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April 28, 2016
Flashlight Model Mania: Part 2


And we’re back!  Thanks for joining us again for another blog entry in our flashlight exposé where we take a look at the faithful companion of the flashlight and explore all of the different models, applications and varieties on the market today!  Last time we covered the basic-of-basic utility flashlight and the slightly-upgraded heavy-duty flashlight, both of which have their uses, but now we’d like to move on to the much more spectacular worker’s flashlight, tactical flashlight, and multipurpose flashlights.  Both of these flashlight models are the cream of the crop, but if you don’t believe us just read on.  You’ll change your mind by the end!

Worker’s Flashlight: The Tool for Every Job
Once you’ve tried the beautiful practicality of the worker’s flashlight, you really can’t go back to the cheap stuff.  Made of professional-quality plastic and/or aluminum housings, worker’s flashlights are built for continuous, everyday use and offer some of the least-compromising combinations of durability and affordability for the average consumer.  Most of these flashlights are water resistant and offer considerably higher lumen ratings than utility and heavy-duty flashlights, making them perfect for plumbing work, camping, boating, or any damp, dark place that needs some illumination while you work.  If there is a downside it’s that the higher output of these flashlights means battery life is about average, so it’s a good idea to power your flashlight with some rechargeable D or C-cell batteries that can be easily removed.  Bottom line:  Is it durable?  Yes indeed.

Tactical Flashlight
Portable, quality durability is where the tactical flashlight gets its charm, and even in the least expensive models you can find a flashlight that will handle a great deal of punishment and still keep on shining.  Largely inspired by (or made for) the military and law enforcement, tactial flashlights are almost always waterproof, shatterproof, and made of aircraft-grade aluminum.  Internally the components are made with high-quality solder connections and fittings that resist impact and provide strong circuit connections for long life of the flashlight itself.  Battery life varies depending on the design and bulb type, but will always outlast the other basic everyman flashlights on the market.  Cost-wise you will get what you pay for, meaning that as the price goes up you can generally expect to get a progressively-better flashlight in quality and features.  Investment and quality-wise, there’s no better choice than a tactical flashlight for tight spots.

April 23, 2016
Flashlight Model Mania Part 1


Hello all and welcome to another segment of our in-depth look at the exciting world of flashlights!  We’ve explored the mini-flashlight world and discussed the differences between LED and incandescent bulb types, but so far we haven’t actually gotten into the meat of what our readers are looking for: flashlight models explained.  So here we are, ready to go!  In this blog entry expect to be wowed by the sheer volume of different models, their uses, and how surprisingly affordable it is to own a flashlight these days!  By the end of it, we can confidently say you’ll be able to talk torches with the best of them.

Utility Flashlights: The Layman’s Light


Probably the least-recommended but most common flashlight out there is the longtime standard utility flashlight, complete with a thin plastic shell, sliding switch, and overall cheap materials.  These lights usually have poor battery life, plastic lenses and incandescent bulbs with surprisingly poor lumens, and generally are poor quality.  There’s nothing that really sets the utility flashlight above the rest beyond the fact that they are essentially the cheapest flashlights on the market today, sometimes running as low as a couple of dollars or less.  Our best advice is to only use utility flashlights on boats, at concerts or as toys for your children, i.e. any time there’s a high likelihood of never seeing it again.  But with these flashlights so cheap, at least when you need to replace them there’s probably a few thousand more on clearance at the nearest gas station.

Heavy-Duty Flashlights: Basics at their Best


Okay folks get ready: the everyman flashlight is here!  Like the favorite child of the family, the heavy-duty flashlight is the trusty pal of most everyone’s day-to-day arsenal of tools to use around the house.  A distant cousin of the utility flashlight, heavy-duty models are constructed of industrial-grade plastic or plastic composites and use a higher-quality Krypton bulb design that provides higher lumens and longer life.  The lower-end models tend to suffer damage when dropped or handled roughly, so spend a few dollars extra for the rubberized housing and save yourself the aggravation.  Generally you can get your hands on a nice heavy-duty flashlight for around ten to fifteen dollars, and will more than pay for themselves over time.  With their durability, moderate light output and low cost, these flashlights are perfect to have in the trunk of your car, under your kitchen sink or on the picnic table at the camp site.

