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OAUSA Net - May 9 & 16, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 6:42 pm
by DaveK
OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Our predictions were correct -there was not enough time in the first net to discuss all the topics we wanted to cover. So, we will use this second net to complete things.

With the summer camping season just about to hit high gear, we figured that the time was right to explore the many options that are now available for lighting up your campsite at night. From past experience, we know that this subject is lengthy, and the odds are pretty good that we will not cover it all in one net, but we will do our best. Honesty compels us to admit that this topic would not be complete without a discussion of lanterns, flashlights, batteries and headlamps. So, those will be the topics for the net this week. If you have more, join the discussion!

This area is one which runs pretty deep, and between what we can cover here on the website and on the net, it is, at best, just a good start. There are a huge variety of options for lighting, and doing your research, seeing what works best for others, and using this forum for exchanging ideas, will get you where you want to be. If you are like most of us, flashlights and camp lighting devices tend to accumulate over time and you eventually arrive at what works best for you. So, for those who have come down the road a bit and who have settled on your favorite, we need to hear from you.

Like so many topics, lighting is a field where technology has had a significant impact. The ones which seem to be the most prominent are the use of LEDs, computer chips (in flashlights), improvements in battery performance, flashlight reflector lens, miniaturization of lighting devices, new battery sizes and styles, and many more. We will cover as many as Net time permits.

As a starting point, in our humble opinion, the best advice we can offer is, don't buy cheap. This is one place where "you get just what you pay for", and buying cheap rarely results in long term quality. When it comes to reliability, dependability, longevity, and performance, we have found that cheap stuff rarely makes the cut, especially when you are relying on your equipment for emergency situations.

We believe it was Confucius who said, "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." Nuff said!!!

Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 8:01 pm
by DaveK

Sometimes it's just feels right to take a couple of steps back and appreciate some of the "old ways" we used to do things. Case in point - kerosene lanterns.

Today, camp sites are lit with a huge variety of Coleman type lanterns as well as all forms of LED lanterns. They are so popular simply because they work so well. For some however, the softer and quieter lanterns of yester-year, have an appeal that many are just now "re-discovering". No, they won't get the top prize for the most lumens, and they do have a smell that makes them distinct, but they still have a place in many camps and in many homes as an emergency light. Ten years ago, the only lights you would see were from Coleman Lanterns, and to a lesser degree, from LED lights. In recent years, we have seen more and more campers using the old fashioned kerosene lanterns, and for some very good reasons.

Interestingly, there are several companies that still make the original style kerosene lanterns, some of which are the same as were manufactured over 100 years ago. The most famous of these is the Dietz company, who has been manufacturing lanterns since about 1840. An excellent history of the Dietz lantern business can be found here:

These lanterns do have some nice benefits, including very low prices (around $30.00), significant run time, easy and inexpensive repair costs, a wonderful and pleasant yellow light, quiet operation, and greatest of all - terrific nostalgic value.

Here are a couple of examples of Dietz kerosene lanterns (a new one and an old one) - the Little Giant and the Jupiter Cold Blast Lantern. The new Jupiter sells for about $26.00, has a run time of 75 hours, and costs about 6 cents an hour to run (see: ... z-Lanterns.) The Little Giant. seen in the second and third picture, below, was rescued from a trash can and restored to a fully functional condition. More information can be obtained on this and many other lanterns at the W.T. Kirkman website (

Jupiter 2500 Kerosene Lantern (Large).jpg
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Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 10:17 pm
by DaveK

For flashlights, batteries are one of the keys to light. As with just about everything else, technology keeps producing better and better batteries. For our discussion, we will concentrate on four types of commonly available batteries:
  • 1. Alkaline
  • 2. Lithium (non-rechargeable)
  • 3. Rechargeable NiMH
  • 4. Lithium Ion batteries (rechargeable)
For size comparison, this is how they stack up:

Battery Comparo.jpg
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Obviously, this list isn't all inclusive. I've omitted Ni-Cads as they have been virtually replaced by much better technology, and the new stuff doesn't have a memory, (lasts longer too.) And, for personal reasons, I've also not included the "123" batteries, although they certainly have earned a place amongst premium battery choices.

