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Light the way - our pick of camping lights, lanterns and more

February 1, 2013
by Laura Canning | guides

An enthusiastic approach to outdoor lighting Proper lighting needs to go hand in hand with proper socialising. This is partly because many of us look frankly more attractive by the light of a single flickering candle rather than an unforgiving floodlight, and partly because, well, just because. We prefer to skulk in dark subterranean bars rather than shiny brightly lit ones, because that's just how pubs should be. And so it is with campsites and caravan parks.

Wherever you’re pitching up, whether it’s a tent, yurt, wigwam or caravan, we think it’s jolly sensible to bring a few different lighting options to make the scene around the campfire more homely. Obviously packing lots of light could be a teeny problem if you're hiking and wild camping with only enough spare room in your rucksack for a couple of freeze-dried meals and a food bowl for the dog, but even then you can surely strap an outdoor candle to the side of your pack…

Like camping itself, campsite lighting has moved on from a dodgy gas lamp or a couple of tea lights going out with a cough or a breath of wind (get battery-operated tea lights instead ). And even with winter camping and caravanning , there are plenty of quirky lighting options about – here are some ideas to get started.

Earth lanterns : These are the Chinese-style lanterns you often see floating about in the night sky nowadays, but ones you keep with you rather than setting aloft into the sky. They're a bit like coloured paper bags with tea lights inside, but not as dodgy as that sounds, and cheap enough so that you can get a few to dot at different spots around your pitch.

Oil lanterns : A good option if you're able to carry the fuel with you, as oil lanterns can also keep away bugs and beasties. About eight ounces of oil in a lantern this size will burn for about 11 hours, and you can also put in a few drops of essential perfumed oil to add a nice smell to the camp – try something wintery and spiced-based like sandalwood or cinnamon.

Battery lanterns : These are probably the best option if you want to hook your lantern up to a tree or hang it outside your campervan or lodge, as well as being safe enough to use inside a tent. If you don't want to carry spare batteries, look for a lantern you can recharge – just be sure to pick a campsite or holiday park with charging facilities .

Garden torches : These burn for up to eight hours and come in all colours and scents. You can pay up to a tenner each for these for good quality ones, but discount and pound shops often sell them too.

Battery-operated fairy lights : OK, so you're not going to get much light to read by with these, but they're oh so purty…Pack them in a bubble-wrap envelope for travelling and then wrap them around a tree after you pitch up. Also handy for finding your tent again if you go for a wander in the dark.

Not recommended. Solar ball glass lights : Again something for purtiness rather than practicality, but these just look great. And with the added advantage of freaking out the dog when you turn them on.

Flip-flop string beach lights : More for the tropics than a British winter, alas, but string these ones up around a handy tree and you can at least pretend you're somewhere warm. You might want to add a campfire too for maximum effect.

Solar spot lights : These will easily give enough light to cook or play soulful guitar by, and no need to buy batteries either. Good quality solar lights will charge up well even in winter daylight and can be driven into the ground or attached to a post with the accompanying bracket.

And just for the tack factor, take a look at this glowing turtles light to place outside the caravan and again puzzle the dog. Sadly the turtles here aren't ninja ones, but this one's going on our ever-growing camping equipment list anyway.

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