Why A Flashlight Is Important In Hiking: The Ultimate Guide

Whether you are planning on hiking in daylight, during the night, in summer or winter, or any other time of the year, one of the things you should carry with you is a flashlight. The flashlight is an essential piece of equipment for safety and security reasons. Therefore you should always have one in your backpack while hiking.

You can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of hiking flashlights and your alternative options in our comprehensive guide. This information is crucial to the success of your trip, so we recommend that you read this article with the utmost attention: Why a flashlight is important in hiking.

Purposes of Hiking Flashlights

When it comes to hiking, there are quite a lot of situations in which you might need a flashlight. Its use is not necessarily limited to night hikes, although that’s one of the first purposes that everyone would think about. Here are some of the other purposes why a flashlight is important in hiking:

1. Night Hiking

It’s obvious that during night hikes, you will need a flashlight. This is especially true if you are planning on hiking in a remote area. The chances are that there will be no lights on your trail, but the trail terrain will be quite uneven, with roots and rocks all over it. You might even encounter wild animals, some of which will pose a direct threat to your safety.

For all these situations, it’s wise to have a flashlight that you can use. It will help you avoid tripping on rocks or roots, falling, or coming across wild animals. Most of them will steer clear of the light, while you can also point the flashlight directly at them if you come across them to scare them off.

2. Getting Lost or Spending the Night in Nature

No matter if you are hiking with just one other person or a larger group, there is always the possibility for you or another member of your group to get lost. It could be difficult to tell where the others are in the dark. If you have a flashlight, you can use it to track their footprints, or you can point it towards the sky in an attempt to show your buddies where you are.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you or your hiking buddies might suffer an injury during the hike. You might need to stay on the trail longer than expected – maybe even after nightfall. In that case, you will not want to sit around in a pitch dark environment. It would help if you had a flashlight to illuminate the place where you are staying and show the emergency crew your exact location.

3. Exploring a Cave

Sometimes, hiking trails can lead you to exciting places you want to explore. Whether it is a cave or any other point of interest, you can use the flashlight to light up that place and check it out. The light from your torch will also help you see details that the darkness might otherwise hide. So, if you are an explorer at heart, consider investing in a great flashlight.

Alternatives to Hiking Flashlights

Even though there are quite a lot of hiking flashlights that you can choose from, there are a couple of alternatives that you should also keep in mind. Here are the best flashlight alternatives you need to know:

1. Lanterns

Lanterns are great for camping, but they are not that good for hiking trips. A lot of people use them for shorter trips because they look cool and usually come at affordable prices, but we would not recommend them for longer hiking trips. They tend to be larger and heavier, meaning that carrying them around will not be that convenient.

Another thing to keep in mind is that lanterns can light up the space around them, but they do not have a very wide illuminating angle. You might pull off using them on trails that have some other type of lighting available at the same time, but we don’t recommend using them for fully remote hiking trails.

2. Headlamps

Headlamps are a better alternative to flashlights than lanterns. One of their disadvantages is that they have a smaller illuminating angle, while the other disadvantage is that some of them have short-lasting batteries. Aside from these two things, you will realize that they have many advantages that make them an excellent choice for hikers.

The thing we love most about headlamps is that they keep your hands free all the time. If you need to grab something quickly, you will be able to do that without any problems. If you need to hold on to something so as not to fall, you will also be able to do that without worrying about damaging your flashlight.

With headlamps, you can just put them on your head and wear them for as long as you need them. They come in all sizes and shapes, so you can easily find one that will fit you well. They are lightweight and pretty simple to use, while they also pack small. It is a good idea to keep one such headlamp in your backpack if your regular flashlight breaks, starts malfunctioning, or no longer has any battery power.

Features of Hiking Flashlights

Different hiking flashlights can come with different features, but here are some of the key features you should look for in your next hiking flashlight:

1. Convenient Size

Your flashlight should be compact and lightweight. It doesn’t necessarily mean that larger flashlights will be more durable or powerful. On the contrary, hikers need something that will be small and powerful, and with all the modern designs available, you will surely be able to find such a flashlight.

