Flashlight for aggressive hiking/backpacking.

sboza

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Mar 5, 2005
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It seems like you guys know what you're talking about so here goes… I enjoy backpacking and hiking in various countries and environments, often times in the winter. I always go with friends so I do not need backups of all essential gear. I also have no monetary restraints.

My philosophy dictates two lights: a primary use and a high output light. I have a surefire M3 from back in the day that I now toss in my pack, somewhat reluctantly as it is rare that one needs that level of light on a hike (and I don't like to waste space in my pack). But the M3 is much smaller than a 9V battery spotlight. As for primary use, I have tried Princeton Tec headbands as well as a few other brands for walking light. I am not a fan of headbands, they get uncomfortable after a while and they don't cast enough shadow to distinguish some obstacles in my path (as they are worn high). I've tried a few cheap brand led flashlights and they have all disappointed. I am looking for a small led light that produces a good blend of spot and flood. However the light output has to be low in general so as not to upset my night adapted eyes. I am looking at the e1l from surefire. Is this a good hike light? I like how you can clip the e1l to a cap (big plus) and surefire's overall quality. The potential cons I am worried about is the light not producing enough side spill and that 25 lumens may be too bright for this purpose. Can one use a beam diffuser to even out the beam? Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you.
 

scudinc

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That light gives very little spill. I've no knowledge regarding use of beam diffusers on it. An Underwater Kinetics 4AA has a good combination of throw and spill with low enough output and unbelievably good runtime.
 

sboza

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I appriciate the quick response. That's a pretty cool light. I may have to get that as a back-up to whatever primary light I purchase. But I do not think it would make a good primary light. I looked up a few reviews and all of their thoughts could be summed up in the words of one reviewer:

"I've done some hiking at night and found that the Pak-Lite (on its "bright" setting) put out enough light for me to go through familiar (outdoor, off-trail) territory or to follow a moderately well-maintained trail. Finding the place at night where the trail left the road (on the other side of a ditch along the road) was rather problematic, however."

The hikes I go on are pretty rigorous and sometimes full of dangers. I probably need a little more light than that for primary usage. However, that's a neat light.

Refers to the pac-lite.
 

UnknownVT

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Dec 27, 2002
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[ QUOTE ]
sboza said: My philosophy dictates two lights: a primary use and a high output light.
for primary use, <snip> I am looking for a small led light that produces a good blend of spot and flood. However the light output has to be low in general so as not to upset my night adapted eyes. I am looking at the e1l from surefire. Is this a good hike light?

[/ QUOTE ]

You may be looking at much more up-market light than this -

but we had a rather fruitful discussion on the use of lights outdoors - especially ones that seem not really bright enough for outdoors.....

Dorcy 1AAA Outdoors

I thought there was some very interesting stuff from CPF'ers.
 

vtunderground

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May 26, 2004
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[ QUOTE ]
sboza said:
I also have no monetary restraints.

[/ QUOTE ]

Careful, saying stuff like that around here will come back to haunt you! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

For your purposes, I'd suggest either the Underwater Kinetics 4AA eLED, or the old-style Surefire L1 (before they switched to a spot beam).
 

3rd_shift

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DFW. TX. U.S.A. Earth
How about a red/orange colored light to keep your night vision intact, but with a good amount of focussable light.
defocusses for up close, focusses tight for "what's over there?".
I made one out of an easy to find, purple 2c maglight. (too big?)
Runs like about 20+ hours on 2 c cell alkalines easily at 70-20 lumens.
Fine for nimhs and nicads too.
I use this one for my nightly trips to the johnny bowl.

It is $700 dollars. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/yellowlaugh.gif

/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/evilgrin07.gif
No...., $70 shipped cont. USA.
 

Icebreak

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sboza -

Welcome to CandlePowerForums. You have come to the right place.

My compliments on your well-thought-out and well written post/question.

I'm thinking that if you diffuse a Surefire KL series you may want 3 watts instead of 1 watt.

I don't know specs on Surefires well enough to tell you what lens size might work with which KL series, however, what ever light you chose it's possible that a UCL-RDF from flashlightlens.com could suite your purposes.

Here is another idea for you. There are many talented builders and modifiers that occasionally offer wonderful lights on CPF. Some of these are LED lights with variable output functions. The LionCub by Mr. Bulk is in the planning/sign-up stage. It will be a variable, rechargeable 3W just under 3" long. You can find some info about this light in CPF's Homemade and Modified forum. If you want something now I would suggest looking into one of the Alephs by McGizmo. He has his own forum here at CPF. It can be a bit confusing to decide which one but if you read Kiesling's sticky thread it will be easier. I don't own one but if I had an unrestrained budget and needed a variable output LED today, he is who I would by from.
 

bjn70

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Nov 25, 2004
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I've backpacked a lot in the past and always carried a Mallory 2AA light, and very rarely needed to use it. These days I would probably carry an Infinity and maybe a Pelican M6 LED.
 

