camping lamp

m. werneburg, 2008.03

I've invented a camping lamp that costs nothing and weighs nothing.

This is an idea I happened upon one time in late 2000 while camping in Australia. It's the design for a lamp for your tent. It struck me when I was trying to dig something out of my back-pack by the light of my pen-light. I've always found penlights next to useless when you're doing something like that, because the beam of light is weak and tiny and entirely unidirectional.

What I've designed is a lamp you can make to cast a soft, diffuse light like you get from an overhead bulb. I did it using things you'll probably already have on your camping trip, which makes it all the better—it's free, and there's nothing more to carry.

What you'll need:

  1. translucent water bottle
  2. pen-light
I use a no-name knock-off of the Nalgene water bottles. Be sure to use one of the cloudy white ones; the clear, dark ones won't work. Here's a picture of the components I used.

water bottle and small flashlight

And here's the simple means of using it. The picture below shows an empty water bottle, but it should work when partially (or completely) full of water.

DIY camping light

You can see that the light it gives off is pretty good. A nice, warm glow that lets you actually see.