For those who are struggling with the concept, post TEOWATKI (common acronym for “The end of the world as we know it.”), lighting is going to be a luxury. That being said, many people in their bug out/shelter plans do not have a long term solution setup for lighting.
Personally I’ve been camping for many years, often times for a week or more at a time, several times a year. During that time I’ve found it hard to beat the tried and true oil lamp.
These lamps are a fairly standard design. They feature a long wick leading down into an oil reservoir. A glass globe is used to protect the flame. Illumination is adjustable based on wick length and burn time changes accordingly. While these are fairly easy to use, there are a few things you should know.
1) You will be cleaning the globe, often. These globes can get sooty which reduces your light quality.
2) Don’t place the globe near a wall or under a flammable object. Please – the last thing you want to do is burn yourself out of your newly found shelter. Be smart – fire is hot, and heat makes stuff burn. Burn = bad! The same applies for making sure it’s not in a spot where it’s going to be knocked over or tip over on it’s own. These things need to be secure in their location.
3) Keep the wick neatly trimmed. You don’t have to get all obsessive-compulsive on it, but keeping the wick even will ensure a clean (important if you want to minimize soot) burn and a consistent flame.
4) These even produce a mild amount of heat and can be useful in an extreme cold situation. In one dire case, I had mistakenly forgotten all my blankets and my good space heater. I stayed warm by putting all my spare clothing on myself, sealing up the room as best I could (it was drafty enough to not worry about carbon monoxide thanks to a quality 1970’s construction job on my camper) and running the oil lamp all night.
There are other ways aside from an oil lamp as well. Candles can go a long way, but go much farther if you use a mirror behind the candle to reflect normally wasted light to where you would be more likely to use it.
There are also LED lanterns, though most are junk. It’s not a bad backup to the oil lantern, however. The hand crank styles tend to work marginally well, depending on how they’re built internally. I’ve had several, including some half-decent generics, but really the best one (and only one) I use at this point is:
It’s pretty rugged and doesn’t feel like you’re winding up a hamster wheel when cranking it, not to mention it actually works … many of these lanterns will have cell phone charging attachments as well. Beware of poor quality control issues. I know of one lantern I’ve owned that did cell phone charging that dropped a meager two feet off an end table and was broken forever. I’m to the point now where if my LED flashlight/lantern can’t survive a drop test, I won’t use it.
Which is probably why I use an energizer hard case flashlight (professional) for my own “get home” bag.
See our entire energizer hard case line here
One thing I should mention is that you will find that once you’re not living on artificial light 24/7, your body tends to adjust. So while initially it may seem ridiculous you’d be going to bed as early as 7-9 pm (Only old people do that, right?!) … your body’s internal clock will self-regulate off the sunset/sunrise. So you’ll find yourself on a much more normal schedule than if you were working 2nd shift in a fluoresced office cubicle.