Well-regulated and small AA

ozzie_c_cobblepot

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First, in my own words, then I'll fill out the checklist to make sure I don't forget anything.

Summary: I want an AA-powered, diameter <=20mm, length <=90mm, with moonlight mode (<=3lm), at least 3 total modes, good runtime, tail clicky, highest output at least 100lm, preferably with some kind of a remaining charge indicator.

Additional thoughts

Cell type
Seems to me AA is best for my other requirements, but I'm also okay with CR123 as long as the diameter is acceptable (e.g. I have a D25C clicky and size is okay).

Size
Size is of course related to cell type, but generally I'd rather have less diameter and am willing to accept slightly longer length.

Modes and mode spacing
Some kind of moonlight is mandatory (e.g. no 2-level 30/140 lights like the SWM R10A). It's acceptable if it's not really a true moonlight, like maybe a 2 or 3, but the lowest cannot be a 10, which is really more of an indoor level. The highest level does not have to be crazy high. I have other lights if I'll need something super bright. One possibility could be moonlight/indoor/outdoor levels of 0.5/10/100, with runtimes of basically_forever/48h/3h or something. Could also be a 4-level light, maybe with a hidden moonlight or something. I'm somewhat open here.

Runtime & remaining charge indicator
One way to measure runtime of an AA light is "if I put in an Energizer L91 lithium primary, it should last for a very long time". I don't use the light _that_ often, and usually for short amounts of time. But related is having some kind of a remaining charge indicator. It's great and all to have "great runtimes" but one should not be notified that it's time to change the battery by the light just not working.

UI
I've seen many UIs that I like, some I don't. I'm pretty open here. But I've got something against side switches, because they just accidentally activate too often - or at least I worry about them accidentally activating too much. So a physical rear switch is better in that regard.

A note on Zebralight
These lights are amazing. Extremely high quality. Given a cell type, they make some of the smallest bodies. Runtime is fantastic, very well regulated. They have a remaining charge indicator. The only thing they don't have is a rear activation switch. So - to anyone who has an SC52/SC53/SC5 - should I not worry at all about the accidental activation? For reference, I have an SC62 which I really like, but when I keep in in my pocket I quarter-twist the tailcap. It's a slight pain to have to always remember to do that.

Last thing before getting to the checklist, the light this is replacing is a SWM V11R. The UI for that one is amazingly simple (especially compared to the SC62 LOL). And the tailcap never accidentally activates. No fancy modes, but the flexibility of the control ring is basically infinite.

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

1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?
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__TINY - Every day carry (2-4 inches).

5) Emitter/Light source:
_X__LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)

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?
AA or CR123

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).
_X__I want an indoor "blackout" light (15-50 lumens)
_X__I want to confidently walk around an unlit/unpaved rural area (60-150 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__Less than 1 yard/meter (reading, other close work)
_X__Less than 5 yards/meters (looking for something inside a dark shed/garage/basement)
_X__5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)

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).
No options apply here. On moonlight it should basically run "forever". On a 10-20lm level it should run for at least 24 hours, preferably more. On whatever the highest setting is, it should run for maybe 2-3 hrs? I do not need it "to run on max for extended periods" or anything like that. I use max sparingly for very short amounts of time.

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 want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling).
_X__I want a reverse clicky (For use with multi-mode/level lights).
_X__I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today’s high end lights).

13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.
_X__I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)

14)Material/Finish/Coating<br>_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).

15) Water resistance
_X__IPX4 (Splash resistant)
_X__IPX7 (Waterproof to 1 meter/30min)

16) Storage conditions
_X__In house (temperature/climate controlled environment)

17) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any/all below.
None
 
Last edited:

troutpool

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You might try a WTB for another SWM V-series light. I had a V10A (single AA) and used it quite a lot for several years.
 

aznsx

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You mentioned having a D25C (its size), but not whether or not you like it. When I had a D25C MkII which I liked, and wanted a 1xAA light, I got a D25A MkII, and I also like it. No charge indicator. What else does it lack?

Edit: .....lack, aside from a proper 2-stage momentary / maintained-on switch, of course:). Unfortunately 'minimum form factor' lights usually have to give up something, and that's often it.
 
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ozzie_c_cobblepot

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You mentioned having a D25C (its size), but not whether or not you like it. When I had a D25C MkII which I liked, and wanted a 1xAA light, I got a D25A MkII, and I also like it. No charge indicator. What else does it lack?

Edit: .....lack, aside from a proper 2-stage momentary / maintained-on switch, of course:). Unfortunately 'minimum form factor' lights usually have to give up something, and that's often it.

What I don’t like about the D25C clicky:

1. The reliability of the switch. It takes a couple of times cycling through L-M-H to warm it up.

2. The UI. When the “hidden” modes are only hidden behind 2 cycles of L-M-H, they’re not hidden enough for me. ZL does a good job with the triple-click-from-off. And Fenix has a double-click-the-side-switch, also a good hidden. I would rather it not have strobes than be “hidden” but not really. And the problem is just worse when coupled with (1) above.

