Camping Gear Hacks: How To Save Your Lantern Batteries

I love me both of my Ultimate Survival Technologies LED lanterns. (The 10 DAY 6 AA battery model is so bright that it’s replaced my 4 D battery lantern even for car camping.)

a tent at night, lit from inside by a lantern

What I don’t love so much are their super-sensitive press switches. I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve opened my pack or drybag to find the lantern had squeezed against other cargo and turned itself on, wasting hours of battery life. I needed a fix.

First, I tried wrapping little sleeves of neoprene over the switches, but that didn’t prevent the auto-on in the pack problem. I considered creating hard cases out of short lengths of PVC pipe, but that would have negated two of the things I like best about these lanterns: their lightness and compactness.

camping lantern with battery compartment open and battery barrier stripThe correct solution turned out to be dead simple: a barrier strip of non-conductive fabric cut to fit inside the battery compartment. The strip lies across two battery ends and prevents conduct unbecoming while the lantern jostles around inside a pack. To use the lantern, just invert it, pop off the battery cover, pull out the strip and replace the cover. It takes just seconds, even by touch in the dark.

camping lantern with battery barrier strip in placeI used PVC-coated fabric because it’s durable and because as a hacking/modding geek I have that kind of stuff around the house. But you could cut strips from old bike inner tubes or wide rubber bands — any material that’s non-conductive and thin enough not to squash the “push” out of the springs that complete the battery circuit.

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