Backup/Bug Out/SHTF Light

AmadeusChapter

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Messages
14
Howdy pals. I'm actually looking for three lights (one more powerful handheld, one less powerful handheld, and one headlamp), but the lower-power handheld and headlamp will likely use the power source for the high-power handheld, so I want to get that nailed down first. I want these lights to live in an emergency "go bag" packed in case I get word that wildfires or floods will require evacuation. (In cases where I have marked multiple options, that represents that I am amenable to any of the options, not that I require all checked options in one light.)

1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?

____I would like to purchase the light in person from a brick and mortar store. I am located in ______________.
_ X This will be mail-order or Online (location doesn't matter).

2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :)
____I don't know yet
____Up to $25.
____Up to $50.
_ X Up to $100.
____Up to $200.
____Up to $300.
____Essentially unlimited.

3) Format:
____I am not sure, please help me decide.
_ X I want a flashlight (hand held/self contained).
____I want a self-contained headlamp.
____I want a headlamp with an external pack/power source.
____I want a mounted light (typically for a bicycle or vehicle)
____I want a lantern/area light.
____I want a portable spotlight (it may have an external power source).
____Other ____________________________________________

4) Size:
____MICRO - Keychain size.
____TINY - Every day carry (2-4 inches).
_ X SMALL - Every day carry (4-7 inches).
____MEDIUM - Holster/belt ring carry. (>7 inches)
____LARGE - Big enough to need its own travel case.
____I don’t know/I don't care.

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.

6) Manufacturer:
_ X I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
____I would like a light from a specialty manufacturer (Possibly limited run/Custom).
____I am interested in assembling my own components. (for example a “host” or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a “drop-in” emitter from another source).

7) What power source do you want to use?
____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Alkaline batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Lithium batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D and CR123 sized cells common to most stores (often a cold weather or long storage choice).
_ X I intend to use Rechargeable cells (NiMH or NiCD) based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores. I would rather have fewer batteries that I keep charged, rather than cases of disposable ones. Either NiMH or Li-Ion.
_ X I intend to use Rechargeable cells based on less common formats (18500 or 18650 Li-Ion, RCR123, et-al).
____I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery pack.
____I don't know/I need more information on power sources.

7a) If you have selected a rechargeable option
____I want a light that plugs directly into the wall (literally with prongs built into the light)
_ X I want a light that has a recharging adapter (your typical "wall wart")
____I want a light that snaps into a cradle (usually mounted on a wall)
_ X I want a separate/stand-alone charger (this involves removing the batteries to charge)
____I don't care

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 not a happy experience).
_ X I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (1-10 lumens). Having a low-lumen mode is a big plus for me.
____I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
____I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 lumens).
____I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
_ X 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 search and rescue type illumination (800+ lumens).

____SPECIAL NOTE: Burst/Turbo mode Category - There are several lights that will run at a super bright maximum for a very limited period (usually 5-10 minutes) and then will "step-down" to a lower level for thermal control. Check here if this is acceptable.

9) Flood vs Throw: Flood covers an area, Throw reaches out to a distance.
____All Flood: I am doing "arms length" tasks like reading and campsite cooking.
____Wide Flood: I want a defined flood area for semi-close tasks like after-dark campsite tasks or working on a car.
_ X Narrow Flood: I want a sharply defined flood area that will project some distance for tasks like trail walking.
_ X Wide Throw: I want a beam with a noticeable hot-center for distance throw and a significant amount of "side-spill". Good for rough trail hiking, search and rescue, and general distance work.
_ X Narrow Throw: I want a beam with a very tight "hot center" and minimal "side-spill". Good for distance viewing, fog, and looking through dense undergrowth.
____Turbohead: I want a far-distance projector with a sharply focused spot of light and minimal or zero side-spill. Good for extreme distance and impressing your friends.

9a) Distance: How far away will you typically need to see with this light (check 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)
_ X 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 am searching from a helicopter)

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

12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):
____Any size switch will do.
____I need a BIG switch (I'll be using gloves or have very large hands or coordination issues).
____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 want a remote switch (usually found on high-end bicycle headlights)
_ X I don't care. I prefer tailcaps with a momentary on-off, but I can learn to work with anything except a twisty switch.
____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.
_ X 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. (Oscillating pattern to confuse/blind aka "Police Mode")
____I want SOS mode. (blinks in ...---... emergency pattern)
____I want a beacon mode. (Regular flashes at full power to show location.)
____I don’t care.
____I don’t know.

