Emergency Kit Flashlight Recommendations?
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Hey Flashlight community, I'm building a household emergency kit. Was hoping you guys could help recommend a good option for a flashlight. I'm thinking about the following attributes (correct me if I'm missing anything) 1) Doesn't have to be too bright, duration is way more important given the situation, brightness settings would be nice but not necessary. 2) Durability should be high, waterproof/resistance important. This may get crushed by debris in an earthquake, would be great if it still works 3) Battery life seems super important (solar charging, or USB chargable off a solar pad would be nice?) 4) Cost - Not too worried about that, my guess is $30-$150? 5) Light throwing options - would be nice to be able to use it to illuminate a room, instead of just throwing a straight beam. I'm looking for something that balances attributes (not "the most indestructible flashlight but it weighs 10 pounds"). This is a 3-5 day emergency kit, not a "survive the zombie apocalypse" kit. Disclaimer: I know very little about flashlights other than poking around with the ones at the Massdrop office. Thanks in advance for your help! Master thread here: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/11147/emergency-survival-kit/2256482

thumb_upDuncan
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Infinite01
2
Mar 4, 2019
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I go for flashlights that have 18650 batteries like the Klarus XT11GT or the Olight S2R Baton II. Of course, I use a SureFire EDCL2 as a EDC flashlight so that's my go to for everything. Any flashlights with CR123A batteries will have a long shelf life since those batteries have a shelf life of 10 years and they make rechargeable batteries that closely matches the CR123A, 16340
Mar 4, 2019
45x8
1
Mar 2, 2019
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Pelican 3315
Mar 2, 2019
atrosenthal
0
Feb 14, 2019
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I wrote a nice long post and it disappeared when I logged in, apologies if this is a repeat. Also I see this is an old discussion, but hopefully this might help someone. Things I like: CR123's for their high output and long shelf life. AA's since they are easy to find and I can use rechargables. Lights that are built well. Reversible or two way pocket clips, which also keep the light from rolling off a flat surface. Throwy lights instead of floody. Lights that can tailstand, so if I need area illumination, I can provide it by bouncing off the ceiling. I don't love 18650's because they are not always a universal size and I have heard horror stories about melting/fire hazards. This always gets better over time as manufacturers standardize and get better at what they do, but for me, they are currently in the "nice but don't bet your life on it" category. I have a few but don't rely on them regularly. As others have stated, CR123's have a long shelf life and give you great high outputs if you like that. Shelf life is important to me for lights that stay in kits - I don't go into those kits yearly like I should, so it's nice to know the batteries should still be in good shape after a number of years. A two way or reversible clip allows you to clip the light to the brim of a hat, which I do all the time when I'm working on the house and need hands free light. This doesn't eliminate the need for a headlamp in your house/kit/gear, but it sure is handy. When you need extra light in a room you might think a throwy light is not useful - if it can tailstand, you can usually get enough light bouncing off the ceiling to do what you need to do. If it can't stand on it's own, just stick it in a glass to hold it pointing up. You can jerry-rig a throwy light to provide more area illumination but there's no simple/reasonable way to turn a floody light into a thrower, just my two cents. All of this leads me to my favorite flashlight, the one I EDC and have in my kits - the Streamlight 1L-1AA. Pros:
  • Compact form factor but not so small you'll lose it.
  • Takes EITHER 1 CR123 or 1 AA (with reduced light output, and it takes lithium or alkaline) - super useful if you can't find CR123's. No additional modification or hardware needed, just drop in either battery type. Can use rechargable batteries, I believe.
  • Decent low output, great high output (40lm/350lm ) on CR123. Still very useful outputs with AA (40lm/150lm).
  • IPX7 waterproof (limited water proofing, it's not a dive light)
  • Clip to your hat for hands free
  • Throwy light, better for signaling/visibility, or blinding someone if they happen to be a little too close for comfort.
  • Great durability. Machined aluminum, good threads and gaskets to seal it all up. My ironworker buddy dropped his 3 stories onto concrete multiple times before it finally started acting up. It still works today, but it's cranky about cycling thru modes.
  • Prices are very reasonable. Such a well built light for $29 on Amazon (sorry Massdrop) is a really good deal if you ask me.
Cons:
  • Can't recharge the batteries IN the light, have to have separate rechargable batteries and chargers.
  • Tailstanding - does an ok job, sometimes the rubber on some will protrude a bit and leave it "wobbly".
  • Not floody, which I know you may prefer. I solve this with the ceiling bounce trick, but that doesn't work outdoors.