Utility and heavy-duty flashlights have their place in the industry, but that’s just the tip of this glowing iceberg.  Be on the lookout for the next segment where we take a look at the other two basic flashlight categories: work flashlights and tactical flashlights.  You’ll be all aglow with joy, we promise ♥.

April 17, 2016
Camping Flashlights: Bulb Types Explained

In the past our blog series on flashlights has done a great job covering the basics of the many different types of flashlights on the market today, but so far we’ve glossed over the issue of brightness and the classification system of flashlights overall.  That ends today!  By taking a look at the different types of bulbs and their light source ratings, you can be that much more prepared to purchase a flashlight that better meets your specific needs.  Campers all have their own style after all!
Lumens and Candela Explained
Before we explore the bulb universe, let’s start with the units of measurement that help us rate different flashlights at different brightness levels: lumens and candela.  We’ve spoken about lumens in the past, but a lumen is a measure of the total quantity of light emitted by a single light source that’s visible to the human eye.  In the case of a traditional incandescent bulb, lumens reflect the measurement of the entire output of light (the total light shining in every direction), whereas the lumens of an LED reflect the measurement of all of the light only inside of the beam angle.  As an extension of lumens in both LED and incandescent bulbs, the candela refers to the peak beam intensity rating of the brightest spot in a focused beam of light.


Common Bulb Types

Going all the way back to the 1800’s, the incandescent light bulb is arguably the oldest and most successful bulb type on the market today.  These bulbs use a tungsten filament in a gas-filled glass shell that radiates light when an electrical current passes through it.  Most of the energy used in these bulbs is converted to heat rather than light, but because they are extremely inexpensive to produce, lower-end and average quality flashlights tend to use incandescent bulbs in their flashlights to keep costs down without sacrificing lumen ratings.

Light-Emitting Diodes were mostly used as indicator lights in computers and other electronics for decades because of their long life and relatively-low power consumption, but around the turn of the century companies began looking at the technology as an alternative to long-life lightbulbs.  Today’s LED’s have undergone numerous evolutions, but still last 10 times as long as an incandescent bulb and are much more durable than incandescents.  Their energy efficiency is also much greater, with very little energy radiated as heat. 
Right now the flashlight market has a roughly-even distribution between LED and incandescent bulb use, but all signs point to the much higher-quality and energy-efficient LED becoming the mainstream bulb design very soon.  Cost-wise incandescent bulbs are still cheaper to make however so it’s unlikely they’ll disappear completely any time soon, but LED costs are plummeting.  Which one is better?  You decide, campers!

April 11, 2016
Camping Flashlights Part 1: Mini-Lights


It’s impossible to overstate the importance of having a trusty, portable light source tucked away in your pocket, vehicle or backpack, especially when camping.  Hard-core campers and casual campers alike all know the value of a good flashlight, which is why it should be no surprise just how gadget-oriented flashlights have become, especially in recent years.  In this four-part series, we’re going to take an in-depth look at the types, lumens, cost, and just the reasons why you should carry some of the best flashlight varieties out there.  Hopefully by the end, we’ll have given you a new appreciation for carrying a torch on your camping journey!  Let’s get started!

Button-Cell Flashlights
Also known as keychain flashlights, the button-cell flashlight is one of the most common (and arguably the best) level of flashlight to purchase.  Powered by a few small watch batteries, these flashlights are very convenient in a tight spot when you unexpectedly find yourself faced with a task in the dark and need a little help.  They’re also extremely reasonable when it comes to price, usually not costing any more than $3 dollars for basic plastic versions and as much as $10 dollars for the high-quality varieties.  Be patient and you might even get one for free, as many companies order monogramed versions and give them away as promotional items!

