Cycling/Camping Trip Flashlight Preparations - Reccomendations

I'm planning an upcoming (June 2012) 5 night 6 day cycling / camping trip and of course (being the flashaholic that I am) I am planning my lighting needs. Now I did a similar tour last year. Last year I had my (cringe) 3AAA People's Cree, 3AAA Rayovac Sportsman Extreme, and a 3D Rayovac Sportsman Extreme Lantern. (BTW - These items really started my flashaholism.)

This year I'd like a smaller lantern, a floody headlamp (missed this need last year), and a good high-powered Bike headlight / general use light (mostly floody with good throw). The most important things are that I need to conserve battery power and weight/space. Last year we had 2 nights where we had electricity available. This year we may not have that luxury (except for some brief periods where we may be able to stop in a restaurant for lunch and ask to plug in a charger while we eat - ie. quick charger required) and so I want to plan accordingly. I plan to carry some AA NiMh's, AA alkalines, and AAA alkalines and of course alkalines can be picked up along the way (we'll pass through quite a few towns along the way). Right now I have (6) 18650's to carry (2 2400mAh TF Flames & 4 2600mAh Tenergys). I also need to conserve weight/space. Here is the main reason I want to drop that 3D lantern. That lantern was nice in that I could just leave it on and never worry about running the batteries too much (ie. only needed 1 set of batteries for the trip), but it was very bulky and heavy to pack.

Right now other lights in my flashlight collection which I would consider reasonable for the trip include:

KD C8 XM-L 5 mode
Palight C8 XP-G
Saik SA-305 (planned conversion to neutral XM-L not done)
Fake Solarforce L2 with 5 mode 3A XM-L drop-in
Bayco Headlamp (3AAA rated 18hrs - unverified)
2 generic 3AA Lanterns which are still unmodded

For a new lantern I am almost set on the 4AA Coleman Pack-away modded using Glass Frosting spray. Rated 105 Lumens for 5hrs, and 68 Lumens for 13hrs. I like my new fake L2 for the bike/general light, but the drop-in needs a lower medium (1.6A now) for more runtime (possible E1320 custom drop-in with suitable modes). The KD C8 has the same issue with it's medium level. I would like to mod the SAIK SA-305 so that I have a AA light, but I'm unsure how it would be on alkalines once I'm through with the NiMh's. For a headlight I've been planning to get the UF-H3D due to it's long runtimes, but I wonder if my Bayco light will suffice (ie. save the money).

For a Li-Ion charger I only have an Ultrafire WF-188 (modded per Old4570's method) - charges at 650mA max. I wonder about a cheap, compact, 18650 charger that would charge faster, but still within specs for 18650's. Probably a 2 bay with plug directly attached (no cord). Recommendations? (This is just in case we actually find electricity available.)

For NiMh I have an Energizer 4 bay AA/AAA charger which charges each channel separately (not sure on charge time, but likely overnight). I also have an older 4 bay Panasonic charger which is rated "6 hours" (came with 1950mAh Panasonic NiMh's) but charges in pairs.

Now I am on a "budget" and have other items to buy (thanks to BetweenRides & Cone!). I also know I can't wait until the month before the trip to order from China.

So I am wondering your thoughts. Better options? Am I missing something? What do you find well suited for camping use when you are away from electricity (and away from a vehicle)?

Thanks for the input!

Torches that have long run time vs brightness. Good choice bringing AA/AAA. And besides lights and a leather saddle , don't forget the marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate.

Just don't do what I did last week.

135 lights. Check

Batteries for all of them. Check

Food for me and the assistant. Check

Waterproof clothing. Check

Warm clothing. Check

Toothbrush and washing kit. Check

Car fuelled. Check

Washer fluid for the car, oil and any other consumables. Check.

Assistant's bowls. Check

Tools and chargers. Check

Pity I forgot the £%$^$%^& key!

