For the overwhelming majority of my existence, I have been fascinated by flashlights. I don’t know the explanation behind it. I do know that just about every child ever born is also fascinated by a device with a button or switch that can light up the dark. Unfortunately, most tend to outgrow them at some point or another. I never did.
I’m not the only one who never outgrew flashlights. In fact there are many people from all walks of life who have an interest in flashlights (or torches as they are known in the rest of the English-speaking world.) There are even forums dedicated to those who are interested and I belong to several. I have written about my many experiences with flashlights on those forums.
There was a time in my life when I was mocked by my peers for my hobby, albeit a very brief time. So, for that time I suppressed it to keep the non necessary shame to a minimum. I only enjoyed flashlights in secret. This was from ages eleven to sixteen.
I was 16 years old (2003) when my parents upgraded from dial-up Internet to cable broadband. At the time, I used a Maglite which ran on four D batteries. When the Charter technician came to drop the cable line from the attic, I kindly assisted. He had a small LED flashlight which put my Maglite to shame. It was brighter, the batteries lasted longer and the size was several times more compact. I had read about LED flashlights previously in the C. Crane Catalog, but this was the first time I had seen one in real life. This impressed me.
That following October, my brother used my Maglite, left it on and ruined it by leaking batteries. I knew I wanted to replace that flashlight, but with an LED model. So I purchased an Energizer rechargeable LED. The reason being was that I did want to use all my spending money on new batteries. This light was mediocre in brightness, but lasted forever on a charge. I still have it, but it sits on my shelf with the rest of my collection.
It was now 2005 and Operation Iraqi Freedom was in full swing. The economy was fairly decent and it seemed that tactical and outdoor gear was marketed to the public like never before. I was shopping at Wal Mart one Sunday in May and saw a Garrity LED flashlight made of Aircraft Aluminum. It had red and blue lens filters (red for night vision, blue for tracking blood of wounded game) and a clicky tailcap switch. It seemed almost like a “police style” flashlight, but for less than $15. I purchased it the following Thursday, May 5th 2005. Since then I can count on one hand the times I have been somewhere and didn’t have a flashlight on my person (more on that in a bit.)
That light sure came handy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In September 2005, I upgraded to a Dorcy LED flashlight of similar style. This one was brighter with a 1 watt LED engine and resembled the higher end Sure Fire models. I purchased it and carried it until December 2005, when I upgraded to my first Mini Maglite.
For the rest of my senior year, I carried that Mini Maglite on me everyday. I also wanted to carry my Swiss Army Knife, but didn’t want to get caught and spend five years in the slammer. I remember I was off for the final period of the day, so sometimes I would walk around the halls shining my Mini Maglite into the classrooms and getting many laughs. I actually got written for doing this by my English 4 teacher. Yes, that’s the same one who said what my writing is “lovely but inappropriate.”
From that point forward, I carried several different versions of a pocket sized flashlight, usually a Mini Maglite. I currently carry an LED Mini Maglite at all times, and usually have another one as a backup in my back pocket.
Times I didn’t have a flashlight with me:
1. During a severe thunderstorm in February 2006 (it was in my pants pocket, but fell into the sofa during the course of my sleep.) I actually wrote about that event and posted on several places on line.
2. My high school graduation on May 20 2006-they were quite strict and maybe I was being overly cautious, but I didn’t carry it on me just because I didn’t want my diploma taken away.
3. My first day in D. C. in June of 2006-I didn’t want it confiscated by security from any of the government buildings where they search you. I carried it the second day when I saw how the lights in the subway would frequently blink.
4. My cousin’s wake in October 2010-just out of reverence for her, her parents and her children. I have however carried flashlights to other memorial services since.
So I guess I like to be prepared, so that’s why I carry a flashlight. I had read many stories of people who had Mini Maglites in the WTC during the September 11th attacks and guided others out to safety. I think of myself in a shopping mall, subway or parking garage and the lights failing. I would be prepared and so would anyone else who thinks like me. We also frequently get tropical cyclones where I am from and that usually leads to power outages.
For all you single men out there: Imagine how you could impress a lady with your flashlight in a situation of such! Ladies, you might also attract a decent man if you do the same. We’ve talked about that situation quite frequently on Candle Power Forums.
What type of model to buy?
I would suggest anything that could run on one or two AA or AAA batteries and preferably use an LED. Also try to purchase one that has at least a five hour run time. One made of metal is definitely preferable as it is more durable and more than likely waterproof.
There is a plethora of on line as well as brick and mortar dealers who are willing to supply you with the right light.
Be sure to have an incandescent model as a backup, but be just as sure to have spare bulbs. An LED flashlight would most likely be ruined by an EMP blast, but an incandescent should still work. The original Mini Maglite is still sold at Wal Mart for less than $10 and comes with three extra bulbs.