A Guide To Lighting: Lamps, Lanterns and Torches

There is nothing better than sleeping under the stars, and there is nothing worse than not being able to find your tent after a night out, or repeatedly tripping over guy lines on any impromptu, late night excursions.

The modern camper has a huge range of lighting gadgets and devices to choose from, all of which are tailored to each individual’s preferences. Here we will explore what is on offer, and put lighting in the spotlight.

Types of Device


The classic torch has been around since 1887 and has undergone a series of facelifts and reinventions. The main advantages to the handheld torch are that they are lightweight, easily carried, compact and simple to aim. When it comes to single beam lighting, the handheld torch cannot be beaten.


Lanterns offer large areas of 360 degree illumination, perfect for tent interiors of all sizes. Most lanterns come with the option of a hook or loop attachment, ideal for hanging or attaching to the outside of a rucksack or backpack, as they tend to be larger than handheld equivalents.

Head Torches

Increasing in popularity over the last decade, the head torch was once the saviour of the caver and potholer. Now a staple in most campsites, head torches offer strong illumination in a hands-free capacity. Ideal for pitching tents in the dark, head torches are simple, easy to use and highly practical.


Handy devices with a purpose extended beyond party revellers, glowsticks offer versatility, value and a way to stand out on the campsite. Inexpensive and easy to attach to pretty much anything, glowsticks offer a unique way to identify your tent on the campsite.

Power Options


Battery powered torches are the most common on the campsite. With a power source that is easily available, simple to store and relatively safe, it is not hard to understand why they are favourites. Although they are easy to get hold of, it is always wise to bring spare batteries with you as back up.


Gas powered lights offer exceptional brightness and long burning times. Modern gas lamps are drastically different to their ancestors, providing a much safer light source. The gas itself is easy enough to purchase before a camping trip, but maybe more difficult to get hold of in the further reaches.

In colder temperatures, gas powered lighting can provide an extra degree of heat, making them great for expeditions, but not suited to family camping with children.

Wind Up and Kinetic

Highly reliable, wind up lamps are exceptional as back-up lighting, as they do not depend on externally sourced power and have a long life-span.

Bulb Types


Fluorescent bulbs are highly durable, easy to replace and generate great levels of brightness. They do tend to be quite large, so not ideal when pack size is important, as well as becoming hot to the touch after extended use.


LED bulbs are efficient, long lasting and remain at the same temperature. These smaller bulbs are often situated together to supply large amounts of lights. The long lasting nature of these bulbs makes them a favourite amongst family campers.

Jargon Buster: Lumens

Lumens are units of measurement used to gauge brightness. They relate to the total amount of visible light from a lamp or light source. The higher the lumens rating, the brighter the light will appear.

Henry is probably the least enthusiastic and most cynical member of the content team, but in spite of this, he does sometimes enjoy doing things.

Growing up in the bleak North West, Henry used the forests, lakes and hillsides of North Wales as a playground, developing a keen interest in walking, mountain biking and just being outside really.

Henry is a Mongol Rally veteran (2013, a fine vintage.) and still experiences the occasional pang of wanderlust and a confusing urge to fix hatchbacks. Henry is a Blue Peter badge holder circa. 1999, makes a really good Old Fashioned cocktail and takes Polaroid pictures for fun.

Related article

Osprey A/W 2017 - Trillium, Transporter & Fairview

Osprey A/W 2017 - Trillium, Transporter & Fairview

We review our favourite bags from the new Autumn/Winter Osprey collection including the Trillium, Fairview and Transporter. 3 bags for 3 very different adventures. Read more

Latest article

The Montane Lakeland 50 - 2017

The Montane Lakeland 50 - 2017

Over a flattish section on the top jackets went on, the heavens opened just in time for the rocky descent I’d heard about so many times on the way around.  I had by now blocked out all but a little of the pain in my toe but for the fear of taking out other runners I would have attacked... Read more

Join the discussion

By entering your email address you will be opted in to receive communication for the JD Sports Fashion group. For full details on how we use your information, view our privacy policy.

We accept the following payment methods

VISA, VISA Electron, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express and Paypal

Blacks Outdoor Retail Ltd. Registered office Edinburgh House, Hollinsbrook Way, Pilsworth, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 8RR. Registered in England.
Company registration number 7795258 VAT no. 787440102

Part of the Blacks family of stores