It’s kinda what I do, but lighting a scene is completely different from illuminating a small encampment when backpacking. Or in a worst case scenario lighting your shelter for the night when trying to get home and you are someplace less than desirable when you’re cold and wet. Lets face it, we are used to having everything in our lives lit by something. Most even sleep with the dim glow of a digital alarm clocks. How many of you have been with out light? I mean absolutely no way of creating light and knowing you’re going to be in the dark till the sun pops up. I’m guessing not many. Even those of us who venture into the back country for days or weeks at a time have some way of creating light. But if you are with light and in the dark, not knowing what creepy things are going to go bump in the night it can be a scary night with your arms wrapped around your shins and your knees drawn up tight to your chest to keep warm. 
We discussed the need to have three ways to make fire in your kit and how vital it is to turn on channel 13 (your campfire) while you are trying to get back to your home. But there are other ways to have a small light which will give you comfort till dawn.  Some of the tools you may want to add to your 72 Hour Bag are candles, flashlights or chem lights. I’ll discuss each and their strengths and weaknesses.


The first are candles, they’re light weight and fairly fool proof. There are a billion kinds, from making them out of an orange peel, a stick of butter or made from the typical bee or paraffin wax. The principal is simple, you take a wick which is flammable and feed it with a fuel source so the wick doesn’t burn up quickly. Candles are time tested and will go for hours. In a pinch one candle in a snow cave will raise the temperature enough to prevent you from freezing to death (if done correctly!). Here’s the problem with the typical wax candle: they won’t last in your 72 Hour Bag in the trunk of your car in Southern California.  Below you can see two types of candles, one is the bare candle and the other is a fancy pop up lantern style.

Here’s a candle which is great, its a little emergency oil lamp called the Guardian 30 hour emergency candle. They sell for about $2.50 and you can buy them in a variety of places. I like these because they are sealed and generally won’t leak (although I try to orient mine so they are in the upright position) and they won’t melt like a candle will in the heat. Because they are sealed they shouldn’t evaporate either.


As you may know flashlights can be a topic much the same as Ford Vs. Chevy. Everyone has an opinion… So let me tell you mine. It would be my advise to find a flashlight which does not need to be recharged. It will sit in your 72 Hour Bag for six months and when you need it it’ll be dead. Unless you figure out a way to wire it into the electrical system of your car and it trickle charges when you’re running your vehicle don’t bother. I know of only a couple of guys who I think could pull this off and one is named Joe. Nuff said. Another thing to look for when figuring out what kind of flashlight is battery longevity when in storage. What ever type of flashlight you look at make sure it will accept a Lithium battery. Lithium batteries have a 10 year shelf life, doesn’t matter if it’s a AA, AAA, C cel, D cel or 9volt. Many of us use the CR123 Lithium batteries on set and they have come way down in price so I suggest looking for one that runs on them, they pack an incredible punch. Here’s the flashlight I carry every where I go:

Another good buy I recommend for every 72 Hour Bag is the 9 Volt LED light, it’s micro light weight, runs for ever and is pretty bright. I bought mine on eBay for about $1 a piece and it included a Rayovac battery. I wrap a little length of mason line around the end and secure it with electrical tape so I can hang it from where ever I need to and I then have electrical tape when I need it. There’s two settings, 6 LEDs and 2 LEDs. Here it is:

A mag light is handy because it has several uses, you can use it in your hand like a flashlight or unscrew the front and it becomes a base and the bulb works like a candle illuminating 360 degrees. There are a couple different kinds of mag lights. The Mini Mag Light LED version is shown below and comes is available in a standard filament bulb as well. It’s available in the 2 AA and AAA version. The larger sizes are available in 2,3,4,5 or 6 D cel length. I think any of the D cel versions are too big for a 72 Hour bag, but they make great clubs to use as a defensive weapon so it’s your choice.

Chem lights:

Chemical lights are a perfect addition to any 72 Hour Bag because they weigh next to nothing and they will never expire. As long as the inner core doesn’t break they’re good to go. There are a bunch of different kinds from white, yellow, blue and Infra Red. You can find two types, those made in the USA and those that are not. The ones made in the USA are far superior to those made elsewhere. Cyalume  is a brand made in the USA and it’s the name which is synonymous with chemical lights.

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