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  1. #1

    Default Escape from the Tunnels

    Noob subjects ahead, those of you bored to death with noob questions have been warned.

    I am not a flashaholic.

    Ok, maybe I am just a little. I haven't paid much attention to the subject in years, but the light I keep by my bedside is a now-almost-antique Pelican Stealthlight 4AA, which is what I came up with as a half-baked "tactical" many years ago, just by insisting on something durable, bright, and with a real SWITCH. I do know that if you're suddenly a target, the last thing you need to be holding is a light that takes two hands to shut OFF.

    And there are about a dozen assorted Photons and AAA Minimags and other junk around. I've known about these forums for years, but didn't take enough interest to lurk much until recently.

    So, I don't know much. Just taking those first steps.

    Circumstances change, though, and a few months back mine changed again, so that for some time I've been living with a commute that's about a 20 minute drive, an HOUR on the Washington, DC Metro (subway), and then a 10-15 minute walk (through all weather), all reversed at the end of the day.

    That's right, one hour each way, two hours a day, in long, dark subterranian tunnels, directly underneath the lion's share of the world's most attractive terrorist targets (and a river, for good measure), supported by an infrastructure that barely holds together- and often doesn't- on a perfectly ordinary, GOOD day in the city.

    I might just reevaluate the situation, bite the bullet, and start driving the whole way. It's a horrible drive, but it would probably be safer.

    In the meantime, I carry what I can get away with (I face the possibility of metal detectors and x-ray machines at the end of the commute) in a shoulder pouch. The flashlights I'm currently carrying are a C. Crane "Trek" 3 AA 2 LED and a Photon 3. I picked the Trek for it's extreme battery life, and I carry the Photon anyway, but lately I've been wondering if I should consider upgrading.

    The likely scenario is this- something (almost anything) happens on the subway or in the city to tie up the subway indefinitely. They can't go forward, and they aren't going to back them up. There are releases on (some of ) the doors to get out of the cars, but they were installed over great protest, and my take on it is that they're never, never going to give permission to exit that way, the liability is just too steep. The liability is probably a less if they just let us die in place... so, after "n" number of hours, someone is going to have to decide that getting out is worth paying the lawyers bigtime later, spring a door, and go for it. So, who knows how many hours followed by a hike out, possibly in semi-flooded tunnels, possibly with a live 750-volt rail for company in the dark.

    However this plays out, I'm figuring that battery life and reliability is a lot more important than lumens. Since I'll be carrying it for about 3 hours a day, every working day, possibly for years, even if it's never used at all, weight and bulk are important.

    So, what would you choose if you were facing the same situation? To be honest, since I'm not really an afficionado, I probably won't run out and spend more than $50 or so, but don' t let that stop you- I just might, or I might find your more expensive choices instructive (or at least entertaining) anyway. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] No criticism implied, I spend a LOT more on things important to me that most others don't "get".

    Even more interesting (to me), what do you find are the shortcomings of my current choices, and why?

    Many thanks,

    Mr. D

  2. #2

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Mr Dead,

    Well, I just like typing Mr. Dead. It's almost Halloween.

    I had a C.Crane Trek 2, but it had a bad LED after 3 years of sitting in a drawer and I returned it. I replaced it with an Inova X5t. 5 LEDs instead of two. Made of aluminum and stainless instead of plastic. Smaller. Uses Dead CR123s from my Surefires. Nice tactical tail switch. And about the same price, I think.

    If you wanted to go with a cheap "tactical" when brightness is necessary, a Surefire G2 would make an economical choice.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    With money as a constraint ass well as long battery life I would choose two lights.

    1. Long battery life. Your choice of something like Infanity Ultra / Gerber Trio / Dorcy 1-AA / Dorcy 2-AA. These are all in the under $20 range.

    2. A bright light your choice of:
    Brinkman Maxfire / Brinkman Legend LX / Surefire G2. These are in the $20-30 range.

    A compromise for one light to do both would be the UK eLED(?) / Inova X5t. These are in the $20-$30 range.

    wwglen

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I'll second the Inova X5T. If you are after long battery life, enough light to walk safely out of a dark, water logged situation and a bomb proof construction then it's really hard to beat the Inova. It doesn't have the throw of a Surefire G2 or similar but I am always impressed how they just keep providing light on batteries that you would normally chuck in a bin.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Thanks for the suggestions thus far.

