Considering that roughly one third to one half of every day is in the dark (Depending on where you are and the time of year, and not accounting for storms, eclipses, giant spaceships blocking out the sun, etc.) one of the more critical things we as human beings rely on is light. That could be candle light, kerosene lantern light, firelight, electric lights or battery powered lights.
I always carry a flashlight on me, in fact, I generally have two or even three depending on time of year and clothing. If I’m running around in shorts and a T-shirt, I’ll have 1, I have a spare in my spring jacket and when wearing heaver clothing I keep 2 spares (1 spare hand light and a headlamp for hands free use).
Any ole flashlight will do in most situations. I was lucky enough to see a motorist one night (-28 degrees, middle of winter) trying to change a tire in the dark. I pulled in and walked up to see if I could help. He didn’t have a flashlight and could barley see what he was doing and had already spent 20 minutes in the freezing cold feeling around and figuring out how the spare tire release and jack worked in the dark by feel. Simply pointing a light allowed him to finish in 3 or 4 minutes what would have taken another 10, (And would have turned a 30 minute job into a 7 minute job had he had it to begin with), which in that kind of cold might save a few digits. Keep a flashlight in your vehicle at all times. (I recommend you put it in a Ziploc bag with 2 sets of battery’s, don’t load the batteries in the light or they may corrode and make it useless when you actually need it). This can be a cheap flashlight. Most alkaline batteries will last 8 to 10 years so you have plenty of time.
I do recommend going with an LED light over a bulb light. If you use bulb lights, throw an extra bulb in with them. However in this day and age LED’s are just as inexpensive now and offer both equal lighting AND longer battery life. Can’t really go wrong with them. They also work in temperature ranges higher and lower than bulb lights. (I’ve burned a couple of mag-light bulbs in sub zero temps back in the old days (yeah, I’m 45 LOL) so the spare is always a must).
I also recommend keeping a headlamp in place of a standard hand light for most “Storage” lights, like home, car, pack etc. (EDC “Every Day Carry” light exceptions we’ll discuss in a minute. Head lamps have the benefit of keeping both hands free and if it has an adjustable angle bracket, can really keep light exactly where you need it. i also discovered that as I got older I developed a gag reflex if I hold items in my mouth like a flashlight. When I was younger I could do it all day. Now, if I hold something in my mouth like the butt of a light for more than about 10 seconds, I start getting the urge to vomit. Not sure why this came up on me as I got older, but it is what it is.
EDC lights: I carry three lights with me most of the time unless it summer and I don’t have a coat or lite jacket (no pun intended. LOL). Four if you count my FAK/Pack light.
I’ll go over the 4 I carry and why I carry them and their particular features. Everyone has different needs, so by all means, do the research, find the lights that work best for you and your purposes. This is just to help you see my own thoughts and if they help you figure out what works, great!
First of all, my pocket light, the one that is on me everywhere all the time. The one I use the most. I got lucky on this one, I picked up an Olympia RG245 for about $30. This light is typically $42 to $55. Now, everyone knows I like value. I don’t generally go spending $40 or $50 bucks on a piece of gear unless it’s critical. And when you can buy inexpensive led lights for $8 r $10 that can take some abuse and work well. It’s hard to justify spending more. But it’s worth it.
What you get for the extra money are a few features that are very useful. Good circuitry that allows for even battery usage and extend life of the battery. A temporary flash mode to let you know when the battery is getting low. (Otherwise it would just suddenly shut off). Instead of a light that is just turned on or off, you get multiple settings. There is a high beam good for defense to temporarily blind an adversary or at least interrupt their vision. Or when you need a lot of light to light up a large area or see a good distance of 245 lumens. This runs for about 1 hour on a single CR123 battery. The second mode is a medium mode (just 1 more click of the tail cap button) A little less than half the brightness (about 110 lumens) which is good for most tasks, I spend most of my time in this mode. The battery will last about 3.5 hours at this light level. The low power mode is 20 lumens and the battery will last for an amazing 45 hours. I’ve used this mode a lot when I’m camping and I need to get something out of a bag or light a stove or something. Doesn’t completely destroy your night vision but offer plenty of light even to read by.