  • Runtime is "meh". CR123 is 14hrs low, 1.3hrs high. It's about the same or worse with AA's. But if you get them at the right price, you can add a couple spare CR123 batteries to your kit for $2-$4. If this is a 3-5 day kit, I'm not sure rechargeable is a huge deal unless you're using it daily and always want it topped up.
The Protac 1L-1AA is in my opinion one of the best high speed-low drag options out there. Anywho, hope this helps somebody!
Feb 14, 2019
Breezer
0
Jan 22, 2019
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I suggest you check this one, it meets most of your request except for water resistance.
Jan 22, 2019
AngryAccountant
271
Nov 9, 2018
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Do you have a form factor in mind? I'm thinking single 18650 would be good to slip into your pocket when not in use, and you can recharge them easily enough via solar, though that'll be an added expense. They're generally not super easy to find like AA's though (unless you want to get a bit destructive and pull them out of old laptop batteries and cordless powertool batteries.) Regarding run time, here's an example of the runtimes from the Zebralight SC600w Mk III Hi in my pocket based on a 3500 mAh battery:
  • High:        H1 1126 Lm (PID, approx 2.2 hr) or H2 580 Lm (PID, 2.8 hr)/312 Lm (4.3 hr)/139 Lm (12 hr)
  • Medium:  M1 61 Lm (33 hrs)   or   M2 28 Lm (73 hrs)/10 Lm (8 days)
  • Low:        L1 3.3 Lm (18 days) or L2 0.37 Lm (2.8 months)/0.05 Lm (5.1 months)/0.01 Lm (7.1 months)
Medium modes are plenty for seeing your way around places, while still being able to throw it into high mode to identify something 50+ yards away. Durability I suggest putting the entire kit in a hard case (think smaller Pelican case), especially since the flashlight will be the most durable of the flashlight, charger, solar chain. Look for something that is IP-68 rated or higher (that's going to be intrusion resistant to dust and higher pressure water). Drop/crush resistance is harder to find/quantify, and the only flashlight I know of thats overbuilt enough to survive cars running it over and being thrown 20 feet onto concrete is the $300 Prometheus Alpha (fantastic light, but probably overkill, just throw it all in a Pelican). There are some flashlights such as EagleTac's that have built in USB ports to charge them, so take a look there, you're describing a floody beam though and they're "generally" more throwy. Things that make a light more floody to look for are small reflectors, diffusers built into the glass or addon, and larger LED surface area (the actual LED size, larger = floodier). Let me know what you think from here!
Nov 9, 2018
Kevin
1185
Outreach
Nov 9, 2018
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This is a great suggestion. I've looked at it and looks like a pretty solid option. Couple questions if you don't mind: How "Stable" are the rechargeable batteries? If I fully charge it and then leave it in the kit for a year or two, is it going to still work well? My "reliable" thought/plan was having something that was AA battery operated and have a brand new package of like 16 Energizer lithiums next to it. Another thought is the form factor, given the situation, is an EDC flashlight the optimal size? Maybe the answer is two, one EDC one, and one "beefier" one? Yeah, I plan to buy a large pelican case or something to put everything in. In terms of flashlight durability, just wanted to make it clear I don't want something made of plastic that will break the first time I drop it (which invariably will happen). Then again, I don't think anyone in this forum is ever going to suggest something like that, regardless of the usage case! no pun intended
Nov 9, 2018
AngryAccountant
271
Nov 9, 2018
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So if you're looking for long term standby, you're never going to beat CR123's (10 years is reasonable) or modern rechargeables such as Eneloops (i'm not certain offhand), which are extremely low self discharging, and you actually don't want to store 18650s at full capacity very long as it degrades them. Temperature matters a lot too, discharge rates at room temp are way lower than if it's at 110 degrees up in an attic or something, there's a reason a lot of people keep their batteries in the fridge (don't put them in the freezer though). You're not going to lack power using an EDC size flashlight with anything bigger than AA size, which another option is a flashlight that can use everything, for instance AA eneloops, AA alkaline and 14500 Li-Ion are all the same size, and if the flashlight can handle the voltage, you can use what you've got on hand. Primary batteries (non-rechargeable) are great for long standby, and once an emergency does happen, you could run on them until you have time to get rechargeables into play. With a slightly larger than AA size, 2 CR123s is very close in size to 1 18650, and there are many flashlights that can use both (wrap the CR123s in paper while in a 18650 sized case to prevent rattling.) Regarding mixing and matching multiple flashlights, two is one, and one is none. So yeah, I suggest having multiple, BUT I also suggest having them share batteries, it means more budget can go into having batteries. Make sure you put dates on the batteries too for inventory management purposes. Most EDC flashlights are beefy enough to survive a drop or two as well, so as long as there's no deliberate smashing, it should be fine.
Nov 9, 2018