How to choose a flashlight

How to choose a flashlight

One of the true pleasures of the wilderness is its inky, enveloping darkness—at least until you need to do something or go somewhere. Thanks to ever-improving bulb and battery technology, there are now lights, from military-grade bruisers to mini-LEDs, for any outdoor task.

When choosing a flashlight, consider how you plan to use it. That will help determine which type of battery and bulb you should select.

Bulbs

Most quality outdoor and tactical flashlights now use LEDs because they’re energy efficient (the batteries last five to 10 times longer) and much tougher than filament-based bulbs. LED bulbs will also keep glowing hundreds of hours after incandescents burn out.

Batteries

Disposable batteries are less expensive and have a long shelf life, but over time they cost much more than rechargeables. Good-quality NiMH rechargeables are pricey, and don’t run as long as alkalines, but their low discharge rate makes them excellent for high-drain lights.

Gorillatorch Switchback ($64.95)

Gorillatorch Switchback ($64.95)

Joby

Key features: Transforms from compact, lightweight lantern to high-
performance LED headlamp; settings include spotlight, floodlight and red 
for night vision.

The promise: “An overflowing cauldron of beautiful light.”

Game Tracker ($49.99)

Game Tracker ($49.99)

Gerber

Key features: Uses a unique mix of amber, red and blue LEDs to differentiate blood from other natural reds, such as leaves; runs on four AAs.

The promise: “Make blood stand out against diverse backgrounds.”

Tikka XP2 Core ($109.99)

Tikka XP2 Core ($109.99)

Petzl

Key features: High-output red and white LEDs and wide angle lens for focused or flood lighting; lithium ion battery recharges via a wall socket or USB port.

The promise: “Battery life equivalent to 900 alkaline AAAs.”

9410 LED Lantern (U.S.$399.95)

9410 LED Lantern (U.S.$399.95)

Pelican Products

Key features: Rated for use by firefighters, four-LED lantern array rotates 120 degrees; rechargeable NiMH battery runs two hours on high, five on low.

The promise: “Our most powerful handheld lighting tool ever.”

Impulse (U.S.$9.99)

Impulse (U.S.$9.99)

Princeton Tec

Key features: Powered by two lithium coin cells, the five-setting LED burns up to 36 hours; weighs 14 grams, and comes with both quick-release and hat clips.

The promise: “The ultimate personal multi-task light.”

Dip-It, Drop-It, Dunk-It ($49.99)

Dip-It, Drop-It, Dunk-It ($49.99)

Stanley

Key features: Rechargeable five-watt LED spotlight runs up to 10 hours, and includes both AC and DC chargers; impact resistant and submersible to six feet, it floats pointing up.

The promise: “Ideal for outdoor activities.”

TK41 ($149.95)

TK41 ($149.95)

Fenix Tactical

Key features: With six light levels, plus strobe and SOS, the high-lumen LED burns 240 hours on eight AAs; impact-resistant aluminum body is submersible.

The promise: “A high-intensity multi-functional flashlight.”

G2X Pro (U.S.$95)

G2X Pro (U.S.$95)

SureFire

Key features: High-efficiency LED with two output levels; weatherproof polymer body measures five inches in length and weighs 4.4 ounces.

The promise: “Resists scratches, abrasion and corrosion.”

Signature Outdoor Gear Sports Light ($44.99)

Signature Outdoor Gear Sports Light ($44.99)

The Coleman Company

Key features: The spot-to-flood LED runs 17 hours on low, six and a half on high; the multi-position stand can also 
be used to hang the light.

The promise: “A powerful hands-free light.”