I wrote this article in 2016. It is 2018 at the time I am posting this, but a good bit of the information still rings true. Apparently, it was late in the evening when I wrote this, which is usually when I am most creative. I still EDC some of two years later…
I have decided to write short review of the pocket sized flashlights I rotate with my EDC gear, as of Early 2016. Some are popular, other’s not so much. These are VERY budget friendly, as even the most costly [pocket EDC] model can be had for <$35 at the overwhelming majority of online, brick and mortar and hybrid retailers.
I realize that one should have both LED and Icandescent in his/her (or vice versa, depending on the situation that arises) EDC gear.
If you are a heavy flashlight user (meaning every day, several times a day), you will want a flashlight that is rugged, easy to maintain, efficient on batteries and bright enough for any given task. LED models fit these specifications perfectly. The few drawbacks of LED technologies is that they are overwhelmingly NOT user serviceable, MOST models give an untrue color rendition of any object being examined, and the scariest; they probably will NOT survive an EMP blast. In fact any electronic device that utilizes transistors and microchips as their semiconductors will fail. That’s just about everything except for a very few exceptions of devices that are probably only used in the military sector. That brings on a horrible wave of depression when I think of it and I have to ask God to comfort me.
My current EDC choices are:
UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies) Moon Force 2xAAA Glo Model. <$20.
Energizer Hard Case Professional LED Task Light 2xAA Model. ~$14-$17.
Terralux Light Star 80 2xAAA Model. <$20.
5.11 Tactical TMT PLx 2xAAA Model. <$35.
Now that all has been said about LED models; here is a list of mine:
UST (Ultimate Survival Technologies) Moon Force 2xAAA Glo Model. <$20. I mainly have it as a just in case of the worst thing besides an EMP blast. It can be located in the dark. It has a battery of 40 hours in low mode whilst still giving off a decent 10 lumens. It also has an emergency signally mode that has it preprogrammed to blink “SOS” continuously. This is a must have if traveling and one becomes stranded and or injured. The only drawback is that I find as the batteries age, one must strike it in addition to pressing the switch in order for it to turn on. I think of this in a situation where I would be in an aircraft downing in the middle of nowhere or being kidnapped and thrown into a trunk.
Energizer Hard Case Professional LED Task Light 2xAA Model. ~$14-$17. It is a cross between a consumer and a tradesperson’s flashlight and can be used for industrial use or outdoor nighttime activities. At 250 Lumens on high mode, it is the brightest flashlight in my current EDC gear. Its body is composed of a ABS plastic and steel. This allows it to be both rugged and chemical resitant and non conductive (excellent for performing maintenance and repairs on various pieces of machinery.) There is also a low setting which makes it appropriate for close up inspection of work While I wouldn’t advise for self defense from humans, it can be an excellent way of scaring away smaller animals (like a racoons, possums and even randy or dominant cats) that torment your pets and children. I mean, if the blinding brightness doesn’t deter their attitudes, a good hard whack upside the head or high velocity throw at their hind legs will surely scare them away but won’t leave any severe or crippling injuries. It will make them think twice about harming your elderly, juvenile or pregnant/nursing pets as well as undiscerning children. I claim no responsibility for any injuries you or your loved ones may sustain from the animals. For an extra measure of your safety and CYA purposes, please shout “GET” at the animal in question when engaging and only use force it it doesn’t comply with your command. For larger, stronger preadtory animals, there is a plethora of blades and firearms to choose from, but this piece is dedicated to flashlights. It will survive an impact of 7 Meters (21 Feet) on concrete and because of being built of high quality plastic, it won’t show the battle scars too much either. What if our enemies use some sort of dirty radiation to generate the EMP waves? What if all these little bastards mutate, get stronger and have all kinds of superpowers and attack you and your infirmed. When you shout “GET” they will laugh at you mockingly. What if their mutated bodies will then be able to absorb the blows from whackings and hurlings that once sent them away with their tails between their legs? Okay, I know there are plenty of possibilities but no more. This is supposed to be about science fact, not science fiction. The line between the two subjects keeps blurring though.