So, preliminarily, I can say that I've tried them all, and they each have something different to offer. As an overall observation, even though I regularly use alkaline batteries, I find myself using them less and less, mostly due to leakage problems. Some of the major manufacturers have a guarantee against leakage, but that doesn't mean they wont leak. It just means that they may compensate you for the damaged equipment, when there is a leak. Be very careful as some manufactures offer no such guarantee and you are on your own if there is damage. When I take into account the ordeal of discovering that my device has been damaged by a leaking alkaline battery, as well as the time it takes to get it repaired or replaced, I become more and more motivated to find other options that do not carry the same risk of leakage as the alkaline batteries.


This category deserves some special attention. Li-ion batteries are a huge step forward in battery technology and many manufacturers have jumped in and created whole lines of products powered by these batteries, most notably, flashlight companies. They are more powerful, last longer, and have safety and convenience devices built right into the battery. There will be a lot more discussion on the net, but here is a feature that really caught our attention:

Rechargeable 18650 Battery.jpg
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Yep, that's right! A battery that has all the electronics built-in to allow charging directly from a standard micro-USB cord - no separate charger is required!!! A built in LED flashes red while charging and green when fully charged.

As one would expect, there are a lot of companies that are making these batteries, but there are a few that have a very good reputation for quality and reliability. Orbtronic ( ... le-battery) is one such company. The actual guts of the Orbtronic batteries are made by Panasonic and the protection circuits by Seiko (all made in Japan.). Here is their current offering of a 3600 mAh 18650 battery, and if purchased directly from them, it will be cheaper than Amazon.

Orbtronic 18650 Li Ion Battery.jpg
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For reasons which I believe are largely due to the benefits of Li-Ion, the technology seems to be increasing at a much greater pace than with any other form of battery. For example, I have seen the capacity increase from 2400 mAh to 3600 mAh in very short order, and I'm sure that all the 3600 batteries that I now have will be soon left in the dust.

  • High energy density - potential for yet higher capacities.
  • Does not need prolonged priming when new. One regular charge is all that's needed.
  • Relatively low self-discharge - self-discharge is less than half that of nickel-based batteries.
  • Low Maintenance - no periodic discharge is needed; there is no memory.
  • Suitable for most uses, including high drain devices (many are made specifically for high output flashlights)
  • Light weight
  • Expensive (but ultimately they are cheaper as the number of recharges increases)
  • Needs circuit protection
  • Transportation restrictions (airports and mail)


  • rechargeable many times (e.g. eneloop by Panasonic claims over 2000 times)
  • pays for the initial cost after about the 5th or 6th recharge - thereafter, the only cost is a few pennies for the recharge
  • available at most stores where batteries are sold
  • high energy rating (several AAs are rated at >2700mAh)
  • decent shelf life (many claim a 5 year shelf life)
  • don't leak
  • great for most uses, including high drain devices
  • no memory (a la Ni Cads)
  • initial cost (but that is overcome after the 5th or 6th recharge)

LITHIUM (non-rechargeable)

  • excellent performance high drain devices
  • long lasting - shelf life between 7-20 years
  • high energy rating (AAs are rated at about 3000 mAh)
  • don't leak
  • high initial cost
  • not rechargeable
  • small risk of explosion


  • cheap
  • available everywhere
  • good for low drain devices
  • decent shelf life (5-10 years)
  • high energy rating (several AAs are rated at about 2400 mAh)
  • leak and destroy
  • don't perform well in cold temps
  • not rechargeable
  • not good for high drain devices

Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 1:13 pm
by DaveK

Along with advances in battery technology, there has been an equally impressive improvement in the sources of light. The use incandescent bulbs, at least for camp lanterns, has almost entirely been replaced by LEDs, and for some very good reasons. Much of this discussion will be reserved for the net, so I only mention a few instances where LED lights have become a staple for campers.


Streamlight's Siege X, 18650 powered LED is not just a perfect tent light, due to its powerful light output and small size, but it is also capable of providing light for the dinner table or game table. Here is how it looks, with a Buck pocket knife for size comparison:

Streamlight Siege X.jpg
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Our dinner one night on the North Rim and another in the Mojave Desert, were well after sun down, but Roger's LED table lights really made for a pleasant meal.

Dinner by LED light.jpg
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Dinner by LED light-2.jpg
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Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 1:17 pm
by DaveK

Here is where the list of available lighting devices gets way too large to mention. So, we will only offer some of the standout lights that we have discovered over the years. This is where your flashlight experiences need to come into play. Let us know what has worked well for you, by posting information here!

