The new generation of LED lights resolves many of the 'inconveniences' of typical camping lights. In the past five years, there have been huge leaps forward in the development of usable LED lighting. Just a few short years ago, LED lights were considered almost too dim for regular use, their manufacturing process was too expensive for everyday purposes. These days, LEDs can emit the full spectrum of light, mimicking daylight through twilight. Combined with the decreasing size and ease of use of computer chips, developers of LED lights have created lights that remain bright far beyond the lifespan of either incandescent or fluorescent lights, can be set to dim for use as a nightlight, or bright to illuminate your entire campsite at night.
Why Should You Choose LED Lights for Camping?
LED lights have numerous advantages over nearly every other type of camping lantern manufactured. In a nutshell, LED lights are:
LED lights are designed for harsh environments. In experiments using LED flashlights (torches) for instance, every single one of the LED models tested survived a drop from four feet - about the average drop if you knock it off the edge of a table - without even going dim. They withstand temperatures from -40 to 82 degrees Celsius (that's 175 degrees Fahrenheit, for those keeping track). Bump them around, toss them in the trunk, knock them off the table, drop them down the canyon - they'll still work. Try that with a typical torch or halogen lantern.
If you've been on the wrong end of a flashlight with dying batteries, you'll really appreciate the fact that LED lights can run for up to 60 hours continuously on one set of batteries. Even better, many models are solar powered - they'll run all night on a charge from a few hours worth of sunlight. And a the newest white LED bulbs have a standard life of about 500 hours - which means that you'll still get 90% of the original light output after 500 hours. Unlike traditional bulbs, they don't just burn out - they just gradually get a little dimmer, but continue working.
LED lights burn 'cool', making them safe for use in a tent or other enclosed space. Unlike fuel lanterns, they don't present a safety hazard, and don't depend on your carrying flammable fuel along with you.
The traditional argument against LED lights was that they were too dim for everyday or even emergency use. That's no longer true. The newest white LED lights are 60 times brighter than standard LED lights, and many lamps are capable of producing near daylight intensity and spectrum light.
LED lights can be used in a wide variety of types of lights and lanterns. From a tiny emergency light small enough to be carried on your keychain to full-size lanterns that can illuminate your entire campsite, you'll find LED lights that fit any need. Among the best picks for LED lights to take with you on a camping trip are:
- LED lantern for night time lighting. Choose one that can sit on a table OR hang from a branch or wire for maximum flexibility. Most are dimmable to serve as a nightlight.
- LED flashlight, either solar or battery operated to light your way when you're out in the woods looking for the outhouse.
- LED emergency flashers or flares are an excellent idea for safety. LED lights can offer maximum brightness at weights under a pound.
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