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Thread: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* was.lost.but.now.found's Avatar
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    Default Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    This thread has been closed the new updated thread is Here

    First and foremost, thanks to ThomasH, zespectre, and others for creating the original checklist otherwise I'd never be able to come up with this idea myself. Thanks as well to others like hyperloop who still direct new members to use it, otherwise it most certainly would have been long lost in the CPF archives.

    However, after a little searching it appears there have been no significant changes to the checklist in the last 5 years. Flashlights have certainly changed greatly in that time and I'm hopeful that by updating the checklist that is will become that much more valuable of a tool used to welcome new members to the forum. Please let me know what you think of the modifications. You'll find I've made some edits, removals, and additions of categories. Feel free to comment on any of them to promote some discussion and come up with a really great tool.

    I tried to keep it geared toward the new member who may not necessarily be familiar with all the latest terminology. Thanks for your help and feedback! Here goes:

    To all new members: Feel free to copy and paste the questions below into a new thread when you are seeking advice on buying a light. It's not necessary to answer every question if you aren't sure what you want, but rather the purpose is to get you thinking about the criteria that are important to you. Also, the more answers you provide, the better the responses from experienced members will be.


    For all questions please select all that apply.


    1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?

    ____I would like to purchase the light from a brick and mortar store. I am located in ______________.
    ____I will be mail-ordering or buying online, so this doesn't matter.


    2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :-)

    ____Less than $25.
    ____Less than $50.
    ____Less than $100.
    ____Less than $150.
    ____Less than $300.
    ____I have no limit.
    ____I’m flexible, tell me what you gotJ.
    ____Other, please specify ________


    3) Format:

    ____I want a flashlight.
    ____I want a headlamp.
    ____I want a lantern.
    ____I want a dive light.
    ____I want a portable spotlight.


    4) Flashlight-specific format/size:

    ____Keychain size.
    ____Every day carry small (2-4 inches).
    ____Every day carry medium (4-7 inches).
    ____Holster carry.
    ____Big enough to need its own travel caseJ.
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.
    ____N/A


    5) Emitter/Light source:

    ____LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)
    ____Incandescent (known for superior color rendition)
    ____HID (known for max output, but often at the expense of size)
    ____I don't know.


    6) Manufacturer:

    ____I want to buy a light from a traditional mass producing manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
    ____I would consider getting a light that is pieced together (for example a “host” or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a “drop-in” emitter from another source). Under the right circumstances, this path can provide more options to the consumer to meet specific needs, and can often be easily upgradeable as technology improves.


    7) What battery type do you want to use?

    ____I intend to use alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D) (disclaimer, while it does not preclude all choices, these are not recommended for many of today’s most powerful lights)
    ____I intend to use rechargeable nickel chemistry (NiCad, NiMH, NiZn)
    ____I intend to use lithium primary batteries (CR123, CR2, Energizer Advanced/Ultimate Lithium AA/AAA)
    ____I intend to use rechargeable lithium (li-ion) chemistry. Feel free to specify a size if you know which size you want (14500, RCR123/16340, 17500, 17670, 18650, etc.)
    ____I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery. (Note: these choices may be very limited unless you are looking at spotlights)


    8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need? Sometimes you can have too much light (trying to read up close up with a 100 lumen light is impossible).

    ____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (0-10 lumens).
    ____I want to walk around an unlit rural area (50-150 lumens).
    ____I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
    ____I want to illuminate an entire field, the neighbor's front yard several houses down, impress my friends and neighbors, etc. (300-700 lumens).
    ____I want ridiculous amounts of lumens (800+ lumens).


    9) Throw vs. Flood: At what distance will you be most likely to use this light? Select all that apply.

    ____Less than 1 yard/meter (reading, other close work)
    ____Less than 5 yards/meters (looking for something inside a dark shed/garage/basement)
    ____5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)
    ____30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
    ____50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
    ____150+ yards (I want maximum throw possible)


    10) Runtime: Not over-inflated manufacturer runtime claims, but usable brightness measured from first activation to 50% with new batteries (Measured on maximum output).

    ____Up to 30 minutes (I want the brightest [and potentially smallest] light for brief periods)
    ____30-60 minutes (I have plenty of batteries just ready to be changed)
    ____90-120 minutes (Runtime is moderately important, but still not critical)
    ____3 hours + (I critically need this light to run on max for extended periods in between battery changes/charges).


    11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase “you get what you pay for” is very accurate for flashlights.

    ____Not Important (A “night-stand” light).
    ____Slightly Important (Walks around the neighborhood).
    ____Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
    ____Critical (Police, Fire, Search & Rescue, Caving, Survival).
    ____I don't care.
    ____I don’t know.


    12) Switch Type and location (choose all that apply):

    ____I want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling).
    ____I want a reverse clicky (For use with multi-mode/level lights).
    ____I want a momentary switch (Predominantly for use with signaling and short bursts of momentary light only).
    ____I want a twisty switch (Tighten the head/tailcap to activate, and the light will stay on until the head/tailcap is loosened).
    ____I want a body mounted switch (near the head, like on a Maglite).
    ____I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today’s high end lights).
    ____I don't care.
    ____I don’t know.
    ____Other, please specify____________________.


