Submissions     Contact     Advertise     Donate     BlogRoll     Subscribe                         

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let there be light

Here’s another gear review. This entry will be about flashlights. Please note that I do not have any advertisements on the blog so I am free to give my truthful opinion as I am beholden to no advertisers. I don’t think it’s necessary to spend $100 or $200 on a good flashlight. BTW if you have stuff to add, if I made any mistakes or you have any recommendations, please post a comment and I’ll add it into this entry so we can get a real good flashlight article going.

Just some background for beginners-

Basically three different types of bulbs:

  • Filament - these are the old fashioned bulbs, with the little filament wire that glows, they use a lot of juice, I don’t think they’re very bright, they cast kind of a yellowish glow, generally don’t last a long time and are sensitive to shock, as your batteries die the light from these bulbs really weakens.
  • Xenon - I think this is a gas that they pump into the bulb, it glows brighter than a regular filament bulb
  • LED - a computer chip controls how much juice these use, batteries will last ten times longer with an LED light than a filament bulb, because there’s a chip a lot of them have multiple settings, LEDs will last for up to 10,000 hours, I think the new LED’s are real bright. Some cast a yellow light and others a whitish light, because there’s a chip as the batteries die the level of light remains pretty constant. The really paranoid (me among them) know that LEDs are sensitive to EMP attack so we have different type of bulbs…I’m not….. saying anything…but….just in case.

And without further adieu…..

First up is an Underwater Kinetics four C light.

p22This is really a nice rugged light. You operate it with a switch under the lens. It’s a light made for SCUBA diving so it is as waterproof as waterproof can be. The strap is also rugged with a rubber sleeve over it. As I said, it takes four C cells so it’s kind of heavy. The batteries do wiggle around a bit, so if that bothers you you could put in a little rubber washer or a slice of inner tube to take up the extra space. It is a very bright light throwing over 200 lumens. It is easy to light up the tops of tall trees or the edge of a field 200 feet away. If I’m out walking at night sometimes I feel I’m being watched by creatures (you will develop this sense if you spend enough time outside.) so get outside everyday.) so I’ll flick it on and shine it at the treeline or up the river and I can’t tell you how many times I see eyes staring back at me. This light will freeze the creatures in the paths. Except for that heron a few weeks ago. I felt bad about making him fly at night. This will set you back around $35.00.

p72This is a cheapo emergency all in one unit - flashlight and radio. It runs off batteries, a grinder, DC converter or a little PV cell that runs on top of the handle. Not bad, but kind of cheap. I think I paid maybe 20 bucks for it. Everyone should have something similar in their emergency kit. You just can’t count on this cheap crap to work so have a backup. Typical Walmart unit.

Speaking of cheap crap…

p14Here’s some more cheap crap. Upper left is a $10 LED that takes three AAA batteries. I’ve never been a fan of the multi-LED lights. This one proves the point. Not a fan of the 8, 15 or 80 LED lights. More stuff to go wrong. Get one good beam. At the bottom is a plastic filament bulb that takes two AA batteries. Another poor excuse for a tool. Upper right is the old fashioned Rayovac double D filament bulb flashlight. This thing was fine 10 or 20 years ago. Maybe it’s fine to trade or barter with, but I would never want to depend on it. Spend your money on something more rugged, waterproof and that will last. For the same price or a few bucks more you can get a real light.

This is another must have, even though it is also cheap crap.

p19I like this. It’s one of those shake lights. There’s a copper coil and magnet inside of it. When you shake it the magnet slides back n’ forth past the copper coil and somehow creates electrcity to charge the battery. In other words this baby doesn’t take batteries. Can’t depend on it because it feels cheap, holds a charge a short time and isn’t very bright, but it’ll be better than TP when the batteries are dead and the store shelves are empty. I think this was probably around $10-15 at Walmart. Everyone should have a shake light too.

