Choosing the right torch for camping

If there’s one essential piece of equipment you will need as the sun sets it’s a camping torch. Have you tried a fingertip search in pitch-black darkness for the zip on a sleeping bag that seems to have moved on its own? No? It takes a long time and a quick decline in temperament. Even worse – trying to find the right tent after an indulgent evening at the local pub – awkward!

Camping torches come in all shapes, sizes and with different energy requirements; batteries, solar, gas, fuel and wind-up. Almost all, these days power LED bulbs.

Let's start with the lantern torch, available as a wind-up, with rechargeable batteries, gas or fuel (Coleman, Kerosene and petrol). Obviously the fuel lanterns have challenges of their own partly due to smell and safety factors. The wind up lantern requires a bit of muscle but gives you several hours of constant light, perfect for in-tent dining, reading and card games and outside for relaxed evening socializing. It is also safe, no fire hazard, so a perfect choice for families, some even come with compasses and radio as part of the package.

The traditional gas lanterns are powered by small cartridges of LPG or butane and whilst have a good safety record are not recommended for use inside your tent. Camping lanterns with rechargeable batteries obviously need a power source either on site or from an in car charger. Most batteries will give a light life of approx. 12 to 24 hours so should last for a weekend camp without needing a re-charge.

Head torches are lightweight, practical and take up next to no room in the camping packing. Great for ‘hands free’ searching and walking to the showers but some people find they’re not powerful enough for reading or cooking. Adjustable, elastic head straps and light adjustment make this torch versatile for any member of the family, some even come with a strobe setting – camp fire disco anyone? These are great for children as they won’t drop them and will have great fun playing chase in the dark wearing themselves out so you can have a lie-in. Head torches are also perfect for campers doing climbing or caving as part of their holiday and almost all are waterproof.

Hand held torches for outdoor and camping use start at tiny palm held size torches and go up to large flash lights. Lightweight aluminium or waterproof rubberised coatings and with a robust design these torches are usually the most powerful and tend to be used in conjunction with the head torch. Carry straps and anti-roll features alongside weather and shock resistance make hand held torches ideal for out of season camping or more adventurous locations.

When choosing a light source for your camping trip think about the uses that you want one for, where you’re going and who else will need to operate it. A lot of people find a combination of the above works best and prices are varied suiting all budgets.