As we continue our look at the Ten Essentials for the outdoors, we look at the flashlight, item 5 on the Boy Scout list. On The Mountaineers classic list, as item 5, it becomes “headlamp/flashlight.” On The Mountaineers updated list is becomes “illumination (headlamp/flashlight).” We will cover the headlamp in our next Ten Essentials post.

For now, we turn to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which defines the flashlight as “a small electric light that can be carried in your hand and that runs on batteries.” The Online Etymology Dictionary indicates that the word originates, in America, from combining “flash” and “light” in 1886.

There are seemingly endless options when it comes to flashlights. We prefer to carry one (or two) that use AA or AAA batteries. There are good options for rechargeable AA and AAA cells and it is our preference to use them over alkaline batteries. In a pinch, we can use standard AA or AAA alkaline batteries, which are available almost anywhere. AA and AAA lithium batteries, popular for photography will also substitute if they are all that is available. The D cell flashlight used to be the standard, but modern LED technology allows good brightness and run time from the smaller AA and AAA cells.

Mr. FamilyTrivium almost always has his trusty single AAA flashlight in his pocket. It comes in handy more often than you might think. For camping, we like single AA versions as they provide a longer run time and usually reside in a pack, rather than a pants pocket, but are still compact and relatively lightweight. On, our camping flashlights, we will tie a lanyard made of brightly colored paracord or reflective tent guyline to make them easier to locate, and less likely to be dropped in the first place. We also have our thoughts on headlamps – stay tuned.

If you have a favorite flashlight, and you’d like to share your thoughts, please feel free to do so in the comments.


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