Without question, LEDs have been the most significant improvement in lighting, both from a lumen production standpoint and energy conservation. Today's LED flashlights can produce more light, and do so for a lot longer, on a single set of batteries. than incandescent lights ever could. The performance of today's flashlights has been further improved by the use of computer chips, inside the flashlights, that control the LED output, so that it remains constant for the entire life of the battery. No more dimming lights as the battery slowly dies. The other improvement in flashlight performance comes in the form of improved reflectors which produce a much more usable beam of light.

Many older flashlights can be converted to LED with just the simple replacement of the bulb. Everyone's favorite, the Mag Light, is a good example. For those who enjoy the "persuasive" benefits of the larger Mag lights, they can now all be converted to LED.

Here are some examples of current LED flashlight offerings.

1. Surefire Titan

Surefire makes a complete line of LED flashlights, one of which is the Titan, and it is an excellent example of state-of-the art lighting. This particular model incorporates a microprocessor, that continuously manages the flow of power, and utilizes their MaxVision Beam reflector, which creates a much more usable beam of light. The Titan is a dynamite key chain flashlight, small enough to be a permanent part of an emergency kit, a first aid kit, a glove box or your key chain. Light output comes in at a respectable 15/125 lumens, and comes with a NiMH rechargeable battery (although it can also take a standard AAA battery.

Here are two sources for more information on the Titan:
Surefire keys comparo.jpg
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2. Tikka XP Headlamp

When you're in the outback, nothing frees up your hands for camp chores like a headlamp. Like most other lights, headlamps have come a long way from the days when your headlamp looked like a helmet, complete with a gigantic battery pack. The Tikka XP is another fine example of a state of the art LED.

  • adjustable power, 5-180 lumens
  • runtime - 2-100 hours
  • microprocessor controlled output
  • 3 LEDs
  • takes 3 AAA batteries, including NiMH
  • 3 year guarantee
Available on Amazon for about $50.00, ( ... p+headlamp)

Tikka XP Headlamp.jpg
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There are plenty of times on our trips when a good belt light is the best way to light things up. Carried next to your multi-tool or folding knife, the belt light is something that should always be part of the gear you wear. Having more than one light is not only a smart thing to do for redundancy purposes, but it also offers choices in terms of light power.

I have discovered that no one company makes ALL the best flashlights, but I will confess that when it comes to belt lights, the Fenix Company has my full attention. These three are part of my "travel gear" and from left to right they are:
  • Fenix model FD20, AA battery powered, 350 lumens max
  • Fenix model TX20R, 18650 battery powered, 1000 lumens max
  • Fenix model PD35, 18650 battery powered, 1000 lumens max
Fenix x3.jpg
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  • real glass lens
  • came with belt holster, extra o-rings and switch cover
  • microprocessor controlled light output


Despite the flood of innovative new LED flashlights, I still carry several Mag Lite 3 D-cell lights in the vehicle, and have several at home. They are all LED at this point, and in addition to much brighter light, I have found that the run time is incredible. When it comes to general camp lighting, the Mag Lite still carries it weight (literally) for camp chores.

Recently, a new LED product arrived on the scene, and a friend, knowing of my fondness for flashlights, decided to add one to my collection. The light goes by the name of "TrustFire" and is, of course, an LED - 9 to be precise. It goes by the nickname of "retina blaster" and It operates on 3 Li-Ion 18650 batteries, producing up to 11,000 lumens. Not a typo - 11,000! It is about the size of a 3 D-cell Mag Lite and it can bring daylight to anywhere you point it.

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Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 1:17 pm
by DaveK

In the area of camp lighting, there is one standout that has withstood the test of time - the Coleman lantern! It remains today, for many, as an indispensable piece of camping gear, whether for a weekend or a long terms trip. Coleman lanterns have seen some changes over the years, but their performance, reliability, dependability, and quality have remained constant. Among their many qualities are:
  • fuel and mantles are commonly available at almost every sporting goods store
  • many of the newer models are able to run on white gas or regular unleaded gasoline
  • light output, even for single mantle lanterns, is significant.
Coleman lanterns have been around since the early 1900s and have been sold by the millions. For the thrifty camper, your local yard sale can prove to be a treasure trove for these lanterns. A little bargaining and you can be the proud owner of some fine lighting. Restoring them is simple and there are a great number of restoration and historical information sites on the internet, such as:
Coleman still is making a pleasing variety of lanterns, see:

North Star ... ml#start=1

On all of my camping trips, whether for a few days or several weeks, the Coleman lantern is always with us. For me, I have settled on two different types, the North Star and a dual mantle, dual fuel Powerhouse Coleman. Both are capable of significant light out put and have been on countless trips, without a single hic-up! And, by the way, I don't count "hic-ups" as times when my butter fingers drop the lantern and the mantles break.

