Brilliant Camp Lighting Ideas
  |  First Published: April 2012

Lighting, both personal and in the tent and camp, is something you want to get right if you are staying for any length of time.

There is nothing worse than cooking in the dark, stumbling around in 3ºC temps trying to find the zippers in the tent, just so you can then trip over all your camp gear as you go to relieve yourself. Trust me on this, there really is nothing worse!

But these days all the problems can be solved so very easily and at a cost that will surprise. In this piece I am going to talk about three lighting systems that I have been using for the last 6 months. Lighting systems that survived a 2 week non-stop camping trip along the Murray and Ovens rivers with my not so subtle gear treatment. The products I used were the Kor Camp Light set, the Coleman Rechargeable Tent Light and the Coleman Rechargeable Head light. Each worked brilliantly and did the job asked of them without fault or failure.

KORR Camp Light

This lighting system is an absolute winner. If you want light, you’ve got it wherever and however you want it.

At the heart of the system are hard strips of LED lights. These LEDs are amazingly bright and the standard kit comes with three strips. The kit I borrowed from one of the guys at work had 4 strips, an addition I’d highly recommend. The kit also contains extension leads, power cables that attach to a battery and a dimmer switch. There is also a splitter cable that allows the hard strips to be placed anywhere around your camp as well as some handy Velcro style attachment strips that keep the cables and LED strips in place.

Set up is simple with no instructions necessary. All connectors are one way and can only ever fit together in the right way. All you have to do is organise where and how you want to light your camp.

Our various camps saw us use the lights in the same manner every time. We ran one strip on the centre pole about half way up to light the stove for cooking, and then ran the three other LED strips along the spreader bar under the tarp to light up the table and general use area. It was a great set up that allowed us to minimise the use of any headlights or torches.

While we attached the dimmer switch at the first camp, and used it a lot, we forgot to install it on our other camps and in all honesty we did not miss it. Having said that though, if you ran one strip inside your tent or on the tent entry, being able to dim the LEDs down would be a very welcome option as the LEDs are bloody bright at full boar!

The 3 strip kit costs around $199 and the 4 strip kit costs $249, but with a few extra dollars thrown in buying an extra LED strip or two, your camp will be brilliantly lit every time. And the kit comes in a durable poly pipe that means you can keep your lighting kit safe and sound whether in storage or during travel. Brilliant.

Coleman CPX 4.5 LED Tent Light

A few years ago I was fortunate to go on a crocodile trapping and tracking trip with Australia Zoo. The tents we slept in had some handy lights that attached via magnets and provided light inside the tent wherever it was needed. That trip made me want some for my own tent and when Coleman released the rechargeable CPX 4.5 LED Tent Light, I immediately bought one to try.

The CPX system is a shrinking of the brilliant Coleman XPS system of interchangeable power packs. At present there are a few units that fit the rechargeable battery pack and the Tent Light is one of them. The difference between the CPX Tent Light and previous models is not just the rechargeable battery packs, but also the incorporation of LED units into the package. This has allowed Coleman to build in three light settings; a yellow night light, a low output white light and a high intensity white light.

I found I used the white lights only, but if you have young ones that need a night light, then the yellow option would be brilliant.

The tent we used had three separate rooms and the magnet on the Tent Light has a small handle on it that allowed us to use the Tent Light in the middle lounge room by hanging it off the light clip. Then when we were finished in the lounge room and headed for bed, I grabbed the Tent Light and used it more traditionally to provide a reading light. It was great.

Recharging the Tent Light was either through a 12V adaptor that I used in the car when travelling, or via a 240V power socket. Both options are simple and easy. But, if you do run out of power, Coleman sensibly provide the unit with a standard battery pack that takes three AAA batteries that are again sensibly provided with the Tent Light at purchase. Run time is around 25 hours at 33 Lumens, which is the low output white light setting and for our 2 week trip I never recharged the power cartridge.

This is a really nice product, but I would make the magnet a little stronger on the back, just to make sure, doubly sure, that people like me don’t misplace the magnet for a few days!

Retailing for $39.95, the Coleman CPX 4.5 LED Tent Light is a great product well worth its money.

Coleman CPX 4.5 LED Headlamp

Headlights are a dime a dozen these days, but good head lights are worth their weight in gold. Around camp, fishing at night, fiddling around in the tent and other situations will demand a little light be shone on the proceedings.

Coleman’s latest head light, the CPX 4.5 Headlamp, makes use of the rechargeable battery pack that is interchangeable with a range of other Coleman CPX products.

Three light settings can be found on the unit, a red safety light, a low output white light and a dazzlingly brilliant high output white light. I will warn you not to shine the high output light into anyone’s eyes, it is amazingly bright and is effective up to 43m. Seriously though, I reckon a possum or two will be thanking God we left!

The unit comes with a head band and the power pack has a belt clip allowing you to place the rechargeable battery anywhere convenient. I found by placing it in the small of my back was the best place as it allowed me to run the cords down the back of my head and away from my arms. This gave a freedom of movement that was fantastic for all sorts of things. Run time is around 11 hours at 75 Lumens whether on new batteries or on a fully charged power cartridge.

The head light is a great piece of kit and well worth looking into of you do any camping, night fishing or need to light up dark spaces and have your hands free. Retailing for $79.95 the Coleman CPX 4.5 Headlamp has become a very valuable piece of fishing equipment for me.

Light me Up

Having effective personal and camp lighting is not a luxury these days; it is something that is achievable and cost effective.

With the advent of LED lights into just about every lighting application, Korr and Coleman have got the mix pretty much right with these three products. Go and check them out online or at your nearest camping supplier. Once you have seen how good effective lighting can be in a camping situation, you will never, ever look back.

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