It’s hard to imagine a more useful tool than a flashlight. We’re pretty much helpless if we can’t see what we’re doing—and it’s often during those times when we can’t see, such as a power outage or car trouble on a dark road, that we have important things to do. So, whether it’s peering behind the stove in search of a dropped serving spoon or navigating the impacts of a major storm, a flashlight is a must-have item.
The flashlights of today are brighter and more efficient than ever, and come with all kinds of features, from flashing SOS signals to colored beams. Here’s a sampling of the more popular models we carry at B&H.
One of the most common items of Every Day Carry (EDC) equipment, the handheld flashlight is a key piece of emergency preparedness gear. If you’re just starting to prep a bug-out bag, there are some key features to keep in mind when deciding which flashlight best suits your needs. One of the factors involved is the features-to-weight ratio. Is it a light that emits an extended throw of high lumens, or is it an all-in-one flashlight that will produce emergency signals, as well as a disorienting strobe for self-defense?
The Vulta Hurricane 620 is a great balance of high lumens with additional features that will assist in a rescue or defense, if necessary. This flashlight produces a brilliant 620 lumens of Cree-powered LEDs, and is also constructed with a sturdy stainless-steel bezel. The Vulta has an easy-to-use side switch to turn on and off, and is capable of alternating between four different output intensities. In addition to the four outputs, this light can also function as an SOS beacon or a strobe, emitting the full 620 lumens. All this is packed into a unit that weighs just 2.6 ounces—with the battery—and measures only 4" in length.
But what about situations when portability isn’t so much of a concern? Well, the Rechargeable Pelican 8060 is perfect for mounting in the kitchen or living room, or wherever you prefer, and can also use replaceable C-cell batteries. The light emits more than 800 lumens, but the key feature of this handheld light (developed in conjunction with the LAPD) is the included charging station that will power it up without having to remove the batteries, always keeping the light charged and at the ready.
For those wanting a bit more output from their flashlights, Nitecore's TM26 v2 Quadray is a terrific beast that will illuminate everything. Seriously, everything. Powered by four 18650 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries and four Cree LEDs, this light blazes with a high output of 4,000 lumens! Integrated circuitry protection prevents it from overheating, and it offers two-stage pushbutton operation that can produce a constant beam or strobe, SOS Morse-code signal, and a darkness-piercing flash that might blind the undead.
But wait. What about those times when you need hands-free lighting? No worries, Pelican has the chopping board prepped! Its 2760 Dual Spectrum LED Headlight emanates 204 lumens from the main LED, with 42-lumen output from a downcast light that will make chopping celery and carrots for your campsite kitchen much easier. In addition to the constant beam, this version of the 2760 offers white and red flashing signals.
Another great headlamp that will handle all of your hands-free lighting needs is the Fenix HL50. This light emits up to 170 lumens and features a 365-lumen burst mode that will gradually power down as the internal temperature heats up. Submersible to nearly 7 feet, the HL50 has no fear of a little water. You can also pop the lamp off its headband and use it as a small handheld or keyring light.
Although handheld flashlights and headlamps are a great starting place when preparing to keep the lights on when everyone else sits in the dark, lanterns are great for lighting up smaller areas, like a kitchen or tent. Keep a Powerex Rechargeable Power Bank LED Lantern charged up and ready to go, and you’ll have up to 100 hours of light on low power. It has a handy magnet in its base so you can mount it on any flat surface—inside of your car’s hood, on the fridge, etc. Like many USB-rechargeable devices these days, the Powerex can also share its power with other needy devices, such as a dying smartphone.
The Streamlight Siege AA Lantern runs on widely available AA batteries, provides a pleasing soft light with the diffuser on, and is a very capable light source with the diffuser off, shining up to 200 lumens of bright light. It’s got a battery-power indicator light to avoid unpleasant surprises, shines red light, as well as white, has a hook for hanging, and it even floats. This could be a great choice for car camping, to light up the picnic table for an after-dark meal or board game.
No batteries? No USB? If there’s a chance you’ll find yourself with no source of power, consider a lamp that makes its own. The Midland E+ Ready ER310 Emergency Crank Weather Alert Radio can run on AA batteries and comes with a rechargeable li-ion battery, but it can also be powered by cranking its handle or by connecting to a solar panel (sold separately). The 130-lumen light has high, low, strobe, and SOS modes, and the device is also an emergency radio that gets AM and FM signals as well as NOAA weather channels.
Should your preference be to not tire your arms out, and your power supply demands exceed the small combo radio-light, the Celestron PowerTank offers ample voltage. With two 12 VDC plugs, this power-pack light is as versatile a light as you will find on the market. Equipped with a spotlight and built-in circuitry protection, the PowerTank features an AM/FM radio with an emergency siren, 17-amp-hour capacity, and a flashlight with a red lens cap. Finally, if you have other devices that need charging—say, a GPS, for example—the PowerTank has two 5-volt USB Charging ports to meet all your power demands.
Do you have a favorite portable emergency light source? Tell us about it in the Comments section, below, and feel free to ask questions. Don’t get caught in the dark!