- Lanterns – These come in a variety of forms including gas lanterns which we used when I camped as a teenager. You need to be careful with the gas and the flame, but they give off a small amount of heat too which is nice. Then there are battery operated lanterns which come in different sizes and wind up lanterns which can be useful, but they are quite noisy to wind up and obviously you do need to keep winding them up, which can make for a less than relaxing evening (it always happens to me in the good part of a book). Lanterns are good for general light in a tent but aren’t necessarily the best thing for specific tasks. They are also good for hands free tasks.
- Torches – These are excellent for going to the toilet in the middle of the night. They are also good for finding things in the dark or checking guy ropes. They are also campsite friendly as they can be aimed at the ground or what you want to see rather than lighting up everything and disturbing neighbours. Again they come in wind up or battery operated versions and come in a variety of sizes from key ring ones which you have to hold the button down on or massive ones that can flood light an area. They are one of the best forms of light to give a child. They help them to feel safe and hopefully won’t disturb others in the way a lantern might as it lights everything up.
- Head torches – Personally I have mixed feelings about these. They should be great, individualised light directed towards where you are looking. But, they do have a tendency to slip and make your head itchy. We also had a bit of an incident where one was dropped down the loo accidentally as it was taken off at the toilets. There is also a tendency of some people to keep the light on whilst they talk to you, effectively blinding you and making you feel like you’re under interrogation. So they are good, but they have some drawbacks.
- Candles – These make for great ambient light, particularly if you are sitting outside at night. I would never personally use these inside a tent. The citronella ones seem to be used the most frequently on campsites as they are supposed to help deter midges. I’m not sure of the wisdom of this, as I prefer deterrent actually on me and the children, but they do make for great lights, particularly the ones on poles you can stake in the ground.
- Glow sticks – These are great for children and adults and are often used on Bonfire night, but can often be picked up cheaply after this. They can also be made into necklaces and bracelets if you buy a packet with connectors. Once again they are great for helping children enjoy the dark, but they can leak sometimes and the stuff that leaks from them is very messy. They also can’t be turned off when they are snapped, so they will continue to glow all night long and might need to be hidden under a jumper – just make sure they aren’t leaking before you do that.
Of course camp fires and barbecues may be some sort of an option. Then if you forget where you put all the lights when you camp as I did once, ( I found them on the second day in a safe place in the car,) you can always use the light on your Kindle case as a stop gap. I’ve always found the best thing is to have a combination of things and just remember where you put them when you pack.