We have several great options for lighting, including: light sticks,flashlightsand headlamps.In my kit I have two of the methods I listed here for various reasons but most importantly for direct and indirect lighting.
Direct lighting or more correctly stated "directed lighting", is lighting that you use to cover a specific area. When walking for instance, directed lighting would be used to illuminate the path ahead and prevent a fall. Flashlights are a great example of directed lighting.
Indirect lighting is general purpose light; it is lighting that illuminates and area. Light sticks are an example of indirect lighting. "Pointing" a light stick in a direction won't really do much good as they are designed to be a general light source.
I like to have the ability to create BOTH types of light in my kit. I have several light sticks (which are extremely inexpensive by the way) and rather than a flashlight I have a headlamp. I can produce both types of light depending on the situation and my needs at the time.
All of the light sources I describe have a weakness and that is duration. Light sticks illuminate based upon a chemical reaction that is produced by chemicals mixing when the stick is bent and the inner tube breaks flooding the outer tube with its contents. There are two types of sticks that are common, those with an eight hour duration and those with a twelve hour duration. I usually go recommend purchasing the slightly more expensive twelve hour variety. Once these sticks are spent they must be discarded as they are spent and will illuminate no further.
Flashlights and headlamps last as long as the batteries that are installed in them. I usually leave the batteries out of the item until they are needed. Fresh batteries will produce the best results and give you the longest amount of light depending on the energy consumption of your particular light.
When choosing a flashlight, I would recommend an LED variety that is compact and water resistant if possible. I have a light by Princeton Tecthat I really like. The same recommendations go for a head lamp, in my kit I have a Petzlthat I like very much. It is adjustable and has several brightness settings that one can choose to conserve battery life if needed.
The reason I prefer a head lamp over a flashlight is because I have directed lighting and still have my hands free to manipulate objects if needed. I recommend you choose what works for you in your situation. Stay away from anything that eats batteries (some Surefire models are example of "battery eaters") and you'll be just fine.
Keep an extra set of fresh batteries for your light in your kit, nothing will depress your mood faster than a night in the woods with no light, building a fire will help if you are stationary but if you plan to move at all, a light will be a must.
When building your kit take into account your experiences and wants; design your lighting plan to fit your specific needs. Light sticksare so inexpensive I recommend adding a bunch of them in your kit regardless of your specific plan.
Lighting is a key component in your survival kit. The ability to see and safely traverse at night cannot be underestimated. Take your plan for lighting seriously and get your kit in order as soon as possible. Stay tuned for the next installment of our personal survival kit series.
...that is all.