Night light

-- Last Updated: Aug-10-11 3:42 PM EST --

I have the requisite lights for being seen at night, but I'm looking for a light for seeing what's up ahead and on the shore. I've been using a 1500 candlepower bike light (Cateye HL-530) that does a great job, but it's expensive to lose, doesn't float, and has no D-ring or strap to attach it safely to the kayak.

The light I'm looking for:
--Powerful, long range, not too focused
--D-ring, strap, or something to attach a strap to
--Moderately priced

I think "powerful" would mean 1 watt, 100 lumens, or 1500 candlepower, though I confess I don't really understand how those three units of measure relate to each other. So let's say it would be good to see something like 200 feet ahead?


P.S. I often use a headlamp in addition to a light mounted on the front deck. Plus the "be seen" lights. Yes, I like lights.

Some ideas but not sure if bright enough
for your needs. Bright enough to be seen though.

Tektite LED light water resistant light with various bases - some versions REI (suction cup), Kayalu (eyebolt attachment or use bungees), Yakattack -uses a base.

dive light?

– Last Updated: Aug-10-11 5:29 PM EST –

WAY bright but often heavy.

edit: may not be focused enough but worth checking.

See vs Be seen
I’m looking for a light to SEE, not be seen.

360degree lights

– Last Updated: Aug-10-11 5:32 PM EST –

You can see with them but i see you are looking for a much more direct type light from your comments.

Surefire make good water resistant led lights - cabelas had some on sale but cannot find them anymore.

Problem with lights is power usage. For down river night races there seems to be two schools of thought. One, very bright light that lights up like a set of headlights on a car. Two, just enough light see stuff close, and for others to see them. The second school seems to believe that their night vision is better than relying on lights. I sort of believe in the second camp for small rivers because the really bright lights still don’t do a very good job at picking deeper channels. For big wide rivers and lakes a big light is nice because often you are just picking a line and making sure a giant log isn’t in the way. Either way once the big light goes on your night vision is shot for a bit. I use a red head lamp for looking in the boat.

The bright lights you seek take a lot of power so they are heavy. You are going to be hard pressed to find a ready made system that lights up much more than your bike light. I have seen a few systems that people have put together for a couple hundred bucks. I have even seen some for sale on the paddle24seven forum. A good one would be mounted on the bow with a switch back where you are. Good luck let us know what you cone up with.

Ryan L.

Not sure but probably not a dive light
the last time I went scuba diving with a light was some ten years ago but learned that you always want to turn the light on underwater.

Otherwise it overheats and will be not fun to handle.

good point…
I recall that too though the newer ones are LED which might make a difference on this.


– Last Updated: Aug-10-11 6:40 PM EST –

I'm not sure what your price range is, but there are plenty of flashlights that will meet your need. The best place to get them is an on-line store. My favorite is They have youtube reviews of almost every light they sell, plus they are great folks to deal with. You'll have to work out the floating part, but I imagine some minicell around the barrel would do the trick.

why floating?

– Last Updated: Aug-10-11 6:42 PM EST –

you need to tether it anyway. see "something" 200' away is more than 1watt of LED light. Once you get up to 3watts heat dissipation becomes important. To see something far away but not with a tight focused beam takes a LOT of watts and a lot of battery power.
Here's a few choices:
8AA 95lumens
4AA 200lumens, not a submersible scuba light but "waterproof" to 1m for 30min.
4c cell. 400lumens. I have the older 140lumen LED version of this light and is what I'd pick if I wanted to see "something" 200' away or signal someone a mile away. Think of it as a light weight alternative to a 6v. lantern battery light.

two examples

– Last Updated: Aug-10-11 7:17 PM EST –

Here are a couple of examples of flashlights that would meet your criteria. Both lights use CR123 batteries, which are more expensive than AAs but give better power output and longer battery life, and have the Cree XML LED which is typically used in lights that don't reach out as far (but plenty far for your use), but light up a broader spread of an area.

Old-Fashioned 6-Volt Flashlight

– Last Updated: Aug-10-11 9:30 PM EST –

Back when I didn't already have all the flashlights I need (many years ago), it was very easy to find flashlights that operated on a single, rectangular, six-volt battery. They are not high-tech, and the cheap ones weren't so greata, but a decent-quality one would do all that you ask and more, according to your post. If you really want some lighting power, it was once possible to get such a light that used a sealed-beam light, just like an old-style car headlight but a lot smaller. If you can find one, it will still out-shine any high-tech light I've ever seen, for about one-tenth the price (and yes, about 5-times the weight). The regular kind of six-volt lantern (bulb-and-reflector style) in a plastic housing is fairly light, and a lot of models are reasonably waterproof (not to any great depth, but good enough) and will float. If they still make these things, any sporting-goods store would have at least one model available.

Back when I used such lights for fishing, I found that the battery life was actually pretty good. I never used a light constantly though. For constant use, you'll go through a lot of batteries regardless of the style you end up with.

Power and weight
"The bright lights you seek take a lot of power so they are heavy."

Well, LED lights are pretty amazing these days and they often run on two to four AA batteries. I like those because I can use rechargeables. They also seem to last a very long time. The Cat Eye’s are very bright and light—just not designed for kayaks.

Two hundred dollars? Whew. That’s a lot of money to drop in the drink, as I did once with my Cat Eye.

CR123 batteries
Recently I bought a backpacking lantern that uses CR123 batteries. I immediately regretted that because I discovered that it’s very complicated to get rechargeable 123’s. I don’t like to add too many batteries to the landfill, so rechargeables are important. A CR123 is a 3.0 volt battery, but the rechargeable produces 3.7-4.2 volts, which can fry the flashlight.

Heh heh
Some people have a tendency to drop stuff in the water.

OK, forget about watts. Watts indicates power consumed and I’m interested in light output, so let’s stick with lumens or candlepower. I can see 200 feet with the 1500 candlepower Cat Eye light.

Forget about it
If you want to see well something 200 ft ahead - you need a spotlight like those on coast guard ships, not a flashlight. Battery-powered ones surely exist, but It will be bulky and heavy. Anything that you can keep comfortably on deck or in PFD will be too weak for this purpose - you might DISCERN something 200 ft ahead, but not have a good look at it.

very bright leds
Are bright but lack the abilty, unless in great numbers, to really offer a beam of light. Think of the maglite led lights. Still takes heavy batteries.

Ryan L.

The flashlight specs on store website I mentioned will say whether or not the flashlight will handle rechargeables. As for rechargeable CR123s, a lot of the flashlights that take two CR123s will also take a single rechargeable 18650 battery.

200 feet isn’t much of a stretch for a good LED light these days. Flashlight technology is much more advanced than most people realize. You won’t find the really good lights in very many brick-and-mortar stores, but they are readily available on-line. Here’s one example of a light that will easily light things up beyond 100 yards

one hour
Battery life…helpful.

Ryan L.