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Thread: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

  1. #1

    Thumbs up LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    Recently had a fabulous 2 week stay at a remote rainforest wilderness lodge in Costa Rica. Flashlights were a must, since the nearest electrical grid was 20 km away, and they only had solar-charged batteries for providing minimal compact fluorescent lighting in the cabins. [EDIT: I should clarify: this was still a *luxury* remote lodge, with superb food and comfortable accommodations - it's just the surroundings that were incredibly wild]

    Lodge setup was about ~15 cabins, spread along periphery of two small clearings in a 750+ acres of largely undisturbed rainforest. Second clearing (where we stayed several nights) was a 15 min hike after dinner, and included a 200-foot suspension bridge that had to be crossed every night in zero ambient lighting conditions (due to the forest canopy). Rooms were open air, so it was a pretty wild experience.

    My EDCs were a Fenix P1D-CE and Lumapower D-Mini (smooth reflector, with 2-stage tailcap from my fifthunit LILL), and my wife carried a Fenix L2T. We both had backup L0P-SEs and photon clones for emergencies.

    Some general observations: given remoteness, most guests traveled light (as did we – single backpacks apiece), but many only had cheap, dim, 1st gen LED lights (although a couple had brought 2D Mag incans). All the under-lit guests commented on their lack of foresight on not bringing proper lights.

    How did our lights perform?

    P1D-CE: This got the most use as an all-around light for trail walking at night, on primary or hi. Bright sidespill was very helpful for seeing what was around your feet in the forest trails (always a big concern – came across a Fer-de-lance once!). I occasionally used the low mode for night trips to the bathroom, but generally preferred the L0P-SE as it was easier on night-adapted eyes. If you could only take one light, this should be it – or better yet, the L2D-CE now that it’s out (with its lower low mode).

    D-mini: Used almost as much as the P1D-CE, sometimes in combination (i.e. P1D-CE lighting up ground in front of my feet, D-mini for spotting those noises in the brush or at the end of the suspension bridge). Phenomenal light for distance spotting, lighting up the canopy, etc. The two-stage cap from LILL was very helpful for conservation of battery power (roughly half the output, twice the runtime). This light garnered the most attention from other guests, as it easily out threw the 2D Mags.

    L2T: decent all-purpose light, although obviously a bit underpowered compared to the Crees. My wife liked simple UI, and used this light constantly – she preferred it over the L0P-SE for bathroom trips at night, because of option for high mode at a moment’s notice. Next trip, it will definitely be replaced by a L2D-CE.

    L0P-SE: relatively little use. I originally thought we might have used these more, since you don’t need a lot of light to see in the complete dark. But since cabin was open to the wild outdoors, you want the option for more power at a moment’s notice (you wouldn’t believe what traipsed through the room some nights!).

    So there you have it: both the P1D-CE and D-mini were excellent performers for their intended purposes – although the P1D-CE could use a lower low, and the D-mini needs a proper 2-stage switch. If I was to recommend today, I think the L2D-CE and Lumapower M1 would be your best bets among current choices.

    Sorry, no beam shot comparisons of the lights … but here’s a red-eye tree frog I caught with my D-mini (on low) during one of my nightly excursions to the local ponds. Without a decent light, you would never have seen one of these - they are nocturnal, and only come down out of the trees at night.

    Enjoy!

    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-27-2007 at 04:09 PM.
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  2. #2
    Enlightened Cato's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Thanks for your great report- I really enjoy reading about practical flaslight use!

    Best Regards

    Cato

    PS: How could you sleep with half the jungle walking through your cabin? That would have wrecked my sleep completley!!

  3. #3
    Flashaholic Bomo's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Great report - how did you manage your battery requirements?
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    Bomo

  4. #4

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    I was in Costa Rica recently as well. Took 3 lights - Princetec EOS, L1P, and a photon. When going on hikes, I usually used the EOS - 3 levels, good throw, hands free. Inside the tent when I wanted more flood, I used a piece of press n seal over the EOS lens which stood up remarkably well (was in CR for around 6 weeks). L1P was my EDC and I used it when I got caught in the dark which happened fairly often with the early sunset. Very useful on unlit trails, and roads to let people know you are there. The L1P also had the wow factor, a lot of guides were impressed when they saw that the tiny light had better output than their 2D incandescent. Multi mode would have been nice, but it was perfect for what I was using it for.

