In a recent poll we conducted 94% of the respondents said they have cached at night. With numbers that high it’s no wonder that a flashlight is an essential part of your geocaching kit. How do you decide what kind of flashlight to carry? I do a lot of night caching so I carry four different lights for different purposes.
When I started caching I used a handheld Energizer LED light. This light served me well in the beginning. It wasn’t long before having to maintain two sets of batteries, AAA for my flashlight and AA for my GPSr became an aggravation. I started looking for a quality flashlight that used AA batteries. This was not as easy as it seems.
There are a number of high end flashlights that cost over $100 dollars. These lights typically use a lithium CR123 which cost something around $9 each. Rechargeable versions cost about twice as much. Not only are the batteries expensive they are not universally available.
I was introduced to the Icon line of quality flashlights. My favourite of these lights is the Link flashlight. The Link uses a single AA battery and puts out 50 lumens of light on high and 6 lumens on low. At the lowest setting one AA battery will last an astounding 70 hours! I only put my lights into high power mode when I’m searching for a cache.
When caching I carry three Icon flashlights:
- Rogue 2 Handheld
(2 X AA – lumen output of 100 on high, 10 on low)
- Link Carabiner
(1 X AA – lumen output of 50 on high, 6 on low)
- Irix Headlamp
(1 X AA – lumen output of 35 on high, 5 on low)
I also carry a UV flashlight for those times when the cache requires it.
As mentioned previously my first criterion when upgrading my flashlights was standardizing on the type of battery to use. Every handheld GPSr I’ve ever seen uses AA batteries. That means I’m already carrying AA batteries so that’s what I standardized on.
Once I settled on my battery I started looking for flashlights that had good lumen output. A 100 lumen flashlight is bright enough for me to light up any area I’m searching for a cache. If you are doing a night cache that uses FireTacks it is possible for your light to be too bright. FireTacks are most visible when they are at the end of your flashlight’s range. If your flashlight illuminates the area around the FireTack too much you will lose contrast making it harder for you to spot the FireTack. The lower lumen output combined with the distance from your eye make headlamps best choice when hunting down FireTacks.
The Rogue and the Link both have aluminum housings and are waterproof to 1m. These are important considerations if you are going to be out in the field caching. The real world has a way of being hard on flashlights.
A feature I find very helpful is the carabiner like clip on the Link. I know the light is always handy because I clip it to the outside of my backpack. I find the light helpful during the day to look inside trees or logs. You can clip the link just about anywhere. On a recent camping trip I hung it from a loop at the top of my tent and had ample light when getting myself situated at night.
If you are just starting to geocache you may not yet fully appreciate the difference in various flashlights. There will come a time after a few night time caching runs that you realize you need a better light than you find in your local hardware store. When that time comes you’ll want to find a flashlight that means these criteria:
- Standard battery size
- Ample lumen output (at least 50 lumen)
- Rugged design
You will likely be happy with your flashlight if it meets the criteria listed above.
No matter what flashlight you buy it won’t do you any good if you run out of power. Make sure you take extra batteries into the field. The Powerpax Battery Caddy is a great way to keep your batteries organized.
Rember to, Grab a Light and Cache at Night!