Flashlights advice

I used to think this way. But when your out in the bush/backcountry, your not likely to find someone selling batteries. 18650 or similar cells have a ridiculously high power density, and they can be charged from a vehicle, portable power pack, etc. Or just bring a spare pair.

My 25$ amazon headlamp with 18650s lasts well over 20 hours on high power. I expect to get a few hundred charge cycles minimum from the cells. If I drop it in a lake, it gets stolen, or stepped on, no big loss.
Bingo. 18650 is the best, most robust and energy dense form factor right now. Probably for the next while too. It's a primary form factor in the majority of EVs and in some cases you can sub in 123 cells in a pinch. Something like 3x better ED per weight compare to NiMH. Disposable is convenient but heavy and so dang wasteful.
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
A few years ago I bought a flashlight similar to this one (see below) on Amazon. It was about $10. I figured it was cheap money and couldnt be worse than the old plastic battery flashlight we had under the sink if I decided it wasnt good for camping etc. I have to say it was an awesome decision- great flashlight. Has a rechargeable battery and an adapter to accept 3 AAA batteries if I want. It works so well I bought 3 more. A couple of years ago I tested it with a buddies Surefire that was 3 years old at the time- mine is loads brighter, further, broader beam etc. Yes it's a little bigger but I dont have to buy the specialty batteries either. Now I am sure his is technically better and may last 100 years or something but it's just a flashlight. I'm not going to get too worked up over having the latest greatest with it.

After seeing how good it is, I promptly went out and bought three more. I think what someone in the thread said earlier is accurate- light technology changes so fast and prices keep coming down it makes sense to buy something inexpensive. You can give one away if need be, and wont sweat it if you lose it.

This isn't the exact one I bought but it's very similar:

Ultra-Bright LED Flashlight, Wsiiroon CREE XML-T6 LED Flashlight, Zoomable, IP65 Water-Resistant, Portable, 5 Light Modes for Indoor and Outdoor Use, 2 pack (Batteries Not Included) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07537C91H/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_uVLfEbR8STWXZ

ETA: I went and searched for it. Here is the one I am referring to above. It may have increased in price or maybe I got it through a reseller at a better price. Or heck maybe I paid $15 for it, but I would again in a heartbeat.

 
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Ducstrom

Member
I've been using an o-light for the last 2 years as a heavy duty tech. The thing is awesome. It has a magnetic base and a pocket clip where it usually stays while I am not dropping it on a concrete floor from equipment. I've even dropped it into a bucket of oil on several occasions(oops). It can clip into a headband it comes with to use it as a headlamp. It has different intensity levels and I've been able to light a knapkin on fire with the highest level. At that level it drains the battery fast though. If I manage to kill it at some point, I'll be buying another.
 

BigSwede

The Credible Hulk
Legitimate point. That's mainly why I stick with my old Gen 3 SPOT because it take 4 x AAA Energizer Lithiums so no need to carry or find anything special except 4 spares.

But anymore CR123 are just about as ubiquitous as AA & AAA in that most grocery stores and Walmarts have them.
I use flashlights quite a bit a work, but it is a chore keeping anything rechargeable charged around here. I have considered a CR123 flashlight, but I only want to carry one set of spare batteries, and my headlamp uses AAA.

At home might be a different story.
 

ducktapeguy

Adventurer
I use flashlights quite a bit a work, but it is a chore keeping anything rechargeable charged around here. I have considered a CR123 flashlight, but I only want to carry one set of spare batteries, and my headlamp uses AAA.

At home might be a different story.
I would not go with any type of CR123 powered equipment, they're still relatively expensive compared to other battery types for the amount of power you get. They have already been surpassed by rechargeable Li-ion for most electronics. About the only good thing about the CR123 is the long shelf life, so maybe for emergency beacons or smoke alarms they may have uses.

If you use flashlights a lot, then 18650's make even more sense. A single 18650 has the equivalent energy to about 8-12 AAA batteries, so it's equal to about 3-4 battery changes on a AAA headlamp. A couple advantages to rechargeables. 1, it's free power, so you're never worried about using up batteries. I use as much power as I want and leave the light on as long as I need (within reason) since it's not costing me any money. 2. I never have to worry if I'm starting out with partially dead batteries. With AAA or AA batteries it was always a question of how much they've been used and how much life is left. Since I charge before a trip, I always know I'm starting out with a full battery, so a lot of times I don't bother with spares.

Batteries and chargers are cheap nowadays you can get a complete setup for <$10 to have multiple spares. They even have complete flashlight or headlamp combos with batteries and chargers for <$20 so it's fairly inexpensive to test out.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
A single CR123A and single AA will have about the same energy capacity, around 4 W-hr give or take. The advantage to a CR123 in this case is voltage and physical size. You have to stack two AA to get the nominal 3 V of a single tall CR123.

