Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Survival Kits (Personal) Part 4

So far in our personal survival kit series we have covered the container for your kit, the knife/multi-tool for your kit and the all important method of creating fire. In this next installment, we are going to discuss something important should you ever lose your way in the dark....and that is a method of creating light.

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.

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  1. Everyone needs a headlamp. It is an item you will use all the time, from fixing the drain line on your clothes washer to working under your car to almost anything else. I like the Princeton Tech Aurora for an inexpensive headlamp when I don't need a lot of light. I think I paid $14 for them from Steep and Cheap. At $20 I think I would buy something else. When I need more light I like the Princeton Tech Apex. There are many good headlamps out there.

    I like a handheld light for defensive use. There are many variable output LED models these days that can give you a little light for a long time and then give you a lot of light if you need it.

    Batteries are an issue. CR123 batteries have a long shelf life and aren't affected much by cold so they are great for a light you leave in your vehicle and don't use often. They aren't that expensive when you buy in bulk online. However, if you need a set and have to buy at Walmart or Lowes you will pay big bucks if they have them at all. AA and AAA alkalines are available anywhere but they are more cold sensitive and don't have as long a shelf life.

    The answer is to have both a CR123 powered light and a AA or AAA powered one. You can get rechargeable versions of all of those batteries, but some lights won't work with some types of rechargeables so read the manuals before you install the batteries.

    Keep up the good work. This is good info.

  2. Fellows,

    When you have children, a lightstick in a dark room is a great comfort for them. Remember that lightsticks have different glow times depending on color. The greens last longest with the reds (I think) shortest. They are clearly marked on the packages.

    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.
    The Range Reviews: Tactical.
    Proud Member of Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

  3. Another disadvantage of chemlights is that you can't turn them off. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to enact light discipline very quickly, make sure you have a means of covering any activated chemlights.

    On a fun note:
    I had some chemlights that were nearing the end of their shelf life. I activated one and put it into a half full bottle of water. It made a neat little lantern that my 2 year old played with for hours.

  4. Don't forget a good photovoltaic recharger as well. Those LEDs are good long term headlamps, but without power - pretty useless. These rechargers would also likely make a great barter item or you might even be the neighborhood 'power company', you never know.

  5. We added a couple of flashlights that have hand-crank generators on them, rather than batteries... just in case batteries become unavailable.

  6. Good post flea! I can't see very well in the dark and carry several different light sources to handle various lighting requiements. HEADLAMPS are a must have for those times when you need both hands and a pipoint light source.