    As for batteries, I used energizer lithiums for their longer life and lighter weight. I brought 7 but only used 4. I saw a lot of AAs, even in small cities, so batteries wouldn't be a problem if I ran out. I did notice that AAA were harder to come by though.

  5. #5

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Quote Originally Posted by Cato
    How could you sleep with half the jungle walking through your cabin? That would have wrecked my sleep completley!!
    Most wild animals give you a wide berth - but we did experience small colonies of ants on two nights, bats on a couple of nights, and certainly lots of cadadids, geckos, etc. No problems with any of those - and we slept with mosquito netting around the bed. However, we did have a brown rat vist us one night (got himself trapped in the bathroom with my wife - now that was fun!). How unexotic, though ...

    Some guests that unwisely left food out had coatis visit (members of the racoon family). More unnerving were all the things you couldn't see outside the cabin ("what was that?!?"). Oh, and one guest apparently returned to their room after dinner to find a boa curled up in there. Still, on the whole, most things left you alone - as long you didn't accidentally step on them.

    And of course, nothing compares to being woken up just before sunrise by howler monkeys in the trees above your cabin. Apparently they produce the loudest naturally occuring sound - or so I'm told (and now believe).

    Quote Originally Posted by Bomo
    Great report - how did you manage your battery requirements?
    The minimal solar-battery system does allows camera battery chargers to be used in the room (no hair dryers or anything, of course). My camera uses AA, so brought along a standard AA/AAA travel charger and NiMH for everything (with an emergency backup set of e2 lithiums). For CR123 lights, I just brought a bunch of spares primaries to last 2 weeks (went through about 3 per light with all the evening outings).

    Quote Originally Posted by outofgum
    I was in Costa Rica recently as well. Took 3 lights - Princetec EOS, L1P, and a photon. ... As for batteries, I used energizer lithiums for their longer life and lighter weight.
    Yeah, good choice of lights & batteries. A headlamp would have been helpful for trail walking, and good for spotting animals. I brought a nite-ize head strap for use with the Fenix lights, but didn't find it too comfortable for extended wear.

    FYI, a night excursion tip: carrying a flashlight at your eye level allows you easily spot animals, as the light shines off their retinas and into your eyes. Shine it over the grass at night, and watch all those little spider diamond eyes sparkle back at you ...
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-26-2007 at 12:59 PM.
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Thanks for the report, it was very interesting. Sounds like a great, memorable experience.

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    *Flashaholic* greenLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Osa is one of the nicest places I've been to in CR.

    We should have a CPF get-together in Costa Rica at some point.

  8. #8

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Quote Originally Posted by LED_Thrift
    Thanks for the report, it was very interesting. Sounds like a great, memorable experience.
    yes, agree with that! Especially since the poster lived to tell the tale!

    no doubt the flashlights played a key role in survival, I am definitely keeping this story in the archives for instant replay as necessary for any doubting Thomases!

  9. #9

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Quote Originally Posted by flashy bazook
    yes, agree with that! Especially since the poster lived to tell the tale!
    I didn't mean to give the impression that it was that dangerous - just a hoot of an experience, especially at night. After all, I only came across one venomous snake on the path during my stay, and it got out of my way. Granted, it was one of the worse ones - but the reality is that you are far more likely to injure a harmless snake by accidentally stepping on it, rather than the other way around.

    The real difference is that without a decent flashlight, most folks had to retire immediately to their rooms after dinner (and sometimes be helped there by those of us with 'em). And that was a real shame, since a lot of the really interesting stuff - like frogs, snakes, bats, etc. - only come out at night. Mind you, same is true of most of the dangerous things. Of course, I wasn't planning to lick any of the cane toads or poison-arrow frogs, just photograph them.

    The true lesson for me was that was the one place where absolutely no one made smart-aleck comments about why I needed such bright lights!
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    Flashaholic* EV_007's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Good account of real world use of your lights. Sounds like you had a blast. The shot of the frog is awesome
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    Flashaholic* RonM's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for the report.

    Can you comment on not bringing any headlamps? I've found them invaluable on camping trips.

