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Thread: Escape from the Tunnels

  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

    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.

  5. #5
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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.

  6. #6

    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.

  7. #7
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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.

  8. #8
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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.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I would recommend a UK eLED 4 x AA. The batteries are inexpensive and commonly-available, you will get anywhere from 11-13 hours of runtime on one set (make sure you carry an extra set in your bag), it's waterproof and approved for hazardous environments (read: explosive vapor -- very likely under your scenario). It's also plastic, so less to set off a metal detector, and it doesn't at all look "tactical" or threatening as a Surefire would.

    Oh, and it only costs $20.

    It's an underdriven 1-watt Luxeon star LED, which won't break if you drop the light on concrete, and won't burn out at an inopportune moment. It's not as bright as most other 1-watt Luxeons, but for dark-adapted eyes, it's more than enough.

    You can also carry a Xenon module for the eLED in your bag if you think you might want the option of more throw.

  10. #10
    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.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    UK eLED uses 4 standard AA batteries running a 1W luxeon led. Cost about $25 (on the net) and will run for 7 or 8 hours. It's six inches long, flat in shape which makes it easy to slip into a rear pocket. Bright yellow water resistant (if not water proof). Everyone I've showed it to has gone out and bought one and then hunts me down to tell me how great they are.

    If you want soomething more tactical, buy a Surefire E2e and get a second lower output (25Lumen v 60Lumen) replacement lamp, the lower output lamp will last about twice as long which some prefer. The E2e is small, tiny, impressive, well made, astonishing light output for the size, lots of wow factor.

    An in between light would be the Streamlight TwinTask 2L. Aluminum costruction about 5 inches long so it's very handy. Powered by two lithium 123's, so it will store a long time without fear of battery leakage and will operate in a much wider temperature range than regular alkalines. It's claim to fame is that it's two lights in one! It has 3 white leds mounted around the main lamp into the reflector. The LEDs provide plenty of very long lasting light in a dark adapted setting, with the option of clicking on the bright main lamp that is close to the E2e. This is not a tactical light however, the switch sequence is what prevents it from that class. Price? humm, I think I paid around $30 on the net.

    I have all three, actually I have four of the eLED's and three of the E2e's.

    My opinion for the non-flashaholic (if heaven forbid you could have only one light) go with the Streamlight TT-2L, next would be the eLED, and if you only buy one surefire in your whole life...make it the E2e.

    GregR

  12. #12
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels


    eternalight series....
    looooooong battery life.
    the regular models with lithium batteries installed are a good combination.
    this has the adden option of being dimmable, so you can use it for hours and hours on low w/o significantly impacting battery life later on.

    second vote for the uk 4aa eled

  13. #13

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Streamlight 1L or 2L Twintask, Inova 24/7

  14. #14
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I forgot the Streamlight Twin Task series. I agree that the 2L would be almost perfect.

    wwglen

  15. #15
    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Absolutely check out one of the eternaLight models here!!

    Runtimes up to 700 hours and more, easily programmed by the user, certainly put lithium AAs in it (to reduce weight & for extended "shelf life/ready to go into action"). Some models already have lithiums installed.

    They've got some basic models (Ergo 3) on up through several other models topping out with the EliteMax 4Z. All the models have a discounted web price at the moment!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Several folks here are recommending the 3AA Eternalights, UKE 4AA, Inova X5T, etc. Those are all nice lights but IMO a little bit large and heavy for this purpose. I'd go for the UK 2L with the xenon head if you want a lightweight, bright light with fairly long reach and 2+ hours of battery runtime. It's about $25 and weighs a lot less than the much more expensive Surefire E2O which someone mentioned. The UK 2L also can accept the 4AA eLED's LED module ($15) which is less bright but will run 7+ hours. If you want something with very long runtime, try a Gerber/CMG Ultra, which will run 20+ hours on one AA cell. There are always spare AA cells around, i.e. someone will have one in a Walkman or something.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    i'd keep a headlamp handy if that were a concern. most likely the Petzl Myo 5 belt version.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Perhaps a Dat2Zip drop in "pill" for a mini m@g. If you are willing to pay the minimum for it (30$). It is a good floodlight. Changes a normal, dim m@g into a Inova X5 compatable or even better. Read the review here http://flashlightreviews3.home.att.n...iews/bb_mm.htm
    The reviewer is very experienced by the way.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    If you want a floodlight for close range lighting the BadBoy 400Q is good for you, if you want a medium range light, the MadMax R2H.

  20. #20
    * The Arctic Moderator * Sigman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Ok...another suggestion...how about an Inova 24/7 with the optional headlamp band would provide some versatility.

