Testing for Outdoor Activity Lights
Trailsnet rigorously tests all backpacking, hiking, bicycling and camping lights that we review. We have a thorough process to determine light quality and functionality. Of course we look at factors such as size, weight, portability and durability. But we also look at how much light each product produces and the usefulness of that light. In other words, does it produce enough light and can that light be used for everyday (night) activities on the trail and around the campsite.
White Room Test for Camping Light
As far as we know, this is a Trailsnet exclusive. We have a special “white room” to consistently check each light we review. Since conditions are different at each different site and at various times of the day and year, we wanted a way to compare lights in a stable and controlled environment; so we came up with the Trailsnet white room. It’s a place where we can test each light with absolutely no outside light to skew the results. And since we place all lights in the exact same spot in a room that is completely covered in white vapor barrier material, each testing situation is precisely the same so we can compare apples to apples.
Simulated Campsite Lantern Test
Our simulated campsite is the exact opposite of our White Room Light Test. It is outside, in a camp-like setting so we can test the functionality of lights at various times of day and in various real-life conditions. This is also were we test for durability and how waterproof each light is. It is not unusual for critters to wander by while we’re testing, so we try to include them in the photos just for the fun of it.
Strobe Test for Camping Lights
Most camp lanterns now come with strobe functions as part of the light offerings. We’ve come up with a way to test the functionality and illumination of strobe lights. We utilize the white room and the pano setting on our camera to perform a controlled pan of the area while the strobe light is pulsing. By measuring the distance between light bars, checking for top/bottom evenness and brightness of the light at various distances from the center, we can determine the usefulness of each lantern when set to strobe function.
Trail to Nowhere Test for Bicycle Light
It’s a bicyclists worst nightmare. To get caught out on the trail, at night, and then run into a treacherous trail hazard without time to stop. In an ideal world, all trails would be perfectly maintained and all of our rides would end before the sun sets. But as most avid bicyclists can attest, it isn’t a perfect world. So we found that worst case scenario. We discovered a section of trail that literally ends in the middle of nowhere and drops you right into the swamp of doom if you aren’t prepared to stop. This would truly be a nightmare scenario. So we are able to determine how close to the end of the trail we are before being able to see either the end of the concrete or the aforementioned “swamp of doom.” It truly is a real-life test for a real-life situation. Only the best bike lights need apply.