This is a cool light.

p15I know I just said it, but these things are cool. It’s a PAL light. It takes a 9v battery, which I’m not a fan of, but the light makes up for it. It has four settings - dim, bright, strobe and always on. You get that, even off it is always glowing dimly? Crazy huh. Even when you shut it off the light glows dimly. It’ll glow in this “sleep” state for a year. It makes it easy to find in the dark. I keep a couple on bookshelves and such and they actually work as a mini-nightlight and if the power goes out makes it easy to find. Ever have a tough time looking for a flashlight in the bottom of your pack? This is the light for you, because it will always be glowing dimly calling to you, like a beacon or your muse. It will glow in sleep mode for a year. It doesn’t cast a heavy, bright beam even in the high setting, but it’s plenty for most close work or to find your way. Like I said even in the sleep mode it’s bright enough to find your way down the hall. It seems pretty waterproof in it’s heavy rubber case. They come in a few different colored beams too. The one I bought came with a magnetic attachment and a belt loop. I think they’re around $15. I have a blue one. I’ve thought that it may even be possible to set the strobe function put it on the dashboard and maybe be able to get through traffic faster. If you like flashlights this is a must have.

p16This is a Princeton-Tec Impact XL. It takes four double AA batteries. It’s a LED light. You turn it on by turning the bezel so it takes two hands to operate. It casts a sweet, pure, white beam. It’s very bright and very waterproof. You see it also comes with a nice lanyard. Almost as nice as the lanyard on the Underwater Kinetics light up above. There’s a story here. About a year after I bought the light it died on me. I was pissed. I think it cost about $20-25. For 25 bucks it better last more than a year. Who has the receipt for anything a year later? So I send Princeton an email explaining the situation and forget about it. Maybe a month later I get an email from them apologizing for the delay (some people left the company or what not) and they give me an RMA to send the light back to them and they’ll send me a brand new one. I did and they did. Got that? They sent me a brand new light!! I can’t say enough good stuff about customer service like that. You just don’t see that these days. Good product and good people. Not the brightest light, but great for camping or hiking.

p20These are two Pelican lights. The top one takes two C cells. The bottom one takes three C cells. Both operate by turning the bezel i.e. two handed operation. They both come with nice lanyards. Notice the bottom one also has a spring clip on it. They are both waterproof. If you look right behind the bezel on the bottom one you’ll see a round thing with two black stripes. That’s some sort of pressure release valve in case I’m ever 20,000 leagues beneath the sea. Not very likely, but kind of interesting. Both are filament bulbs. Both are extremely rugged. The top one is rated for use in explosive environments. It has so many letters on it - MSHA, class 1, division 1, group D, UL, FM approved, P, SA AUS EX 1145X. This is like THE safety light. It also has two built in slots on it that you can run some strapping through to lash it to something. I can’t say enough good stuff about Pelican products. They are made work tough for everyday use. Firefighters use Pelican lights. You can drop these from a ladder or into the pool and they keep going. If you’re not familiar with Pelican, the next light you get make it a Pelican. They are both plenty bright for 90% of what you may need to do. They’re reasonably priced too. I think each of them was maybe $30 or so, maybe a bit more. Not tactical lights though, but buy a Pelican and you won’t be disappointed. Pelican makes tough, simple work lights.

Here’s another nice little light…

p12This is another Underwater Kinetics light. This little light takes two AAA batteries. It’s very small. It’s rated at seven lumens, but I’m telling ya it seems a lot brighter than that. Because it’s so small and offers great brightness for its size, this is a great light for backpacking. This and a headlamp would be adequate for any hike. It’s operated by turning the bezel too. It’s also waterproof. It comes with a keyring and that black thing is a clip that can be clipped to a cap or a pack. It’s an LED light. I have yet to change the batteries in mine. The LED just barely sips the power from the triple AAA’s. Batteries last a very long time. I like this light. It’s a nice clean, white beam. If you want to travel very light and have a flashlight that gets the job done this is the ticket. You can’t light up the other side of the football field, but if you want to read, BBQ or find your way down the trail this will do it. I think this light ran about $15. You won’t be disappointed adding one of these to your kit.