Terralux Light Star 80 2xAAA Model. <$20. This flashlight gives off 80 *you guessed it* Lumens, but I forget for how long on a set of batteries. Unfortunately the company’s website is not up to par at the moment. I like this one and carry it because it presents the best of both worlds, but is legally an LED. Therefore I must declare that I highly doubt it surviving an EMP blast. The reason why I say it gives the best of both worlds is because it has the brightness, durability and effeciency of an LED, but due to recent advances in LED technology, it produces light that is similar in color to an incandescent with fresh batteries. This means that in any profession where color rendition matters, this light is a winner. [Theoretically] all colors being inspected and examined will show their true appearance. This light also has a grip on it that is mean for holding it with your teeth comfortably and still having both hands free to work. Another simple but brilliant idea is that this light has the ability to place the clamp upside down and clip it to the duck bill of your cap. Please for CYA purposes make sure the light is point away from your face when you wear it on your cap. Also this light has a forward clickie switch which means you could secretly communicate morse code, or cause a seizure to someone who is trying to harm you. For the sake of CYA, let me caution that you could probably be sued or even prosecuted for causing a serious injury if your attacker hurts his/herself during the seizure, even if it was purely self defense. I shouldn’t say this because it will give some epeleptic the urge to hold someone up in the hopes that he or she will get an blast of light in the face, go into a seizure and then sue his or her victim. Welcome to modern America. Do you even wonder why enemies both foreign and domestic would love to bring us to our knees and what better way of doing it than sending all of our technology 200 years into the past?
5.11 Tactical TMT PLx 2xAAA Model. <$35. This light is 90 Lumens (10 Lumens brighter than my Terralux and nearly just as efficient if my memory serves me properly.) It seems to be made of a slightly harder grade of Aircraft Aluminum than the Terralux, which I would like to use it as my Kubotan light. It too has a forward clickie so we please refer to the previous paragraph about the advantages forward clickie switches. It is a decent all around lighting instrument, but was initially targeted to law enforcement and military customers. That means that it probably can stand up to most forms of use and abuse. I only wish it had a crenelated bezel, like my 2xAAA Bushnell flashlight. And of course a 12 Hz strobe feature would make inducing a seizure (or at least extreme disorientation) in your oponent even easier.
If you absolutely need excellent color rendition of the equipment, (or tissue and organs for that matter) want a flashlight that is user servicable (hence an exponentially longer lifetime of service) or just plain want to be prepared should any disaster fry all modern electronics. Also their startup cost is a fraction of the startup cost of an LED model. The drawbacks to incandescents are that since a glass bulb is the only light emitter, they are horribly more fragile than their LED counterparts, they devour batteries like a starving pit bull in a butcher shop, their bulb life is also relatively short, meaning the user must have extra replacement in his/her edc bag. Then there is the facet that frightens me most: Their replacement bulbs may some day be discontinued, because of the potential selfishness and greed or poor descision making on the part of their manufacturers. Given the political instability at home and abroad, I will stress that incandescent flashlights are a MUST not only as a backup device in the event of an EMP induced LED failure, but also to have as a barter item (extra bulbs as well in this case) for food, water, medicine and weapons/ammo. Because of the relatively low price of both the flashlights and their bulbs, They will indeed be worth many times their MSRP. I am shocked to realize that I have never heard anyone from the prepper community state that flashlight bulb futures could be a publically traded commodity, seriously not even as a joke. Has anyone besides myself ever thought of this?
My current EDC choices are:
Mini Maglite 1984 Original 2xAA Model. ~$8-$20.
Mini Maglite 1987 Smaller 2xAAA Model ~$7-$16.
Pelican MityLite 1900 2xAAA Model. ~$10-~$20.
