Find The Right Light For The Job

June 13, 2018 9 MINUTE READ
Filed Under: clinic gear orientation

Hire Your Light to Fill One of These 7 Jobs | Skip to comparison charts to see BioLite Lanterns and String Lights side by side or see how HeadLamp 330 stacks up to the competition

A Guide To Choosing The Best Camp Lighting For Your Adventures

When it comes to finding your next camp light, there are a lot of things to consider. Here at BioLite we like to simplify the process by taking a step back and thinking about hiring our gear for specific jobs.

In this guide, we’ll rundown all the jobs around your campsite that require lighting and recommend the best types of light to fill each of those roles. Before we get into the specifics, we’ve identified three important questions to consider when shopping for off-grid lighting:

Does the light put lumens to work where you want them?

What's your power source?

Is it packable?

Putting Your Lumens To Work Where You Want Them

It’s easy to get caught up in looking for the brightest light available. While lumen output is a good thing to consider, it’s not everything. At BioLite, our lights follow four core designs that focus on delivering your light in the most effective way possible. Whether you’re using our gear or another light, this is a helpful reference when considering a new piece of gear:

Tabletop Light

Generally seen in the form of a lantern, these provide a hub of instant light that require no setup. Great for group activities in a tight space such as a card game or a shared meal.

Overhead Light

Light for everyone! Requires a little bit of setup (aka throwing over a branch or stringing to a tent) but by getting your light up off the table, you can cast illumination downward and replace harsh shadows with ambient light. Great option for spaces you might call home for a few days.

Personal Wearable Light

Lighting that moves with you, is hands free, and helps you see and be seen. Super helpful to you, but not a lot of light left over to share with others.

Handheld Light

Otherwise known as a flashlight. Helps you see beyond your immediate surroundings for what’s ahead. A great example is when you illuminate the torch and one side panel of the PowerLight so you can see what’s ahead and under your feet, so you don’t trip on any roots.

Power Sources & Run Times

At BioLite, we make two types of lanterns - USB rechargeable and solar powered. If you bring along USB rechargeable lanterns make sure you have a power source (either a battery pack or solar panel) to keep your lanterns charged up. If you bring one of our self-charging solar lanterns you won’t need to bring along extra power because the sun can charge them for you.

We’re not going to get into alkaline battery powered lanterns in this blog - but if you’re going this route make sure you bring extra batteries along with you.


We believe that the space a piece of gear takes up in your pack is just as important a consideration as weight. A lot of lanterns tend to be pretty bulky but at BioLite, we use edge-lighting technology to reduce bulk which results in flat-pack lanterns that are compact and don't waste space in your pack.

Finding the Right Light For the Job

Let’s explore some roles that light can fill at your campsite so that you can hire light for the job.


  • What is it: This one’s pretty self explanatory - using light to navigate your way through unlit pathways.
  • Relevant activities: Hiking back to a campsite near dusk, late night walks to the outhouse, finding your way from your tent back to the central group campground.
  • Gear we'd recommend: For a hands-free wayfinding light, we'd suggest using HeadLamp 330 or a PowerLight Mini can easily be clipped onto your shirt to serve as a headlamp alternative. If you’re looking for a flashlight, the PowerLight features a torch functionality and SunLight can easily be held in your hand to light your way.

Task Lighting

  • What is it: Hands-free light that remains stationary and provides direct light allowing you to complete a specific task.
  • Relevant activities: Meal prep, cooking, late night camp set up, etc.
  • Gear we'd recommend: HeadLamp 330 - it sits comfortably on your head so you can complete any task without really noticing it's there. Use the kickstand on SunLight, PowerLight, or PowerLight Mini to position your light on a table top or hang from a nearby branch. String lights hung up to point in the direction of your task are a great alternative.

Area Lighting

  • What is it: A combination of ambient overhead lighting and bright table lighting that can reach everyone at your campsite and create a feeling of being indoors in the outdoors.
  • Relevant activities: Hanging out at group campsite, eating a meal, playing cards, cooking, pathway illumination, etc.
  • Gear we'd recommend: BaseLantern XL as your main hub lantern and various SiteLights to illuminate different areas of camp (the SiteLight Variety pack is a good start). SiteLight Minis are our go to for illuminating pathways. Have a specific area of a path you want to light so people don’t trip? Hang the SiteLight XL strategically near roots or holes.

Tent Illumination

  • What is it: Ideally, this is a small lantern that has can easily be clipped, hung, or tied to the top of your tent (and be dimmed down or feature red night mode so if you have to wake up in the middle of the night you don’t blind yourself).
  • Relevant activities: Illuminating various tasks inside your tent (ie. searching through packs, arranging your sleeping situation, changing inside your tent at night, etc).
  • Gear we'd recommend: Your wayfinding light can often double as the light you use to illuminate your tent. Our favorites are PowerLight Mini, SunLight, or SiteLight Minis hung from the top of your tent. Another option is to pair a HeadLamp 330 with the light diffusing Stuff-Sack to turn your headlamp into an instant lantern.

