Personal Lighting Tools Provide Power Over Darkness.
The dark can be a scary place.
No matter whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman, a veteran of the military or law enforcement, or just an “ordinary Joe”, the darkness can send a chill up and down your spine.
Although the true fear might lie in the darkness being equivalent to the unknown, it doesn’t change the fact that being without light can cause unneeded stress, worry and a serious risk to your security and well-being.
However, a simple and very obvious solution to keep you moving forward is to create your own light, no matter where you are, with portable and powerful lighting gear. From handheld flashlights and pop-up lanterns to pen-sized darkness-piercers, there’s an illuminator that can break through the blackness and enable you to continue on with your important tasks.
For unexpected emergencies, sudden survival situations or just a power outage on your block, personal lighting gear offers more than just a break in the darkness; it provides comfort, peace of mind and safety when the world around fades to black.
You never know when you’ll need a blast of light when you’re at home or out in the wild, and this compact headlight can offer a “brilliant” solution. It operates via either three 5mm LEDs or a focusing Xenon bulb, so you’ll see clearly through the darkness with this useful item secured firmly to your head. With a battery life ranging from 80 hours to a whopping 240 hours (depending on the output level), you can rest assured the darkness will never have the advantage over you!
- Shockproof and shatterproof body
- Water-resistant outer shell
- Requires (3) AAA batteries (not included)
- Includes adjustable head strap
The little adventurer by your side also needs a headlight, and this one fits the bill. The Bug-Eye Kid’s Headlight is designed with oversized, colorful features and built to withstand the punishment that kids can dish out, so your children can enjoy outdoor activities after the sun goes down. It’s uniquely designed to fit securely and comfortably on small children with an adjustable strap and a rounded plastic head. It’s ideal for children 6 years old and older.
- Light output: 18,000 millicandela
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear
- 18-hour battery life
- Robust LEDs won’t break
This amalgamation of a handheld and free-standing flashlight and a headlamp gives you plenty of options for lighting up a dark camp. The Trailfinder features a durable outer shell and a 20-lumen LED light that won’t break the bank. Because of its solid 12-hour battery life, you’ll have plenty of light, whether you’re at home or on an adventure.
- Long, 12-hour runtime
- Comfortable headband
- Pivoting head for multi-directional light
- Requires (1) AA battery (not included)
Go “old school” on your next camping trip with this classic kerosene lantern. This hurricane-style lantern features a real glass globe, classic, brilliant-red color and a tank that holds plenty of fuel for getting through emergencies. The wire handle loop makes both transport and hanging easy, while the adjustable wick allows just the right amount of light for your needs.
- Adjustable wick allows precise flame control
- Fuel reservoir holds up to 8 ounces of kerosene
- Wire-covered glass offers protection and secure fit
- Only 12 inches tall for easy transport and storage
For use during an emergency or a weekend camping trip, this multi-use lantern offers brilliant light for nearly any purpose. The integrated solar panel keeps the batteries charged and ready, while the USB port offers a secondary form of charging when the sun is off-line. The unit easily converts from a lantern to a handheld flashlight within seconds. For camping, unexpected emergencies, on the patio or just trekking through the dark unknown, this lantern is a must-have for everyone.
- 4.2V solar panel recharges batteries
- Six bright, 3-watt LEDs; 1-watt LED torch light
- Durable casing protects from accidental bumps and drops
- Recharges through USB port
- 4-hour runtime
Brighten up any room, tent or bug-out location with this compact, powerful lantern. This little powerhouse allows for dual charging options, either through a USB cable or by utilizing a separate solar panel (not included). The legs fold up and down, and you can switch between 180 and 360 degrees of light to provide just the right amount of illumination for your needs. The built-in charging function keeps your cell phone “juiced up” at all times. The maximum output is 210 lumens (four-hour runtime on 360 degrees), and the maximum runtime is more than 500 hours (lowest output; 180 degrees).