There are also a couple other modes like Strobe and SOS. Strobe flashes rapidly which can be used for signaling and can improve performance in foggy or smokey conditions. The SOS mode is useful in case you are hurt or need help. You can set it down and let it flash for you. It flashes the light in the universal Morse Code SOS pattern (dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot).
The light is small, easily fits in the palm. I wouldn’t call it a defensive light like some of the slightly larger lights with raised ridges that can be used as a kubaton. CR123 batteries are a bit more expensive, but the lifespan and power they produce are well worth it. It would take a flashlight large enough to hold 2 AA batteries to get the same performance so it helps keep the light small.
I prefer the hooded tail caps like the Olympia because they don’t get turned on in your pocket the way side switch often do. And they are much faster and easier to deploy than the twist off/on style. Although even with the hood, I have on occasion turned it on in my pocket and the temperature after a few minutes goes up enough to let me know I did it. As you can tell by the picture it’s well worn and function quite well. It’s been dropped many times and that solid state circuitry and LED still work great.
The second light I keep in an inside pocket of my jacket is a hands free light. I’ve had a lot of the cheap little 30 and 50 lumen single LED headlamps that cost about $12 bucks and they work, but don’t seem to last very long. My father in law had given me a pelican headlamp many years ago that lasted me 12 years of horrible abuse and is still going strong so I decided to see what the latest and greatest Pelican because I knew it was tough and would last me. Not only was I happy with their latest models and features, I was quite surprised by the price. I only paid $31.99 for the Pelican 2720 headlamp. This thing has every feature I could hope for and a bunch I wasn’t even aware of. Since this would be my primary “Work” light. I was looking for features. Simplicity is great, particularly in an EDC light, but for the main workhorse, I wanted a bit more and this thing nailed it.
- Just a quick rundown of features.
- Low level Red LED night vision that helps preserve night vision
- Variable light mode from 100 % (200 lumens) for 3.5 hours all the way down to 12 lumens with over 100 hours run time.
- Output magnification and beam control, can make it wider or narrower as needed.
- 3 standard AAA batteries, easy availability
- touch-less on off controls for when your cleaning game or or processing food and don’t want to touch it.
- SOS beacon (Just like the Olympia).
Yep, this thing does it all. And at $32.00 it’s tough as nails, waterproof and really just does it all. The head-strap is outstanding, (I personally prefer the single strap on this model without the center cranial strap but to each his own).
The backup light as I call it is a slightly larger light that I picked up through an online offer. I believe it was around $30 or so just for the light but I got the full kit with it for that price. It’s a Gun Shack G3 (Branded form the Helotex G3) but for the life of me I can’t remember what I paid for it.
This is a unique light because it came with all the connectivity for a weapon light with external switched and end cap, as well as conversion pieces to switch it between a dual CR123 and 3 x AAA so if you can’t find CR123’s where you are, you can sure find AAA’s. Its a big handful of tough weapons grade aluminum with some serrations or “Skull Crusher” ridges on the front bezel. It’s 160 lumens is not as “Tactically” strong for defense as the smaller Olympia I carry, but still plenty strong enough to interfere with vision. (Anything over 120 lumens is considered defensively bright). The flexibility of this light makes it a good backup light.
The last light I carry is my pack light. This is actually a custom light prototype created by the owner of Z.A.S.C. (Zombie Apocalypse Survival Camp) Guy Cain. Which I have been involved with since ZASC’s inception. You can build this or a similar light pretty easily buying the parts online fairly cheap. We never produced these lights, but may at some time. It’s starts with a sealed 6 panel led that does 18 lumens (3 lumens per LED) Then that is wired to a 9V battery socket. I added a flexible wire “bungee” strap that allows me to hang or stand or strap the light wherever I need it. The best thing about this light is the time it runs. On a typical 9V batter this light ran for just shy of 500 hours. Yes, I ran this light continuously on a single 9V for 21 days straight. If you were to just use it during 8 hours of darkness continuously, it would run for about 2 months, and if you only used it for an hour a night (more typical usage), it could go for nearly a year and a half on a single 9V battery. This is a great little light.
I hope this info helps you find the ideal lights for your daily treks and shows that you don’t have to break the bank to be the hero when the lights go out. :-)