I know what's going to happen. I'm going to bring 10 different lights and the other two will only bring 1! They'll think I'm nuts when I turn them all on and light up the campsite like it's daytime! Then again, I might not want that much light. We might be better off not knowing what's over there in the woods 300 feet away from us!

Marshmallows - check
chocolate - check
graham crackers - nah, they'll just get crushed into pieces in the panniers!


AA lithium primaries and the lights that use them .

Lightweight and you won't have to fool around with recharging anything .

But 1 C8 and a couple of spare 18650s wouldn't hurt .

I really didn't want the extra expense of AA lithium primaries. Not sure how the cost factors in with extended runtime.


There has been a couple threads about chargers. I highly recommend this one it has a nice floody light, it uses 18650s and shipped from the US for under 10 bucks. It also charges your 18650s when you have power, it has a voltage gauge, it charges at 1 amp or .5 amps and has every plug you could ever need. I have bought a half dozen of them I keep one in the car, one in the house and one in the bug out bag.

Others prefer this one I don't know why maybe I am missing something.

Good one Don!

How about this charger? I know it's not cheap. It does charge 4 at a time however. Little slow at 500mA. Wonder how safe it is?


I’d limit the night bike riding, take two headlamps and the spare AA NIMH’s for those and call it a day. Or as mentioned just buy the lithium primaries and toss those as you use them.
Take a Thrunite TI and wear it around you neck so that you always have a light source.

What AA headlight? The AAA one? Or you have one to recommend? Does the UF-H2 run on alkalines? I kinda hate to buy the H2 over the H3 though.

I forgot to mention I have a Sipik clone to run on AA's too and of course it puts out a nice flood of light - just not long of a runtime.


I don’t have any of the UF models (I have 2 Zebralights) but I was thinking about which ever model of the UF headlamps runs on AA.

Well, after thinking it over I think I will choose the UF-H3 and be sure to keep 18650's reserved for its use. I like the extended runtime and I still have the 3AAA headlamp for an alkaline backup. I see more use for the UF-H3 beyond this trip too.

Hmm, I am wondering if the UF-H3 and UF-H2 use the same driver (it was suggested in the BLF UF-H2 review thread) and if the UF-H3 could run in AA/14500 cells? I looked around and don't see any 14500 to 18650 adaptors, so it would mean making a custom made adaptor, maybe using a PVC sleeve. Anyone tried running the UF-H3 on 1.2V NiMh? Could be a good backup plan and mean I wouldn't even need to carry the 3AAA headlamp. EDIT: Should have read more thoroughly - it doesn't work on NiMh. Still not a deal killer.

Still didn't come up with a good cheap compact fast 18650 charger. One linked by E1320 best so far.


I just tried firing up one of my UF-H3s with a Duraloop no dice. One of my UFH2s only works with 14500s now so I damaged the driver on that one using them the other UFH2 still works with both.

Another thing to consider is my UFH2s are battery vampires sucking the life out of a Duraloop in about a month the UFH3s I have don't do this.

Yeah, I read of that issue and about yours in another thread. If the UF-H2 was significantly cheaper I would go for it, but being close to the same I just can't justify not going with the UF-H3.


Hi there!!

I am not a night time cyclist, so I will leave that part of the discussion to someone else. I do all my mountain biking in the light of day, although night riding is something I want to give a try. As far as camping and night hiking here's how I look at it. First of all, if I'm are doing "civilized" camping at a camp site... I can pretty much go HOG wild, bring whatever I want to horde at the site and stowe it at base camp. That includes 12V SLA HID spotlights, too for seeing stuff WAY out. From there, night treking and overnight excursions from base camp weight and efficiency become more paramount. I limit myself to single AA and 18650 lights.

Headlamp is a Zebralight H501, its floody enough to be used as an area lantern or I can wear it around my neck. Eneloops work great in this light.