- Adjustable brightness and direction controls
- Two standing heights plus hanger hook and a magnet
- Dimensions: 2.91×4.51 inches
- Built-in USB charging cable
Versatility is the name of the game. The Micro Charge USB Rechargeable Lantern features both a USB input and output port for charging the unit, as well as for charging small electronics. As a result, you’ll be worry-free about dead batteries or walking in the dark. Choose between traditional hand carry or the integrated hanging loop to mount this lantern overhead in a tent or camper. The amount of light output can be adjusted to fit the situation (from 7 to 150 lumens).
- Built-in 120 lumen flashlight
- USB rechargeable with easy-to-read battery indicator
- Waterproof for outdoor use
- Runtime between 7 and 170 hours, based on brightness settings
- Dimensions: 1.5×4.4 inches
- Incredibly lightweight (only 3.07 ounces)
Bring a torch on your next outdoor adventure. This one, however, won’t burn out; it’ll stay bright for hours. It utilizes both a built-in solar panel and USB-C port for recharging, while its durable casing keeps out sand, dust and debris. It’s both waterproof and shockproof and will hold up to many years of repeated or emergency use. Best of all, the Torch 500 keeps your small electronics’ batteries fully charged—no matter where you find yourself in the world.
- Spot and flood lights each have maximum 300-lumen output
- Maximum output for both lights at once: 500 lumens
- Three adjustable light settings
- Ideal to charge a cell phone, tablet and headlamps
Sometimes, you don’t need an oversized light with complicated “bells and whistles.” This flashlight-and-lantern combo performs like a pro while saving you pack space and money. The Pop-Up Lantern with Flashlight offers bright LED light, either handheld or as a lantern, for your tent, camper or bivy and can also withstand rainy weather and bumps along the trail. From “bright” to “low” to an emergency flashing beacon, this little wonder performs big while maintaining a small footprint.
- Lighting modes: Bright, low and flashing
- Dimensions: 3.5×2 inches (collapsed)
- Maximum output: 41 lumens
- Maximum runtime: 3.5 hours
- Requires (3) AA batteries (not included)
“Multifunctional” describes the Emergency LED Flashlight With Glass Breaker. Not only will it light up the trail or a room, the integrated glass breaker can also help you escape from a vehicle. The strobe function can signal for help afterward. The flashlight’s outer casing can withstand rough, wet outdoor conditions—which makes it invaluable during in-the-field adventures while exploring or when hiking into unknown territory. Use the included clip-on lanyard to keep this tool nearby.
- Output modes: bright, low, dim flash and strobe
- Maximum output: 350 lumens
- Maximum runtime: 3.5 hours
- Requires (4) AA batteries (not included)
NDuR LED Headlamp
Hands-free instant light at the push of a button—that’s the convenience of the NDUR headlamp. This compact and comfortable light offers four lighting modes to suit your personal situation: bright, low, red and red/white flashing. Use this convenient headlamp while exploring, trekking back to camp in pitch-black conditions or when working on intricate tasks for which you need to keep both hands free. This headlamp is ideal for your bug-out bag, your vehicle’s glove box or as part of your tool kit.
- Head tilts up to 45 degrees for close and distant use
- Maximum output: 105 lumens
- Maximum runtime: 6 hours
- Powered by (3) AAA batteries (not included)
The Ledlenser MH8 takes headlamps to a new level. It features rechargeable batteries (you can also use disposable AA batteries), a 20- to 600-lumen output, adjustable beam from “spot” to “flood,” a detachable lamp head and additional red, green and blue light options, so you’ll have all your lighting needs covered. It has a transportation lock that prevents accidental activation, as well as a dimmer switch, and the head tilts down to 50 degrees.
- Five lighting functions: power, low, mid, boost and blink
- Maximum runtime: 60 hours
- Charge status and low-battery indicators
- Magnetic battery charging system
Designed with a slim profile and integrated pocket clip, this flashlight can be carried just about everywhere. It produces brilliant light wherever it’s needed. The housing is created from machined aluminum, ensuring long-lasting performance. Slip it inside your shirt pocket, store it inside your emergency kit, or snug it into the MOLLE webbing on your backpack. This light produces big results without question!
