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Flashlight recommendations

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by kwikrp, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I love my LED headlamp and have many flashlights but the one that tends to get the most use is the one that came with my rechargeable power tool set, in my case, a DeWalt unit.
    Its nothing high tech but puts out a lot of light at 18volts and I always have at least one charged battery available.

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  2. greg13

    greg13 Feeling the Heat

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    CNY
    For a basic LED flashlight you can't beat a Streamlight. Their warranty is about the same as Mag. I have carried a pocket Stream with me for over two years, use it every day and I am only on the second set of AAA batteries.

    If you already have a rechargeable cordless tool battery, check and see if they have a flashlight head for it.
  3. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
    I have to agree with the SureFire being a good flashlight. I've had three or four LED flashlights, and the cheap Chinese ones (olight and such) are okay for a couple years and then they are nothing but trouble; you end up replacing it for the total cost of what you would have paid in the first place for a SureFire.

    At this level of expenditure, you can get super-streamlined flashlights; but what works in my case is something tough enough that when I have an 'o-darnit' moment and it goes clattering to the ground, that it survives. I also made sure to have something I could hold in my teeth for those jobs requiring three hands. I would suggest a flashlight that uses CR125s instead of AA batteries; there's more energy available in the CR125.

    If you get SureFire's CR125 batteries, they come a dozen in a box that costs about $20-$25, and they're MADE IN USA. I've been using them for years and have yet to have one leak or explode (which some of the cheap ones will do when discharging at a high rate). Not fun to have the flashlight suddenly get hot in your hand...

    As to output and focusing, you can get 'tactical' units that have serious punch, the local firefighters use these really high-power units. More power, requires more battery. I have a moderate-cost 'tactical' unit that puts a really bright 5' spot on the neighbor's barn at 400' away. THAT's the one I use for getting the knucklehead dog's attention, and to keep from getting run over when we go walking on our dark country road. My pocket flash (used a couple hours every day) is a SureFire L1. Two power output levels, and I get about six months out of a battery. You can get flashlights that blink and so on, and while that's cool and all, what I'd suggest is something with two, maybe three, levels of output power. One for walking around, the other for 'what was that noise'.

    Hope that helps.
  4. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    media, pa
    my recent 3 top use ones (I own them)
    ZT-652 Cree Q3 WC ($12.50)

    [​IMG]
    http://dx.com/p/zt-652-cree-q3-wc-2...ight-focus-adjustable-headlamp-3-x-aaa-107938
    UltraFire TH-T60 ($27.30)

    [​IMG]
    http://dx.com/p/ultrafire-th-t60-ha...ite-led-flashlight-with-strap-1-x-18650-57007

    Surefire LX2 ($210)
    [​IMG]

    http://www.surefire.com/illumination/flashlights/lx2-lumamax.html


    The Short:
    They are all good. The headlamp is really useful, amazed how useful it is. The ultrafire is great also, a good floodlight. Very good, love the 18650 battery. The surefire is very nice and bright, great throwing flashlight, uses 2 cr123a batteries.

    The surefire isnt worth the money. I have used the headlamp for probably 100 hours and the ultrafire for probably 200 hours, both working great.
  5. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    That headlamp is almost identical to mine.. Amazing at how tight a beam it throws.

    I like my pricey lights. But my cheap ones far outperform them. Period. And there so cheap, that when they do take a chit, the cost to recoup is minimal.
  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Holliston, MA USA
    Interesting discussion! Its amazing how much flashlights have evolved... I remember as a kid in the boy scouts going on camping trips with a plain old D cell flashlight, I used to carry a the crookneck army issue job. The big upgrade was to put a "krypton" bulb in them... looking back now I still have that and its so dim it amazing you could see anything with it.

    Then later we had mini mag lights for backpacking... more light in a much lighter package but crap battery life.

    My first LED light was a Petzl LED 3xAAA LED headlamp. Still have that but its pretty dim by modern standards. Then I did an early LED conversion on one of my half dozen or so mini mags (keep them in the cars and all my tool bags). It was one of those 3 LED jobs and burned out quick.

    Then I got a better single LED conversion.... nice... and a dedicated LED mini mag... even better.

    A few years ago I got a dedicated LED 3D maglite and now the LED work lamp for my dewalt 20v LiIon set. Both are nice lights, about the same brightness, but you cant change the focus on the dewalt. I dont use either often enough to ever run out the batteries and actually measure the runtime :)

    I do miss a good bright headlamp - have to check out the one Maveric listed as all the brand name units you see at camping stores are $$$
  7. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    The one I put up was a headlamp that runs on an 18650 cell (or 3AAA). If you are going AA or AAA you have lots more options. i just wanted one that did 18650 for better runtimes.

    That one is bright enough, even on dim, that its much better for outside stuff than inside. I still use it, but its pretty darn bright inside.

