Looking for a car use / rural light

Wurkkos

MTerrence

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Jun 11, 2013
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Good afternoon! Thanks to the members of this forum for putting together an excellent flashlight checklist - it looks extremely comprehensive. I'll be posting some comments along with it as I go. Thanks a lot for your help in advance, folks.

==================Flashlight Recommendation Checklist================

1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?


__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! :)

__X__I don't know yet
_____Up to $25.
_____Up to $50.
__?__Up to $100.
__X__Up to $200.
__?__Up to $300.
_____Essentially unlimited.

Alright, as for budget - I suppose I could see spending up to $200, but this is not really my defining characteristic. I'll pay what it takes to get a good light. If that's less than $200, great. If that's more than $200, well, if there's a good argument behind it I might consider it. This'd be my first good flashlight, so I'm not a flashaholic, but I would definitely say I have the right personality type for it... I like quality products that are special. So I own things like good knives, good locks, mechanical watches, etc.

3) Format:

__X__I want a flashlight (hand held/self contained).



4) Size:

__X__SMALL - Every day carry (4-7 inches).
__X__MEDIUM - Holster/belt ring carry. (>7 inches)

Size limited largely by size of glove box/centre console (2013 Accord). I'd rather not have to throw it in the trunk, but if I have to, I will.

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.

In this case, I'm mentioning LED first because I don't think there are any incandescent flashlights that meet my needs without being way, way too big. If there are some, through what I can assume is only some sort of miracle of science, well, I guess I like glowing filaments too, but I'm pretty sure it's hopeless. HID is cool but I think that LED would make much more sense, because if I'm going to be taking the hit on CRI I might as well just go with the newest/smallest technology.

6) Manufacturer:

__X__I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
__X__I would like a light from a specialty manufacturer (Possibly limited run/Custom).
__X__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).

I've checked these all, but with the caveat that I'd only be interested in assembling my own flashlight if a) it was pretty easy and b) it led to an indisputably superior product.

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).
____I intend to use Rechargeable cells (NiMH or NiCD) based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
____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.
__X__I don't know/I need more information on power sources.

OK, sorry about this - I don't really know about this. My understanding is that, for this application, lithium really does make the most sense; slow self-discharge, high capacity, and the like. I, however, did read the thread in the hot batteries section and was quite horrified to hear about the poor fellow who got gassed by (aerosolized?) hydroflouric acid. I'd rather that not happen to me, so I do care about safety.

I had originally thought about maybe modifying a Mag 2D with an upgraded LED and using alkaline batteries, but the thought of them leaking all over my car is not appealing.

7a) If you have selected a rechargeable option
__X__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).

____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (1-10 lumens).
____I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
____I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 lumens).
__X__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).

In this case, I am being specific about an entire field - I have a rural property that includes a 1/4 mile road and a few fields that are a bit more than an acre each. If it's possible, having enough lumens to illuminate large portions of that would be pretty cool.

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.
__X__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.
____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.

I've checked off a range here, but am open to suggestions.

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)
____30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
__X__50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
____150+ yards (I am searching from a helicopter)

Not that 150+ yards wouldn't be cool, but I can't imagine actually needing that much light.

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.

__X__Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
__X__Critical (Police, Fire, Search & Rescue, Caving, Survival).

OK, so "very important" is what I need, critical is what I want. Not for any specific reason, but just because stuff built that way makes me feel good. The proverbial brick... lavatory is the sort of construction I would look up to.

12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):

__X__I don’t know.


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.
__X__I want a strobe mode. (Oscillating pattern to confuse/blind aka "Police Mode")
__X__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.

Strobe and SOS are considered interchangeable here - either will do, as I only intend to use it to get attention and certainly not to confuse or blind.

As for light levels: being able to use this light in a rural setting means that it will need to be bright. Most of the time, this would be too bright. Having multiple light levels seems like a very good idea.

14)Material/Finish/Coating

__X__I don’t know.

Whatever's the toughest, I guess. I prefer metal to plastic, but I've heard very good arguments for plastic in cold weather, too.

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)

Enough to deal with whatever the elements might throw at it, but I doubt I'm going to be purposefully submerging it.

16) Storage conditions
____In house (temperature/climate controlled environment)
____Emergency kit (long standby periods)
__X__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.

__?__Crenelated bezel

Seems like it might be useful for breaking a tempered car window in an emergency. If there are other methods to do this that don't require that the flashlight also double as a striking weapon, well, that's just fine by me - I'd hate to accidentally catch myself or my clothes with it. I honestly can't decide whether I'd like a flashlight to have a crenelated bezel or not; I'm open to suggestions either way.
 

archimedes

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I'm going to suggest you consider two separate lights ... a car glovebox light, and what is called a "thrower" here.

It's perhaps not impossible to find a single light that would work for all you want (listed above), it's just that would involve significant compromises. Better to have one optimized for size, runtime, and convenience, with the other for maximum output and reach. Plus "two is one, and one is none" for emergency use, right ? - ;)

For what you want in a car torch, I suggest the HDS Clicky (or Rotary, if you prefer that type of user interface). Single cell (for safety), uses primary or rechargeable battery (for convenience), and fully programmable (with functions able to be customized to your needs).