- Output: 107 lumens
- Runtime: 4.33 hours
- Water and impact resistant
- Removable pocket clip
- Powered by (2) AAA batteries
Big things come in small packages; the MT10 Flashlight is proof of that. Featuring an incredible 1,000-lumen output, this compact flashlight is both impressive and delivers when it counts. It operates on one rechargeable lithium-ion battery and offers an included USB port that allows you to charge it nearly anywhere. In addition, it has a battery status indicator; it transitions easily from a broad floodlight to a sharply focused long-distance spot; and, best of all, it fits easily into your jacket or pants pocket. It’s compact and lightweight and packs a punch in the lighting department!
- Output: Adjustable from 10 to 1,000 lumens
- Runtime: 6 to 144 hours, depending on the setting
- Visual battery level indicator
- Water resistant
- Includes battery, wrist strap, pocket clip, pouch and USB cable
This palm-sized light goes where you do, shining light when and where you need it. Its housing is built tough and with a rubberized overmolding, so accidental drops won’t stop your work at hand. The removable pocket clip keeps this flashlight attached to your belt or pocket, so it’s easily accessible when you need it. At just 3.15×1.25×0.67 inches, and with a beam distance of nearly 90 feet, the EDC Flashlight will, indeed, be your everyday-carry light source!
- Output: 127 lumens
- Runtime: 3.33 hours
- Powered by (2) AAA batteries
- Hole for key ring attachment
- Impact resistant up to 2 meters
This mild-mannered flashlight is a powerhouse in disguise. Featuring a blinding 1,500 lumen output and a durable aluminum body, this handheld illuminator can stand up to the toughest outdoor conditions. The E28R has five steady-on settings and a strobe function, all operated by the convenient shoulder switch. The unit recharges via the included USB-C fast-charging cable and includes a lanyard and replacement O-ring to ensure waterproof protection. The E28R is lightweight at just over 2 ounces and easily clips into your pocket or to your gear bag for easy carrying and storage.
- Output: Adjustable from 30 to 1,500 lumens
- Runtime: 2 to 74 hours, depending on setting
- Waterproof up to 2 meters; dustproof
- Includes rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion battery
- Also runs on (2) CR123 lithium batteries (not included)
Need the perfect flashlight? The Powertac M5 1,300-lumen, handheld light comes very close. Sporting an ultra-tough case that protects it from drops, moisture and debris, and with an incredibly bright light output, this pocket flashlight could become your go-to light source for every outing. Choose from “firefly,” “low,” “medium,” “high,” “turbo” and “strobe” lighting options to suit your personal needs. Its rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion battery powers up fast through the included magnetic USB cable. The low-voltage/charging status indicator helps ensure this flashlight’s ready when you need it.
- Output: Adjustable from 0.51 to 1,300 lumens
- Runtime: 3 hours to 25 days, depending on setting
- Magnetic USB cable for easy charging
- Waterproof and submersible up to 2 meters
When you really need to light up an area or target something with an overwhelming amount of illumination, consider the Fenix PD40R V2.0 Rechargeable Flashlight. With a maximum output of 3,000 lumens, it’s what you need to turn midnight into high noon. You can choose from three other steady-on modes, plus strobe, with the rotary switch. The included 21700 lithium-ion battery is rechargeable, and a type-C charging cable comes in the box. The aluminum body has a type III hard-anodized finish for extended anti-abrasion protection.
- Output: Adjustable from 30 to 3,000 lumens
- Runtime: 2.67 to 88 hours, depending on the setting
- Length: 5.4 inches
- Diameter: 1.3 inches (head); 1.0 inch (body)
- Waterproof and submersible up to 2 meters
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the January, 2020 print issue of American Survival Guide.