I'm never going camping again without this tiny $10 gadget

Olight mini flashlight on wet log
(Image credit: Olight)

They say that when you're camping and hiking, you should never rely on anything with a battery except a flashlight. But what happens when that fails – and your backup as well?

That's exactly what happened to me while camping near Sherwood Forest earlier this week. Having got back to my tent in the dark, I pulled off my headlamp to take off my hiking hat, and accidentally pressed the power switch, plunging the tent into darkness. I hit it again – and nothing happened. I tried prising it open by feel and resettling the batteries (which I'd replaced two days beforehand) but it stayed stubbornly unilluminated.

Oh well, nothing lasts forever, and the headlamp had given me over 10 years of service running, hiking, camping, finding the fuse box at home, and making my way back from the pub at night.

I made a mental note to check our roundup of the best headlamps when I got home, felt in my daypack for my flashlight, and pressed the power button. The bulb issued a faint glow, then faded.

Now things were rather more difficult. I had batteries stashed in the tent, but couldn't remember exactly where, and chances of finding them by feel alone were slim. I wanted to save my phone for a real emergency, so if the problem wasn't the batteries but the bulb, I'd have to just wait it out until morning. Thankfully I wasn't outdoors, or I might have been really stuck.

A ray of hope

Then I remembered something. Last Christmas, my family decided we'd only do small token gifts for everyone except my baby niece and nephews. Lots of chocolate and socks changed hands, but my father-in-law decided to give everyone a tiny keychain torch, which I'd attached to my house keys.

It wasn't much, but it was enough to help me dig out the batteries and confirm that my main flashlight was indeed broken as well, then locate the zipper for my sleeping bag and find my camping pillow (which has a weird habit of migrating during the day).

The particular light I have is the Olight i3E EOS, which can be found on Amazon for the princely sum of $9.95. It has a runtime of just 45 minutes from a single AAA alkaline battery or 70 minutes from a NiMH battery, so I wouldn't use it for dog walking or night fishing as Olight suggests, but in an emergency it's ideal.

Olight i3E EOS: $9.95 at Amazon

Olight i3E EOS: $9.95 at Amazon
This tiny flashlight could be a lifesaver if your main flashlight kicks the bucket, allowing you to find batteries or just get yourself somewhere safe. At only $10, it's a small price to pay for extra peace of mind.

A full-size Maglite or Knog flashlight is great, but if you don't already have a little backup attached to your keys or bag, I strongly recommend getting one before your next trip. You never know when you might need it.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.