For hand held duties I bring one bomb-proof P60 host and stowe 2-3 P60 drop in module pills in my pack. That way its light weight, easily packed and I have redundancy. Host is a Surefire 6P, bored for 18650, with a shatter-proof polycarbonate lens. The tailcap gutts have been swapped with an over-ready zero resistance mod, that way theres no switch or spring (or anything complicated) to fail. Its just a brass "slug" in the tailcap that touches the battery tube to activate the light. P60 module pills are multi-mode DIY builds... MCE-2.8Amp, XRE-1.4Amp. I only bring one reflector though. The brass pills are inter-changeable, practically weight-less and don't take up that much space. My absolute SHTF 18650 failsafe is a Malkoff M60 for backup. I pack these with foam in a small plastic zip-lock food container. Using P60 pills and one bomb-proof host can pack 2-3-4-5x the redundancy (whatever I can carry) in a smaller volume and less weight than packing multiple 18650 lights. The drawback is if something does fail, I have to take the host apart in the field.

I also have a Fenix MC-10 I will use as a kind of lantern / flashlight combo. Its versatile enough to cover near-field flood if the Zebra should fail, and can throw longer distances too should the 18650 host fail. It tail stands and I can flood its light to wherever I need it, in lieu of a lantern. It runs optimally on the same eneloops that the zebra uses.

The other thing too I have found is I just don't really need more than ~250-300 Lumens... I mean yeah its nice to have more, but at the expense of weight and volume? Its a trade-off that I have not seen the value in. Same goes for far-reach thrower. I had an XRE Tiablo A10 I used to bring, and I just never really used it for anything other than Oooh look at that tree at 200 yards, ooh nice beam in the sky. (but thats just me, opinions will vary widely)

Some pics for fun!!

If I really wanted to stream-line things I could ditch the 18650 setup and go all-eneloop. Not a bad thing to do, eneloops are GREAT cells. I can still almost get my ~250 lumens if I use the Quark XPG-R5 with the Fenix at the same time. (FWIW I have never actually used this setup in the field... I'm too psychologically attached to that surefire-18650-DIY setup).

Good Luck with whatever you chose!! and enjoy the outdoors

Thanks for the input. I should have clarified that we don't plan on riding at night, but it inevitably happens. Flat tires, mechanical problems (broken spokes), taking too long at lunch (you sit down to rest and don't want to get up), etc. . . We do go through a few tunnels (but they aren't too long and could be done without lights).

Last year my biggest disappointment was with the general campsite lighting. I was trying to hang that Rayovac lantern up on a tree limb and put something reflective behind it (ie. my dry sack) but that wasn't working well. I think that UF-H3 with the headband around a tree might be the best option for area light.


Sure np Garry... yeah one thing I have come to expect in the outdoors... Trees and overhanging branches are EVERYWHERE, except where you really need them to be at any given time. A floody headlamp I think is indispensable tool. It puts a wall of light exactly where you need it... in your field of vision every time.

The other thing I don't think I made very clear is I try and stick with one (maybe) two cell types at most. IMHO thats the easiest way to reduce weight and volume. I demo'd a Spark 18650 headlamp at a CPF night hike once and I found it just a little too heavy for my comfort. So I stick with the AA on my head, and 18650 in the hand. Don't get me wrong though, ~450 lumens shining from my forehead was pretty F-ing amazing.

I’m not comfortable with li-ions on my head. I know it’s not likely to be a problem but…it’s my head :slight_smile:
Personal preference, but I don’t like a lantern around camp trying to turn nighttime into daytime. A headlamp works best for me in that environment.
I think it’s easier to just take Eneloops for everything. If you run out you can always stop at any stop for alkaline AA’s. It just keeps things simple.
When weight isn’t an issue I’d probably carry one 18650 hand held otherwise I wouldn’t. I use very little light at night.
For a minimalist trip I’d take 2 Zebralight headlamps and one Proton Pro and several extra Eneloops. In the mountains I try to take my 18650 P60 sized (well slightly larger) aspheric to check out what I need to check out.
Sounds like a fun trip.

i like this HeadLight,but it's too expensive