A flashlight might seem very inconsequential if you are new to the camping world, but every camper worth his salt knows how important flashlights are. You never know when you might need a flashlight when you are out in the woods, without a single source of light to illuminate your surroundings.
That’s why it’s important to have a camping flashlight ready in your RV cabinet. Here’s what you need to know when you are choosing a flashlight for camping.
Here are a few specs you should keep in mind while choosing the flashlight of your choice, depending on your budget:
Light output of flashlight
Light output of the flashlight is measured in lumens, which is a measure of the intensity of the light coming out of the flashlight, on the highest brightness setting powered by new batteries. Though this is an important point of comparison, it can’t be used to judge brightness. Flashlights can range from 20 lumens, which is bright enough to read a book, as compared to a 3500 lumens, which is the brightness you would need when you want to go to the outhouse to pee in the middle of the night.
Beam distance of the flashlight
This feature is measured in meters, and is a measure of how far the light will shine before the brightness diminishes to the equivalent of the light from a full moon.
Full moon illumination is what is needed for safe travels outdoors to an area that is completely pitch dark.
Run time of the flashlight
The run time of the flashlight is measured in hours, and gives you the approximate time when the light output will drop to 10% on new batteries, or on full charging. This may gradually decrease over time or may largely remain constant. Runtime is different for each setting.
Impact resistance of a flashlight
This is measured in meters, and is measured when lights are tested by dropping them 6 times onto concrete at the rated distance. This test is primarily to ensure the light remains functional after occasional accidental drops.
Water resistance of the flashlight
Water resistance is measured using the IPX system, and is important if you are using the light in rain or around bodies of water.
- IPX4 rating means it is splash resistant from all angles after an impact test.
- IPX7 rating means it’s safe if it is subjected to temporary immersion. Up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1m.
- IPX8 rating means it is safe for full submersion up to 4 hours at the specified depth.
Additional features and functions
Here are some other flashlight specs that might affect your flashlight selection:
Advancements in LED technology has meant that they are the most widely used types.
Flood light: Your flashlight will have a single beam width.
Sport light: A single beam condensed into a spotlight to penetrate a long-distance, best for when you need to find your way.
Adjustable: Beam width ranges from wide to focused or any point in-between.
Regulated: Lights with a regulated power supply maintain a steady, and near-peak brightness level throughout most of the batteries’ life cycle. Near the end, light output drops off and unregulated lights start bright then progressively grow dimmer as they drain power from the batteries.
Types of batteries in a flashlight:
Disposable batteries: The most common battery sizes like AAA or AA are used in flashlights, which give a higher voltage output for a smaller size and weight, making it possible for a brighter and lighter package. Flashlights that use D cells are available if you want a baton-sized tool for security.
Rechargeable: Built-in lithium-ion batteries can be recharged through a USB connector. Though there is a higher upfront cost, the ongoing cost of it is lower.
Renewable: Flashlights with a built-in battery can be energized by solar panel or a hand panel are also a great option.
Caution: Do not use lithium or lithium-ion batteries with any flashlight unless recommended by the manufacturer. You risk damaging a light by mismatching it with lithium batteries.
Modes of a flashlight:
While a single mode setting is sufficient for most general purpose use, a few models offer 2 or more modes like low, medium, high and boost. You may rarely use more than one mode, but it’s nice to have an extra-strong beam just in case when you are stuck in the pitch dark in nature. A few models offer special modes like a strobe or SOS feature.
A flashlight typically has an on/off switch and lighting mode switches which are important for some users. These push buttons and sliders are typically thumb operated, and a rotating bezel can also serve as a switch, but it might require 2 hands to operate.
Materials and Shape
Flashlight bodies are made of either plastic or aluminum alloys, which feature stainless steel in the head of the flashlight for extra impact resistance.
Most flashlights are of a cylindrical shape, while some special camping flashlights are modified to resist rolling.
Conclusion: The perfect flashlight or headlamp for your needs largely depends on your preference of what features you want in your flashlight, and once you have figured that out, you can zero in on the model you want, and it’s a match!