Lighting is a critical part of survival or just plain car camping. Here is a product that might work for both of these situations.
by Leon Pantenburg
I was not paid to do this review, and at the time of publication Sunjack has no sponsorship relationship with SurvivalCommonSense.com.
Go outdoors enough and you’ll end up doing something in pitch darkness. It can be field dressing a deer, cleaning fish, cooking or just plain hanging out at camp playing cards or reading.
I have a collection of lanterns, headlamps and flashlights, and generally they fill any lighting need that might come up. So I was lukewarm at the idea of adding a lightstick to my gear. But I was also going fishing on Oregon’s John Day River, and figured it would be a good time to test the Sunjack
Here are the specs according to the website:
- Three brightness levels, including emergency flashing
- Waterproof to six feet in depth
- Up to 46 hours of lighting on one charge, at low setting
- Charges up to three smartphones
- Maximum brightness: 350 lumins
- Charging time four to five hours
The LightStick was stuck in my fishing gear, ready to be used. If things played out as they usually did, we would be cleaning fish after dark. (And making chowder.) But the river was up and the water was really murky, and we didn’t catch anything. I dipped the light in water, just to check out the waterproof claim, and it kept on glowing. The Sunjack would work as an underwater light, as long as it didn’t go below six feet.
Back at camp, I turned the light on high for several hours, and charged my smartphone. There was still plenty of juice after that.
The LightStick performed as advertised. It supplied plenty of illumination on the high setting to do a multitude of tasks, and around camp, there high setting was not always necessary.
Inside a tent, the LightStick provides a pleasant glow that is perfect for reading or playing games. It is also a safe light – drop this or tip it over, and there is no problem. Because it is electric, there are no dangerous fumes or open flames. You can let the kids use this light in their tent.
An added feature are the two hanging loops. These can be used to hang the light from the top of a tent, where it looks like a small flourescent kitchen light. I’d add clips or something to the loops so it could be easily hooked.
Charging: The light stick is easily charged if there is a computer or vehicle available. So if the vehicle is running anyway, don’t forget to use the charger.
But I wouldn’t include this lightstick on a several-day river trip unless there was an alternate source of charging energy, such as solar, available. The lightstick becomes a paperweight unless it can be re-charged, and with a four-to-five hour charging time, that may not work out particularly well. But judicious use of the correct settings for the surroundings could mean the light would last well over two nights.
High tech: I love modern technology and appreciate all the advances that have been made. (SurvivalCommonSense.com wouldn’t exist without the internet and computers.) But when it comes to survival, I take a low tech approach. Generally, the more complicated a device is, the more likely it is to malfunction. And Murphy says it will happen at the worst possible time.
And does anyone really need to recharge a smartphone in camp? Isn’t the point to get away from it all and enjoy nature? I usually leave my phone shut off, and packed somewhere. That being said, cell phones can provide a definite safety feature to any outdoor activity.
Durability: I field test for the worst case scenario. Would the LightStick be able to handle being dropped or stepped on? I dropped the lightstick about three feet onto concrete. No problem. But I can break anything, given the chance, and didn’t really see the point of abusing the product further.
Do you need a Sunjack Waterproof LightStick?
I probably won’t take this Sunjack backpacking: There are not enough benefits that are not duplicated by other, more versatile light sources.
As a survival tool, it is as effective as its charged batteries.
And do you need to charge your smartphone in the wilderness?
For a safety tool – yes. To keep your smartphone functioning so you can text, watch videos, check emails etc. instead of interacting with people or enjoying conversation around a campfire – definitely not! If electronic gee-wizardry is a necessary part of your outdoor experience, better stay home where the TV screen is bigger, internet works faster, and you’re not far from the shopping mall. Camping sites are crowded enough as it is.
Make your own choices. This lightstick can definitely make a camp brighter, and that’s a good thing.