BlindedByTheLite

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Bangor, Maine
the Underwater Kinetics 4AA eLED. seriously. it's bright enough to be be very useful without ruining your nightvision, and its beam blends very well from hotspot to corona to sidespill. the best part is it is regulated and you can get 12 to 16 hours of REGULATED CONSTANTLY UNCHANGING LIGHT depending on whether you use alkaline or lithium AA batteries. it's completely waterproof/dustproof/smokeproof, naturally shock resistant, has a lamp module that is interchangeable with a number of other flashlights from the UK company, and it's also only a few bucks over $20 with shipping. i prefer the underdriven luxeon in the UK eLED to multiple 5mm LED's 'cause the beam is alot nicer looking.

i'd also suggest you give a headlamp one last chance and take a look @ the Princeton Tec Corona. try wearing an Under Armour do-rag or a bandana or something similar to make it more comfortable. a headlamp is a priceless piece of equipment in my opinion. i don't wanna have to worry about you out there holding a flashlight in your teeth when you need your hands free. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

another nice light to have handy in your pack (if space permits) is the Gerber LX 3.0. it puts out alot of light and i would personally find it adequate for a "throw" light. it's a solid 3AA flashlight tho. it also has no regulation, and that's just how i like my lights. it means the batteries will drain @ a fairly consistent speed and will never leave you without light.

all three of those lights are AA lights. here's some links to reviews by CPF member Quickbeam.

review of the Underwater Kinetics 4AA eLED from flashlightreviews.com
review of the Princeton Tec Corona from flashlightreviews.com
review of the Gerber LX 3.0 from flashlightreviews.com

total cost of the three lights combined = $105.90 + shipping. and that's an estimate. you could probly get the Corona and LX 3.0 for a little less than the prices i summed up.
 

sjb269

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Dec 9, 2004
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2 lights

#1 aleph 2 1x123 ng 400-500 10ohm
this is a custom offered here
on cpf. check McGizmo and reviews threads
it is expensive and worth every penny!
this light would be on me at all times day and night

#2 Inova 24/7
same batteries as the aleph and will finish them off in
red mode when the aleph drains them down
put this one in your pack
insane run time in red mode 80 hrs.
too many features to list
check the Inova web site

#3 accessories
surefire spares carrier
gives you a total of 2 batts in lights
+ 6 in reserve for too much light And options to
calculate.

with the aleph 2 you will be the envy of your backpacking group. pure white beam, size to brightness
ratio to die for, very highly water resistant, soo ugly its beautiful, top quality parts throughout, high and low beam made to order, tritium in tail cap can help locate it in pitch dark in tent etc.
 

sboza

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Mar 5, 2005
Messages
13
Thank you all for your informed opinions.

Sub Umbra: Thanks for the info on the Pak-Lite. I'm going to try one and see if the light output is my desired range.

Scudnic: Your input on the e1l's spill, or lack thereof, is very useful. A couple other people also recommended the UK 4AA and the UK 4AA led. I am going to go with the UK 4AA led and test it out the next time I go hiking.

UnknownVT: Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not "spend happy." If this Dorcy 1AAA works well and can survive harsh environments, that's all I ask of my primary light. In fact, if I find the the UK 4 AA too large or not in keeping with my expectations, the Dorcy is at the top of my list. Thank you.

vtunderground: Thanks for the input; I am going to try the UK 4AA led. Although it may be a bit larger than what I had in mind and probably can not be clipped to the bill of a cap, it seems like a durable, high quality, primary light.

3rd shift: I agree that red filters are wonderful for preserving night vision. I no longer need the light blocking cap on my M3 (to prevent accidental "lighting up"), so I am ordering, on your advice a red light filter. I think that will make a great addition to my M3 -my high output light.

Icebreak: Thank you for your kind words. If the UK 4AA does not work out, I will seriously consider the Aleph that you recommend. It seems like quality work and the low/high output option is to my liking. Also thank you for referring me to flashlightlens.com. They have neat lenses and could be useful to me if I did purchase an e1l.

PhotonBoy: The Arc AAA sounds like an excellent light. Too bad they don't make them anymore huh? But thank you.

