Although the flashlights on smartphones have reduced the use of traditional flashlights by a large margin, any serious camper and hiker knows that they aren’t a suitable replacement. That being said, a proper flashlight, or torchlight will provide you with a strong beam when precision and dexterity is crucial. Moreover, what once were large and heavy torches, today are portable, lightweight and extremely powerful tools that are a must have for every outdoor enthusiast.
If you don’t own a torchlight yet, but are looking to bring one on your next camping or hiking trip, then there are a few key factors to consider, such as light output, battery type, size and weight and run time. You can find a short, middle and long range torch online with relative ease, and their prices vary anywhere from about $20 to over $200 depending on the features, brightness it can produce, the type of battery it uses, ergonomics and the materials it’s made from.
The lighting output on torches that feature LED bulbs is measured in lumens. However, you can’t rely on lumens solely to get the whole story about the brightness of the torch. Beam distance, type and intensity all influence the effectiveness of the torch in different applications. For instance, 20 lumens is enough to read a book, 100 lumens can temporarily blind a person, and anything more than that can illuminate a football field.
The beam distance is measured in meters, and it shows how far the light will shine before it starts diminishing. Generally, a long range torch will have a focused-beam, and a broad beam torch will have a shorter illumination distance. However, some flashlights have a few “modes” which allow you to switch between long-range, short-range, broad-beam and focused-beam.
Typically, torches are made of either aluminium alloy or plastic. Some have stainless steel in the head for extra impact resistance. Speaking of impact resistance, torches are drop tested by dropping them 6 times on a hard surface, usually concrete, at the rated distance. However, even if a torchlight is made of aluminium, it should specify how thin or thick the aluminium alloy is, as the thinner ones are lighter and the thicker ones are tougher.
You’ll usually have to choose between disposable and rechargeable batteries. Newer torches use lithium-ion batteries, as they’re the more powerful ones and they don’t drain as quick as typical AAA or AA batteries. It’s always a good idea to keep an extra pack of batteries when you go on longer camping or hiking trips, and bring a battery charger if you have access to electricity.