14)Material/Finish/Coating
____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 higher end 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) Water resistance
____None needed
____IPX4 (Splash resistant)
_ X IPX7 (Waterproof to 1 meter/30min)
____IPX8 (Submersible to greater than 1 meter for 4 hours)

16) Storage conditions
_ X In house (temperature/climate controlled environment)
_ X Emergency kit (long standby periods) With periodic battery checks.
____Automobile glove-box (wide temperature swings, long standby periods, critical reliability)
____Other_________________________________________ ____

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

Thanks friends! Looking forward to your recommendations!
 

Truckvet

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Dec 19, 2020
Messages
19
I am going to recommend you go on the Zebralight website and go to the left portion of it
where you can compare their models. You list durability as important and they have a
great reputation. My Zebralight never let me down. You can pick between AA regular flashlight, Headlight, or 2 more powerful batteries. You will pay a bit more but its worth it.
 

Kestrel

Flashaholic
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,140
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
Hello & :welcome:
[...]
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 not a happy experience).
_ X I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (1-10 lumens). Having a low-lumen mode is a big plus for me.
____I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
____I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 lumens).
____I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
_ X 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 search and rescue type illumination (800+ lumens).
I've been messing with good 'go-bag' lights for a couple of years now :cough: :eek:
I like the bombproof insane-bright lights as much as the next person; however I don't care about having a 'low mode' on those.

What I /do like/ however, is to have a secondary utility light for 'medium' & 'low' usage - since you mention you may be looking for a couple of lights.

My specific preference is for 2xAAA penlights - they are much handier than the big boys (or even the medium 2xAA lights) for close-quarters tasks.
I keep mine loaded with low-self-discharge NiMH cells, and charge those cells in the same charger that does my AA NiMH cells.
This sort of light can also fill in for a drained 'big light', or serve as a loaner when a larger task is at hand.

Having a few penlights at hand, loosen up my requirements for the 'big light', which can then easily be a rock-simple single-mode burner for example.

Hope this helps,
 
Last edited:

jabe1

Flashlight Enthusiast
CPF Supporter
Joined
Apr 25, 2008
Messages
2,875
Location
Cleveland,Oh
$100 total, or per light?
My preference for bug out bag is the AA format.
rarely will you need more lumens than a good 2xAA light can produce, there are some great headlamps and single cell lights available. Look at Zebralight, Peak, Malkoff, Fenix, foursevens.
You can almost always find a AA battery...
 

Buck91

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
1,752
I also like AA for a BOB, despite its lower capacity cells are easier to source and recharges are quicker and safer. Mine has a four sevens quark mkii with the 1xAA and 2xAA tubes. As well as a thrunite th20 headlamp.

That said, I don’t think you will love what’s out there for AA.

18650 and 21700 are pretty robust. You can’t go wrong with zebralight but if you wanted a simpler “tool” check out streamlight. Specifically, maybe the protac HL X. IIRC it can do 1x18650 or 2xCR123. Their own cells are micro usb rechargeable. I have it’s big brother, the HL3 and it’s a pretty nice light (I’m just a sucker for high cri so it rarely gets used).

Maybe a different track but I’m really digging my Sofirn If25a. More of a budget option but well maybe. Comes with a 21700 battery and on board usb-c charging, but can also run a 18650.
 

AmadeusChapter

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Messages
14
My specific preference is for 2xAAA penlights

I have a coworker with a Streamlight Pro Stylus, and he likes it quite a bit. You're not kidding about their toughness, although it might be unique to Streamlight--he dropped it into a bucket of sodium hydroxide (industrial lye), and it didn't do anything more than give it a cool acid-wash look.
 

Lynx_Arc

Flashaholic
Joined
Oct 1, 2004
Messages
11,212
Location
Tulsa,OK
I gravitate towards several lights myself.... 18650 flashlight and headlamp and AA inexpensive backup light.
18650 can give you the output you desire as 400-1200 lumens is easily found on many models and a 5 lumen or less mode is found often too. I like the format because they offer the most punch for the weight/size so you can easily get 2 lights and 2 spare batteries and it will perform on lower modes like over a dozen AA batteries. The reason for the backup AA battery is twofold.... you can use cheap batteries if needed you can do things that may be risky that could damage/destroy/lose the light and you can even give it away to someone instead of "loaning" them your 18650 based lights. A few L91s for the light would keep it useful as a backup light. You can also get a small power bank type charger for the 18650s that could use spare cells to charge a smart phone etc if needed or recharge a battery.
In the end you have to decide on how much to spend on how much room you want to allocate to lights and accessories.
A. I have a Wowtac A2S for my go to headlamp as it doubles as a right angle flashlight and I have a Sofirn Sp32 V2 for my flashlight. You can get the Wowtac for about $35 and the Sofirn for about $30 leaving $35 for extra batteries and charger and an inexpensive AA light to squeak in under about $100.
 

