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Feb 14, 2019
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.
  • 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
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