You'll notice the single AA flashlights typically top out at 130 or so lumen while single CR123 flashlights can be 400 lumen. There's several reasons for this but suffice to say the range of emitters and drivers available becomes larger at 3 V.

With two AA you of course also get twice the energy. But if you're going to make a body long enough for two AA you might as well go a bit larger in diameter for an 18650 (18mm vs 14.5mm for AA) and get the major improvement of around 12 W-hr. In that case two stacked CR123 will fit in the same space (2xCR123 are about 68mm while a 18650 is 65mm) and work in a pinch.

I personally carry a PD22 Fenix, which is a single CR123 device because it fits in my front pocket without jamming me in the hip or thigh when I sit down. That's really the main advantage to a single CR123, short and capable of fairly serious brightness.

Then since I'm keeping CR123 as spares the rest of my lights are based on 18650/2xCR123 for the most part. I still like having 3D and 4D Maglites around and with LED bulbs they are reasonably bright. Not hyperturbomatic bright like the tacticool stuff but they have an old school physical weight and handling that is unmatched.
 
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Happy Joe

Apprentice Geezer
For me, flashlights fall into about 3 categories;

EDC, carry in your pocket light; needs to carry unnoticeably and have fair run time... I use a no longer made, Dorcy single AAA, aluminum, LED... long lasting easy to carry (remember to recharge the eneloop every year or so)..

Vehicle light needs to be theft resistant, have as much run time as possible as possible does not need to be super bright should be waterproof or at least water resistant needs to be able to shine up while laying on the ground, for working under a vehicle... I use an LED converted 2-D cell exmilitary angle head.... too ugly to steal & the run time is unreal, just remember to put batteries in it every couple of years; it never seems to run down.

Utility flashlight (headlamps fall into this category) needs to store well between power failures needs to have fair run time (at least 6, preferably 12+, hours) should be inexpensive enough to have multiple units in handy places; I use free Harbor Freight LED lights... at any given time there is about a half dozen stuck to the front of the kitchen fridge.

I know it goes against the Fanboy ethos but I have never needed a super bright flash light nor used one as a club (although I do have a 2-D cell Maglite in long term storage, without batteries).

Enjoy!
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I know it goes against the Fanboy ethos but I have never needed a super bright flash light nor used one as a club (although I do have a 2-D cell Maglite in long term storage, without batteries).
Not being high speed, low drag I never really understood the 1,000+ lumen lights either. But our current house has a low ceilinged crawl space and the super high mode now makes sense. Being able to highly illuminate deep into it from the access port 25 feet away before contorting and crawling in has become indispensable as a way to plan the least amount of time face-to-face with cob webs and God knows whatever is lurking between 100 year old floor joists.
 

ducktapeguy

Adventurer
The line between want and needs is pretty blurry. People have used a mini-mag light for decades (a whopping 10-15 lumens at best), just like you can drive a car with 60 horsepower that will get you wherever you need to go. But having more power is never a bad thing. The great thing about new LED lights is you can have both power and runtime in the same package, there's no need to compromise between the two anymore. My current lights are in the 2000+ lumen range, and there are times I still wish I had a little more. If needed, I can also stretch that to 40+ DAYS of runtime at low power. Most the time is spent between those two extremes, but having the capability to go to either extreme is a bonus.
 

Alloy

Active member
I used to think this way. But when your out in the bush/backcountry, your not likely to find someone selling batteries. 18650 or similar cells have a ridiculously high power density, and they can be charged from a vehicle, portable power pack, etc. Or just bring a spare pair.

My 25$ amazon headlamp with 18650s lasts well over 20 hours on high power. I expect to get a few hundred charge cycles minimum from the cells. If I drop it in a lake, it gets stolen, or stepped on, no big loss.
......and Lithium is best below freezing.

I use Fenix ARB-L18 batteries with micro USB charging plug on each battery. Not cheap so I have to jump in the lake after my headlamp.
 

Alloy

Active member
For a flashlight I use a Bosch GLIV18. Depending on the temp it last 8-10 hours on low and 4-5 on high. The 6Ah battery recharges in an hour.


Headlamps:
2 of these (flood light ) when working on stuff...batteries on high last 5-6 hours then have to be recharged overnight

1 of these to light up the trail. - not well balanced front to back. Gets my forehead warm and only lasts 48min on high. - red light is useless.

1 of these - good (if you don't mind small buttons) rechargeable. Will also use NiCad and Alkaline.

1 of these - great - stretch the coiled wire or it will keep pulling off to the side. Hits all the marks except it can only be recharged when the battery is dead.
 
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