    I really like the ultrafire. Simply cannot reccomend the surefire, way too much money. Great light, but way too much money (and i didnt even pay for it).
  8. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Who knew that all our firewood burning buddies were flashlight geeks just like me? :p
  9. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't paid attention for years. The last greatest thing were the Maglights and the Minimags, of which I have a semi-bevy (AA's, C's, D's). They were the best thing since electricity back when I was a shipboard Navy propulsion engineer. Long time ago. Maybe time to honorably retire those old soldiers from the tool box, the drawers, and the glove compartments. This thread has been somewhat of an awakening...I now have a couple of LED lights (Cree), batteries & a charger on the way from Amazon. I'll start with those and see where it leads me. This old dog can still learn a new trick or two. Thank all of you for showing me the light. :cool: Rick
    DexterDay and MasterMech like this.
  10. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Heck I never woulda realized their was an entire web forum just about flashlights.... Thats just nutty. whats next, a web forum about firewood? :oops:

    Seriously I ordered that headlamp above and the 18650 battery. For 12 bucks cant go wrong.
    firefighterjake likes this.
  11. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Going to seriously look at a rechargeable tactical flashlight from Inova (T series) after the holidays. Maybe we should have everybody post pics of their new flashlights. :rolleyes:
  12. FrankMA

    FrankMA Member

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    Loc:
    Merrimack Valley - Northeastern MA
    I picked up one of these (Fenix LD01) about 2 years ago and absolutely love it.

    http://www.fenixgear.com/fenix-ld/fenix-ld01-r4.html

    It's compact (fits on a key ring), powerful (72 lumens on high) and adjustable from 3 lumens on low, 26 on mid and 72 on high plus it uses only (1) AAA battery that seems to last forever. Another nice feature is that you can place it on a flat surface so the light shines up towards the ceiling which illuminates the area quite nicely and frees up your hands. I learned of this trick after losing power last year twice for a total of 10 days. This ranks up there as one of the best purchases I've ever made.
  13. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    Dont forget to get a charger for the 18650 battery!
  14. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Pretty good charger for li-ions, nicads and nimh: Charges 18650 16340 14500 AA AAA C and many more.
    SYSMAX Intellicharge i4 JETBeam Nitecore Li-ion / NiMH Battery Charger V.2


    [​IMG]
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    My house flashlight is a Dorcy which appears to be the same as a cree flashlight that I've had for a few years. The clicker on/off switch has nearly failed. I looked into the parts and it turns out that this is only a 98 lumen LED and it is really bright, much brighter than a mag lite. Current models as posted above put out almost 1000 lumens. That's freaking intense.

    30$ for a 1000 lumen light from a name brand like Cree is totally worth it. Shop lumens guys.
  16. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    So long as it's out-the-front lumens that is. Sheer numbers ain't the end all be all either. Optics make a big difference in how much of that light is usable.
  17. toonces

    toonces Member

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    Farmington Valley, CT
    i wanted to upgrade my Mini Mag to LED a couple years ago as the light was so dim it was practically useless. well, i researched and now i have like a dozen flashlights of various sizes all using some form of LED (Cree XM-L being my favorite so far), a bunch of rechargeable batteries including Lithium Ions and NiMh, chargers, but still no upgrade to that Mini Mag. those lights from overseas are so cheap and bright -- especially with Li-Ions -- that it made no sense to upgrade the Mag. quality is OK on most, but you will run into bad seeds here and there. i have flashlights for work, the cars, night trail riding, going to the bathroom at night, night fishing, working on flashlights... it gets addicting like wood gathering.
  18. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    Central Ohio
    The proper term would be flashaholics... :cool:

    Yeah. Lumens are just part of it (and not just OTF but ANSI rated lumens), and I can just about guarantee anything off dealextreme is a fraction of what they are claiming (and will die in a fraction of the time of a quality light). I see the appeal to by cheap junk, thats why wallmart and harbor frieght does so well, and I wouldnt support thier company or their crap merchandise. Great for someone on a tight budget I'll give ya that.

    I warn newbies getting into Li-ion 18650's and such, it isnt necessarily as simple as buying the cheapest one and charger and slapping em in and going. For one thing I wouldnt get an 18650 without the built in protection circuit. If it shorts - well basically it can explode. Not a good idea on your head or in your hand. And chargers can overcharge them. Safety can be an actual issue.

