When I started backpacking, I bought many “doodads” that I really did not need.
Among the doodads:
- A Rambo-style survival knife was brought.
- A waterproof matchcase.
- And of course a very heavy MSR Alpine cook kit.
All gear I no longer use for backpacking, or even have at all. The Rambo knife is floating around in someone’s junk drawer back in Rhode Island; think I gave away the match case a long time ago and the cook kit is now only used for road tripping and car camping.
Another doodad I bought, used, discarded, lost and then rediscovered was the simple candle lantern.
Since I’ve renewed my winter backpacking and camping in the past four or five seasons (versus hut trips or day skis), I have grown to appreciate the candle lantern.
Winter backpacking and camping can be rewarding, but the bag nights can be long.
A candle lantern does provide some extra warmth in a tent, but there are two reasons why a candle lantern is really useful for winter.
- A candle lantern does help cut down condensation in the tent. When I am up and reading (it is luxury to do nothing but read after a hectic week), the little bit of warmth cuts down on the icy breath a bit.
- But I think the most noticeable effect is the psychological one. The warm, yellow glow of the candle lantern makes the winter night a bit cheerier and more welcome. A LED headlamp is more efficient. But it is not welcoming as a candle. CCR talked about putting a “candle in the window” for a reason.
A candle lantern is safe to use versus a truly open flame, but care must still be taken. It is still a flame after all. Be sure you have adequate ventilation and that the candle is snuffed out before calling it a night.
But, if you plan on any extensive winter backpacking or camping, consider investing in some sort of candle lantern. A micro-one using a tea candle weighs a mere 4 oz with two candles. More efficient, but heavier, is the larger version at 11 oz. The micro one works well for solo trips; the larger one works well for camping and/or base camping trips when backpacking.
Either way, the candle lantern is a warm and welcoming glow on a dark winter night.