If you’ve recently started camping, one of the first items on your shopping list was most likely lighting. Similar to the warning from Mufasa to young Simba in The Lion King, one needs to remain near a light source – especially when wild camping in the bush. The absence of light can sometimes be both dangerous and annoying. Anton Willemse Jnr takes a look at a few of the leading lighting solutions on the market.
Lighting is a significant part of your camping arsenal. Trust me, it’s no fun wandering around in the dark when preparing food, going to the loo, or repairing something. So, what light sources do you need when you go camping? Well, for me, lighting solutions fall into three segments: ambient lighting, work lighting and personal lighting.
Setting the mood
Ambient lighting can be crucial, not only for setting the mood but also for practicality. Ambient lighting also acts as area lighting for your campsite, increasing your light ring and in doing so deterring some of the local wildlife. So, what options do you have for ambient lighting? Most overlanders who have been at it for a long time will probably install ambient lighting on their rig, probably connected to an expensive dual battery system. As a result, it’s not entirely attainable for first-time campers and overlanders. However, there are some cost-effective and practical alternatives, such as the Energizer Vision Recharge Lantern. This lantern can easily light up an entire tent or caravan, thanks to a light output of 1 000 lumens. The Energizer is also available in two configurations – one that operates with AA batteries and a rechargeable option. The latter also acts as a power bank, which comes in quite handy to keep those cell phones charged to capture the perfect Instagram moments when on safari!
Another practical ambient lighting option from Vermont Sales is the Camping LED Light Bulb from Tork Craft. This little light bulb can emit a decent amount of light at 60 lumens. It has a hook and uses three AAA batteries. It is also fairly inexpensive at R86.54 per bulb (batteries excluded) and as such, you can buy a few of them and use them all over the camp. We have found them quite perfect as tent lighting for the younger kids.
Follow the light
Getting up close and personal with nature is a big part of why we love ecotourism, wild camping and overlanding. That said, some people would like to keep their wildlife encounters at a minimum, especially when heading up a dark gravel path at night.
What is the solution? A powerful personal light, either as a handheld or a headlamp. Personally, I prefer handheld torches for personal lighting. My weapon of choice is the Energizer Tactical Rechargeable Torch. This powerful handheld allows you to spot wildlife from afar thanks to a series of LED bulbs emitting a powerful ray of 1 200 lumens. While it doesn’t have an adjustable lens, I do feel that the beam – while fairly concentrated – gives a decent spread. Like the Vision lantern, the Tactical torch is (as suggested by the name), fully rechargeable and like its lantern cousin, it also doubles as a portable power supply. If you want something with a bit more power, you can always opt for the Energizer Vision HD Metal. This chrome plated flashlight emits a powerful 2 000 lumen ray. However, that powerful ray comes at a cost, because this flashlight isn’t rechargeable and requires nine AA batteries (sold with the torch but be sure to pack spares!).
One of the critical benefits of a handheld light is that it gives you more control of the light source, so you can be more considerate of wildlife and fellow campers. However, it means you are basically one-handed. This generally is not an issue, except in cases where you have to braai or when you must set up camp in the pitch black. In both of these cases, you need both your hands, and that’s where a headlamp comes in handy. Energizer has a few headlamps on offer with their starting – and probably most popular – range being the battery-operated Vision HD Range. You have a choice of four headlamps within this range, all with the same design but different emittance strengths, ranging from 200 to 400 lumens. Energizer also has a rechargeable variant, the Vision Ultra HD, which has a similar design to the Vision HD range, boasting a light output of 400 lumens.
A good work light is essential when venturing out in the bush. We as adventurers and overlanders are bound to have a issues on the road, and when it rains, it pours, so chances are that if you run into vehicle trouble, it will be at night.
Most of the lights I have already mentioned can act as work/safety lights. The lantern, for example, can strobe or give out a red light which then acts as a caution sign should you be stranded by the side of the road. The headlamp allows your hands to be free, so you can attend to any issue with maximum comfort. In addition to the mentioned lighting solutions, Energizer has a dedicated work light. The Energizer Fusion Spot and Work Light is a rechargeable work light that emits 300 lumens. Its compact and slender design allows you to use it in some hard-to-reach places. All and all, a good work light can make the unpleasant experience of breaking down at night a less stressful endeavour.a In conclusion, having the correct light sources for the right situations can make or break your camping experience. After all, nobody likes being kept in the dark.