If you’re like me, then you spend quite a bit of your free time out of doors. The challenge of the elements and the freedom of the wilderness are as exhilarating as runners high. But there is one aspect of this that can be daunting for veteran outdoorsmen as well as novices, and that is the dark.
Whether you are on a short hike or miles from civilization, having to deal with unexpected darkness can intimidate anyone. That is why most everyone who goes out into the wilderness has at least two safe and reliable light sources at their disposal. With the advent of the consumer friendly LED, the choices in illumination have exploded over the past 5 years, and now it’s less about weight and more about task that should influence your purchasing decisions. The Carabiner LED Area Light from Energizer is an excellent choice for the casual adventurer. Ideal for tent camping, this lightweight device has some features that take it beyond the backpack and could arguably have it become your family’s go-to light.
This member of the Energizer Trailblazer series of lights even stands out from its peers. The current alternate members of this light category are all head lights of a variety of configurations. Personally, I’m a big fan of the headlamp, weather I’m tromping about in the woods or crawling around in an attic trying to find the stupid co-axial cables. But the Carabiner LED Area Light, while designed for outdoor use, made me re-think my stance. This light measures approximately six inches long, two inches wide, and one inch thick, and with its rounded corners, fits nicely into the palm of your hand. Loaded with 4 standard AA batteries and the included carabiner, the light weighs in at 4.7 ounces. That’s a bit on the hefty side, but not too bad considering the functionality. This light has three modes to choose from. First, three separate LEDs on each side of the body provide 360 degree light in high and low settings. In addition, another LED at the end of the unit can be used as a spot source, and casts a beam approximately 20 yards. The maximum output for the light is 50 lumens for five hours, and in 360 degree mode, that makes for some good illumination.
As already mentioned, this light comes with a three inch, non-load bearing carabiner, which allows you to keep both hands free. To put the unit through its paces, I used it as my primary light for about a month in a variety of settings. As a straight flash light, it performed well. The flattened sides allowed me to lay it down, casting the beam on whatever surface I was trying to illuminate, and I didn’t have to worry about it rolling around. As a walking light, it also worked well in the night darkened woods behind my house. But where this little beauty really shines (pun intended) is as an area light. When hung from an overhead point, this cast enough light to make it seem that you are sitting at a dinner table, and not in a tent, miles away from a 110 outlet. Even on low setting, I was easily able to read a thrilling manual on a Taxonomy software system management (don’t ask…) with the light hung approximately 5 feet away. The clip allows for this to be easily attached to a belt, pack, or other anchor point. Since we often go camping as a family, I can not only see the utility as an area light for the camp site, but also as a portable source that would make me easy to spot for my girls – far preferable to the pink/purple glow bands they try and bedeck me with every year at the SCA’s annual Pennsic War. With this one light, our 18 foot diameter yurt would be well lit up from the inside in a safe and compact fashion.
Perhaps my only suggestion for improvement would be in the area of the switch. The button push switch is easy to get to, and hard enough to limit accidental depression. My improvement would be in the sequencing. Rather than go first to high area mode, I would prefer it to go to the more subtle flashlight mode. I think this would be better in a darkened tent when getting up at night for the ‘call of nature’ run, as the area light immediately disrupts your night vision. But even this is trivial when compared to the overall usefulness of this light. My intent is to purchase one for each of my cars, and an extra that will find itself in the yurts rope box, eagerly awaiting the next camping event. The MSRP from Energizer is $21.99, but you can find them online somewhere in the neighborhood of $17.00. That gives you a lot of light for your money, and a more time out of doors, to me, is priceless.
“Like” the Monkey on Facebook while you’re at it too!
Check out more discussions on the Woodsmonkey Forum: