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I recently picked up a couple of glow sticks for a weekend of walking and camping in the Peak District with three school friends, thinking they would be useful for hiking at night and it was a good idea if I don’t say so myself.
We were planning to walk a chunk of the Pennine Way, starting from a camp site near Marsden, overnighting under the stars in bivvy bags somewhere close to Kinder Scout, and then working our way back via a different route the next day. It was a distance of getting on for 60 miles over very mixed terrain. If you don’t know the area, then it’s a bizarre mix. Some of the route is well-kept, paved with miles of huge flagstones. And some is basically an unmarked wilderness, with paths that are little more than animal trails and on several occasions somewhat less than that. (Wherever you are, though, the scenery is rarely short of spectacular.)
When you’re lugging your own food and shelter across those conditions, and expecting the worst from the weather, you don’t carry any more than you have to. Glow sticks are light, bright and waterproof, plus they cost very little (and they have an innate cool that appealed to me…). Torches are handy, I figured, but basically unnecessary: light is light, after all, and I didn’t want anything that would run out, weigh me down, cost a lot if I broke or lost it or react badly to the torrential rain I was pretty sure – rightly, it turned out – would be coming our way at some point. Glow sticks were the perfect solution.
It turns out I was half right. The light you get from a glow stick is very different from a torch. Glow sticks give off a bright but diffuse light. It’s great for marking your fellow walkers (next time I’ll take a handful of glow in the dark bracelets or necklaces to locate them in the dark) or reading maps, so long as you hold it close to the paper.
What’s worth bearing in mind is that their light isn’t directional or focused. Although you can see them from far away, you can’t see far with them. They’re perfect for hanging from a tree to mark the way back to your overnight spot without advertising your presence for miles around. And they don’t play havoc with your night vision like a torch will if you’re switching it on and off every five minutes to figure out where you are – a major benefit. But if you’re planning to walk across some tough terrain in the dark, then bring a torch to point at your feet every once in a while if you want to avoid stumbling.
The Author, Tom Smithson, is a camping enthusiast and highly recommends The Glow Company for more information on glow sticks
Photo by twodolla
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