New light for an easily addicted hobbyist.. Camping and Outdoor use.

vicali

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Feb 13, 2014
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New member looking around for info and help selecting my first real light.
I've been using Mags since I was just a little guy- have had a handful of minis, 3C and 3D sizes. I still use my 3D mostly while camping, but the more I look around the more I think I can find something better.

We spend most of our summers at the lake, and now we've got little kids to keep safe and secure I'm looking for something brighter/more throw than my 15year old Mag..
I've been looking around the site for a few days, trying to pick up on brands and models that are good/popular. For this first one I'm more inclined to go with a brand name rather than going custom right of the bat. But I can't promise anything, as a car modder, ham radio guy, photographer, and in general a tinkerer it probably won't be long before I dive in..



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____Up to $100.

3) Format:
X____I want a flashlight (hand held/self contained).

4) Size:
X____SMALL - Every day carry (4-7 inches).

5) Emitter/Light source:
X____LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)
X____Incandescent (known for superior color rendition)

6) Manufacturer:
X____I want to buy a light from a large/traditional manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.

7) What power source do you want to use?
X____I intend to use "Primary"/Disposable Alkaline batteries based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
X____I intend to use Rechargeable cells (NiMH or NiCD) based on the usual AAA/AA/C/D sized cells common to most stores.
X____I don't know/I need more information on power sources.

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).
X____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).
X____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.
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.

9a) Distance: How far away will you typically need to see with this light (check all that apply)
X____5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)
X____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)

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).
X____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)

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).


12) Switch Size, Type, and location (choose all that apply):
X____I don't care.
X____I don't know.


13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.
X____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.)
X____I don't know.


14)Material/Finish/Coating
X____I don't care.
X____I don't know.

15) Water resistance
X____None needed
X____IPX4 (Splash resistant)

16) Storage conditions
X____Emergency kit (long standby periods)
X____Automobile glove-box (wide temperature swings, long standby periods, critical reliability)


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


Thanks!
Mike
 

ChrisGarrett

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Feb 2, 2012
Messages
5,725
Location
Miami, Florida
First off, if you like fiddling with stuff, you'll probably want to go with rechargeable batteries, or lithium-ion cells, either NiMH batteries like the Sanyo Eneloops with good smart charger, or the li-ions that we find in laptop battery packs, or even the Tesla road cars. The latter have very high energy densities that work well with these modern and powerful lights.

The NiMH cells are AA/AAA size and perform much better than alkalines (alkaleaks) and have a better/higher discharge curve to handle these high drain lights, relative to the ubiquitous alkalines.

Now onto the lights.

Zebralight, Klarus, JetBeam, Nitecore, ArmyTek, EagleTac, Sunwayman, Olight, Shiningbeam, Convoy, Xeno, Fenix, Streamlight, and Surefire all are top brands that produce lights that can handle the common AA/AAA/D size and also the various li-ion 10440 (AAA size,) 16340 (CR123A size,) 14500 (AA size), 17670 and 18650 size formats, among others.

You can see in my signature, the lights that I own, but I'm pretty flexible because I have the NiMH batteries/chargers and the li-ion cells and chargers, so my options might be a bit wider than somebody that just wants to use alkalines, or CR123A photo batteries and not deal with rechargeables.

If you're going to be getting into flashlights, you almost have to go rechargeables of one flavor, or the other, or both!

Just go to the various websites for those popular brands above and start looking at their offerings.

You're like me, as two years ago, I came from 6D MagLites and thought those were bad ***, lol

Flashlights aren't your daddy's Oldsmobile, any longer.

Chris
 

vicali

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Feb 13, 2014
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You're like me, as two years ago, I came from 6D MagLites and thought those were bad ***, lol

Flashlights aren't your daddy's Oldsmobile, any longer.

Chris

Haha, Thanks for the pointers, I recognize Fenix from your list- I'd better get to work!

ps ! 81 Olds Toronado as my first car - from my Grandpa!! :poke:
 

ChrisGarrett

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Feb 2, 2012
Messages
5,725
Location
Miami, Florida
Haha, Thanks for the pointers, I recognize Fenix from your list- I'd better get to work!

ps ! 81 Olds Toronado as my first car - from my Grandpa!! :poke:

Figure out the power source, then whether you want smaller pocket type lights, like I have, medium types that can be placed in a pocket, but aren't really comfortable and then you have your monster lights, which are handheld and get all the way up to 3500 freakin' lumens before they start to melt. I don't have any of those yet, but I did add a Sunwayman D40A (4xAA) and it's a decent medium thrower that works on a common battery size. It's a little fat and heavy for 8 hours of pocket carry, but I did have it on me for a few hours one night.

For common and comfortable slender/longer lights that under 6" and work on 2xCR123A primaries (single use,) or an 18650 rechargeable cells look to the NiteCore P12, Fenix PD35, EagleTac D25C2, Klarus XT2C, and Jetbeam RRT-2 (among others in that size.)

They tend to be a good compromise for distance, brightness, runtime and concealment without breaking the bank.