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    Thumbs up Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Thank you selfbuilt for the informative and interesting thread. I am new at this but I can sure appreciate all that was covered here by you and all the posters. Excellent froggy pic too! TD

  13. #13

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Quote Originally Posted by RonM
    Can you comment on not bringing any headlamps? I've found them invaluable on camping trips.
    Truth be told, a headlight would have been great. But my only headlight at the moment is a cheap, bulky 2-stage luxeon I clone, and I was really looking forward to testing out the new cree lights. We were travelling as light-weight as possible, just one carry-on backpack apiece for 2 weeks, so I had to draw the line somewhere. I brought the nite ize head strap as a compromise, but didn't like using it much - needs an elastic band, not velcro.

    Other problem with headlamps is the potential risk of inadvertently shinning it in my wife's eyes - now that would be really dangerous.

    Just kidding - I happen to have a wife who appreciates my hobby, and loves seeing the new models show up. You can be sure she'll confiscate the L2D-CE I've ordered, once it arrives!

    Thanks all for the kinds words - it was a great trip.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-26-2007 at 07:29 PM.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Thanks for posting your trip report. I have similar experiences from a three week trip to four islands in Indonesia.

    I have an L2D-CE, and I sure wish I had in it on my trip. Get one: you'll love it.

    Another person mentioned seeing AA batteries widely available in Costa Rica. The AA batteries are one of the prime reasons I like the L2D-CE so much!

    Excellent photo by the way!

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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Quote Originally Posted by greenLED
    Osa is one of the nicest places I've been to in CR.

    We should have a CPF get-together in Costa Rica at some point.
    Count me in! We did our honeymoon in Costa Rica, and it was beautiful and fun! We stayed at a couple of remote eco-lodges- but not THAT remote.

    (FWIW, I carried a Surefire L2 and my wife had an L1. This was before I discovered McGizmo. Now it would be a PD for each of us and a 27LT to light up the trail)
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Wow, thanks for the good read selfbuilt!

    I keep telling myself I just don`t need the L2D CE....
    I think I`m losing the battle.

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* Burgess's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Hello selfbuilt -


    Thank you for this report. Very interesting info here.


    Can you perhaps tell us the approximate size of that tree-frog
    in yer' photo ? (very nice job there !)


    And regarding the AA cells being widely available in CR --

    were those ALKALINES ? Name brands ?

    Just curious. Thank you for the info.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* Oddjob's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I'd love to do that someday (but I first have to convince my wife to go backpacking-she's just starting to appreciate the outdoors).
    Can you tell us what your battery usage was for two weeks?
    I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  19. #19

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Quote Originally Posted by Burgess
    Can you perhaps tell us the approximate size of that tree-frog
    in yer' photo ?
    I'd say between 2-3 inches in length. Their colour also gets more vibrant as the evening wears on - they loose pigment during the day, and are a yellow-lime green colour in the early evening (when that shot was taken). Of course, there's plenty of big-ass frogs around (as my wife & I called them) - the cane toads and smoky jungle frogs could be almost as big as a foot long.

    Quote Originally Posted by Burgess
    And regarding the AA cells being widely available in CR were those ALKALINES ? Name brands ?
    Yes, alkalines are commonly available in CR, especially AA. Name brands available in major population centres, although cheap no-names more common elsewhere. The nearest town (pop ~3500) was 45+ mins away by 4-wheel drive, and the resort had relatively little available (i.e. no bug spray, sunscreen, etc. - had to make a trip into town if you didn't bring your own).

    Quote Originally Posted by Oddjob
    Can you tell us what your battery usage was for two weeks?
    Went through 3 primary CR123s in each of the cree lights, and NiMH was used in L2T and L0PSEs. The NiMH were recharged every third night or so, to be on the safe side. If I had to use the e2 lithiums, I suspect only one batch would have been needed for each AA/AAA lights, given that the crees did the bulk of the heavy lighting, so to speak. Keep in mind that's with fairly heavy use at night - I enjoyed exploring the surroundings. You could get by with a lot less, especially with judicious use of low modes.

    Camera batteries (AA NiMH) recharged typically every night - typically took over 2GB of photos a day, selected about 0.5GB to keep at end of each day. I only had 7GB of memory on me (7MPixel camera).

    Since this thread seems to have generated so much interest, I thought I'd give you a couple more night shots of tree frogs: the first is an imature red-eye tree frog, about an inch and a half long in body (note it still has its tadpole tail, and the back legs are not fully formed yet). Also lacks typical colouring.


    The frog below is a masked Smilisca tree frog, about 3 inches long. Colour was variable on these - saw one in the early morning that was more grey than tan, and had bright green under the eyes.