    13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.

    ____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
    ____I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
    ____I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)
    ____I want a programmable light.
    ____I want a selector ring.
    ____I want a strobe mode. (Blinks to show location.)
    ____I want SOS mode.
    ____I want a beacon mode.
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.


    14)Material/Finish/Coating

    ____Plastic/composite body (this may limit your choices significantly).
    ____Anodized Aluminum – either type II or III (Hard Anodized) (Aluminum, specifically HA, is the most common material/finish for today’s flashlights).
    ____Stainless steel (durable, but much heavier than aluminum)
    ____Titanium (durable and nearly as lightweight as aluminum, but can be moderately to significantly more expensive).
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.
    ____Other, please specify____________.


    15) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any below.

    ____Red filter (for preserving night vision).
    ____Other filter colors (Amber, Green, Blue, _________).
    ____Dedicated R/G/B secondary LEDs.
    ____“Hybrid” light (bright incandescent combined with long running LEDs)
    ____Pocket/belt clip
    ____Holster
    ____Wrist/Neck Lanyard
    ____Crenulated bezel
    ____Non-sparking Intrinsically Safe (IS) for use in explosive environments
    Last edited by Norm; 10-13-2013 at 02:17 PM. Reason: Edits, mods, and tweaks.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    A very welcome update. Good work - I've made it a sticky
    Resistance is futile...

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* was.lost.but.now.found's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Thanks DM51. I fixed the numbering system, made a couple grammatical tweaks, and removed the AA reference to its corresponding li-ion size. I decided I'd rather not help a newbie associate the two unless they've already learned themselves.

    Also adding a little snibbet for anyone using the checklist.
    Last edited by was.lost.but.now.found; 05-27-2010 at 06:42 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    GREAT

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* Moka's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Good job! =) Fantastic Post

  6. #6
    Moderator Kestrel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    My suggestions are in red below, please feel free to use some of them and reject the others.
    Quote Originally Posted by was.lost.but.now.found View Post
    2) Budget
    ____I’m flexible, tell me what you gotJ.

    5) Emitter/Light source:
    ____LED (usually better for efficiency and small size)
    ____Incandescent (usually better for color rendition)
    ____HID (usually better for extremely long distances, but often requiring a larger-sized light)
    ____I don't know

    6) Manufacturer:
    ____I would consider getting a light that is pieced together (for example a “host” or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a “drop-in” emitter from another source). Under the right circumstances, this option can provide more options to the consumer to meet specific needs. Often this type of light is more easily upgradeable as technology improves.

    8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need? Sometimes you can have too much light (trying to read up close up with a 100 lumen light is impossible).
    ____I want ridiculous amounts of lumens (800+ lumens).

    9) Throw vs. Flood: At what distance will you be most likely to use this light? Select all that apply. Note that a high degree of throw (i.e. for long distances) often requires a considerably larger/wider reflector.

    12) Switch Type and location (choose all that apply):
    ____I want a twisty switch (twist the head or the tailcap to tighten, and the light will stay on until the head/tailcap is loosened). This type of switch is potentially the most reliable.

    13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.
    ____A simple on-off is fine for me. I only need a single output mode for this light and have/will have other lights for other uses.

    14)Material/Finish/Coating
    ____Anodized Aluminum – either type II (usually black but sometimes available in a wide variety of other colors) or III (hard anodized, usually tan-to-olive in color but often available in black as well) (Aluminum is the most common material for today’s flashlights).
    Last edited by Kestrel; 07-30-2010 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Reduced typeface size of quote to tidy up the thread
    In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.
    - Winston Churchill

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* was.lost.but.now.found's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kestrel View Post
    My suggestions are in red below, please feel free to use some of them and reject the others.
    Thank you!! I used almost all of them; some directly and some indirectly, where I took your direction but made the wording my own. My goal before was and continues to be to keep it simple and aimed at the new user so while I may have failed already, I don't want the checklist to get bogged down in the minutia.

  8. #8
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Nice job. I'm new here (member since Today) and I was wondering if there was a similar checklist for online vendors? I was thinking something covering service, shipping costs, reliability, etc?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Quote Originally Posted by was.lost.but.now.found View Post
    ____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (0-10 lumens).
    ____I want to walk around an unlit rural area (50-150 lumens).
    The lumen gap bothers me. Maybe:

    I want to read a map or find the bathroom without disturbing anyone (0-10 lumens)
    I want a moderate amount of light for walking an unlit area (10-50 lumens)
    I want a bright light for walking an unlit area (50-150 lumens)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Borad View Post
    The lumen gap bothers me. Maybe:

    I want to read a map or find the bathroom without disturbing anyone (0-10 lumens)
    I want a moderate amount of light for walking an unlit area (10-50 lumens)
    I want a bright light for walking an unlit area (50-150 lumens)
    There are quite a few lights that will easily cover that range of settings, and more. The HDS Clicky is probably the pick of them, but other members will have different preferences.
    Resistance is futile...