Chris
 
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StorminMatt

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Oct 30, 2012
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Norcal
One more thing. If you actually like the form factor of your old Mags (and yes, I actually DO like Mags), you might consider upgrading your 3D with something like a Malkoff drop-in. You can get either a 3-6D XP-G2 drop-in with 300 lumens or a 3-4D XM-L2 drop-in with 700 lumens. Throw in three Tenergy Premium or Centura NiMH D batteries, and you have a light that can crank out LOTS of light for HOURS on a set of batteries. Other lights may be smaller and lighter. But modified Mags beat the smaller pocket lights by being able to run for a REALLY long time, and doing so without having to step down the brightness after a few minutes due to thermal concerns. This makes upgraded Mags REALLY good for camping. Of course, you can also buy a smaller light for hiking if you wish.
 
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reppans

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Mar 25, 2007
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4,873
Pretty much anything larger than a AAA will be brighter a 15yo Maglite :D.

Just a thought, but as a camper, there's a few things that I like in a camping light. AA compatibility - most of my camping gadgets are AA-based. Good sub-/low-lumen modes/spacing - I like letting my eyes dark adapt as I can see much better outside of the light's beam, makes for a nicer outdoor experience, less scary, and with crazy long runtimes. Small lightweight - pocketable, easier to hold for long periods of time, use with aftermarket headbands, clip to your shirt collar under your ear, hold with your teeth, etc., I like Foursevens Quarks that Lego 1x or 2x AA tubes.
 

AVService

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Dec 30, 2011
Messages
2,163
I have a lot of lights but when out camping or doing Emcomm work I tend to use these 2 lights more than all others.

Fenix LD12 and Zebralight SC52.

They are both single AA lights and both easily fit in a jeans pocket at the same time.
The ZL is more flood and the Fenix more spot which makes the combo so handy for me and both have enough output and runtime for almost all tasks that I use them for while being portable in the extreme too.
They also both have usable and handy really low modes especially the ZL which is great while outdoors at night.

I find the ability to use AA batteries just too convenient and while I can use a rechargeable in them I also do not have to which always comes in handy in the field.

Both have been very rugged for me and I also use a ZL Headlamp version of the same light when hands free up close lighting is needed like when operating a Net Control station in the dark or trying to refill a genset at night.

I would also look at something bigger to really blast the night and it might work out well to upgrade one of your big Mags for reasons already mentioned.

I have a NitghtcoreEA4 that works great for that role and again it uses AA batteries making it all convenient to keep running too.

73
Ed
 

vicali

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Feb 13, 2014
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Awesome, my list is already growing by leaps and bounds.. :D
 

vicali

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Feb 13, 2014
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Hmm, Looking at the big throwers like the Fenix TK60 and Tk41..
 

Tulip bush

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Nov 26, 2012
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I've got a tk41....great light amazing throw with lots of useable spill , but it's a bit of a pain to carry around. Maybe try a decent headlight armytek wizard......zebra h600, very pocketable and you don't just have to use them as a head light....so much more versatile than a hand held flashlight and put out loads of useable light (in my opinion)....have a look on youtube. I prefer a neutral tint.

Although saying that I'm one of the unlucky many who has a faulty zebralight....only had very light use, been waiting since November for it to be repaired still not got it back, luckily it was in the one year guarantee. Armytek has a 10 year guarantee and is built like brick sh!t house. Little clip of armytek wizard.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PyNA2LAdw5c
 
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vicali

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Feb 13, 2014
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Yeah, I probably threw off a lot of you saying it's a 'camping' light.. It's probably more of a looking around for things that went bump/ or trekking the kids off to the outhouse light than a lighting camp/ cooking/ hands free light.

I'm pretty sure I'm looking at something like the TK41, unless there is another more obvious brand/model.. I think Fenix is probably a good one to start with, I'm sure I won't be the only member here with one light for long.
 

StorminMatt

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I'm pretty sure I'm looking at something like the TK41, unless there is another more obvious brand/model.. I think Fenix is probably a good one to start with, I'm sure I won't be the only member here with one light for long.

The TK41 may be a fine light. But one thing I don't like about it is the fact that it uses AA batteries. AA batteries may be convenient and easy to find. But they get a whole lot less convenient when you have to deal with EIGHT of them. That either requires a big charger (like the Maha 808), a large number of rechargeable batteries to be carried on camping trips, or a large expenditure on primaries.

I don't have a TK41 myself. But I have a Coast HP550, which is a similar AA hog. And, although it is generally a good light, I tend to pass on using it precisely because of the inconvenience factor associated with the large number of AA batteries. If you would rather not deal with massive numbers of AA batteries, D cells are a better idea. One option is the modification of your Mags (as I mentioned). Or, if you like the TK41, consider the TK60 or even the TK70. The TK60'is basically the same light as the TK41, but with D batteries. The TK70 also uses D batteries, but is a much brighter (and more expensive) light.
 

vicali

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Feb 13, 2014
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The TK60 is #2 on my list :D

Just an observation, but why are there 10 or so Fenix tactical/outfitter/dealer websites that all look very similar?
And is there a trusted/popular site that sells a few different brands or is the high quality light market more of an individual deal?
 

Tulip bush

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Nov 26, 2012
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Tk41 is great for a distance light with spill have you checked out youtube videos on it?it is bulky though and weighs some. Something like the pd35 is also a great light and you wouldn't know your carrying it, although it does step down from burst mode after a few mins it still chucks out plenty of light.
 
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