    Bear with me here- I'm at the stage in my research where, when someone mentions a model, I have to check a couple of catalogs, google it, search eBay, something, in order to get a feel for what we're talking about. It's a little tedious.

    Actually, it's more than that, it's a bit frustrating. It's amazing how little info most vendors seem to feel is required to sell in this field. I've come across web pages that don't mention what kind of batteries a light uses, others that don't seem to name a price, a good many that don't mention battery life.. and even some manufacturer sites that don't really give you a clue how THIS model is different than those other 5 models on the page... you guys probably take all this knowledge for granted.

    If it's not inconvenient, it would help if those suggesting a particular model could give me some idea of how long it continues to give useful light, or point to an URL, or something.

    Before you underestimate the requirement, remember that we live in an age where passengers have been arrested and charged (and I assume prosecuted) for disobeying orders to return to their seats, after being trapped on the runway in a plane, waiting to take off, with malfunctioning rest rooms, for more than 9 hours. That's WITHOUT there being any emergency at all.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I agree, go with the Inova X5. It's practically bullet-proof, reasonably bright, and can last for up to 20 hours (I think) on one set of (2) 123 lithium batteries. I think their website is www.inovalight.com or maybe it's www.emissiveenergy.com. (sorry if I'm incorrect). The batteries can be had for $1.25 a piece when bought by the dozen through Surefire (www.surefire.com?). Then for good measure keep a small keychain light on your keyring just in case. I'd make sure it has a constant-on switch, and not just a momentary-on push switch. I like the Photon 2 with white LED. You'll never even notice it's on your keyring, it's so light. I just hope you'll never actually have to use these lights in the type of emergencies that we all truly fear. Let us know what you end up deciding to get.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Well, you don't have to look everywhere for the information. Start here

    or here

    These review sites cover the vast majority of the lights mentioned here, and others as well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    [ QUOTE ]
    Spike said:
    If you are after long battery life, enough light to walk safely out of a dark, water logged situation and a bomb proof construction then it's really hard to beat the Inova X5T.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I have the Inova X5T-HA. It's a great light.

    However, I remember a number of CPF members who have had the experience of dropping the Inova X5 and had the light stop working. There must be an awful lot of hard surfaces in the DC Metro tunnels?

    I am a strong proponent of the UK e4AA. Bombproof case. Flat shape with great ergonomics. A good bright hotspot with lots of sidespill. 11-15 hours or constant regulated output. Rated for flammable environments. Waterproof. Easy to obtain AA batteries. Molded lanyard/strap holes. Bright yellow color so it can be found in a dark environment. Cheap price. A winner!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Mr. Dead, welcome to CPF and why dontcha stay awhile!
    At least it's pretty bright around here!

    The X5T is a great tough little light, with good runtime. And if you pair that with an incan, like a Streamlight Scorpion or Surefire G2 or E2e or Pelican M6, you have flood and incan, and a way to recycle the SF batteries. Then round it out with some $1 coinlights and you are set.

    That said, I'm carrying right now, a VIP, an Arc AAA with rechargeable N-cell a couple coinlights and a spare 123.

    welcome again,
    daloosh

  10. #10

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    >>then that and your price constraints are gonna narrow the field down VERY quickly<<

    As I said in the first post, feel free to ignore my personal price constraints. I could never stick to a budget for emergency gear anyway, and even if I choose not to spend that kind of money myself, I wouldn't mind knowing what's out there.

    My guess is that LED tech is in enough of a state of flux right now that a lot of these lights will be pretty obsolete in a few years, which affects my willingness to consider a $200+ purchase.. but, if you need it in the meantime, you need it. There's no putting a price on weapons or emergency gear when they're really needed.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    [ QUOTE ]
    Mr_Dead said:
    >>then that and your price constraints are gonna narrow the field down VERY quickly<<

    As I said in the first post, feel free to ignore my personal price constraints. I could never stick to a budget for emergency gear anyway, and even if I choose not to spend that kind of money myself, I wouldn't mind knowing what's out there.

