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Have you ever been stuck in the woods with a flashlight full of dead batteries?
It's the kind of mistake you only make once. 

 Spare batteries should always be on your packing list, and it's smart to bring some sort of backup light source, too, such as a candle.

There are a number of backcountry lighting options available today, each with pros and cons.
Here are some tips to decide which is best for you. 

Headlamp:

NO, No, No, No, NO!
NOT your car headlamps!!!!!

Were talking about a lamp that straps over your head!

I like my hands free to stir the soup, turn the page or pitch the tent, this is my favorite option.
Just pull the straps over your head and make like a lighthouse  -
 the beam follows your every gaze. 

Many headlamps have adjustable beams so you can either pinpoint the light or open it up for a wider range of coverage. Most headlamps run on AA batteries. You'll find ultralight options that use two, or, for heavier and brighter beams, four batteries.

No matter which type you choose, look for a secure on/off switch, so the light doesn't accidentally switch on inside your pack.

Flashlight:

 Here's an economical option for folks who don't mind sacrificing a hand to hold their light.

Flashlights come in all shapes and sizes, from marker-size lights to jumbo night watchman-style beams. Most backpackers find the minilights sufficient and much easier to pack.

Many flashlight users clamp their light between their teeth to get the hands-free headlamp effect. If the thought of cold metal in your mouth gives you goose bumps, try wrapping the end of your light in duct tape. Also, you can buy straps that let you lash the light to your head for the headlamp effect, or you can rig one up with a headband and some clever stitching.

Glow-Sticks

You may find glow-sticks a useful source of gentle lighting. They can be hung inside your tent or could be used as a night light for your child - and of course, they don't use up batteries!

Lantern:

 For illuminating a large area such as a campsite or kitchen area, nothing beats a gas lantern, which gives off a warm, wide pool of light.

Lanterns come in a variety of sizes and run on gas cartridges that let you stand them upright or hang them overhead.

Gas lanterns work best in warmer temperatures, and they require a bit of extra care. For instance, you have to keep the mantle intact and take care to pack the lantern so as not to break the glass globe, but many mini-lanterns come with padded cases that do the trick.
 (Note: If you use a gas-canister stove, be sure to get a gas lantern that operates on the same type of canister so you don't have to pack two types.)

Coleman rechargeable battery twin florescent
great for in the tent 

Coleman propane electronic ignition (no matches needed)

Coleman propane dual mantle (needs matches)

Coleman fuel (dual mantle)
Don't forget the funnel to fill this one!

Depending on your lantern don't forget the . . .

recharger

Propane fuel

a bulk propane tank.
 The initial investment in the tank itself and first fill was about $28. To refill our 20 lb. tank costs $8.00. A bulk tank also requires a pipe and hose. One 1# cylinder of propane costs about $2 ($1.87) in our area. Doing your math, it would cost $40 to fill the 20 lb. tank at the roughly $2.00/lb. price. A significant savings! For weekend camping our personal opinion is the bulk tank is a hassle, but for anything longer than a weekend it would be worth it!

Coleman fuel

and funnel

mantles
there are even "clip on" style mantles out now 

Repairing gas mantles

Fitting a gas mantle is often a fiddly job and one that requires care to get a satisfactory and safe result.

Gas mantles, cloth type.

Some makes of mantles have a large and a small hole. They are normally color coded. Check the instructions for specific details. Some are identical size holes. They are made of a silk like material and can be handled quite readily.

When should you replace a mantle?
 When a hole appears in the side, this produces a flame and if left will become larger and can break the glass. It is also inefficient and reduces the brightness of the lamp.

Remove the glass carefully (make sure it is cool) and remove any parts of the old mantle. This may be a good time to clean the jet. Place the mantle over the top of the stem and firmly pull down easing the lower hole until it sits in the lower rim. Be careful not to puncture the mantle on the stem or to pull the hole to hard so as to rip it. Now pull the upper hole over the top rim. Fluff out the mantle so it is ball shaped.

No matter how many times you do this, some time it will go wrong. Keep plenty of spare mantles with you. If you have never done one before, practice before going to camp.

Now is the time to light the mantle. 
Use a match, it is a soft flame. Hold under the mantle all around and the mantle will smolder. Allow it to smolder all the way to the top. You can now turn the gas on, but be gentle; too much will blow the mantle to pieces, it can become quite fragile.

Ignite the gas and the mantle will glow and shrink into a regular shape. Once it has you can turn the gas up, having replaced the glass, and the job is complete. Do not touch the mantle at any time as it will disintegrate to dust.

Gas mantles which are complete on a porcelain base.

These are simpler to fit but great care is needed. Remove the glass and old mantle. Remove from the box having read which end to open first. The box will normally open completely to a flat sheet with a slot holding the hard ring. The mantle part is fragile, do not touch. Taking hold of the ring fit it by inserting into a slot and twisting into position. The lantern is now ready for use.

General notes

Do not use lanterns with damaged glasses, they can easy shatter and cause serious injury.

For information on safety with gas, click here.

 

Matches
We use the Clicker Fire Starters you can buy anywhere for a buck.

Lantern Case
This is a MUST to avoid breaking glass

Dependable flashlight(s)
A 4 cell Mag light. Worth every penny of the $20.
The Black & Decker Snake Light to be absolutely indispensable! You can find them on sale; I'm even starting to find 'generic' snake lights on sale.  Snake lights hang around your neck, freeing both hands for whatever task your doing. They also can be coiled so they stand up like a desk lamp, for reading etc.

Lantern tree hanger

Click photo for enlarged image

A long chain (with a big stable hook) that wraps around a tree. Here you can hang your lantern out of reach from your little ones. No worry about a child tipping the lantern over or burning themselves. This added height also increases the light your lantern will give off.
This also saves the trees.
Sadly, many campers still pound nails into trees to hang their lanterns. 
This causes damage to the tree, and the tree will die.

 I've also seen Shepard's hooks used to hang lanterns. 

Candle lantern:

There's no simpler way to light up your life than a little candle lantern.

They provide warmth, a romantic ambience, and you can rest easy knowing that you're not contributing to landfill problems with batteries and empty gas cartridges.

You can find candle lanterns in tiny votive sizes, all the way up to a three-candle unit, which is great for car camping or paddling trips.

If you opt for a candle lantern, spend the extra few bucks on a padded case to protect the glass globe while it's inside your pack.


The original candle lantern.

A safe and dependable light source for hiking, camping and your home emergency kit. This value pack contains a candle lantern and 3 extra candles packed together in a handy, protective fleece pouch.

- Each candle burns approximately 9 hours.

- Unique spring-loaded candle assembly and dripless candle burns at consistant flame height.

- Glass chimney protects flame from wind/rain. 

- Wire bail allows candle to be hung from attached hook/chain (included).

Approx. Price: $19.95 

 

COMPANY ADDRESSES
Do you need an address or phone number for an outdoor gear company?
Here is a listing of a contact information for some of the major gear companies.

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