how many flashlights do i need in my bug out bag?

Scotty321

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I've repurposed my "island blackout" kit to my "get home bag" (not exactly a bug out bag, though). I used the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus 4xAA/AAA as a battery backup which also has a small LED for light combined with an old GZ Nomad 7 to charge both the battery backup and my phone while traveling (Li Ion batteries plus airports is often discouraged in anything other than cell phones, laptops, and/or tablets... especially when traveling at different airports and airlines in other countries where you don't know the policies). I used the battery backup's light to navigate through stone paths at night while on the island, as it was brighter than my phone's LED.

Since I keep my bag relatively small and light, my bag's main light is a headlamp that accepts both CR123's and AA's. Since I always have an EDC light and phone, this gives me 4 lights, as well as a way to recharge all of them. One could replicate all of this with all Li ion rechargeable batteries and a different solar panel.

Pic of old GZ Nomad7 charging my old Samsung G5 while traveling:
 

Lou Minescence

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I would only bug out with 2 lights. If you need to lug your gear more water, food or clothing will be of much greater value. A vehicle escape might turn into on foot.
 

Buck91

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What type of bug out scenario do you foresee? Are you running to the hills? Or are just driving to the next town over for a couple nights at a family members house? Or are you planning to E&E?
 

Outdoorsman5

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Just 2 lights for me. Pre-COVID, I traveled a lot (2 weeks per month or so,) and have emergency situations somewhat in mind when I pack my bag. I always have 2 lights with me: a Zebralight AA headlamp (H53Fw) and a Zebralight AA flashlight (SC53w or SC5w) plus a single cell charger for the eneloops in each light, 2 extra batteries, and a small solar panel/battery bank (which gets used often to charge my phone when away from an outlet.) Hopefully that will cover most of my possible needs.
 

Katherine Alicia

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it is vital that you keep one of them on you all times though, because having 10 lights in your bag is no good if you get parted from it or can`t get back to it for some reason. don`t keep all your eggs in one basket ;)
 

Lou Minescence

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What type of bug out scenario do you foresee? Are you running to the hills? Or are just driving to the next town over for a couple nights at a family members house? Or are you planning to E&E?

Trying to be ready for any scenario as best as possible. Having walk could be required.
 

Buck91

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Trying to be ready for any scenario as best as possible. Having walk could be required.


I would want probably three. A compact but decent headlamp with a nice low mode, a somewhat "tactical" handheld and a ultralight back up. Generally, if you are truly bugging out you probably want to minimize any light signature for the sake of security which is why the headlamp and back up lights ought be be and/or have good moonlight/low modes that are easily accessible. The tactical handheld is much less necessary, better to have and not need but unless you plan on some seriously risky needs this is more of a security blanket.
 

Umbrosoccer

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All decent suggestions. I have a few videos on what I keep in my modular kit bags. I suggest atleast 3 or more lights / headlamps that can be recharged via usb solar or ones that use rechargeable AA nimh or li-ion type batteries with appropriate chargers and systems made for that battery. Here is a link to a Silent music on video of what i carry in one of my edc bugout bags. In the video you will notice I carry three lights. It is Attached via molle sticks to a hsgi thigh platform and can be taken off to reduce weight. https://youtu.be/n3tz6x8KU_Y
 

Olumin

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I would say 2x handheld flashlights of the same or similar make (one primary, one backup. Something simple and rugged, no more than 2 modes or so) + 1x headlamp. Having your hands free is a huge advantage, and since it’s gonna be mostly strapped to your head the risk of damaging it is lower than it would be for a handheld device. Therefore, I think you can forgo the spare headlamp. Don’t overthink this. When it comes to choosing a light for this kind of thing, choose something that is easy to use and is simple and rugged in its construction. Preferably something you are familiar with. I would definitely choose something full-sized, taking 2xcr123s to 1x 21700. Nothing larger, nothing smaller. Small lights are too easy to lose and too fiddly in operation, you also cant get a very secure grip on them. Big ones are too inconvenient to carry round and take up too much space. When it comes down to it, something with potted electronics would be my choice. Make sure its water resistant. I would also think about going with a acrylic lens. A lens that is deeply recessed into the head (well protected by the bezel) would help against scratching.