    My guess is that LED tech is in enough of a state of flux right now that a lot of these lights will be pretty obsolete in a few years, which affects my willingness to consider a $200+ purchase.. but, if you need it in the meantime, you need it. There's no putting a price on weapons or emergency gear when they're really needed.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Well, that said, the runtime is still gonna be the problem. You're looking for a light to carry every day, maybe not in your pocket but still close by. I'm assuming you don't wanna carry something too heavy or too big. That creates limits for runtime and output power that nothing is going to change.

    Generally speaking, most of the high dollar, whiz-bang lights sacrifice runtime at "benefit" of features, size, weight, brightness, etc.

    It's the lower end lights that usually have runtimes in the range you're looking for. And yes, I agree that in a year or two the light you buy today will be obsolete. Led output is gaining by about 30% per year if I remember correctly.

    The reason I keep pounding on the eternalight is that is can run on one of the lower settings for 10+ hours and still have energy left for 10+ hours on one of the high settings. If you're willing to go over $50, you can get the top of the line eternalight. It's about $74 and that includes shipping.

    Unlike ALL the other eternalight models, it is regulated so it doesn't dim as the batteries run down. It also will float if you use lithium cells in it. It's got a built-in battery meter as well. 16 brightness levels take you from just enough light to see your feet to enough light to see objects well that are 30+ feet away.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I would just throw in that Li based batteries are a MUST for your application - more energy density, longer shelf life, and much better performance when it gets cold out.

    I am personally not a fan of AA and AAA lights, even Li based ones, because they tend to be long, and the chemistry of Li wants to be approx. 3 volts - ie - 123 size. I also do some stuff with 223's, but these are not so common in portable lights.

    That being said, AA and AAA cells are a little more common in stores. As far as price, you can find 123 and 223 cells on-line for < $ 2 from many suppliers, so don't let that throw you. For some reason, retail prices of 123s are still wildly disconnected from Internet pricing.

    For the lighting power and run time you want, there might have to be a compromise - either carry some extra batteries, or consider a light which uses 2 each Li D cells (Saft / HDS). A Li D cell light will run very bright for a very long time, of course, the batteries alone are equal to your $ 50 budget.

    Since the point of your emergency light is "escape", then a metal light might be useful for removing blocked windows.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Not sure if this was mentioned, but you may want to go with a "amber" light since you may be dealing with smoke in the mentioned situation. Amber will cut through smoke better than white. Not sure about any of the other colors.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    If you want a practical answer, you're fine with the Photon 3. In a pitch dark tunnel, even a tiny bit of light, like the Photon 3 on the low setting, is enough to see where you're walking. It will have quite long battery life on low or medium.

    The next step up would be something like the Arc AAA (no longer made, but you can find them on BST if you're willing to pay enough), CMG/Gerber Ultra, or the new Tekna Splashlite LS. Those are all small lights that drop in your pocket easily and will run for several hours without getting dim.

    If you want a larger light, this is a cute concept:

    http://peakledsolutions.com/cr123S_3LED.html

    It's a 1x123-powered light with a spare battery compartment, so you'd always have a fresh battery in reserve without needing to carry it separately. They have 1-led, 3-led, and 7-led versions. They don't overdrive the leds, so each led will likely be somewhat dimmer than your Photon 3 on high. So if you want brighter total output, get one of the multi-led models.

    Finally, the UK 2L with the eLED head is nice and bright, very lightweight, and runs 7+ hours on two 123A's.

    Whatever main light you pick, do carry a backup. Your Photon 3 is great for that.

  15. #15
    Farewell our Curmudgeon Administrator Roy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    ....or take a look at the light reviews and test reports located here.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Keep in mind that it'd be hard to go from a well-lit subway car to a pitch-black tunnel (or from a well-lit subway car to a pitch-black car, or whatever). Also, tunnels seem to swallow your light up. I wouldn't consider anything less than a UK eLED w/lithium AA's (and even then, I'd also carry something substantially brighter).

