You know the saying – “always have the right tool for the job.” It’s an essential part of not just a mechanic’s life, but any instance in general when something has to be done. You don’t use bolt cutters to prune trees, and you don’t use a torque wrench to whisk eggs; you could, but that’s beside the point. They’re not the right tool for the job.
Mean Mother knows all about tools as they relate to off-road. The company produces everything from winches to recovery treads to air compressors, but one area that we found interesting was its lighting solutions. It was there that we found the LED Camp Lighting Kit (PN MMCL01), comprised of four light bars and various accoutrement geared toward making a camp setup breezy.
Camping is a natural offshoot of off-roading. Whether it’s out in the forest or parked on the dunes, spending a night or two in the outdoors is a great way to hit the reset button on the hustle and bustle of everyday life. No phones, no laptops; just a good time with friends and family.
A Closer Look
The Camp Lighting Kit comes in a rectangular box that belies the goodies inside. The stars of the show are the four 20-inch light bars, but there is a supporting cast as well, so to speak.
The light bars are IP68 rated, the top rating achievable for waterproofing and dust-proofing qualities. They weigh next to nothing and are cool to the touch despite emitting a blinding 623 lumens per bar. Each bar contains 30 LEDs, yet the electrical draw is very low – only .6 amps per bar. The spread of each bar can project out up to 120 degrees, making them ideal for lighting general areas like campsites, garages, or engine bays. The latter is helped even more by magnetic end caps, from which a light bar can hang and act as a work light.
The supporting cast for the lights is varied and versatile. More than simply a quartet of light bars, Mean Mother furnishes the user with a bevy of wires, cables, and add-ons that increase the kit’s utility. For starters, there is the 12V cigarette lighter plug, which fulfills its description to a T. But Mean Mother also included a 12V socket that can operate off of a battery, thanks to positive and negative clamps that affix to battery terminals.
From there, the user can hook up his choice of splitter cable – a two-way, three-way, or four-way cable – and use up to three dimmer switches. Add to this a six-pack of extension cables – 8.25-foot, 11.5-foot, and 16.5-foot, two of each – and the possibilities become endless. Want to control two lights on a dimmer? How about three? How about one set to either on or off, and one set to a dimmer? You can start to picture all the ways you can use the light kit, and Mean Mother makes it easy thanks to male and female ends that screw together, ensuring they can’t come apart from simply tugging or accidentally hitting it with your feet.
What’s more, the backs of the lights are magnetic, and for surfaces that don’t lend well to magnets, Mean Mother provides a handy set of zip-ties and velcro wraps. For the more electrically savvy, there’s also a 16.5-foot emergency wiring loom, so a user can tap into an existing 12V wire on his vehicle and use that to activate the lights.
Setting Up Camp
We spared some to take a quick trip to the local campsite and look for a place we could set up a tent and test out the kit. We found one and drove to it after hours. The sun was almost gone, and soon we would have the perfect setting to see how the kit would help us set up a tent.
We parked the SUV near the site and broke out the kit. Mean Mother’s packaging has several pockets where each of the pieces goes, and it’s easy to tell where they belong. For those that prefer to simply ditch the box, Mean Mother also provides a sturdy little storage bag, which can hold everything together in one place.
With the cigarette lighter plug installed, we connected an extension cable to run outside of the vehicle, and then hooked up a splitter cable. From there, we attached two dimmer switches, and then two more extension cables, running in different directions before ending in pairs of daisy-chained light bars. This setup gave us an ideal lighting arrangement to work from, providing light in two different directions, while combining into pairs offered more visible light. It made inserting the tent’s poles a lot easier.
With our tent set up and sleeping bags deployed, we packed up the lights, started the fire, kicked back, and enjoyed the scenery. It was a peaceful night with some chilly winds every now and again, but a fun one as we chatted and laughed about our lives and loved ones.
Mean Mother’s LED Camp Lighting Kit was a handy toolset to bring to our camping trip, and we think it will be for yours, too. Be sure to check out more from the company on its website and Facebook page.