10 Best Flashlights | December 2016
- high light intensity
- comes with a free mini flashlight
- cannot be submerged
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- suitable for search and rescue needs
- 90 hour run time on low
- feels unbalanced in the hand
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- produces a cool white light
- includes a lanyard and spare o-ring
- shortcut to firefly mode
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- double tap for direct strobe access
- designed to be gun mounted
- reliable in all weather conditions
|Rating||3.5 / 5.0|
- 6 built-in operating modes
- magnetic end cap
- allows for usb charging
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- built-in thermal protection circuit
- has an anti-reflective coating
- submersible up to 2 meters
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- comes with a rechargeable battery
- has a momentary-on function
- tight pocket clip keeps it secure
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- tactical tail-cap switch
- removable belt clip
- durable tempered glass lens
|Brand||SureFire Defender Serie|
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
- adjustable beam width
- eco-mode for extended run time
- user-programmable function cycles
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
- enhanced heat-dissipating fins
- comes with a shoulder strap
- dual neck switch for fast operation
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
Where The Light Comes From
Flashlights, often called torches in other (backward?) parts of the world, are such simple devices that their genius can easily be overlooked.
All they really do is take a charge from a battery or set of batteries and convert it into light through a simple circuit and a little bulb of tungsten, halogen, or LED.
It's a head-slapping, "duh"-inducing setup, but the devices that existed before the flashlight came about were so much less efficient and so much more dangerous.
It would be one thing if all a flashlight did was to light up a little bulb and let it do its thing. What helps to both redirect and magnify the light from that bulb, however, is a concave reflector on the inside of the flashlight head.
Often, this reflective material works in concert with a kind of zoom lens you can manipulate to change the intensity of your light from that of a powerful spot to a more evenly distributed flood light.
That light is often measured in lumens (lm), thanks to a recent marketing strategy that's really caught on in the last decade or so.
It's a simple and popular way to understand how bright your flashlight can get, but it doesn't correlate directly to the distance the light can travel once you put a lens in front of it and a reflector behind it. Generally speaking, though, more lumens is a good thing.
Carry The Torch If You Can
There is no shortage of options when it comes to selecting a flashlight for your home, or work, or for recreation. I have my plethora of personal biases about what makes a good flashlight, and I certainly have my particular set of intended uses.
But I'm more concerned with what's going to be most useful to you than evangelizing for one style of torch. That said, I think a little perspective, some common sense about flashlights, if you will, would be of use.
There's a saying in the camera industry that the best camera is the one you've got on you. That idea is one of the primary drivers that continues to see high-tech camera developments in the world of cell phones.
The same is true of your flashlight, and if you're getting it to keep in your car for emergencies or to take camping with you, a light that's too big, or that has too short a battery life, is useless to you. Those giant, superpowered flashlights, for example, have no place in the woods or in your Winnebago.
Take a second to think about what you actually want to do with the thing. Are you a professional criminal looking for just the right light source when breaking and entering? You might want something with adjustments both for light zoom and intensity.
Perhaps you're more interested in blinding the guy who just broke into your house with his nice adjustable flashlight. You might want one of the more insanely powerful torches like the piece at number one, or maybe one that can easily be attached to a firearm.
Shine On, You Crazy Flashlight
What you're looking at here is one of, if not the, first flashlight ever invented. Before this little puppy came along, people lit the way with actual torches, candles, and lanterns running on oil.
You wouldn't think it by looking at it, but inventions like this one more or less torpedoed the whaling industry, the primary purpose of which (you have no idea how tempted I was to write 'porpoise' just now) was to provide oil as fuel for light.
You know what? Once you do get yourself a nice flashlight, make like a kid trying to stay up past his or her bedtime and huddle with it under the covers reading Moby Dick. You'll thank me later.
That flashlight there was invented in 1898 by the owner of the Eveready Battery Company, whose batteries took after the early dry designs that only came out a decade or so before. In fact, it was a pretty short span from the inventions of both the bulb and the battery to the invention of the flashlight.
It's original purpose? Lighting up flowers. That's right. These lights were designed, at least according to legend, to light up flowerpots containing prized flora during the midnight hours.
Other than their intended use, not a lot has changed about the designs through the last century. Sure, flashlights have gotten stronger and more efficient, but at its core it's still just batteries, bulb, lens, and switch.