AAA Battery Flashlights
If a button-cell flashlight is a bit too small for you, no worries: AAA is here!  Named after their power source, these AAA flashlights can have as much as 100 lumens (brightness units) under the hood, making them surprisingly bright for their size and yet are still capable of slipping easily into a shirt pocket or emergency kit.  Some AAA flashlights will even sit on your keychain just like a button-cell, albeit with a little more bulk.  Headband flashlights usually fall into this category and can be incredibly convenient for those moments when you need a hands-free portable light source.

AA Flashlights
Finally we’re taking a look at the supreme of the small, the AA flashlight.  These bad boys are still fairly small and portable, but are just big enough that they really won’t fit comfortably on your keychain.  The good news of course is that with an AA battery inside, these flashlights have about triple the capacity for both brightness and battery life!  With its bulkier size, designers usually are also able to add in a few extra features to these babies that make them much more versatile, such as miniature tripods, compasses, and other useful features.  Overall if you want portability and don’t want to sacrifice brightness, the AA flashlight is your miniature emergency savior!

Even if you have larger flashlights for bigger tasks, there are times where having a small glowing friend to tuck away in your pocket can save the day.  As a rule these flashlights are all fairly inexpensive, but If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, look for flashlights with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.  Since emergency flashlights obviously don’t have nearly the constant use of their larger counterparts and can sit unused for long periods of time, using lithium-ion batteries keeps a full charge longer and makes for a much more reliable flashlight when it counts.  Stay tuned for more blogs on flashlights coming soon!

April 1, 2016
Types of Camping Tents Part 4: Luxury Tents


Well campers, we’re sad to report that this is the last blog in our four-part series on camping tents, but because it’s our last entry on this subject we’re going to go out with style.  High-end style, in fact.  It’s true that most of us enjoy the rough and tumble of outdoor camping, but there are those camping enthusiasts out there that prefer a more lavish lifestyle (and have the money to support it).  These campers are the primary driving force behind an exclusive line of luxury tents, complete with all the amenities of a four-star hotel that just happens to be made of tent poles and fabric.  We’re not joking when we say that some of these tents will leave your mouths hanging wide open.  But then that’s part of their charm, eh?

Solar-Powered Tents

In the world of luxury camping it’s hard to classify different categories of tents due to the high level of customization, but solar-powered tents are in a league of their own.  The idea is that the nylon/polyester threads that make up the tent fabric are coated in a light-activated substance that harnesses the energy, then stores it battery cells that run the length of the tent seams.  It even has multidirectional shades that can be adjusted as needed to maximize the sunlight collection depending on the time of day.  Recharging your smartphone would be a breeze in this tent, as would any number of low-powered devices such as a GPS, digital camera or even a small air compressor.  Good luck finding these tents at your local sporting goods shop though, as few companies are even producing them and each one currently has to be custom built for the owner (and the wait list is huge).

Two-story Tents

No, we’re not joking!  For those who can afford it, it’s possible to get your very own two-story tent, complete with living quarters and storage!  Built by British tent manufacturer OLPRO, the two-story tent uses poles made from a unique aluminum/lithium alloy that is incredibly strong but light and thin enough to keep with tent camping’s ease of assembly and storage requirements.  The top floor has four “windows” with roll-back screens and comes equipped with an adjustable divider to section off areas of the upstairs.  The downstairs level has more sleeping areas and a large communal living area that has a retractable canopy built into the entrance to create a makeshift porch.  You can even purchase carpeting for an additional cost.  As if having two stories wasn’t enough, this tent is also made from a high-tech fabric known as OLIght, which changes color depending on the exterior light levels to maintain low light for sleeping and bright light for daily living.  How cool is that?!

April 1, 2016
Types of Camping Tents Part 3: Extreme Weather


Alright campers, so far in our blog series on tents, we’ve covered the standard tried-and-true designs and tents built specifically for large families, but what about those camping folk that don’t want to commune with nature so much as battle against it?  Enter the extreme weather tent category, where you can find a tent perfect for gale-force winds or sub-zero temperatures.  Just because you’re camping in inhospitable places doesn’t mean your tent can’t be snug and cozy!