    Lots of things I consider when buying a new light, advertised lumens are down on the list a ways. Beam profile would probably be higher up, I prefer floody beams since most of what I need a flashlight for is within 50 foot. If you're on SAR or perhaps if its legal to hunt animals at night you may want a spot beam. You don't want a spot beam if your just going out to the woodpile or working under the hood of your car. Many prefer pure floods (reflectorless) but I haven't any of those yet. Beam tint is another biggie, after some nasty blue and purple tinted lights I swore I'd only buy neutral white or warm white tints. But even good flashlights are susceptible to the 'tint lottery'. It costs a lot more to test for tints each batch of leds, and they do vary, and most manufacturers dont do it. Another big thing would be how many modes and how well they are spaced. I dont care about strobe and sos modes and such but many want those. I'm more concerned with low modes, preferring the lowest to be less than 1 lumen. And well spaced low and mediums between 10-50 lumens are what I use 90% of the time even though my lights can go several hundred lumens. I like having .1 lumens or less to just leave it on that when I'm carrying the light around in the dark, since if I drop it I'll be able to find it easier (for example one light I'm looking at does .09 lumen for over 2 months). And a good user interface (UI) can be the difference of being very frustrated. Thats how you have to press the buttons to cycle through the modes. For example by pressing the buttons certain ways I can access both the lowest setting from off, or the highest setting from off. Some lights make you start from low or high and then go from there. That kind be kind of annoying in the middle of the night if your light turns on to several hundred lumens and blinds you. Some prefer magnetic control rings instead of buttons, or infinity variable output rather than just a few modes. Some prefer interchangeable bezels so you could swap out lenses for more throw or more flood. Lights today are highly versatile and well featured. Some will fit certain situations better than others.

    CR123's are a fine battery and can make a really tiny pocket rocket! But my vote goes for AA's. Cheapest and easiest to find. Your typical gas station might not have CR123's but any place that sells batteries in like the world is going to have AA's. I like AA's to because besides the standard alkaline (which I would never use in a quality light, except in a pinch) you can get various NiMH like the excellent Sanyo Eneloops) or you can get lithiums like the Energizer Ultimates (L91) that give you that same energy density or more than CR123's and cost just a wee bit more. Or some AA flashlights will even accept 14500 Li-ions. For around the house I use only AA Eneloops, they have 1500+ rated charge cycles so frequent charging isnt an issue. If I am going hiking or something where the most energy for the lightest weight matters, then I buy the Energizer Ultimates.
  19. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Interesting comments Ohio. I picked up a couple of those DX lights just to see how it compares in quality to the more expensive MAG and Petzl lights I have. I can see your point, I'd never want to rely on one with no backup for a backpacking trip,etc.

    I also agree on cheap chargers. I got the cheap 18650 charger on DX, I'm going to just use it as a battery holder and wire up a harness to charge them off my r/c computerized battery cyclers.... Those have much more advanced battery charging/test/maintenance algorythm's than any consumer off the shelf charger.
  20. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Oh wait, that could go south, quickly. <>

    [​IMG]
  21. OhioBurner©

    OhioBurner© Minister of Fire

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    !!! @ mastermech

    One disadvantage of an expensive light is that your out a bit more when you loose it! I can't find my zebralight all weekend dangnabit.
  22. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    the good ones you cant go wrong with, but the cheaper ones have a bit of risk. Really depends on what you need it for and your personality. I own many cheap ones, and a surefire. they are all good. The next time i am spending my money, it will be for a cheap one that gets good reviews. (note: cheap for me is the high end of the cheap ones, $20-30 on dx.com or the like gets you there, thats my personal flavor). The surefire is nice, but its a bucket of money.

    And I very strongly agree about the flood light comment! A flashlight with good throw is very nice, but most of the time its better to have one that will light up the room.

    Sure cant have too many. I have them in most rooms of the house and the cars.
  23. Sprinter

    Sprinter Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, I just rediscovered flashlights recently, too. Take a look at this forum site. These guys are as passionate about flashlights as we are about stoves. http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/content.php

    I got a set of three 200-lumen flashlights at Costco for $20 recently. I see they have a 500 lumen one for about $50 now. They're amazing if you never tried one. Forget the multi-led lights. The singe emitter ones are the most useful and brightest and efficient. They have a nice balance between throw and flood. LED efficiency and brightness are evolving quickly.

    My 200 lumen lights are much better than the old "million candlepower" halogen lantern I have. I really want to try one of the 500 lumen "tactical" ones.
  24. kingquad

    kingquad Minister of Fire

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    When my life potentially depended on my flashlight, I used surefire. We also got them for free, which helped.;) I also have a Streamlight that I like. Much cheaper than Surefire. I've never used them, but I've heard good things about Fenix flashlights too (also much cheaper). I've been out of that game for a while now, so I don't keep up with these things like I used to.
  25. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    The headlamp pictured above just arrived. The LI battery will probably be great, and the focusing projector beam is nice. The angle function (important) stinks and there isn't a good backing for the lamp (for you head). The box says it has 150 cp (my Everready, noted above, has 100 cp)-seems more, maybe because of the focusing projector beam. Great potential, but unrealized.

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