*Let There be Light*
By: nuckingfutz
14 August 2007

X-Lite(tm) brand light sticks are excellent for long-term illumination, perfect for marking location of outhouse or various other locations such as a trail through the woods or which path to take at a fork. Very long lasting. Usually comes with a silk string and cap for attaching individual light sticks to on consecutive nights. Attach to a dog's collar, wear as a pendant or tie to a belt loop to keep track of a group of people with a quick glance.

The light sticks that striker offered during a group buy were just about the best light sticks I've seen at any price. They are excellent for night vision, eliminating the need for a flashlight for a late night trip to the cooler, toilet or door without having something in your hand. This applies to folks who have fair to good vision. I cannot read much of anything without my glasses, but these light sticks allowed me to get up and walk around the cabin at night without having to grab the flashlight. The things I have to get up for are usually to let the dog out, make a potty run or get a drink of water. These light sticks - one only - were certainly sufficient to that end. At the time of this writing, Striker hadn't recalled the brand - but they were certainly worth the money during his group buy.

Sportsman's Guide(tm) light sticks are advertised to keep their glow for 7 hours. They are actually very bright at first and lose about 50% of their glow in just under 2 hours. However, the decrease isn't really noticeable unless you start another one 2 hours later and set it right beside the first one. These certainly are a very close second to striker's light sticks. Still, I used 2 or 3 of them when only one of striker's would work for me.

Oil lamps are always found in camps and with good reason. The various kinds of oils from fragranced to colored to clear can leave you in a tangle of decision-making. I have found that the colored oil had a stronger odor than the clear, but if kept low, just for a night light, this wasn't a problem. Some people like to have a fragranced oil, but I prefer to add my own fragrance to the oil for something uniquely me. A mere drop of your favorite cologne in the oil will make all the difference. While I have a Dietz (tm) lamp, I would have to say that unless the wick were dangerously high, I wouldn't be able to read by it, but my eyes aren't what they used to be, either. When the wick is high, along comes the soot and smoke. Not a healthy thing to have when getting back to basics. The Dietz oil lamp does give off a nice night lite glow when burning with a barely visible wick and the lamp oil will last through the night and beyond. People with respiratory problems are cautioned about using an oil lamp in an area with only minimal ventilation.

Oil table lamps are another option, assuming you have a table or similar flat and firm surface for them. Depending on their size, they can hold quite a lot of lamp oil making them more convenient because you don't have to keep adding oil everyday. The one I have has a clear base so there is no guesswork involved in determining how much oil there is left. This particular style is difficult to handle once it has been lit. The chimney gets hot and unfortunately, if you put it out and then want to relight it, you'll have to wait until the chimney cools - or use a very long match and hope to light it from the top. This tends to make you want to tip the lamp which is a real bad idea while holding a lit match. Still, this gives off an even glow all night long and the oil it holds will usually last over a week.

A word of caution on oil lamps - particularly those that sit on a table - if you have animals or children, I wouldn't go this way. Yes, we all know I have animals with one being just a puppy. Still, I was almost overly cautious about that table lamp because of the puppy factor. I would have preferred being able to hang it so an accidental bump on the table wouldn't set the whole camp ablaze. I had no such mishaps, but was very aware of that danger. Fortunately, my puppy preferred chewing through electrical cords. @#$%!

Liquid candle - There are more warnings than directions on these little things. The protective plastic cover for the wick is difficult to take off and difficult to put back on. The chimney is plastic rather than glass and I was so skeptical of it that I didn't try one for 2 months. The label says it contains petroleum hydrocarbons. I would prefer a little more information as that covers a lot of ground. However, it does say not to induce vomiting if accidentally ingested by person or pet and contact a physician immediately. The nearly clear wick cap is to be kept and replaced after each use, but by design, it is difficult to see, particularly at night, and losing track of it would seem the most obvious problem. The final line on the label says, " Use with extreme care and at your own risk. Do not store near heat nor open flame." But it's okay to put an open flame on it, right? I never - and will never - light one....since I couldn't get the protective little cap off the wick area.

Flashlights and battery-operated lanterns - Don't go thinking that I overlooked the obvious and didn't have a flashlight. I had a little one and a big one and a few times used the glow of my cell phone as a flashlight when the need arose in the blackness of night in my forest. I dislike having to hold something in my hand, then have to fiddle with it's position in setting it down to do something that requires both hands.

Headlamps - These are wonderful devices for hands-free light. And they go where you go, automatically illuminating your way with just a turn of your head. My reason for not using the headlamp involves my personal domestic issue I call "dumber than a box of rocks." I forgot to bring the !@#$! thing!

Candles. It's hard to argue with this long-time standby for power outages and emergency light. Emergency candles should be in every emergency kit, but don't stop with just the candles. Have plenty of matches or a few lighters on hand and in the general proximity as the candles. Don't forget to keep something non-flammable to set the candle on for a generous night light throughout the hours of darkness. Care should be taken when children or animals are present. Jar candles offer a bit more security for the open flame approach to light. Even if the jar were to tip over, the flame generally stays inside the jar and only the melted wax will run out. Of course, there's nothing quite like candle light to add a romantic mood to an evening, no matter where you are and you get a richer glow with a mirror behind the flame. Depending on your opinion of your camping partner(s), you might not want to mention the romantic angle. At my age, every man looks like a real catch!

Touch'N Lite(tm) - Don't laugh, they work - for all of 2 hours. Not to be used as night lights because if you get up in the middle of the night expecting to be able to see your way to the door or a snack - you won't. These gems run on four AA batteries which are usually included. Intended to be on for a minute or two in a closet or outhouse, they will last much longer when turned on for only a minute or two, just to get something out of a closet or check the pantry. I've had one right inside either door for about three weeks and haven't worn them out when used as directed.

My batteries on the porch with the 400 watt inverter and cord into the
house with a surge protector. Worked just fine for my small set up.

Enter the BIG Batteries, an inverter, electric light and the ability to recharge my laptop, cell phone, DVD player and DVD battery backup pack without draining the car battery came about on the 25th of July, just about a week shy of the 2-month mark in the wilderness. The marine battery lasted 5 days with six hours of continuous use per day. I could have continued to use the car battery, but when I depleted it after running the inverter 52 hours straight without starting the engine, I decided another plan was in order. With CRS worsening every day, I lose track of when I last started the car. Time flies when you're having fun. I had an electric light in my storage unit, but with no place to plug it in at camp. Even with the marine battery and an electric light, I chose to continue using the oil lamp and light sticks. So, while I had an electric light and the means to power it, I have to say that my alt energy was for everything other than light.

Natural Light - This was easiest to do in late afternoons or evenings. The shutters are easy to open and close and allow plenty of light in for evening reading or waking with the sun while all four are open during the night. These gems are my window to the world of stars, fireflies and the gentle glow of the moon after hours of darkness. I watched more than one thunder storm through these portals into the sky. I do enjoy watching electrical storms from the comfort of a horizontal position - that's how I spell S O M I N E X!

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