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Best Emergency Glow Sticks of 2023

Glow sticks aren't just for parties- they've been used tactically by the military and during emergencies for decades now. They have many uses well beyond just providing a glowing light, and their small lightweight profile makes them great for emergency kits. There are plenty of brands and types of glow sticks to consider, but they don't all perform the same.

This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best glow sticks, tested them, and now the results are in: the overall best, a budget option, and an LED option. If you need light sticks to mark, signal, or subtlely navigate, one of our picks will light the way.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

  • The Best Glow Sticks
  • Budget Glow Sticks
  • LED Glow Stick
  • Everything We Recommend
  • The Cyalume Lights We Compared
  • What to Look For
  • 9 Survival Uses for Glow Sticks
  • Who Needs Glow Sticks?

The Best Glow Sticks

Cyalume SnapLight

Bright, Durable, and Dependable

Dependable American quality with a wide assortment of colors and quantities that all last well past the 12-hour mark.

$16* at Amazon

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

SnapLight is the standard for survival kits and tactical applications. It's the original patented chem light, made right here in the USA. There are plenty of quantity options and a few color options that use different dye chemistry (more on that later) to stay bright.

Yellow and green shine a little brighter, but we prefer red in some of our survival kits for distinctive marking.

Here is what you get with SnapLights:

  • 10-pack
  • 6 color options (red shown)
  • 12+ hours
  • Waterproof, non-flammable, non-toxic
  • 6″ long
  • Made in the USA

These bright, durable, and dependable lights outshine the competition- so it's easy to see why the Cyalume Snaplight Glow Sticks are the best.

Glow Mind Safety Light Stick

Budget Glow Sticks

Glow Mind Light Sticks

Inexpensive, Bright, and Effective

The cheapest light sticks you can trust in your survival kits set the pace in our practical tests.

$10* at Amazon

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Solid light sticks at a good price. They perform very similarly to our top pick with minor quality differences that indicate their origin. In our tests, they were very bright, effective, and lasted their 12-hour advertised time- which well surpasses many of the 8-hour glow sticks you'll find in stores.

Here is how these cheap lights measure up:

  • 12-pack
  • Bright green
  • 12 hours
  • Waterproof, non-toxic
  • 6″ long
  • Made in China

If you need proven glow sticks that fit your budget, the Glow Mind Light Sticks are what you need.

Nite Ize LED Glowstick

LED Glow Stick

Nite Ize Mini Glowstick

Reusable, LED bright, and Durable

As long as you have the batteries, this LED glow stick can be a fantastic reusable option for your survival kits.

$8* at Amazon

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

The main benefit of an LED-powered glow stick is also the main drawback. While you can swap batteries out and continue to run this thing indefinitely, it presents a different use case than typical ‘disposable' light sticks.

Light sticks are known for being able to be left behind to signal, but that's a little tougher for the budget to swallow with LED versions. For that reason, many people use these light sticks differently and are less likely to part ways with them on a trail.

Here are the full specs:

  • Bright white (5 color options)
  • 30 hours (4x LR41 batteries)
  • Waterproof
  • 6″ long, 0.8″ diameter
  • 0.6 ounces

If you are looking for a reliable reusable glow stick, you'll want to pick up the Nite Ize LED Mini Glowstick.

Everything We Recommend

Cyalume SnapLight Glow Sticks

Cyalume SnapLight

Dependable American quality with a wide assortment of colors and quantities that all last well past the 12-hour mark.

Where to Buy

$16* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Glow Mind Safety Light Stick

Glow Mind Light Sticks

The cheapest light sticks you can trust in your survival kits set the pace in our practical tests.

Where to Buy

$10* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Nite Ize LED Glowstick

Nite Ize Mini Glowstick

As long as you have the batteries, this LED glow stick can be a fantastic reusable option for your survival kits.

Where to Buy

$8* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

The Cyalume Lights We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to several brands and types of glow sticks that we compared: Cyalume, Coghlans, Glow Mind, Nite Ize, Swiss Safe, PartySticks, Recon Medical, Lazerbrite, Gear Aid, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We considered a wide range of glow lights but leaned towards chemical lights for our testing. We did examine a few battery-powered lights because they are too convenient to pass up given their reusability. We stuck with smaller lights with low light output for marking, signaling, and light discipline.

We’re always looking for new and better gear, so if you have some glow sticks that you swear by, let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually so we can try to get it in the next roundup round and see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best glow sticks have a few features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Longevity
  3. Brightness
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a glow stick that will reliably light and keep a bright glow for over 12 hours. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the chem lights that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like glow sticks shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Glow sticks are cheap and aren't the best place to overspend if you don't have the budget. You can always grab some spares from a party and toss them in your kits.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource when it comes to survival kits. It’s better to diversify your spending to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.


