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LED, CFL and Incandescent: Which Torch is the Best Investment For Travelling?

Any avid camper, traveller or outdoorsmen will tell you, that you are only as good as your equipment. When it comes to equipment there are several key things you need to succeed, and one of those key pieces of equipment is a reliable and robust torch.

But how do you know which torch is the best investment for travelling? Should you go for LED, CFL or incandescent? Here are a few key considerations to help you chose.

Life Span of the Bulb

Not necessarily one of the first consideration when choosing a torch for travelling. However, when you are in the middle of the campaign trip, the last thing you need is a bulb calling the quits with no spare.

Instead, research the life span of the bulb across differing torch types. Understanding what you can expect from the bulb will not only help understand if you need to buy spares, but it will also help justify the return on investment.

For me, the best life span for bulbs is the LED Lenser. Projecting bulb life spans of 50,000 hours you can rest assured there will be a lot of camping trips before you need to worry about replacements.

Following closely, the next best at a projected lifespan of 10,000 hours is CFL. Whichever way you opt, ensuring that your torch, including the bulb is reliable should be a key factor in which torch to choose.

Flashlight RF


We all know that accidents happen, especially when you are camping or travelling in harsher conditions. This makes durability a key consideration when choosing which torch to invest in for your next adventure.

Both CFL and incandescent bulbs are quite fragile, which may or may not be ideal depending on your circumstances. It really does depend on your travelling destination and how you use your torch. LED bulbs are by far the most durable out the three.

Not only will an LED bulb last longer over its lifespan but it is more durable. That is not to say you can throw around your torch and think it won’t break. However, accidental drops do happen from time to time with packing mishaps and transit journeys. With an LED you can rest a little easier knowing they are made of sterner stuff.


Like a lot of decisions in life, choosing your next torch will likely include a decision based on cost. LED has its advantages over CFL and incandescent in most other areas, except when it comes to cost. Incandescent bulbs are the cheapest to replace, followed by CFL and then LED which is the most expensive.

However, when you are considering your next torch you need to remember the overall return on investment, not just the short term costs associated. As we know, LED bulbs are more durable, meaning the likelihood of having to replace them frequently is a lot lower.

CFL and incandescent bulbs are fragile, which means while they are cheap to replace, it is likely you’ll need to do it often. Over the lifetime of your next torch you may end up exceeding the cost of LED bulbs through continuous replacement of the CFL or incandescent bulbs.


Flashlight RF

We are all familiar with watts and the general requirements of our bulbs. However, with technology comes the improvement of output in bulbs. For example, to achieve a standard 450 lumens a traditional incandescent bulb needs to be 40 watts.

However for an LED bulb to achieve that equivalency it only requires 4-5 watts. Additionally a CFL bulb will only require 8-12 watts for 450 lumens. So as you can see the output of a bulb can be greatly improved through the use of LED or CFL. Effectively this means with a superior bulb you can expect your next torch to achieve a far greater luminous flux for far less wattage.

There are a number of factors to consider when investing in your next torch for travelling. Output, cost, lifespan of bulbs and durability are but a few of the key decisions to make before heading to the store. LED has its advantages but bulbs do cost more, CFL sits in the middle but durability is not its strong suit.

So when you are considering your next torch remember to consider what is the best investment for your unique needs and then consider what sort of return on investment you can expect from LED, CFL or incandescent.



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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

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