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Backpacking sans batteries...
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spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
carbide miners' lamp on 09/26/2012 11:02:04 MDT Print View

If you need battery-free lighting powerful enough to work or hike by:

Edit: Eugene beat me to it.

Edited by spelt on 09/26/2012 11:04:31 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Environmental impact on 09/26/2012 11:28:00 MDT Print View

The level of environmental impact does depend on life cycle and proper disposal.

I do think that decent lighting is a safety issue and has been on the essentials list for decades and for good reasons. Many get by with a Photon Micro or a Petzl e+, but I prefer something with more output. My rational is needing to navigate the trail at night due to slow progress or going for help after dark. I have planned to be able to abandon my pack and carry enough essentials to protect myself while going for aid for another hiker. That means water, the usual essentials, and good lighting for navigation. There are 1000 possible "what ifs" and the weight of a good light and backup batteries is one of my personal concessions. Things like smart phones, MP3 players, radios, cameras and the like aren't needed on a safety basis. I don't think much of GPS's as the only and primary means of navigation as well.

One thing I have been working on is to get my lighting using one AA battery each, so I can trade between them and only need one spare for good CYA. I have a Fenix H21 headlamp and an Olight i2 flashlight. I'm sure I could get by with one or the other.

Your thread does make good points and we should think long and hard about the "toy level" in our packs, for reasons of sustainability and distraction from the enjoyment of nature, as well as weight. I once saw a fellow hiking into a wilderness area with a boom box balanced on his shoulder-- and pounding out Heavy Metal. Not good on so many levels!

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: Re: Environmental impact on 09/26/2012 13:07:45 MDT Print View

" I once saw a fellow hiking into a wilderness area with a boom box balanced on his shoulder-- and pounding out Heavy Metal. Not good on so many levels!"

Around me, that might have been a terrible gun accident... involving the noise box. The radio is replaceable though...

I agree with you about the "thousand" what ifs. I just wonder if a significant enough of them are mitigated with a light stick. I hear some guys talk about the need for a knife (sword) while they're in the back country citing what ifs? I don't know the answer for sure, and only submit I'm going to try this out.

Good on ya for the battery swapping. Great idea.

As for toys... amen, and amen.

Everett Vinzant
(wn7ant) - MLife

Locale: CDT
Re: carbide miners' lamp on 09/26/2012 13:16:52 MDT Print View

I saw both your comments, so I took a look at them. I like the idea, I don't like the weight. I have a sealed light stick that works for 12 hours a .5 ounces. Two of them (for a weekend trip) run me 1 oz. My other concern is one that's voiced with white box stoves. Once you light it, you are waiting until the fuel is consumed for it to go out (I think...).

HOWEVER, the fact these are batteryless is awesome. I found some on eBay from $20 to $100. I may get one just cause it's awesome to have and use.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Dale on 09/26/2012 17:00:06 MDT Print View

He Dale, did we pass the same person? In the Olympics? ;-) They were rocking out pretty good. It was lashed on to the top of their!!

At least with ipods people listen to the music in their heads and not on boom boxes anymore ;-)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: light sticks vs battery lights and safety on 09/26/2012 17:17:26 MDT Print View

I recommend playing the scenario as through you were reading it after the fact:

July 23, 2013 North Cascades National Park

A lost hiker was found dead today at the bottom of a cliff on the Lake XYZ trail. Search and Rescue personnel report that he was was using a light stick for navigating the trail in the dark and fell 200 feet to his death. There was a gravely injured hiker camped at the lake and the victim volunteered to go for help. His identity has been withheld pending notification of his family.

Which would be discussed in hiking forums with the posters pondering why the poor guy didn't have a flashlight. Every year we read about people who are lost, injured or die for want of basic essentials. As in your example of someone who feels he must carry a huge knife, there are common sense limits to what is practical and effective to carry. Ultimately it does come down to hike your own hike. Be careful!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Dale on 09/26/2012 17:24:23 MDT Print View

Sarah asked, "He Dale, did we pass the same person? In the Olympics? ;-) They were rocking out pretty good. It was lashed on to the top of their!!

At least with ipods people listen to the music in their heads and not on boom boxes anymore ;-)"

It was on the Lake Alice trail off I-90. I was on the way down, so I didn't have to suffer for long. There were four guys on a day hike without any gear, not even a water bottle, cotton tees and jeans, but he had that boom box on his shoulder, blasting away. I was too amazed to say anything and just walked on down the trail.

I put in the same file with the guy I saw riding a bike the wrong way down a one way street without a helmet and smoking. He would make a better organ donor if he wasn't smoking!

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Flashlight on 09/26/2012 20:58:28 MDT Print View

Depending on your definition of battery I think the following flashlight would meet your requirements

I believe they run on discharging capcitors rather than a battery. Now you might argue that a capacitor is still a battery as it a method of storing power. But really a glow light is closer to a battery in that it is chemical energy rather than a separation of charge. So i think these dynamo type lights would actually be more in the spirit of your trip, they are light weight and put out as much lite as those elites

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Lightstick Versus Flashlight on 09/26/2012 21:15:59 MDT Print View


I'm an IT guy as well (an SAP Consultant) and understand your need to "unplug" completely.