    Cheers!
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-27-2007 at 08:09 AM. Reason: typos
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    Flashaholic* Manzerick's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    lov the pictures!!

    My cousins's GF is from there and by the looks of it, i would love it there!!!

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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    wow very cool man! I love seeing pictures of the wilderness. So which light came in the most handy for that kind of lighting situation? I assumed you'd want good flood but at the same time a good spot to see whats in the distance.
    are you listening?

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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    That is a great report, and a really good practical user test of those lights. Very useful.
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  23. #23

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ilikeshinythings
    So which light came in the most handy for that kind of lighting situation? I assumed you'd want good flood but at the same time a good spot to see whats in the distance.
    Animal spotting: D-mini - you definitely want fairly tight throw and minimal spill to spot retinal eye flashes (and to reduce scatter and peripheral bounce back). But the D-mini is actually too bright for up close situations - so I ran it mainly off the the low mode of my 2-stage LILL tailcap, and used Hi when scanning the canopy or looking at the mid-level of trees off in the distance.

    Trails: P1D-CE on primary or high (ideally a L2D-CE now) aimed low to the ground in front of you. A more floody beam might be even better, but too much flood can be a problem on narrow trails due to bounce back. Best for all around use.

    Taking pictures: D-mini (on low) to spot the animal and focus camera, then move the hotspot off the subject so that only a gentle spill is left illuminating. Otherwise, flash will overexpose hotspot area of your photo.
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-27-2007 at 11:52 AM.
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    Great color rendition in your pictures with your led lights. Puts down the notion that color rendition at night is only good with incans. Those frog pictures would not have been as accurate with an incan light.

    Bill
    Last edited by Bullzeyebill; 02-27-2007 at 12:15 PM.

  25. #25

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest

    Ah -- this brings back memories. We used to breed red-eye's, took about 4 years to get the system down of conditioning, diet, feeding (breeding crickets), etc. Diet in the tadpoles was the most difficult part for proper metamorphosis.

    My house sure did sound alive with frog chorus at night
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    Flashaholic* RonM's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    I love this message thread, because it's about the practical use of our beloved flashlights. We need more stories like this.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    Quote Originally Posted by selfbuilt
    And of course, nothing compares to being woken up just before sunrise by howler monkeys in the trees above your cabin. Apparently they produce the loudest naturally occuring sound - or so I'm told (and now believe).
    I recently heard two howlers arguing (probably male territory dispute) over something and even though I was over 100ft away from them and on a main road, (escape route ) their howls were terribly intimidating.

    Great thread selfbuilt. What did you guys eat for the two weeks there? Who caught the food and how did they cook it? Do you have a picture of the bridge, I'd love to see it!
    Last edited by eebowler; 02-27-2007 at 05:03 PM.

  28. #28

    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    Ok, couldn't resist one more - should bring back even more memories for you xenopus (cool name, btw - like to hear more about that job!)



    FYI for the rest of you, these are red-eye tree frog tadpoles under a leaf, about ready to drop off into the pond they are hanging over.

    Quote Originally Posted by eebowler
    I recently heard two howlers arguing ... their howls were terribly intimidating. What did you guys eat for the two weeks there?
    Aside from the calls, they are actually relatively laid-back compared to the other monkeys there. Worse they are likely to do is pee/poop on you if they don't like you standing there. Good reason to keep your mouth closed when you look up.

    As for meals, the lodge was all-inclusive and had an outstanding kitchen. Food was much, much better than any of us expected. We were all frankly amazed that they could produce such high quality meals in such a remote place (typically a small buffet at dinner, and fixed menu of 6-8 items for breakfast or lunch). This was a *luxury* remote wilderness lodge - check out the link at the top of the first post for more info on the place (I've revised the first post to make that a little clearer).
    Last edited by selfbuilt; 02-27-2007 at 04:29 PM. Reason: typos
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  29. #29
    Flashaholic* AFAustin's Avatar
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    Very enjoyable thread, selfbuilt. Sounds like a great trip, and so nice to see how some of our toys perform in "real world" (and exotic!) conditions.

    Thanks.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: LED flashlight experience: 2 weeks in a Costa Rica rainforest (more pics added)

    Thanks for sharing the adventure and pictures. Now you have to open a web site and post more pictures.
    Thanks Dave

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