Bjn70: I couldn't find much info on the Mallory 2AA light you mentioned. The Pelican M6 is a little more than I need. However the infinity ultra seems like a sweet little light that clips to a ball cap, big plus. I am seriously considering this light especially if the UK 4AA led doesn't work out. Thanks.

BlindedByTheLight: Thank you for a very informative post. Your post was the one which finally sold me on the UK 4AA led. You're right about headlamps. I am not completely going to write them off. I've been using the PT EOS, but I'll look into the Corona (I've heard good things). And I will try the bandana idea. As for the Gerber LX 3.0, I already have a good throw light.

sjb269: I like the aleph very much. Someone else recommended it also. If the UK 4AA led does not work out, it's right up there on my list of lights to try out. I have tried the Inova 24/7 and do not like it. Nothing personal, just not for me. As for the Surefire spares carriers, I completely agree. It is one of the best products out there whether your purposes are tactical or recreational. Thanks.
 

leukos

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The UK 4aa eLED is a great light for hiking and for traveling because AA's are easier to come by.

If you are using these lights in the winter, then there probably is an advantage using lithiums.
I also think the L2 might be a light you would like. It's wide flood makes a great navigation light and it has a reasonably long runtime (12 hours). The high mode is there if you need it, you can also use a F05 red filter on the low mode to make an even lower red light output for when you are looking for something in the middle of the night.

When I hike, I like the C3 in my back pack and the L2 in my pocket. They make a great combination. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif
 

cognitivefun

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[ QUOTE ]
I am going to try the UK 4AA led. Although it may be a bit larger than what I had in mind and probably can not be clipped to the bill of a cap, it seems like a durable, high quality, primary light.


[/ QUOTE ]

They have a clip for this purpose. It is actually pretty lightweight if you use lithium batteries especially...
 
E

Emilion

Guest
My choice, usually, the SF L5/E2D/KL1/SuperFire 301(varies upon different trail and gears loaded) and P.Tec Yukon HL.
The Yukon HL last around 20 hours on LS 1W mode and more than 60 hours with the 3 LEDs, its waterproof also. It use 3 AA batteries, the above mentioned runtime is based on Panasonic 2100mah Nimh.

The other flash light in my belt pouch is mainly for backup purpose, while L5 is always my favorite.

Recently I bought a KL1, it has no side spill but I think this little light can be equiped as another backup. Or, for simple walk in those artificialize country park's trail/path. But if you don't need that much throw, the Q3 is a good choice with nice spill.

Ah.....and the pal-lite, nearly forgot this little resident in my backpack..

So many flash lights I carry...yes, I do agree that this sounds more than enough, but usually I go hiking with friends who seldom get to the nature. Inside their backpacks you'll find only MP3, Discman, a tiny little bottle of water, and some chocolate if lucky...............
I hv to equip more for them....(and ENCOURAGE them to buy some flash lights :p)

Happy hiking ^_^
 

UnknownVT

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Dec 27, 2002
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[ QUOTE ]
sboza said: If this Dorcy 1AAA works well and can survive harsh environments, that's all I ask of my primary light. In fact, if I find the the UK 4 AA too large or not in keeping with my expectations, the Dorcy is at the top of my list.

[/ QUOTE ]

Since the Dorcy 1AAA is only $5.97 from a local Wal-Mart - it's worth just trying anyway - I did that and it ended up as my EDC(!)

Since you are being so receptive (and courteous) -
let's try another suggestion.

Even though I suspect you're probably not using true scotopic night vision - and probably like most of us just want to preserve whatever dark-adaption we have - the eternaLight Red/White option - might be worthwhile investigating.

At its max output on white (2LEDs) is brighter than the Dorcy 1AAA with possibly better side-spill and brightness ratio to the hotspot.

At its next level down 66% setting - it is about the same (possibly a shade brighter) than the Dorcy 1AAA retaining the same side-spill characteristics.

It then has 8 other lower brightness levels for close work and really preserving dark-adaption.

More to the point it does have Red LEDs that really DO preserve the true Scotopic (human) night vision - with 10 levels of brightness......

I like this light a lot -
please see this thread with feedback and comments, as well as comparative beamshots -

eternaLight Ergo 3 Red/White

I just realized one of my posts on that eternaLight was in another thread - please give me a few minutes and I'll copy post it in that referenced thread above......
 

gessner17

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Dec 29, 2003
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Lion Heart with a LDF lense, as much or as little light as you need. It provides good
 

Radagast

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Dec 29, 2003
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If money is not an issue, the Mr.Bulk Lion Cub is even smaller and will have the same features as the Lion Heart.

It will also run on rechargeable or disposable cr123 batteries. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 
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