    I like the eternaLight because of using easier to find AA cells...

  21. #21
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    In incandescent light (with no spare bulb) would NEVER be my choice here. If the bulb blows, you're out of luck.

    Another choice would be a minimag with the opalec conversion. It's got good runtime, and lithium cells will add about 50% to this.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I'll third or fourth the recommendations above - Inova x5t five LED's, rock-solid construction, 2x123 batteries, nice flood light, plenty of oomph for truly dark situations (a little wimpy when competing with streetlights, but more than enough for most purposes) and 10+ hours of runtime.

    Inova 24/7 - a wierd little light, with four white, two red and two yellow LED's - has high and low white light modes, plus red, and several strobe/warning/signal modes. Couldn't look less threatening, and the flat shape is very easy to carry. 1x123 battery gives several hours on high white, and many many hours in the strobing modes. Eternalight would be another similar choice, though not as solidly built, IMHO.

    UK eLed - described above - a little more robust beam than the multi-LED lights above, which is good, in exchange for less runtime, which is bad.

    I'd point you away from any of the incandescent lights - they are super-bright, but have relatively short runtimes...

    The other items you really really want to carry is a super-high-quality dust mask and some eye-protection - I think N95 is the standard for the masks, and the CountyComm Specs II Lexan eye guards are excellent.

    advice, worth what you paid for it!

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    If you are really looking at this for a true emergency situation, I'd add another feature of the eternalight. It has sos mode.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    maybe everyone should take into consideration that a tunnel = alot of dust and other air pollution.

    these lower powered lights probly wont be adequate for the duration of the situation.

    if you really wanted something lightweight and affordable and low on lumens, maybe you'd like the Petzl Zipka Plus.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    The 24/7 also has an SOS mode doesnt it? Also, if you are storing it in a bag, its harder for an accidental turn on (since you need to rotate the bezel to activate it). I'd leave a 24/7 in my car with a magnetic mount, so if i get a flat i can just leave it on the hood instead of wasting my car battery with hazards...but for ur situation...i completely understand your desire for an emergency light. i keep the inova microlights on my keys...i use them quite frequently for the last two years and they still work fine (just to illustrate the battery life) i keep an x5 with me most of the time on my belt..its small enuf not to be pain...let us know what you decide on

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I wouldn't recommend an N95 particulate respirator unless you're worried about aquiring tuberculosis or the like while trapped in your subway tunnel without power- they make for increased work of breathing when new (unclogged)and would quickly become completely unusable in a truly dusty atmosphere. A bandana would be a better choice for dealing with dust, and has many more alternate uses.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Don't forget the Countycomm $1.00 LED lights. Put a piece of tape over the switches to keep them from turning on if bumped or dropped.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    Just another thought, I might consider carrying a SF A2. It has the 3 LEDs which are great for walking in dark places. It also has the 50 lumen capability should you need something for potentially tactical situations or to cut through dust and/or smoke - which you may encounter in a terrorist situation or fire.

    J

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

    There are a lot of great ideas here, and I'm sure almost any of them would be good.
    I still want to put my 2 cents in with yet another light or two. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    OK, what we are looking for is a light, or lights, that have to be easily carried day in and day out, reliable, and have both a great light output and good runtime. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    If you can't carry it easily, you probably will start leaving it behind. If your in that tunnel or other situation , any light sitting on the table at home is useless! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ooo.gif[/img]

    I would suggest a Streamlight TL2-LED. You can easily pocket it. It has a about 4 to 5 hours of very bright light, and 50 hours of usable light after that. About 60.00

    Also, a Gerber Infinity Ultra, with a lithium AA cell.
    Incredible run time and very usable light output for a small light. about 20.00 (of course an ARC AAA or AA would be the Bomb, but more expensive)

    These two lights together make a great combination and if you only end up having one or the other with you, you'd still be doing well. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]

    Just another idea!

  30. #30
    Flashaholic HunkaBurninLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Escape from the Tunnels

    I'm gussing you want something that is inexpensive, and small that you could carry in your shoulder pack or on your person. My suggestions:

    1) The Streamlight Twin Task 2L (2 x CR123). Give you the options of LED lights (for zero/low light conditions) or incandescent (when you need brightness). Cost around $30.

    2) The UnderWater Kinetics 2L. . Reasonably priced for around $25. Plus you can change the head to an LED replacement head. . This will give you the flexibility of switching to LEDs if you want.

    I also recommending looking at those review sites that have been mentioned previously. They give a lot of useful information.

    Good luck!

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