The Wild Life #10
And on the First Day, God said let there be light. And there was light, and it was good.
And on the Third Day of my month long Idaho mule deer hunt in 2014, there was no more light, inside my tent at night. And for the next twenty-seven days, it was not good. Not good at all.
That was the year I had decided that packing light (no pun intended) would be the key to a more efficient camp, and so I’d gone in search of a compact, battery operated lantern to use as my primary inside tent light. Something small, dependable, and bright. After a long search I thought I had found the one at my local Home Depot store, the Eveready collapsible LED lantern. I tried one out in the store and I was so impressed, I ended up buying two of them. One for inside my tent, and another one to supplement the single Coleman propane lantern that would light my cook stove and picnic table area outside, the only other source of light other than my LED headlamp I planned on bringing with me. I was very enamored with the Eveready! It was small, very bright, built very tough, and its flat screen TV shaped LED head retracted into it’s own compact chassis like a snapping turtle going on the defensive. It just looked like a piece of survival equipment, you know? It looked bad ass, and very sexy. Oh, it was a sexy little lantern, all right. But I had no idea then, that we would be destined to become future bed buddies in a chilly and frustrating ménage a trois that would truly be carried out in the dark.
On the third night of my hunt in the Sawtooth Mountains the temperatures started dropping down into the mid-20’s, and my two Eveready lanterns started blinking on and off, apparently in protest. At first, I thought I may have already burned through the two new sets of Duracell alkalines I’d installed in them but I had hardly used the lanterns at all. Still, not wanting to take the chance that the batteries were bad, I replaced both sets in the lanterns and shortly after doing that, they both went dark. I rapped them with the palm of my hand, banged them against my tent’s card table. I clicked them on and off, on and off, and retracted and collapsed their LED snapping turtle heads in and out of their housings until my wrists were sore. They flickered feebly, and then went out. And not just one lantern, both of them.
They did, however, seem to perform better during broad daylight in the middle of the day when the temperatures were in the 50’s, so I started sleeping with both of them at night. You haven’t lived until you’ve rolled over in the middle of the night in your sleeping bag and unknowingly slept for a few hours with a small, hard collapsible lantern lodged against your pelvis with your full weight bearing down on it. Once in a while…and I mean once in a great while…they would work. Kinda sort of. Like when I got up in the middle of the night to leave the tent to go pee. But they had a bad habit of sometimes blinking out during mid-pee, interrupting my marksmanship in the snow and causing some extreme cussing. I was almost relieved when both of them finally gave up the ghost for good. They both stopped working entirely, and I switched to my Costco LED headlamp for the remainder of my hunting trip. All I can say is, thank God I had brought plenty of triple AAA batteries with me because a month in the mountains is a long time.
I don’t think I’d been back home in Oregon more than two or three days before I took the Eveready lanterns back to Home Depot with my receipt and demanded a full refund. They didn’t want to give it to me at first because I’d bought the lanterns months before and their Return Policy period had expired. But when I demanded to speak to a manager, and he saw the crazed look in my eyes as I relayed my story of a nearly ruined hunting trip because of his store’s product, the full refund was quickly forthcoming.
You can imagine my trepidation this past September as I began the search for a new small, battery operated LED camp lantern. I looked at a ton of them, both online and in local retail stores, but I just wasn’t finding what I wanted. They were either too cheaply made, of questionable design, too large for my needs, or way too expensive. I already had a couple of Coleman D-cell LED lanterns and they were definitely going with me to Idaho in October. I’ve had them for years and they have never failed to function flawlessly as long as the batteries are good. But I wanted something small, something I could use in my tent, carry in my backpack, or take with me to the hot springs tub to shine some light on a private midnight bath.
I was literally on my way out of Sportsman’s Warehouse, my last place to look, when a salesperson suggested that I check the “hiking aisle.” Uh, yeah, I don’t usually venture near the “hiking aisle” because racks of aluminum “trekking poles,” three hundred dollar daypacks with carbon fiber frames, and spandex hiking shorts clipped to plastic hangers makes me a little nervous. I am a hunter and I only hike, to hunt. But I figured, what the hell. I hadn’t found anything in the camping and hunting aisles, right? I wasn’t there 30 seconds when my eyes locked on the lime green and black packaging of the Pico GLO LED Survival Lantern. I removed the stout little lantern from its box and let my fingers wander over it’s armored plastic case and the glow-in-the-dark rubberized top and bottom while I read the advertising copy: Takes 4 AA’s, LED lifetime bulb, 120 Lumens, three power modes high, low, and blinking, two built in hanging hooks, one on top, one on the bottom, weighs almost nothing, approximately 6″ High by 3″ in Circumference, glows in the dark so you always know where it is. And it was only twenty bucks. I bought it, and took it with me to Idaho this Fall for a month, and do I have any regrets? Yeah, I do. There were three of them there on the shelf that day at Sportsman’s Warehouse and I regret that I didn’t buy all three!
Not only did my little Pico function every time, all of the time in all sorts of weather, both inside and outside of my tent this year in Idaho on ONE set of alkaline batteries, it is still working today at home for me. Below is a picture of the PICO on my bedroom dresser last week at 5:30 in the morning as I got ready to go bow hunting for deer. The late buck archery season lasted three weeks this year and I used the PICO every morning of the hunt for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. And even as of this morning…it is still going strong. If you are looking for the perfect Christmas gift to get for your hunter or huntress, fisherman or fisherwoman, or even, yes, your hiker, I don’t see how you could go wrong giving them a PICO, even if they already have one. I have one, and I want to get one or two more. This light is so tiny, yet so tough, and powerful, I am going to put one in my backpack right next to my Solo stove (See review The Wild Life #1) as its ultimate survival companion. Trust me, when you are out there living The Wild Life there is nothing worse than living it in the dark, and I ought to know. I’ve been there, done that, and I have the return receipt from Home Depot to prove it.
Find the PICO at: https://www.ustbrands.com/product/pico-lantern-glo/