New LEDs Lead Convenient Camping Wave
By Brad Frischkorn
New and powerful LED lamps are taking the headache out of camping by helping to brighten the night. They may also lift the appeal of the outdoor sport, which has lost some of its luster of late.
Hong Kong-based Flying Dragon Development, a leading portable lighting product maker, is at the edge of the LED light wave. Its marquee products include a lineup of camping lights, headlights, flashlights, pumps and power bars build around advanced LED designs for nighttime use.
The company’s new triangular, palm-sized TL-701 Prism accessory light heads the firm’s 2016 lineup, extracting 45 lumens of brightness from a single AAA battery. Made of durable rainproof plastic, the unit features a ball-and-socket hook to allow for hanging from heights or setting up on a flat or uneven surface.
Other next-generation gear includes the HL-1500 series of angular, forehead-mounted headlamps rated at 110 lumens with touch-sensor controls and USB recharge ports. The ML-1000 series of camping lanterns feature red and white LED colors, Bluetooth speakers, and rechargeable batteries up to 19,000mAh, enabling them to double as power bars for cell phones and other gear.
Flying Dragon executives displayed the equipment for the first time at the spring Hong Kong Electronics expo.
“Camping equipment has really begun to evolve as LEDs have become cheaper and more efficient, batteries more powerful, and people are more attached to their cell phones,” says Flying Dragon U.S. regional director Harrison Smiddy. “There are still some campers out there who prefer to ‘rough it,' but convenience is addictive, and people want to take their gadgets with them.”
Other innovative outdoor products include remotely controllable super-bright LED lanterns with built-in hand cranked charging dynamos, multi-function forehead mounted lamps for rock climbing and cave exploring, and long-life portable power stations with on-board radios and detachable flashlights, etc.
As an OEM maker, Flying Dragon ships 500 different types of lights to over 65 countries annually.The company’s manufacturing facilities are located in Dongguan, about 60km north of Hong Kong.
“With the way things are going, I’d say that unless you are really intent on cooking outside, there isn’t much reason anymore to start a fire,” Mr. Smiddy adds.
Such cool equipment comes at a pivotal time for the camping industry. North America remains the dominant market for campers, where about 40 million Americans, or 14% of the U.S. population over age six, camped in 2013, most often at a state park campground. On average, campers are in their mid-30s, married, travel over 180 miles to get to their desired spot, and spend one to five days in the bush, according the 2014 American Camper Report. The number one purchase made by campers before going out: battery-powered lighting.
But participation numbers have been falling, dropping over 1% in 2013, and 10% from 2011-2012, the same report found.
According to Science Direct, the outdoor hospitality sector, which includes campgrounds, caravan parks, recreation vehicle parks, and “glamping” (glamorous camping), has emerged from a low-cost tourism niche to a mainstream, versatile recreation experience. “Pulled by product and service improvements, the sector has repositioned itself as an alternative form of accommodation or lifestyle,” it says.
Glamping, a new trend that has emerged just in the last decade, is for campers who want to experience the positive aspects of camping without the “uncomfortable” negatives, such as pitching tents, unrolling sleeping bags, and building fires. An array of websites and blogsites has since proliferated.
Still, the global camping equipment market is expected to reach an estimated $5.0 billion by 2019. According to Technavio consumer and retail research analysts, two of the top three emerging trends driving the global camping equipment market are innovative camping equipment and increased demand for eco-friendly camping equipment, such as water-repellent down insulation, bear-resistant camping coolers, and bio-mass stoves. With advances in technology, innovative products such as equipment enabled with USB drives, highly compressible sleeping bags, and easily inflatable tents can offer diversification and variety for manufacturers that may also command a price premium, they said.
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