The North Star lantern come with some impressive features:
  • on high, it produces 1140 lumens of 360 degree light
  • operates on white gas or gasoline
  • on high, it runs for 7 hours and considerably longer at lower levels
  • has an instant-start button for ignition, no matches needed
  • has a metal cage/guard to protect the glass lens
  • easy and quick installation mantles
  • made in the USA
  • 3 year warranty
From the Coleman website:

North Star Lantern.jpg
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Coleman Premium Powerhouse® Dual Fuel™ Lantern

The Powerhouse lantern come with some impressive features:
  • on high, it produces 1100 lumens of 360 degree light
  • operates on white gas or gasoline
  • on high, it runs for 7 hours and considerably longer at lower levels made in the USA
  • 3 year warranty
From the Coleman website:

Coleman Powerhouse Lantern.jpg
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Both of these lanterns run on white gas, but Coleman makes equivalent propane models. The white gas lanterns have an advantage over the propane models inasmuch as they use less fuel and will operate well at very low temps.

Classic Coleman Lanterns

This topic too will be one which we will discuss in greater detail on the net, but it's worth mentioning now that there is, and has been for quite a while, a significant interest in "classic Coleman" camp items from the 80s and before. These items include Coleman catalytic heaters, stoves, irons, coolers, ovens, and yes, lanterns. The actual Image that graces many Coleman products is their iconic model 200A lantern. Coleman 200A lanterns in decent condition are bringing many times their original sales price (just look on ebay.) The 200A below was the subject of some interesting camp testing which we will describe on the net. With a little luck, we may even have a guest speaker to fill us in on the details of the test as well as the lantern itself.

This very well preserved beauty was made in 1966, and not only works perfectly, but can compete well with any currently made lantern.

Coleman 200A (Large).jpg
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Oh yes, don't forget the Peerless Mantles!!!

Peerless Mantles (Large).jpg
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Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 1:18 pm
by DaveK

The need for light around camp is not limited to the tent or the dinner table. While we usually reserve night time for good food and drink, around a relaxing campfire, there are times when it is necessary to make vehicle repairs at camp, or worse yet, while on the trail. Regardless of where the repairs are being made, having a good light is invaluable. Flashlights and headlights are good, but there is no substitute for a good 360 degree light bulb. This solution is available only for those who have an inverter in their vehicle. With the great popularity of LED bulbs, it is possible to run a light for a considerable time, with little effect on the battery.

This setup was constructed with 20 feet of 14 gauge copper wire with some HD connectors at each end. It includes a 60 watt LED bulb, with a spare, in a rugged case.

Light in a box.JPG
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Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 5:45 pm
by KAP
Please check us in

Kevin KK6DGL

Looking forward to the Net.

Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 7:07 pm
by KAP
Area Lights
Field Day 2018. A well illuminated Ham Shack.
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If you make a battery box from an ammo can, you may as well mount a light to it.
Battery box with flood light
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I faced the flood light up to light the inside of the awning.
Ham Shack lighting
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Luci Light- is an inflatable solar powered LED light.
Great for the outside of the tent. It is a little too bright for inside the tent. 2 power levels, the power button is very small so it is not the light for frequent On/Off cycles. Still a great light.
$15 dollars and up depending on the model. Waterproof
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Combo Light
Free HF flood/spot light
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Flashlight attached to empty milk jug
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Flashlight and milk jug throws a broad but non blinding light
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Task lighting
I purchased this 3AAA battery operated light at Walmart for use inside the peak of the tent. 2 power settings plus red light. This type of light is my preferred for inside the tent at night.
Under $10.
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A quality headlamp is a must to keep your hands free.
While not the most compact, energizer has models with varying
Brightness and features from $15-$30. 3AAA and the direction of light is adjustable.
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Emergency light
This was one of the mine shafts we visited during BorregoFest. A back up light can be very handy if you main light runs down or if you require a smaller task light.
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This button LED light with a slide switch(essential) sells for 10 for a few bucks on Amazon. They make the perfect zipper pull and are always available.
Button light/zipper pull
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Re: OAUSA Net - May 9, 2019 - Camp Lighting

Posted: Thu May 09, 2019 5:10 pm
by NotAMog
Please check in -

John - KN6VL

Bruce - KD6GCO