But the size of the D25C clicky is great.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Ymayhem

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Mar 25, 2020
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I never had any accidental activation with any of my Zebralights, the switch is recesed just enough to prevent it and make it easy to find. The charge indicator is useless on NIMH cells on my sc53c and sc52w, it blinks four times when the battery is inserted, but will give random readings once you leave it there for a day. Its the only thing I dont like about the AA models. The reading on my sc64w Hi works flawlessly
 

aznsx

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You might also want to check out the relatively new Fenix E12 V2. Very small and uses some sort of 'TIR' optical element. Almost all the comments I've seen have been positive, aside from a few negative ones about the clip. I think the lowest output level of the 3 is 5 lumens, which might not be moony enough for you, but I don't think it has any flashing modes.

Edit: BTW - I don't know how effectively a light can do SOC monitoring w/AA primaries / Eneloops. It seems to me that might be challenging to do well, but others can likely speak to that. In such lights, I guess my strategy is SOC control / assurance, rather than SOC measurement. I start by using lights without standby drain, so at least they aren't being discharged while I sleep. Then I use Eneloops when possible so I can always swap in a fully charged cell whenever I think it's appropriate, and when I want to leave with as many mAhs as possible any time that matters. One important factor though is that I have the advantage of being the only user of my lights. If others were also using them, that would complicate things.

I just looked at the info for this light, and it's pretty cool. Not only is standby drain not an issue (of course, since it's a 'real' direct switch) as it is with some other lights, but the output graph shows flat-line regulation for almost all the run time @30 lumens. Not bad. It's fixed L-M-H and no flashing modes evident. I might want to have one of these around myself (especially given the modest price)!
 
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kerneldrop

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You’ll save yourself a lot of time and trouble by ordering a Malkoff AA.


Although it doesn’t meet your criteria, my other strong recommendation is a Peak El Capitan
 
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Owen

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I can only comment on three 1xAA lights, and they've already been mentioned.

The Malkoff MDC HA 1AA is neither small, nor well regulated. Pretty much the opposite of what you're looking for, being larger in diameter, and a full inch longer, than your spec. The moonlight/lowlow mode is much lower than rated. It has an excellent tailswitch, and the option of the 4000K 95CRI SST-20, which is also excellent-though unfortunately hard to focus properly, due to the reflector not being designed for it.
Returned mine for the lowlow(which was deemed normal, and may soon get a bump) being utterly useless, and the spot not being focused well.
With a better circuit and tailored reflector, this would be a wonderful light, size notwithstanding.

The Zebralight SC53w/c should not have a problem with accidental activation but the battery life indicator doesn't work properly on the AA lights, and the tint lottery is still very much in play with the XP-L2 emitters. Fantastic UI, regulation, and beam quality, though.
I've had the older SC52w for 8-9yrs. It had a brief and mysterious glitchy spell last year, and the tint is greenish(worst of my neutrals), but other than that, it's been fine. But for the tint, I'd be singing its praises, and may try a SC53w at some point.

The Fenix E12 V2.0 is an all-around great light, especially for the money. I bought a pair of these for my parents, as they're normal people, and not obsessively picky about tint and UI like I am.
Its LED is quite nice for a cool white, and the optic allows the light to be compact in spite of the tailswitch, which is a reverse clicky. You don't list a preference for type of LED or clicky, so this might be a good one to check out.
 

borealis

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Have you considered the RRT01 (2020)? It's a natural replacement for V11R. With the 2 extensions you can fit CR123/16340, AA/14500, 18650.

I too wish these came with a voltage indicator. One can dream.
 

timbo813

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Nov 18, 2016
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I've carried zebralights a good bit and have never had one turn on in my pocket. (that's not true for some of the tail clickies I've used) The button is very well done and slightly recessed. Get one with the programmable interface and it's fantastic. I have mine set so one click turns it to medium mode, press and hold gets moonlight and double click gets me high. It's a little complicated to set up initially but after that it's very simple. The zebralight and the anduril are tied for my favorite UI.
 

Scotty321

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Jan 13, 2021
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What I don’t like about the D25C clicky:

1. The reliability of the switch. It takes a couple of times cycling through L-M-H to warm it up.

2. The UI. When the “hidden” modes are only hidden behind 2 cycles of L-M-H, they’re not hidden enough for me. ZL does a good job with the triple-click-from-off. And Fenix has a double-click-the-side-switch, also a good hidden. I would rather it not have strobes than be “hidden” but not really. And the problem is just worse when coupled with (1) above.

But the size of the D25C clicky is great.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Just an FYI, as I am a Clicky fan (and starting to get into their other lights)...

IIRC, your D25C (as well as mine and a few other of my clickies) have reverse clicky tail switches. The D-series (clickies) that list "forward clicky" might be more in line with your expectations of tailswitch responsiveness. You'll usually find the description of the switch on the "specs" page of their models... if it doesn't say "forward clicky," I'll usually infer "momentary on" instructions as an indicator of this type, and "push all the way in until clicks to turn on" as an indicator of a reverse clicky (at least from how they sometimes list things on their specs pages).

Additionally, some of that line has a mechanical tailswitch plus e-side switch (mechanical meaning the side switch is inoperable when off so won't activate your light in your pocket), some are side switch only, and some are head twist only.

Edit: One other side note, the D25C clicky is about as thick as I like for my EDC when possible, but it's specs list 0.78" wide. Some of the newer Clickies are designed for 18350's and have a 0.85-0.9" width, and it is noticeably wider in hand... and their walls are very thin to keep it from being wider.
 
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GadgetGeek

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Zebralight SC5 MkII is my recommendation.

I've never accidentally turned mine on in the pocket either.

No worries though because you could always unscrew the tail cap a quarter turn to prevent from turning on.
 

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