so far. I am thinking about an indirect light for the tent this fall though. The stove puts out enough light after the temps drop, so it's really just a few weeks that I need something else at my latitude.
What happens to the Apollo? I have not used mine that much yet.
I think I’m just cursed. They tend to stop working for me, even with batteries. I’ll usually charge the batteries before a trip, Eneloop pro, and day two, it’s usually dead. The very first one I had, a few years ago, worked great but then I accidentally broke it while camping. The more recent models I’ve had have failed to impress me.

It’s a great lantern, when it works
I still carry a 2xAA LED Maglite, although I've been reconsidering it. The LED Maglites don't like rechargeable batteries, likely due to the lower voltage. That said, they're bombproof and waterproof, and can be turned into a standing lantern in a pinch, or hung from the top of a tent without the reflector as a decent lantern. Without the screwtop, they're very effective for area lighting. I have one with four settings - full power, ¼ power, flash, and SOS. I never use the latter two, but the option of either full or ¼, coupled with taking off the parabolic reflector, makes it great for hanging in a tent. And, you can buy red lens caps for them, if you need to subdue the light. Handhelds are also great for illuminating unwelcome four-legged visitors.

Then I have a headlamp also with the full or ¼ power settings, and a red setting as well, for those moonless overcast nights. Add in an isobutane, 200g lantern, and my lighting needs are pretty well met. I still have a Coleman double mantle naptha lantern for base camping trips. I still love the light that thing produces (not so much the moths it attracts), and there's something to be said for the old school feel and reliability of a liquid fuel lantern with a century of development behind it.

But what I'd really like to do is eliminate AA and AAA batteries entirely, and move to USB rechargeable lighting and lithium batteries (with no dongles aside from a charging cable), along with a good quality battery bank or two. It's part of my effort to reduce the number of energy sources I carry. I've done quite well with eliminating propane, and seriously cutting back on isobutane. Reducing further to a single battery technology is another challenge.

But dagnabit, my Thermacell runs on isobutane. Not sure if I'm willing to give that one up.
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My headlamp (Princeton Tec) and 2-cell handhelds (Surefire) both run on CR123 primary lithiums. I also have a little Streamlight that runs on a single AAA. My Garmin GPS uses AA. Alkalines are the enemy; they just leak and kill things. I’d be willing to use rechargeables but so many electronic things won’t accept them. And I’ve managed to stay out of that rabbit hole on CandlePowerForums. It would be worth consolidating battery types.
Great responses!

I do see where the redundancy off 2 headlamps makes sense. I have 2 headlamps, and my Black Diamond for the tarp has been bulletproof, so I'll leave the Luci and the Maglite home.

Thank you all!
I just carry a spare battery for my Fenix and the Lucis are light, but I don't bring them until this time of year when it gets dark early
I don't take a light with me. They are not needed in Alaska in the summer.
Hah. I spent a week in Iqaluit many moons ago, in winter. We needed a lot of light.
That is why I specified summer. With the sun setting around midnight and rising around 3 am, it just doesn't get dark enough to need light in the summer.