gruntmedik1

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Dec 21, 2020
Messages
15
Location
Bourbon Country
Hello & :welcome:

I've been messing with good 'go-bag' lights for a couple of years now :cough: :eek:
I like the bombproof insane-bright lights as much as the next person; however I don't care about having a 'low mode' on those.

What I /do like/ however, is to have a secondary utility light for 'medium' & 'low' usage - since you mention you may be looking for a couple of lights.

My specific preference is for 2xAAA penlights - they are much handier than the big boys (or even the medium 2xAA lights) for close-quarters tasks.
I keep mine loaded with low-self-discharge NiMH cells, and charge those cells in the same charger that does my AA NiMH cells.
This sort of light can also fill in for a drained 'big light', or serve as a loaner when a larger task is at hand.

Having a few penlights at hand, loosen up my requirements for the 'big light', which can then easily be a rock-simple single-mode burner for example.

Hope this helps,


Do they make a AA light that can also use AAA? Or more like, are there adapters to allow the such?
 

LeanBurn

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
1,360
Location
Alberta
Try Parametrek flashlight tool. It will help narrow the search.
All of my lights are AA or AAA for reasons stated.
 

Buck91

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
1,752
Do they make a AA light that can also use AAA? Or more like, are there adapters to allow the such?

Sort of. A lot of single AA lights will be functional if not slightly less reliable. Not all though.

I can confirm the Gerber IU does work with aa and aaa. Will have to try some others, although most of my single aa lights are out away in emergency kits right now.
 

Kestrel

Flashaholic
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
7,140
Location
Willamette Valley, OR
With regards to cell types, I see two very viable configurations;

-----

A) The config I personally prefer (yes two different cell types, but such is life)

  • 1-2 18650 LiIons for the big light
  • 2x AAA (NiMH LSD) for a very handy penlight

-----

B) Alternatively, prioritizing cell interchangeability
  • 2xAA (NiMH LSD) for a reasonably bright light (~500 lumens these days ? Just a guess)
  • 1xAA for a small backup / low output pocket light
Having a couple of extra AA cells handy - backup cells for either light.

-----

Bottom line in either case being, not bothering with having both AA and AAA configurations.
 

seery

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
1,628
Location
USA
The 3 lights that we keep in the truck and also in our get home bag are...

Acebeam X70
Fenix HM50R
Fenix HL55
 

AmadeusChapter

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Messages
14
With regards to cell types, I see two very viable configurations;

-----

A) The config I personally prefer (yes two different cell types, but such is life)

  • 1-2 18650 LiIons for the big light
  • 2x AAA (NiMH LSD) for a very handy penlight

-----

B) Alternatively, prioritizing cell interchangeability
  • 2xAA (NiMH LSD) for a reasonably bright light (~500 lumens these days ? Just a guess)
  • 1xAA for a small backup / low output pocket light
Having a couple of extra AA cells handy - backup cells for either light.

-----

This is a good point. Illustrates the trade-off between effectiveness and redundancy. Thanks!
 

xxo

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 30, 2015
Messages
2,751
The lights I use for this are a Streamlight Compact II (head lamp/angle head light) - kinda spendy for what it is but very versatile, lots of low modes/different colors; great for use up close and conserving battery power. Runs on single AA or CR123A interchangeably, also runs on AAA's if that's all you have.

The other is a 2C Maglite ML25 LED 2 mode handheld light - bargain priced with a ton of throw. And with adapters I can run the ML25 on 8 different types of cells - everything from 2 AAA's and AA's to single CR123's, 18650's and 21700's.
 

mickb

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 10, 2015
Messages
349
Location
Australia
Id get any 18650 mid sized light. These are usually 5-7" long, its the standard duty carry, easy to holster size light a lot of cops etc wear. Id check lumens, try and keep it under 1200, a lot of lights out there are into the thousands these days and is overkill and 'batterykill' too. id also check for something with decent candela or CD's, this is how far it illuminates things. I find a minium of about 25,000CD great. That will help you indentify issues over 100 yards away when needed. The headlamp and backup light Id go for AA battery size.
 
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