Not done yet…

p11This is your basic Xenon tactical light. It was more than I like to spend on a flashlight. I think it was about $40. It’s bright. The switch is on the tailcap. You either push it or twist it for constant on. It only has one setting. It takes two of the lithium 123 batteries. These batteries are expensive. The batteries only last an hour or two too. Not a bad light, but not my favorite. It’s a standard size (1″) so it can be mounted on a firearm.

p18This is a real nice Rayovac metal flashlight. It’s made much better than the crappy orange one pictured up above. This one takes three C cells. It’s an LED light. The batteries last a very long time becaue of the LED. There are rings that make it fairly water resistant. It’s nice and bright. It also has a rubber sleeve around the body that makes it comfy to hold in the hand. There is a hole on the tailcap that you can slide a lanyard through. I think this light was maybe $25. I like this light. It’s big enough to bash someone in the head if need be. You can see it’s operated by a button on the body of the light. This is the light I use most when I walk the dog around the block or have to check something outside. It sits on top of my fridge. The downside is that the body isn’t squared off anywhere (it’s round) so it will roll of the fridge or under the car if you put it on the driveway.

p17Hooahh! This is the famous Maglite. This light is an old fashioned filament bulb. It is made like a tank. It takes three D cells. It’s fairly bright, but not really. These lights are made really well. It will outlive me. It has an extra bulb built into the tailcap. There is only one setting. The switch is on the body. It seems water resistant, but not waterproof. This light has mass and would be an effective weapon. It extends my reach by a foot. My light is very old at lest 15 years. It still works great. Only had to change the bulb once. The batteries last a fairly long time. LED kits are also available for these lights. These are the lights that cops used to use. They’d hold it over their heads, shine the light in your eyes to blind you and then lower the boom on your noggin. This light is round so it will also roll away from you just out of reach. There is no place to attach a lanyard on this light.

The rest of the lights are from Deal Extreme . This is a great place to buy good cheap lights made in China. The lights are shipped from China.

p101These two lights are some type of fairly new LED lights called CREE lights. They are unbelievably bright. Make a CREE your next flashlight. These run on one AA battery. You can see they’re only about 3-4 inches long. These lights probably run $15-$20 each. As I said they’re very bright and one AA lasts a long time. I usually load mine with lithium batteries. These lights each have one setting only. You turn them on with a tailcap switch. They both come with lanyards.

p81These are two more lights from Deal Extreme. I think each of these lights is maybe $20-$25. These both are also CREE lights so they are very bright. I’d say as bright as Surefires and alot less money. They both operate by a tailcap switch. They both have rubber rings on the fittings so they are pretty water resistant. Although made in China the threads feel pretty good to me. Both of these lights have a great feature. They come with an extension tube so they have multiple battery configurations. You can see the extension tubes in the picture. You can see one of the red waterproof seals too on the tube on the left. The extension tube on the right also has rings, but they’re black so you can’t see them.

The one on the left runs on either one AA or you screw on the extension tube and it will run longer on two AA batteries. It also has four settings in this order - low, medium, high, crazy ass blinding strobe like a Japanese cartoon and a unique SOS strobe …—…. Without a memory though you have to flick through them all every time. So say I want to use the crazy ass blinding strobe on some BG I first have to click through low, medium and high to get to the crqazy ass blinding strobe. Not so good.

The one on the right runs on one 123 lithium or screw in the tube and a pair of AA’s. I use lithium AA’s. It’s bezel is crenalated, that is it has a scalloped surface that’s good for striking BG’s in the brow. This light won’t roll away from you.

p9This is another light from Deal Extreme with the extension tube screwed in. It’s also a bright CREE LED. This one runs off of one 123 lithium or two AA’s. It has the tube screwed in now. Comes with a lanyard. Operates by the switch on the side of the body. Bright enough to blind. The bezel on this one has some really nasty crenalations on it. Wouldn’t be a problem splitting a brow but good with this one in your hand.

Abraham’s Rule number 15,347.7564 of living - when you start finding flashlights in the pockets of jeans in the dresser you have enough flashlights.

q121Deer tracks in the snow.

q14Deer sleeping hole.


No comments:

Post a Comment