The Extreme Cold Weather Tent (ECWT) is the ultimate in harsh winter climate tent technology.  These tents are made of space-age polymers that reflect heat inside the tent while insulating it from the harsh wind and temperatures outside, effectively making it a cozy oven in temperatures as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit.  Most ECWT’s have a special urethane coating on the underside that prevents residual ground moisture, and are supported by high-grade aluminum tent poles to maximize strength.  Some tents can support snow up to four pounds per square foot across the entire tent surface!  Bottom line, if artic exploration is your game, then this tent is for you.

High-Wind and Rain Tent: The Hemiplanet Mavericks


If you plan on being in the middle of a hurricane or on the edge of tornado country, it’s probably a good idea to bring along a trusty Mavericks tent.  This monster takes advantage of several different tent engineering principles and styles, using super-thick inflatable air beams arranged in overlapping triangular patterns to provide extra support against the most brutal windy weather.  The creators of this new-age camper claim that the tent can withstand wind gusts up to 111 MPH.  Considering the average wind speed of a tornado is 112 MPH, this seems like the apex of wind-breakers!

“Floating” Tents


Okay, before we go any further we want to clear up any misconceptions that the name of these tents might cause: this is not some sort of whitewater rapids tent hybrid.  Rather a floating tent (also known as a suspension tent) is erected above the ground by suspending the tent between several tree trunks.  While many campers make use of floating tents for clever ways to see spectacular views from high up, they’re also a favorite for extreme campers that trek in areas prone to flooding, high tides, or generally rugged country that makes pitching a traditional tent almost impossible.  Floating tents still offer the same amenities as their ground-bound counterparts like insect netting and rain protection, so you’re not compromising comfort either.  Perhaps the only thing negative that can be said about floating tents is that you will always need some sort of tall, load-bearing supports such as trees or telephone poles to make it work, but that’s a small price to pay for sleeping ground-free.

April 1, 2016
Types of Camping Tents Part 2: Multi-Family


Welcome back, campers!  Today in Part 2 of our blog series on camping tents, we’ll be examining some of the more family-oriented tent styles that are best suited for large groups of outdoorsmen (and women).  Many are offshoots of the standard tent designs such as dome and rigid frame tents, but custom-engineered tents specifically for families exist as well.  Let’s take a look!

Tunnel Tents


No, these aren’t temporary storage sheds or car ports!  Tunnel tents can use either flexible fiberglass poles or rigid frame poles, but each type acts as a series of curved “ribs” that support the tent fabric in sections.  With this design, tunnel tents can arguably be made as large as their owners need them to be, with some sleeping parties as large as 20 or more with individual rooms, doorways, and even windows!  These tents are also very stable and great for rain or shine, which is most likely why these tents are largely considered to be the standard type of family tent used in campgrounds today.

Pod-Style Tents


If supersized tent-homes is how you’d like to camp, then look no further than the pod-style domed family tent.  Much like our own homes, pod-style tents have a large central living area with additional domed rooms that extend outward into personal living spaces.  This gives everyone their own space to sleep and dress while still having a single large room for congregation during the day.  These tents are probably the best tents for comfortable family camping…if you have the space to put them up.  Pod style tents are large and non-linear, so they require a lot of broad open space compared to most other tent styles.  Having multiple rooms means a lot more fabric, tent poles and stakes as well, so expect these tents to be more difficult to assemble and bulkier to transport.
The Vis-à-Vis Tent


We’ve shown you tunnel tents and we’ve shown you pod-style tents, but having such distinct styles like that is practically begging for some hybrid of the two, and that’s where the vis-à-vis tent comes in.  Beginning as a trend amongst French campers, this tent uses a small main entryway with a lot of headroom that connects two other small tents whose entryways face one another (hence vis-à-vis). Though not as large as a tunnel tent or as elaborate as a pod-style tent, vis-à-vis tents are a nice compromise between size and privacy.

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