I'm new to this forum and am looking for a flashlight so I thought I'd fill out this checklist
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 ______________. _X_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. _X_Less than $50. ____Less than $100. ____Less than $150. ____Less than $300. ____I have no limit. _X_I’m flexible, tell me what you gotJ. ____Other, please specify ________
_X_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. _X_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:
_X_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.
_X_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) _X_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). _X_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) _X_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) _X_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). _X_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):
_X_I want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling). _X_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). _X_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.) _X_I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.) _X_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.
____Plastic/composite body (this may limit your choices significantly). _X_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) _X_Pocket/belt clip ____Holster ____Wrist/Neck Lanyard ____Crenulated bezel ____Non-sparking Intrinsically Safe (IS) for use in explosive environments
For your price range of under $50 I'd recommend either the ITP SC1 (one CR123 or one RCR123 Li-ion) or the ITP SA1 (one AA or one 14500 Li-ion.) You can find both of em over at goinggear.com for under $40 each.
A better choice for a little over your budget would be any of these:
Zebralight SC51 - You can find this light at zebralight.com or goinggear.com. This light can do 200 lumens with a single AA sized eneloop NiMH rechargeable. (Li-ion batteries are not supported on this light.) Alkaline batteries work fine, but you loose the max output because alkaline batteries are just not strong enough. NiMH batteries are best, and Energizer lithium batteries work perfectly in this light as well. The zebra's have the best UI of all the lights in my opion, and is a CPF favorite around here. The UI works like this from off - quick click = high, double click = medium, slow click = low.....or if you just hold the button down it will cycle through all three settings. There are also subsettings for each level which can be programmed by simply double clicking when the light is on. So there are 2 lows, 2 mediums, and 2 highs. Sounds confusing, but isn't once you have it in your hand. Even my 4 year old has figured it out. Zebralight just announced a new light that can use either a AA battery or a CR123. It's called the SC80. May be worth checking out.
Quark AA (either the "Regular" UI or the "Tactical" UI). The "regular" UI is a user interface where you cycle through each of the settings (head tight = max then strobe / head loose = moonlight, then low, then medium, then high, then sos, then beacon then it repeats this loop.) The "tactical" user interface is different. You still have all of the output options available, but you can only program 2 of them for use when the head is either tight or loose. So no cycling through output options. My wife's tactical Quark AA is programmed like this - head tight = max and head loose = medium. If I want different outputs then I have to reprogram it which only takes 20 seconds. The Quark AA was designed to best work with one 14500 Li-ion and is over 200 lumens (a little brighter than the zebralight sc51.) It also works fine with alkaline, NiMH, and lithium primaries, but will not be nearly as bright compared to using a 14500 Li-ion.
Both great lights, but check out the Zebralight SC80 which is available for pre-order from zebralight.com.
If you can afford any of the HDS edc clicky/rotary i personaly don't think you can get a better light
but i'm no expert,it's just since i've had mine it's never left my side,it's the best thing with a LED
bulb i've ever owned by a mile.My opinion for what it's worth.