For the "thrower", I would recommend the Malkoff HoundDog ... about 1000 lumens output, about 1000 feet of throw.

Both are super-tough, quality-built, and backed up with outstanding customer service and warranty support.

Complete cost of both lights (depending on options and accessories) does exceed that $300 budget, however, at a total of about $375 :eek:

There are plenty of ways to get this back under budget, but since the very best options (in my opinion) are close, they are worth considering. And, of course, that's for two lights instead of just one.
 
Last edited:

Rexlion

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May 23, 2009
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Considering how hot it can get inside a glovebox, I would avoid rechargeable lithium-ion cells; they can be degraded by heat. Some low-self-discharge NiMH rechargeables or some 1.5v lithium L91 primaries would hold up well. Alkalines can indeed leak at unexpected times.

I am partial to the Eagletac GX25A3. For $100 or a bit less you get a compact (38.5mm x 105mm) 3-AA light with a nice holster and about 1000 lumens on max for 1.3 hours. Medium and low modes with much longer runtimes. Strobe, beacon mode, and SOS also. Mine is the neutral white version, and I really like the beam. Plenty of throw but also plenty of spill. You get to choose whether to use side switch or tail switch. They even sell red, blue, yellow, and green filters and a diffuser (to get all flood) if you wish to accessorize this light. This one should be all you need.
 

MTerrence

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Joined
Jun 11, 2013
Messages
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I'm going to suggest you consider two separate lights ... a car glovebox light, and what is called a "thrower" here.

It's perhaps not impossible to find a single light that would work for all you want (listed above), it's just that would involve significant compromises. Better to have one optimized for size, runtime, and convenience, with the other for maximum output and reach. Plus "two is one, and one is none" for emergency use, right ? - ;)

For what you want in a car torch, I suggest the HDS Clicky (or Rotary, if you prefer that type of user interface). Single cell (for safety), uses primary or rechargeable battery (for convenience), and fully programmable (with functions able to be customized to your needs).

For the "thrower", I would recommend the Malkoff HoundDog ... about 1000 lumens output, about 1000 feet of throw.

Both are super-tough, quality-built, and backed up with outstanding customer service and warranty support.

Complete cost of both lights (depending on options and accessories) does exceed that $300 budget, however, at a total of about $375 :eek:

There are plenty of ways to get this back under budget, but since the very best options (in my opinion) are close, they are worth considering. And, of course, that's for two lights instead of just one.

Thanks for the input. $300 was sort of the absolute upper-end sort of my budget, meant for a product that would last forever, qualify as a work of art, and occasionally mow the lawn. While it's not inconceivable that I might eventually end up spending $375, I think that might be a little bit steep for an initial purchase.

I get where you're coming from on the whole thrower vs. glove-box light angle. If I have a separate thrower, I don't suppose that a glove box light actually needs to be particularly bright; 100-150 lumens at the most, perhaps? It's possible that I might have over-specified for something that'll spend 99% of its time sitting around unused, and the rest of its time providing small amounts of light into engine bays, glove compartments, maps and the like.

Separating the two also makes things easier on the thrower - it doesn't need to bounce and rattle around, needn't have batteries that last forever and is no longer required to be particularly small. I'll address that a little bit in a second.

I am partial to the Eagletac GX25A3. For $100 or a bit less you get a compact (38.5mm x 105mm) 3-AA light with a nice holster and about 1000 lumens on max for 1.3 hours. Medium and low modes with much longer runtimes. Strobe, beacon mode, and SOS also. Mine is the neutral white version, and I really like the beam. Plenty of throw but also plenty of spill. You get to choose whether to use side switch or tail switch. They even sell red, blue, yellow, and green filters and a diffuser (to get all flood) if you wish to accessorize this light. This one should be all you need.

So I took a look at Eagletac's website. Looks like they have a pretty wide range of lights, including some that would indeed appear to fit in a glove box and provide a great deal of light, as well as some dedicated throwers. How do they compare in terms of quality to a Malkoff Devices product? Where are they made?
 
Last edited:

dss_777

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I'd suggest a Malkoff MD2 head with the drop in of your choice in a 3-cell MD3 body. You can choose to go with a hi-low ring for two-level operation (VERY useful, IMHO), or get one of the new 3-level dropins for even more utility.

Then add a hound-dog head for throw.

You'd have what is functionally two separate lights for under the $300 budget. Extremely high quaility, very useful range, and can run on primaries, which my recommendation for a car light. They're also bored for rechargeables, if you need that.

One caution: this is such a sexy light set-up, I'd predict you won't keep it in the car, and will want it available to use all the time. My Malkoffs get used every day. It's great!
 

dss_777

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Oct 31, 2004
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Option B: Malkoff MDC variant for car light, maybe go with the RCR123 for max throw. Multi level, single cell for simplicity, Malkoff tough, and less than $100.

The only downside to the RCR version is the rechargeable cell. Not the best idea for a glovebox light, IMO. Also, not as throwy as the Hounddog.

I still like my first idea better. :)
 
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