2. Long Battery Life

You either need a flashlight with long battery life or one with rechargeable batteries. If the hike takes longer than expected, you can use a power bank to refill the batteries. Still, it is a good idea to fully charge the batteries before leaving for the hike and take the power bank as a backup.

3. Various Brightness Levels

You also need the flashlight to have various brightness levels that you can easily switch between. You can use the low setting when using the flashlight in your tent or when you look for something in your backpack.

The highest setting is best for sending light signals to your group or an emergency crew. In any case, it is better to have the options instead of not having them and needing them at some point.

4. Waterproof Design

In case of rain or snow, you will need the flashlight to be waterproof to keep working as required. Also, sometimes you might accidentally drop the flashlight in a puddle or stream. If you want it to keep working, you will need it to be waterproof or water-resistant.

5. Wide Illuminating Angle

Flashlights with wide illuminating angles are best for hikers traveling in groups as they can use one flashlight per group. The wider angle will also allow you to keep the sides of the trail illuminated, and that can help you avoid having unpleasant surprises.

Advantages of Hiking Flashlights

We cannot stress the importance of hiking flashlights enough. If you haven’t realized how important they are by now, here are a few other arguments that will help you get to know all the advantages these small devices offer you. Let’s get into the benefits:

1. You Will Feel Safer

You are planning a day hike, but things take a turn for the worse, and you are left in the middle of a dark forest. We assume that even the most experienced hikers will feel a bit on edge, considering all the dangers and uncertainty that the darkness can bring.

In that case, you should have a flashlight at your disposal – just one push on the button, and it will light up everything around you, making you feel so much safer.

Also, you can use the flashlight to check your surroundings in case you hear anything suspicious. Without the flashlight, you will not feel safe and will not have a way to check it out. With the flashlight, you will be able to check your surroundings and make sure that everything is okay.

2. You Can Defend Yourself

We mentioned before that if you come across wild animals, you can point your flashlight at them to scare them off. Another thing to keep in mind is that the flashlight will allow you to see the danger that might lay ahead and help you prepare to defend yourself before you go into that situation. Maybe it’s indirectly, but the flashlight can help you protect yourself in certain situations.

3. You Can Send Light Signals

If you get injured, fall off the trail, or get lost, you can use the flashlight to show the emergency crew your immediate whereabouts. This is a great option because most people don’t carry smartwatches or other devices that can send coordinates in case of an emergency.

So, the flashlight gives you the advantage of showing others where you are or helping the lost hikers get to you quickly.

Disadvantages of a Hiking Flashlight

Even though hiking flashlights come with many advantages and can be helpful in many situations, they also have a couple of disadvantages we must not overlook. Here are the disadvantages that you need to keep in mind:

1. They Don’t Have Unlimited Battery Power

Whether you have a flashlight with rechargeable batteries or batteries that last very long, you have to also think about the fact that those batteries will run out sooner or later. Flashlights do not last forever as well – if you buy a more budget-friendly flashlight, it might start malfunctioning quicker than you would want it to.

This is something to keep in mind. Getting extra batteries will be wise if your hike lasts a few days. Also, you can put an extra flashlight or headlamp in your backpack in case the first one stops working.

2. They Will Keep Your Hands Occupied

Unlike headlamps, flashlights will occupy your hands and make it difficult to hold anything else while holding your flashlight. It would be best to consider getting a security chain or string to keep your flashlight attached to your wrist. But even with this type of chain or string, you will still need to hold the flashlight in your palm and point it in the direction you want to illuminate.

We recommend taking a headlamp for shorter hikes or hikes with fewer people if your hands get tired from holding the flashlight. It’s always a good idea to have a plan B if you need it, and the headlamp is a perfect plan B.

Conclusion: Why a Flashlight Is Important in Hiking

As you can see, a flashlight is always helpful – be it for night hikes or in emergency cases. Even if you only plan to be on the trail during the day, you should at least carry a small flashlight with you.

Last Update: 05. April 2022
About the Author

My name is Thomas, and I love the outdoors. I'm currently living in Germany and I would like to encourage my readers to go outside with this blog. Here you can read more about me.