Now that I have stated the extreme pros and unfortunate cons of incandescent models, here are the ones I rotate in my EDC gear:
Mini Maglite 1984 Original 2xAA Model. ~$8-$20. This was probably the flashlight that revolutionized the industry and was a trailblazer in the subject of all things EDC. I have been using this model (not the same one, but different ones over the past 10 years. I also have given them as gifts to friends and family. While not on the bleeding edge of today’s flashlight technology; it is still a tried and true favorite around the world. This is a flashlight that can be used in both the medical and custodial arts and anything in between! It can meet the needs of a surgeon but still be affordable on a janitor’s wages. The only complaint I can say about it is that bulb and battery life are poor. A fresh set of Alkalines will emit 14 Lumens from the bulb and last between 3 to 5 hours depending on the quality of the cells (you get what you pay for definitely makes a clear statement in the world of batteries.) A new bulb will burn for maybe 8 to 10 hours before flashing out. Maglite upgraded their bulbs designed for this flashlight several time over the years. They were always bi pin bulbs, but their physical and chemical features have changed over the years; Vacuum, Krypton and Xenon respectively. What I recommend this model for is anything where light is needed in a post EMP blast world, but also has much praticality in normal everyday life. I have used it for close up inspection work when repairing/inspecting the insides a computer tower many times. I have also read and heard where it was esential in performing or assisting surgery in the mission fields where the electricity is intermittent at best, reading an instrument panel on any vehicle, craft or vessel at night when the proprietary lighting has decided to quit on you. Also, from what I gather, firefighters like this light because of its ability to project a focused beam with minimal glare in a smoke or mist filled room. There is even an implement sold by a third party that allows this flashlight to be securely mounted to their helments. What tops it all off is that it was invented and still made here in the States by a highly ethical and kind-hearted, though rightfully shrewd at times, eighty something business executive and tradesman named Tony Maglica.
Mini Maglite 1987 Smaller 2xAAA Model ~$7-$16. This is the smaller, lighter, and dimmer underage lover to the original Mini Maglite. I swear their relationship is consensual, but for CYA purposes I assure you the parents of the younger party gave their full blessing to the relationship and even paid for a lavish wedding. In fact: One year later they had a child whom they named Solitaire because of its dull light output and inability to stay in a committed relationship to its key lanyard. Wow lack of medication breeds creativity, but creativity is soon beaten and gang raped by paranoia, depression and anxiety. Okay all joking aside. This flashlight was developed for medical and industrial purposes and I would say it was mediocre in filling those roles for. However it holds a special place in my heart for the simple fact that it was brought into this *racking my brain desparately for a properly fitting adjective* world in 1987, just like me. Sometime I think in 2015 she got her act together and began using a Xenon bulb. Now she is a medical profession, specializing in eye exams because of her color correct Xenon light, and her dimness has an advantage because the pupils only contract minimally. I think she would make a great use of her candle mode in a post EMP world for seperated young lovers to write each other since there will be no phones texts or emails to communicate. I think she might also inspire a huge generation of creative writers as they create stories, plays, songs, poems, doctrines and manifestoes. Then again, will we have freedom of expression once order is restored?
Pelican MityLite 1900 2xAAA Model. ~$10-~$20. I have a love and hate relationship with this model, due to owning ones that had their bodies warp, bulb modules burnout prematurely and even one of them being stolen from me. However, the laser precision Xenon fired beam 11 Lumen, overall ruggedness and especially the strong association with the maritime industry (and my gongoozling hobby) not to mention its Class 1 Divsion 1 Group C and D approval were all deciding factors in me giving this model one more chance and even placing it in with my EDC gear. It will hardly dent your checking account (neither will it send you into massive debt.) Well, let me clarify: If you use it heavily, it will develop an addiction to batteries not unlike a chain smoker’s ongoing and scandalous love affair with Nicotene. Like any other incandescent model it will thrive in the post EMP world (especially in areas where hazardous fluids have been released because of the near universal failure electronics will sucumb to.) In the still normal pre EMP world this light will be ideal when working on live electrical or electronic circuits is an absolute must, but please remove the damn key ring first if yours has one.
Another indispensible use of small flashlights.
Someday, I would love to take up the art of the Kubotan, which is a style of martial arts that teaches the use a hard, pen-sized object to strike the pressure points of a would be attacker and disarm him/her. A metal, pocket sized flashlight is ideal for these techniques and some were even built with this in mind (I believe the Mini Maglite in 1984 was one of these.) With enough skills mastered could even halt the most heavilly armed attacker in a close quarter combat situation. This is something that should be taught to and encouraged for all patrons and staff of all schools churches and hospitals, especially with the rise of mass shootings as of lately…