One thought for using the lightstick...They don't throw off a lot of light and they do it all around. Take a piece of foil along to make a reflector in case you need to use it to see at night. The reflector will do two things:
- Will concentrate the available light in the direction you want
- Will keep your eyes from looking at the lightstick directly

Good luck - I'd like to hear how your test trip goes. For the test trip pack a flashlight and keep it in your pocket...

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Flashlight on 09/26/2012 21:17:26 MDT Print View

The shaker lights use capacitors. Most crank lights use NiMh batteries.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
A Flashlight...Why? on 09/26/2012 22:23:53 MDT Print View


The stars light my bread;
to follow the rhythm of things.
To make camp before dark,
to do as the world dictates-
a bed of leaves,
a depression kicked in cool earth
to fit the curve of the hip.
Sit, in the dark
let the eyes adjust.
Let the sound of water blend with the sound of wind;
one, separate, and one again.
Even a simple candle
now blinding, unnecessary
to bring my bread and cheese
out of the dark.

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
ditch the lightstick on 09/28/2012 10:45:33 MDT Print View

I like the idea of not bringing anything that needs batteries.

But why not take the idea all the way and ditch the lightsticks too, you really don't need them.

You can set up camp at night just fine without any light if you know where you keep things in your pack and how to setup your tarp/tent.

Any trail too rugged to hike at night without a flashlight will also be too rugged at hike at night with a chem lightstick.

I like that you are working on making wilderness travel more simple, but it seems funny to take ONE flashlight outta your pack only to replace it with TWO lightsticks.

Go hiking on a full moon and don't bing any light.

oh and ditch the tp too
the backcountry bidet is where it is at

Edited by rucksmtr on 09/28/2012 10:49:56 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
I like it on 09/28/2012 17:57:58 MDT Print View

I could easily get by w/o my Steripen, I used MicroPur tabs for years prior; GPS- it's nice, but I'm comfortable w/ map & compass; digital camera would definitely be missed, but there have been fast trips where I didn't snap a single shot; light however..... I often hike after dark (especially as the days shorten) and you never know what emergency may arise that requires you to hike at night (this fire loooong fire season give rise to a few possible scenarios)- so one battery item isn't too bad :)

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Old school on 09/30/2012 08:29:16 MDT Print View

Except for lacking a flashlight, the no-electronics system looks like that my Boy Scout troop practiced way back in the day. Survival of the fittest, communing with nature, all that stuff...

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
I'm doing the opposite, kinda... on 09/30/2012 09:10:58 MDT Print View

Ha! It's funny that I am going the other way with the whole electronic thing after a long period of electric minimalism or flat out disuse.

When I was a teen and in college often I would only have a single small flashlight with no backup batteries, and sometimes no light or any electric stuff at all. Campfire light would be all I would need, and if it rained, then break out the light--and only for like 10 min to get ready for bed. Of course it helps to take precautions, like have your shelter sorted before sunset, and lay out stuff you will need at night.

About 4 years ago when I started to get back into backpacking as my main hobby I bought a wind-up LED flashlight. Then a few years ago I discovered UL backpacking and switched to a tiny 30g LED flashlight, which is what I usually take as my only light, though I do pack some extra batteries (only 10g, they are the disk kind). But then around the same time as I discovered UL I also got back into winter backpacking, and here in Sweden in the winter it is dark most of the time, sometimes the sun sets at like 4pm.

So just last month or so I decided for the upcoming winter to get a nice and light headlamp. Then of course other things in life forced my hand with a few other electronic items like cell phone and camera. I often will leave my camera at home, but I write a blog, so sometimes it comes with. The cell phone I never, ever took with me... until I had kids. Now it comes with me always and fully charged to make sure my family is doing well and to talk to my kids if they miss me, wish them goodnight, etc. It's only 65g at least. I could give a rat's behind about iPhones or the rest of those fancy new phones.

But I admire the spirit of the OP, I was there at one point, but life sure does change on you sometimes.

Oh, a tip I just remembered: take a small tea candle with you just in case. There have been several times that made things much easier in shelters, and if anything it sure is cozy :)

Ron Berry

Locale: Southwest Florida
Sounds dangerous on 10/01/2012 13:52:27 MDT Print View

Why not bring a headlamp and try not using it, first?

light on 10/01/2012 19:21:49 MDT Print View

Night time is not always that dark. Once your eyes get used to the darkness, its often amazingly well lit if there is any moonlight.

Using a light, can often be visually poorer overally than going without one if there is some moonlight. You can see close to you, but not the big picture farther out.

I only use a photon, 0.35 oz. And thats basically only to find something in the dark, or go to bathroom .

On the trail, darkness is for sleeping. Daylight, is for everything else.