Of cause for durability and longevity CR123s come to mind, however those can’t be recharged. Unprotected Li-ions would be my choice. Protection PCBs don’t react well to shock/impact, that’s why people don’t like using them in weapon lights. Also unprotected cells don’t suddenly cut-off, but leave you with a longer drop-off in brightness before the light dies and better runtime because of it.
 
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Timothybil

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At least three:
1. Lumintop GT Mini or equiv. since there will be times you will want to reach out and see someone/thing.
2. AA/14500 light like Lumintop Tool AA 2.0 - pocket size with multiple light levels
3. Key chain size light - Photon - Sofirn C01/C01S - Nitecore Tube.
4. If you are really serious about this a solar panel [20w or so] and one or two power banks so one can be charging while one is powering something like a charger.
5. Aforementioned power bank(s) and cell charger. Two cell should be big enough. I'm partial to the single cell magnetic contact chargers for size, but don't think they do NiMH.
If you are not into diffusers for your lights a small lantern like one of the Nitecore L series.
 

scout24

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If I'm awake and standing, there's a light in my pocket. I keep a Zebralight elastic headband and rubber headlamp holder in my bag, along with an AA or 123 light that fits and can be used as a headlamp, rather than a dedicated headlamp. There's also a second light in there. I like the Photon light advice, great backup to your backup. 👍🏻
 

Lynx_Arc

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Like others have said it depends on what you are bugging out from and where you expect to bug out to.
I would say 1 headlamp 1 throwy light 1 flood light (lantern) 2 low output area lights 1-3 cheap throwaway lights to give to others so you don't have to feel bad about not loaning your good lights to them. Also chargers for battery types you use in lights and definitely pick some lights that can use rechargeables because if you bug out you may be able to recharge batteries and keep your spare primaries unused for when you don't have access to power at all. I would also recommend a decent sized power bank to charge a phone a few times and USB stuff to operate from it like a few USB lights and a fan if in the summer.
 

Hooked on Fenix

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Bring 3. Headlight, flashlight, and lantern. I think a Nitecore HC60 headlight, a Nitecore MH10 V2, and a Luci Lux Pro lantern. All these lights are USB rechargeable so take a 12 volt USB charger with you for car charging. The lantern acts as a power bank and solar charger for limited off grid charging without having to carry a bulky solar panel. The flashlight lasts 1500 hours on a 1 lumen low and is 1200 lumens on high. Has a respectable 55 lumens for 46 hours for getting around at night. Bring spare batteries of course, but these lights provide good light and long runtimes.
 

orbital

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Another vote for a headlamp.
Put it this way, if I could have only two lights in my life, one would be a headlamp.

The second is top secret..;)
 

jabe1

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Another vote for a headlamp.
Put it this way, if I could have only two lights in my life, one would be a headlamp.

The second is top secret..;)
Understandable, but a AA or AAA light can be clipped to a cap brim or if you have such a thing, a headband made to hold one. Nite I’ve made such a headband with dual elastic loops. They work pretty well and are easily carried.
 

Lou Minescence

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I`d have 3, 2 in my bag one on me at all times, always take an AA and AAA because you can get the batts for these anywhere, and an Anduril light with built in charging (don`t forget the leads) so you can do sublumen to daylight.

