After more than twenty years of failures, I’ve finally found a reliable way to carry spare batteries while sea kayaking - in spare waterproof LED flashlights. Batteries in a zip-lock bag are certain to get wet. Putting the zip-lock bag inside a dry bag buys a little time, but the batteries still get corroded. Putting batteries in a dry box is an improvement over a dry bag, but eventually they get wet and/or corroded there too. Even if your spare batteries stay dry, how do you know if they still work? Batteries have a shelf life, and one hard drop can kill them. If you bring a spare waterproof flashlight, then you will have a source of batteries that are dry, and you can test them anytime by turning on the flashlight - which you’ll probably do once in a while when you can’t find your headlamp or it isn’t handy. Yet with conventional flashlights, the batteries in a spare flashlight would get drained from the occasional use and testing of the light. But now with LED flashlights, battery life is so long that some brief, occasional use won’t significantly drain the batteries - just be sure to start with fresh batteries in your spare flashlight and make a point of not using this light routinely. An added advantage of using a spare flashlight as your battery case is that, if you break or lose your headlamp, you’ll at least have a spare flashlight to finish the trip.

So check the type and quantity of batteries in your VHF radio (the best VHF’s allow you to use either a rechargeable battery pack or alkaline batteries), GPS, barometer, headlamp, and other essential items. Then find really reliable waterproof LED flashlights that use the same number and type of batteries (if needed, carry several spare LED lights to get reach the number of batteries you need). The best kind of flashlight for this purpose are the ones that you twist to turn on and off. Twist-on/off lights are less prone to getting turned on accidentally than ones with switches that are push buttons, toggles, sliders, etc. Also the twist on/off style lights usually have only one opening to worry about keeping sealed, and it can usually be maintained with an occasional application of silicone grease on the o-ring.

Here’s a list of several waterproof LED lights that work well for this purpose:

Four AA batteries, Princeton Tec Impact
Four AAA batteries, Princeton Tec Impact II
Two CR2032 batteries (coin sized), Guardian White Steady-on


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