November 21, 2014

Compact Emergency Lighting

I do the vast majority of my fishing during the day. In years past I would often fish the evening hours, but now I mainly fish when the sun is high in the sky.

Back when I fished near sunset, I would occasionally get caught in the failing light and find myself having trouble getting back to my car since I could no longer see. I've always tried to carry an emergency light with me, but as I've reduced my carrying load I've tried to find compact, yet functional lighting in case I get caught in the dark.

What I look for is compact size, overall cost, ease and functionality of use, long life and ease of finding and replacing batteries. Here are a few emergency lights that I have used lately:

Bushnell 65-Lumen Multi-Color Hat Light

This little light has many advantages. It is inexpensive, it clips onto the brim of your hat, and it uses one readily available AAA battery. It is small enough and light enough that it takes up very little room. It's 2.07 x 1.32 x 1.1 inches in size. It has two settings: one bright focused LED and two dimmer red LEDs. It's modestly bright at 65 lumens on its high setting, will project a beam 40 ft and last about 45 minutes. The battery lasts much longer when only the red LEDs are used but you can't see as well either. Red, of course, protects your night vision and this can be of some advantage.

It's the most compact hat light that I have found that doesn't use button batteries.

Pak-Lite SUPER

The little light is one of my favorites. All it is is a plastic cap imbedded with two white LEDS that attaches directly to a 9 volt battery. That's it; no case, nothing fancy.  It's so small and so light that you would think that it would be pretty useless, but no, it is really amazing! Between the LEDs is a little switch: low-off-high. On high the battery will last 30+ hours, and on low it will last 600+ hours! Also, the cap glows in the dark. This makes it easy to find in your hammock, tent or pack. The other nice benefit of having a 9 volt battery with you is that you can start a fire with it by using some fine steel wool.  It's always nice to have redundancy in your survival equipment.

The downside? It is a little expensive for its size, but I think its usefulness and battery life are definitely worth it.

Inova Microlight Swipe To Shine Key Light

This is a micro light that can be clipped onto anything. I have mine clipped to one of the zipper pulls on my Zimmerbuilt Chest Pack. It is so small and light that your don't even know it's there. It too has two settings: low and high. On high it will run 9 hours and on low 64 hours. It uses a button battery (unfortunately) but its compact size requires this, so I shouldn't complain. I don't use this light as a primary light source, rather, it's my "always with me backup light".  If I don't have any other light with me, then this one can save the day (or the dusk, so to speak).

So there you go. Three different compact emergency lighting options. They each have a different purpose but all are very compact, highly functional and easy to use. There are many other lighting options out there; I just wanted to show you what I use and get you thinking about your options.


  1. Always helpful gear ideas.
    Thanks for posting these

  2. A lighted mounted at eye level will result in a shades of gray, featureless trail. You can't see the shadows cast by roots and rocks. A hand-held is much better, and one mounted on your belt or a gear waist belt is even better, provided you can aim the sweet spot where you need it. Try it at home to appreciated the difference.


  3. Thank you for reviewing these emergency lights. I am one who likes to be prepared, and I agree that having a reliable light source is very important. I am just wondering, is 65 lumens enough? Also, do you know of any light sources that are friction based or anything like that?
    Mark Leach |


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