Boost The Campsite or Backyard Ambience

  • What is it: Sometimes it’s just awesome to have some mood lighting wherever your outside adventure takes you. Setting your light to the right hue can help.
  • Relevant activities: Backyard BBQs, campsite jam sessions, fireside hangouts.
  • Gear we'd recommend: BaseLantern XL and SunLight both feature party mode so you can adjust the hue to fit the right vibe. 

Be Seen

  • What is it: When you’re outside in an urban area during dusk or dawn, you want a lantern that is bright enough to be seen from a distance to keep you safe from cars.
  • Relevant activities: Running, cycling, walking the dog.
  • Gear we'd recommend: When cycling or running, ideally, you get a wearable light for your front and backside so cars coming in either direction can see you. We’d recommend going with the Cyclist Kit which includes two PowerLight Minis. For even more lumens, bring along a HeadLamp 330 which can easily be positioned around a bike helmet - it's also clutch for running because it won't bounce around on your forehead.

Emergency Lighting

  • What is it: Camping lanterns and string lights can double as gear to light your way through a power outage.
  • Relevant activities: Lighting and charging during power outages, illuminating your home in an emergency situation.
  • Gear we'd recommend: SolarHome 620 allows you to light up multiple rooms, charge devices, listen to the radio, and it is all recharged by the sun.

Now that you have some insight into the functionality lighting can serve at your campsite, take a look through the detailed comparison charts below to help you select what lighting is best for your off grid adventure. 

Or, maybe you're ready to pick out a system of lights that work for you. Skip to the bottom of this blog to start shopping.


Compare BioLite Lanterns

Compare BioLite String Lights

See How HeadLamp 330 Stacks Up

Product BioLite HeadLamp Petzl REACTIK+ Petzl Actick CORE Black Diamond Sprinter Black Diamond Spot Princeton Tec Axis
Lumens 330 Lm 300 Lm 350 Lm 200 Lm 325 Lm 250 Lm
Weight (With Batteries) 69 g 115 g g 82 g 105 g 86 g 81 g
Burn Time (HIGH/LOW) 4 hr/40 hr 2.5 hr/15 hr 2 hr/7 hr 4 hr/42 hr 4 hr/200 hr 4 hr/54 hr
Beam Distance (High) 75 m 110 m 95 m 50 m 80 m 33 m
Rechargeable Yes Yes Yes Yes No - must buy batteries Yes
IPX Rating IPX 4 IPX 4 IPX 4 IPX 4 IPX 8 IPX 4
Battery Meter Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Lighting Modes White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe White spot, strobe White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe White spot, white flood, red flood
MSRP $49.95 $109.95 $69.95 $79.95 $39.95 $59.95
Product BioLite HeadLamp
Lumens 330 Lm
Weight (With Batteries) 69 g
Burn Time (HIGH/LOW) 4 hr/40 hr
Beam Distance (High) 75 m
Rechargeable Yes
IPX Rating IPX 4
Battery Meter Yes
Lighting Modes White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe
MSRP $49.95
Product Petzl REACTIK+
Lumens 300 Lm
Weight (With Batteries) 115 g
Burn Time (HIGH/LOW) 2.5 hr/15 hr
Beam Distance (High) 110 m
Rechargeable Yes
IPX Rating IPX 4
Battery Meter Yes
Lighting Modes White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe
MSRP $109.95
Product Petzl Actick CORE
Lumens 350 Lm
Weight (With Batteries) 82 g
Burn Time (HIGH/LOW) 2 hr/7 hr
Beam Distance (High) 95 m
Rechargeable Yes
IPX Rating IPX 4
Battery Meter Yes
Lighting Modes White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe
MSRP $69.95
Product Black Diamond Sprinter
Lumens 200 Lm
Weight (With Batteries) 105 g
Burn Time (HIGH/LOW) 4 hr/42 hr
Beam Distance (High) 50 m
Rechargeable Yes
IPX Rating IPX 4
Battery Meter Yes
Lighting Modes White spot, strobe
MSRP $79.95
Product Black Diamond Spot
Lumens 325 Lm
Weight (With Batteries) 86 g
Burn Time (HIGH/LOW) 4 hr/200 hr
Beam Distance (High) 80 m
Rechargeable No - must buy batteries
IPX Rating IPX 8
Battery Meter No
Lighting Modes White spot, white flood, red flood, strobe
MSRP $39.95
Product Princeton Tec Axis
Lumens 250 Lm
Weight (With Batteries) 81 g
Burn Time (HIGH/LOW) 4 hr/54 hr
Beam Distance (High) 33 m
Rechargeable Yes
IPX Rating IPX 4
Battery Meter No
Lighting Modes White spot, white flood, red flood
MSRP $59.95
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