  11. #11

    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Is there a good keyword or search phrase on this list so forum members don't have to make the same suggestions over and over again for similar requests?

    Also, on my black background choice for this forum....the only visible letters in your question list are:
    ____I don't know. and the number 11

    I had to highlight and copy the list just to see what was on it

    I would like to see what has already been requested/discussed as I noticed a couple of newer threads with this checklist copied into it have not been responded to yet.

  12. #12
    Unenlightened andurilgc's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    A newbie 'must read' thank you WLBNF. For me: one or two 'ah-ha' moments, lots of nodding agreement and no neck snaps

  13. #13
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Quote Originally Posted by andurilgc View Post
    A newbie 'must read' thank you WLBNF. For me: one or two 'ah-ha' moments, lots of nodding agreement and no neck snaps
    x2!! Thank you much

  14. #14

    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    thanks for the update on the checklist. it is helpful and funny to read at times, especially wanting to illuminate your neighbors front yard several houses down with the 300-700 lumens.

  15. #15

    Buttrock Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Yeah, it needs to be updated again...so, as requested in the OP:

    The lumen ranges are now obsolete, key chain lights can now cover almost the entire range of current lumen outputs...let alone full sized lights that exceed the limits of the current range by a factor of 5-10X. What USED to be considered to be "Illuminated" is now considered to be "Dimly lit"...as expectations change.

    800 lumens is no longer "ridiculous", its borderline average...At PF18, We measured a ~ $68 DRY 3XML at over 3,000 lumens, etc...and the Olight X6, and so forth trends are now pushing 10X the previously "ridiculous" limit's amount of lumens. Except for the bottom/lowest light level, the entire lumen projection range should probably have the upper # in the parenthesis multiplied by ~ 5-10x)

    The throw distances listed for "maximum throw possible, etc..." are now reached by flood lights, and the throw figures are generally exceeded by almost a range factor of 5-10 by the current throw lights....we have aspheric lights able to hit targets ~ 1,000 meters away, and many reflector based lights able to hit targets 400-700 meters away.




    In #13, its says Strobe Mode - But then says that's blinking to show location...but THAT's what the BEACON function is for...NOT the strobe function.

    It says reading up close with a 100 Lumen light is about impossible, but, that is only correct if its not a flood light...reading with well over 100 lumens is fine if the light is spread out in a gentle pool, instead of tightly focused onto one glaring area of your book, etc. I read with a 200 lumen flood light regularly enough to know.

    As beam shapes change...lumens as the defining parameter is losing its meaningfulness.



    Maybe asking for some examples of how large an area of light at what ranges, and as bright as daylight, or as you'd see at dusk, etc, would be more descriptive?


  16. #16
    Flashaholic* zespectre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    I'm back from a long hiatus and I have to say that finding this...as a sticky no less, is just astounding to me. We were pretty proud of the list when we came up with it and I'm really enjoying the fact that it has grown and matured and been so useful to so many. It's not often you get to see a creation of yours be so useful to others.

    It's also fascinating to see just how much things have changed since the list was first created (as TEEJ so aptly points out). When the list was first whipped up the idea of an 800 lumen light was pretty esoteric stuff, well unless you wanted to carry an external battery pack <grin>. Two light levels was luxury class stuff and the idea that you might get 150 lumens and two hours out of something powered by a pair of NiMH AA batteries was just a pipe dream.

    Changes they do keep a coming!
    "Notorious collector of things that glow, shine, or blink"
    CPF # 9435

  17. #17

    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Thanks for providing this well thought out checklist and that you humbly invited members to offer their suggestions and input. I would like to offer perhaps another criteria in section 4) which is to include " ___ Tail stands"

    4) Flashlight-specific format/size:


    ____Keychain size.
    ____Every day carry small (2-4 inches).
    ____Every day carry medium (4-7 inches).
    ____Holster carry.
    ____Big enough to need its own travel caseJ.
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.
    ____N/A


    The other suggestion I would like to offer in section 13) which is to include " ____ Mode memory"

    13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.


    ____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
    ____I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
    ____I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)
    ____I want a programmable light.
    ____I want a selector ring.
    ____I want a strobe mode. (Blinks to show location.)
    ____I want SOS mode.
    ____I want a beacon mode.
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.

    Thanks again for the checklist and for the opportunity of helping to make it better.

  18. #18
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    With the new 3+ AA lights showing up on the market, along with turbo heads etc, should diameter or circumference be added? An EA4 is only a few inches tall, but fat. Ditto for lights like the TM and others.
    Keep it between the ditches and the shiny side up.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    How about levels of waterproofness?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Flashlight Recommendation Checklist - Updated!!

    Thanks. This is a very good format for everyone to follow. It also provides a good baseline. Especially since when your post people leave things out and it is just a one on one conversation with one person since everyone is too lazy to bother to ask additional info.

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