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* Wolfen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Stock Surefire KL1 LED head. E2e body and a McGizmo 2 stage tailcap. You can get the tailcap at McGizmo's forum and post a wanted ad for the KL1 and E2e body in B/S/T. More throw than the x5t and nice long runtime on low. Adequate brightness and throw on high.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I wonder what the runtime would be of a UK eLED running NiMH rechargebles?

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I don't know if you think a 2D light is too big but the Elektro Lumens Anglelux might be good for you. His original ones would go 24 hours but weren't all that bright. The newer ones are 8 hours of bright then many hours of lower level light. They also include colored filters in the base so you can change the light color to match your needs. I believe Amber, Blue and Red are available just ask. The throw is pretty narrow so would be good for smoke too. If I recall it also maintains its waterproofness and is very rugged. There are several threads on them for more info. I keep one in my bug out bag along with AA to D adapters. Of course YMMV.

    Good luck,
    LT

  20. #20

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    >>Stock Surefire KL1 LED head. E2e body and a McGizmo 2 stage tailcap. You can get the tailcap at McGizmo's forum and post a wanted ad for the KL1 and E2e body in B/S/T. More throw than the x5t and nice long runtime on low. Adequate brightness and throw on high.<<


    Ok, I'll bite.

    Looks like the head alone would probably exceed my stipulated budget, but, for the sake of discussion, how long would this combo put out usable light?

    Sorry for my ignorance, but what is B/S/T?

  21. #21

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Ok, at repeated suggestion I've been looking over the Eternalight site. $75 is not outlandishly over budget.

    Interesting concept, some nice features, but.. am I mistaken in thinking that you have to effectively disassemble these things, with a screwdriver, exposing screws to loss and the internal circuitry to the environment, just to change the batteries? Ok, I can see that if (unlike almost everything else using regulated LEDs) this lets you know how much of a charge you have left that may help.. but if this is the case it seems like a very serious disadvantage for practical use, as opposed to changing batteries on a well-lit living-room coffee table.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    [ QUOTE ]
    Mr_Dead said:
    Ok, at repeated suggestion I've been looking over the Eternalight site. $75 is not outlandishly over budget.

    Interesting concept, some nice features, but.. am I mistaken in thinking that you have to effectively disassemble these things, with a screwdriver, exposing screws to loss and the internal circuitry to the environment, just to change the batteries? Ok, I can see that if (unlike almost everything else using regulated LEDs) this lets you know how much of a charge you have left that may help.. but if this is the case it seems like a very serious disadvantage for practical use, as opposed to changing batteries on a well-lit living-room coffee table.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    It's not a problem to do this at your coffee table. Yes, the "insides" get exposed, which is not really an issue unless it's raining on you at the time.

    I'd put a battery change on par with putting batteries in a child's toy (the type where the battery compartment is held in place by screws).

    As far as the screws go..... mine fit faily snugly in the hols in the case. So when I lift off the bottom of the case, they tend to stay with it. You don't have to take them out to separate the halves. The batteries and electronics are in the top part so when the case splits (held upside down), parts don't go flying everywhere.

    Granted, it's not as easy as a battery change in a mag-lite or similar though. But given all the upsides to the EL series, I would not let it stop me.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    [ QUOTE ]
    Mr_Dead said:
    Interesting concept, some nice features, but.. am I mistaken in thinking that you have to effectively disassemble these things, with a screwdriver, exposing screws to loss and the internal circuitry to the environment, just to change the batteries?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Nope, your not mistaken. That is probably the only downside. To keep the Ergo waterproof, you have to keep the screws in it to hold it tightly closed. The Derringer model uses AAA batteries, and does not need a screwdriver, but I don't know how "waterproof" it is. Are you planning on carrying extra batteries with ya?? If so, then you might want to decide on one type of battery for all your lights. All AA's or 123a's or whatever. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]


    Blades

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Hi Mr_Dead. I definitely think you should carry two small lights. If you only have one, and drop it someplace into the subway tunnel where you can't retrieve it, you are screwed. (You should make sure your lights have lanyards too, since you'll be potentially wet and in the dark and somewhat paniced - a situation that makes losing the light a lot easier.)

    As for which lights - I vote for the X5t too - it is a good light and it lasts for a very, very long time on it's batteries. Peak LED Solutions also makes some similar, and very interesting lights - some of these have spare battery carriers.

