Not to state the obvious, but it gets pretty freaking dark when you’re out in the wilderness (or at the campground not actually that far from civilization). Having a good lantern and/or headlamp is essential to not breaking your ankle on your way to the bathroom at night, or for any activity you plan on doing once the sun goes down.
I mean, how can you properly make s’mores if you can’t even see the ingredients on your lap? Or, if you’re a really good bunny and are planning on reading before going to bed (instead of collapsing in a sugar-induced coma after eating your body weight in s’mores), a headlamp is the ultimate hands-free reading solution.
Sure, you can use a flashlight on your first few trips. But a headlamp just makes life SO much easier, if for no reason other than that you will have complete use of both your hands. Try it once and you’ll never go back, I promise! Isn’t that what they say? Once you go Black Diamond headlamps you never go back?
The Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp is the perfect starter headlamp. It’s reasonably priced at just around $20 at REI. The second thing I love about this headlamp? You guessed it – fun colors!
In all seriousness, this headlamp is really comfortable to wear, easy to adjust, and extremely bright (or not…it’s got a dimmer!). It’s also light-weight and can take a beating, which is especially handy if you have a tendency to drop things. The red light setting also comes in handy if you need to get up in the middle of the night and don’t want to blind your tent-mate, or if you’re trying to preserve your night vision in general. The red light lets you see without making your pupils shrink up like regular white light does.
If you would prefer to go the lantern route, Black Diamond also makes great ones. Actually, that’s a bit of a blanket statement, since I only have used one – the Orbit Lantern. It’s small but mighty at only four inches tall, making it easy to throw in your bag wherever it can be wedged in. The little hook on the top of the lantern attaches easily onto the ceiling (that’s definitely not the right word) of your tent, giving you the perfect amount of ambient lighting to get changed/read/take out your contacts/etc. before hitting the hay.
We couldn’t tell how small the lantern was when we ordered it online, and when it arrived in its little miniscule box we thought, “Well good thing we didn’t pay a lot of money for this.” We took it camping that weekend and immediately took back our initial misgivings. The Orbit Lantern’s compact size is only an asset – like I said, you can fit it anywhere and you get the perfect amount of light.
Even if you don’t want to purchase any new headgear or lanterns, please at least bring a flashlight. I cannot emphasize enough that once the sun goes down it is pitch.black. And unless you drew the short end of the campsite selection stick and are right next to the bathrooms, you’re going to need some source of light to get you there. Don’t stub your toe or run into any trees (yes I have done both at summer camp) – be smart and bring something to light your way at the campground.