One of the biggest challenges for people who are new to camping is learning how to feel comfortable at night when everything gets pitch black. Here are a few of my favourite camping lighting ideas to help you see a little better in the dark!
When I was first learning how to camp, I had a really hard time feeling comfortable at night when I couldn’t see anything. I kept feeling the need to go turn on a giant light switch somewhere because it just felt so strange not to be able to see everything the same way you can at night when you’re at home. We’ve always gone tent camping and our whole family just loves it, but the darkness definitely takes some getting used to if you didn’t grow up camping. I actually feel pretty comfortable now in the dark, and it definitely doesn’t bother our kids one bit, but I still find it really fun and challenging to find new ways to light up the night. Here are a few of my favourite camping lighting ideas for you to try on your next camping trip!
Lanterns and Flashlights
I think the first thing that most of us think of when we think of camping lighting is a basic flashlight, but I’d venture to say that if you’re just starting to collect camping gear, the first thing you should invest in is a big propane lantern. These can be hung from a pole, or placed right on your picnic table and they’re the closest thing to being able to flick a switch and turn on the lights that you’re going to find. You can adjust them to make them give off just a little glow or to be super bright and they’re great task lighting if you find yourself cooking or cleaning up in the dark.
You can also get mini LED lanterns that hang from the loop at the top of your tent and light everything up really well. These are great to have in each room of your tent and prevent you from having to hold a flashlight in your teeth if you’re trying to find your PJ’s to change into at the end of the night. 🙂 These were quite expensive a few years ago when we first started using them, but they’ve really come down in price, so there’s no reason not to stock up on these.
It’s always a good idea to have a flashlight or two for backup and for walking to the washroom. We like to give one to each of the kids, along with their regular tent lanterns, but we find that Chris and I just end up using the flashlight on our phones most of the time and that works perfectly.
One of my favourite things that I discovered a couple of years ago was using solar lights on our campsite. They don’t really provide much light for working or finding things, but they sure add to my comfort level in the dark. The cheapo basic type of solar lights work great for this. We like to place them on either side of the entrance to our campsite so we can find it easily in the dark on our way back from the washroom and around our tents so we don’t trip over anything.
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Glow in the Dark
Another great way to help you find your way in the dark is by using glow in the dark paint! A reader mentioned this idea to me in a comment earlier this year and I just had to try it out. She said that she liked to paint her tent pegs and ropes so that no one would trip over them, but we kind of made a craft project out of it. We painted a series of sticks in glow in the dark paint and used them to create a little path to one of the tents that was set back and kind of away from the glow of the campfire. You could also paint a few stones and use those. This is great project to do with the kids before camping to get everyone excited!
We used the clear glow in the dark paint so that you couldn’t tell that the sticks were painted in the daytime, but at night – surprise! – they lit up. You could also paint just about any of your camping equipment with this paint to make it easier to find in the dark!
Use 2-3 coats of the paint for really good glow-in-the-darkability. 🙂
Of course, it’s great if you can find your camping gear in the dark, but it’s probably a little more important that you can find your kids. 🙂 We like to break out the glow sticks at night and use them to make bracelets, necklaces and crowns so we can always see exactly where our kids are. They’re great to hang up in the tents at bedtime too!
So those are a few of our current favourite camping lighting ideas. Do you have anything that we missed that has worked really well for you?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.