Good point about having an AA or triple A light and on your person. I always have an AA Zebralight on a neck lanyard. So I answered 2 lights in a bug out bag previously which would be in my bag. I carry one Zebralight floody 18650 headlight and one SC600 HI in my Bug out bag which is my hiking backpack. I know I can sleep eat and drink anywhere if I have that pack with me. I can walk all night plus with those lights and I’m strong enough to carry 40-50 lbs about 15 miles in rough terrain. If I knew I had a vehicle to move me and my stuff I would bring more lights just because I could but my setup works well as is.
 

iamlucky13

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I'd approach a bugout bag like I would backpacking: have a backup, but don't overburden yourself. Light is extremely useful and even can be a matter of safety, but it is not in most circumstances essential. Once you're prepared for one to fail or get lost, I would focus on food, water, warmth, first aid, and communication.

A complementary pair is my preference - a headlamp to provide hands free use and a floody beam, and a handheld flashlight with a little bit of throw.
 

mickb

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Im in a cyclone( hurricane) and flood area, also exmilitary and work remote sites. All I use is a fenix E01 on a keyring, convoy C8 gunlight, Fenix Hl23 AA headlamp, and Nitecore EC4GT flashlight
In military/tactical terms if it helps, or just for general knowledge the levels of equipment carry are

1. Duty wear/patrol order. this is basically your duty belt and daypack, or in the military, chest rig/harness etc. With this you will hae your firearm, abou 200-300rounds ammo, 24 hours emergency rations and water, comms gear, utility knife, short rope, firemaking gear, EDC flashlight and possible an emergency blanket are the sort of things in this gear. its designed to allow you perform your duties, include fight short term or live for 24 hours in the field. This equates to a 30-40 litre daypack of stuff in a civilian context

2. Marching order/Field pack/main pack. 70-100litres. This is basically your house on your back, everything else you need to survive in the field. Sleeping bag, matt, shelter, change of clothes, cooksets, eating gear, specialised equipment, food up to 7 days but possibly 14 days etc. extra batteries and extended operation supplies. Soldiers march into location with their field pack, usually drop it to patrol from that location or fight just wearing their patrol rig( above). Marching order equates to a large backpack for hiking etc.

3. listed last to outline setups to survive 48-72 hours. Packs between 50-60 litres, various config and between the other two main types.

Generally my take on a bugout bag depends on needs but will sit between type 1 and the in between stuff. Whatever size pack suits you needs.

My config is to have all flashlights always available in option 1.(which is added to no.2 if I am going to the field) .So for me that is the gunlight(c8), EDC(EC4GT), headlamp and little fenix keyring light. This gives me two items running off 18650 , 1 off AA and 1 AAA.

Are these all needed, of course not...most of the time. The gunlight can go if Im not taking the gun for a start. So its basicallty the EC4GT and the headlamp. (The Fenix AAA keychain light I dont even really count as its so small)

For the record I know people purely in an ultralight civilian hiking context taking the smallest light they can, often a plastic AAA or AA light to keep weight down. I see two lights as a better idea though.

Take my military advice as general interest. A military set up is not the be or end all or even the best setup for a lot of situations. When I was doing a partiuclar job in Africa our bugout bag( or grab bag as we called it) was much smaller than a normal patrol order setup or evern my flood/hurricane bugout bag here. For the simple reason we were not wearing military order and needed a very small bag under 10 litres with vital gear like cards, passport, 1 change of clothes, meds and a water bottle. Reason being if we were suddenly evacced from the workplace the aircraft had very limited space requirements.
 

Outdoorsman5

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I should have added in my earlier post about the multi-cell capability Zebralight AA lights have. I believe all will accept and run on an AAA battery in a pinch. I even carry two pieces of tinfoil to make sure the battery is secure and connected inside. I use 18650 lights mostly when home & camping, but when I travel, I stick with the AA Zebra (SC53w or SC5w) and an AA Zebra headlight (H53w). I would hopefully be able to find AA or AAA bats if needed; where as, with my 1860 lights I'm on my own to keep them charged (I do carry a small solar panel, but it's not great. Plus, I don't want to carry a larger panel in my backpack when traveling.)
 

zoulas

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Depends on the circumstances. If I am driving then none because I have two in the car. The duration of the bug out is necessary to answer this question.
 
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