Don't Be a Victim of the Night. Hike With a Light. - Appalachian Mountain Club

Don’t Be a Victim of the Night. Hike With a Light.

September 19, 2016
Darkness is coming. Carry a light.
Oskar KarlinDarkness is coming. Carry a light.

Fall equinox is this Thursday, September 22. It occurs precisely at 10:21 a.m. EDT.  And it continues a current and rapid trend of diminishing daylight.

So…all you hikers out there…it’s time for a friendly reminder to always hike with a light, no matter what time you head out.

Remember, it only takes a small miscalculation or mishap—a wrong turn, a minor injury, an overly optimistic assessment of hiking ability—to add an hour or two to a long hike.

If you’re racing daylight at the end of the day, that extra time can easily push you into the veil of darkness. And in the dense Northeast woods, that can be a very dark place indeed.

In the deepening gloam, it can become impossible to identify and follow the trail. If you don’t have a light, you can easily become stranded for the night.

This simple mistake is a common cause for search-and-rescues and a potential survival scenario, especially in the increasingly cold nights of fall. It’s also one that is easily avoided.

Just about any light source works. It can be a headlamp, flashlight, or even a tiny LED—many of which literally last for days before running out of juice. Do not rely on the flashlight in your phone, however. It burns batteries, fast.

You can pack your regular lightweight camping headlamp or flashlight, or invest in a featherweight option that just lives in your day pack (no need to remember to pack it—it’s always there).

Among the ultralight headlamp options out there are the Black Diamond Ion (1.9 ounces, $25), Petzl e-LITE (1 ounce, $30), and a variety of clip-on LED lights like the Amphipod Swift-Clip Cap Light (0.5 ounce, $15)

Hike safe!

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.