Most glow sticks last around 8 hours, but they can vary from a few minutes to days. Their brightness is also affected, with some models that keep glowing but not with really any beneficial brightness.

Batteries can bring this up to higher levels- 60 hours plus, but LED light sticks have their own drawbacks mainly in price. Most chemical sticks last between 4 and 12 hours.


While glow sticks are not meant to replace lanterns, headlamps, or flashlights, we do expect them to be able to provide functional and reliable light. Some of the models we tested were dim or became dim quickly after only a few hours.

Tritium and glow-in-the-dark solutions can be enticing at first because they are reusable and do not require power. But, they do not have the glow longevity or even the lumens we expect from a light stick.

Size & Weight

Almost all light sticks are remarkably lightweight, including the battery-powered ones we examined. While Lazerbrites were the preferred tool while I was in the military, they are simply too bulky when compared to disposable or the Nite Ize.


Some light sticks are more versatile than others, with reusability, integrated hooks, or a variety of colors.

The main use for glow sticks is straightforward though, giving you a bit of light. That light can do a lot though, especially in survival situations.

9 Survival Uses for Glow Sticks

There are countless uses for glow sticks when it comes to survival. Here are some of the most common survival uses:

  1. Emergency Lighting: In the event of a power outage or if you're stranded without traditional lighting, glow sticks can provide a reliable source of illumination inside your shelter or camp.
  2. Marking and Signaling: Use glow sticks to mark trails, paths, or hazards to prevent accidents in the dark. They can also be used to signal for help. Attach a glow stick to a string and spin it around to create a visible signal.
  3. Night Fishing: If you're in a survival situation near water and need to catch food, attach a glow stick to a fishing line or bobber to attract fish at night.
  4. Trapping: Besides fish (which can also be trapped), crabs and other animals are also attracted to light at night. You can use a glowstick to bait traps.
  5. Distraction for Wildlife: If you want to deter wildlife from your campsite, crack a few glow sticks and hang them in nearby trees. Many animals are wary of unnatural light sources.
  6. Personal Identification: In group survival situations, use different colored glow sticks to identify members of your group during the night.
  7. Water Location: If you're near a water source and need to find it in the dark, toss a cracked glow stick into the water. Its glow will make it easier to locate.
  8. Thermometer: In a pinch, you can use a glow stick as a basic temperature indicator. The chemical reaction will slow down in colder temperatures and speed up in warmer conditions.
  9. Entertainment: Staying positive and occupied is crucial for morale in a survival situation. Crack some glow sticks and use them to play simple games or tell stories in the dark.

It's a good idea to ration their use and have backup lighting sources such as flashlights, headlamps, or candles if available.

Who Needs Glow Sticks?

Glow sticks can fit in a wide variety of survival kits and don't have much of a drawback due to their low weight and cost. That said, they aren't particularly essential either. Their uses can often be done using other equipment, relegating them to a backup spot.

Still, we suggest adding glow sticks to your:

  • Bug Out Bag
  • Get Home Bag
  • INCH Bag

If you end up having extra, kids always love them for parties and special occasions. You may even consider adding them to their own kit:

  • Kids' Bug Out Bag

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best glow sticks are useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical survival experience:

Holmes, J., et al. (1988). A portable light-trap for collecting marine crustaceans. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Volume 68. Issue 2. Pages 235 – 238. (Source)

Orosz, G. (1989). The role of diaryl oxalates in peroxioxalate chemiluminescence. Tetrahedron. Volume 45. Issue 11. Pages 3493 – 3506. (Source)

Salter, C., et al. (1999). Laser-Induced Fluorescence of Lightsticks. Journal of Chemical Education. Volume 76. Issue 1. Page 84. (Source)

The Final Word

Glow sticks aren't essential, but they work with a huge range of survival kits because they are lightweight and inexpensive. You have to consider why you wouldn't include light sticks in your loadout.

Here are a few other guides and reviews our subscribers have found helpful:

  • The Best Headlamp for Survival and Prepping
  • Best Lantern for Prepping and Survival
  • Bug Out Bag (BOB) Guide, Gear List, and Checklist

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found the Cyalume SnapLight Glow Sticks to be the best option given their value, longevity, brightness, size/weight, and versatility.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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The Best Glow Sticks

The post Best Emergency Glow Sticks of 2023 appeared first on TruePrepper.


By: Rusty Collins
Title: Best Emergency Glow Sticks of 2023
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2023 12:20:05 +0000

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