    I think I'd also consider carrying something small, with some throw as a backup. (Plus sometimes throw is useful - like answering the question "do i REALLY want to go that way...") Maybe a Pelican M6 LED, or an Inova T1 or T2. The PM6 or T2 have decent battery life (4-5 hours) and decent throw. The T1 has decent throw, but only a couple of hours of full-brightness light. But it's smaller. Hopefully you wouldn't be using your backup nearly as much as the X5.

    Do you think the tunnel will be completely dark, or do you think there would likely be intermittant lighting?

    Hey - I hope you don't ever actually *need* your emergency light!

  25. #25

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    [ QUOTE ]
    MrBenchmark said:
    Do you think the tunnel will be completely dark, or do you think there would likely be intermittant lighting?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Depends on the circumstances, I think. There is usually intermittent lighting, but if there's an outage... and nothing else in the Metro is dependable, so I have little faith in that.

    [ QUOTE ]
    Hey - I hope you don't ever actually *need* your emergency light!

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Thanks, me too. It's always the ones you prepare for that fail to materialize, though.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Many thanks to all for the suggestions. This thread has been hugely informative (for me, at least). Please do keep them coming. I haven't lost any interest in an optimal solution, I'm still reading messages and tracking down references to things I haven't heard of (most of it, at this point)... but the problem needed some action, and I've got to jump in and start somewhere.

    So... so far, based on pretty broad consensus, I've ordered an Inova X5T (Countycomm version), an Ultra-G (ditto), a Streamlight Twin TaskT 2L, and a UK 4AA eLED.

    We'll see. Should be an interesting couple of weeks.

    I'm still not a flashaholic, though.

    So... would I get a longer burn from an L4 with a McGiz 2-stage, or an E2E/KL1 with the same cap? Maybe I should just wait for the U2? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Mr Dead - those are all solid choices, and a very good sampling of lights. Worst case, you find some you like and some you don't, and B/S/T is a good place to turn around the ones you're not so fond of...consider it renting the lights for the price of shipping and handling and a couple dollars off retail when you resell them.
    And thanks for starting this thread...I'm finding the ideas this one shakes out to be pretty interesting.

    I'll throw out this question/questions again. Anyone know how -- in an emergency only, of course -- one could exit a subway car? Tips that work for all car types, or tips that work for specific car types? I'm most interested in the cars used on the A and F lines, but I ride all the car types at different times, so any info's welcome. I was wondering if removing the screws from the metal border around the platform door windows would allow one to remove the window and get out that way...any ways to release doors from the inside that can be accomplished with a Leatherman Wave or similar items?

    Also, while we're at it, and the thread's called "escape from the tunnels" - any hints/info on non-station exits from the subway? I once saw a street-level grating with a parking meter attached to it swing open, the meter hanging parallel to the street as a guy scrambled out, then swung it back into place...kinda like the guys from "Hogan's Heroes" leaving the tunnel in a tree stump.
    Anyone here work for the MTA? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    [ QUOTE ]
    Mr_Dead said:
    So... so far, based on pretty broad consensus, I've ordered an Inova X5T (Countycomm version), an Ultra-G (ditto), a Streamlight Twin TaskT 2L, and a UK 4AA eLED.
    We'll see. Should be an interesting couple of weeks.

    I'm still not a flashaholic, though.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] Yeah, right. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]


    Blades

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    [ QUOTE ]
    Blades said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    Mr_Dead said:
    So... so far, based on pretty broad consensus, I've ordered an Inova X5T (Countycomm version), an Ultra-G (ditto), a Streamlight Twin TaskT 2L, and a UK 4AA eLED.
    We'll see. Should be an interesting couple of weeks.

    I'm still not a flashaholic, though.


    [/ QUOTE ]

    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] Yeah, right. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]


    Blades

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Mr_Dead's right you know... he's not officially one till he receives the lights! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

    Good try Mr_Dead, we were all down that road once... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]

  30. #30

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I refuse to be sucked in!

    I'm returning them all, and going back to the made-in-China imitation military angle-head with the slightly leaking zinc-carbide cells...

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