edc flashlights article

The Best Flashlight Types for EDC (and One Bad One)

Most people do not have the same mindset as you and I. Yes, I mean you reading this article, because if you’re reading this article then you must have an interest in survival and being prepared.

There is an organization that was founded in The United States of America in 1910 known as The Boy Scouts of America. The motto of this organization is “be prepared”.

Since 1910 there have been approximately 110,000,000 Americans that have raised their hand in that three fingered salute. That means at least that many people have understood the value and importance of being prepared. So to the naysayers, what about that?

Seeing the Light

What does it mean to be prepared? Being prepared starts in your thinking, your mindset. Considering situations and resolutions; one situation that occurs literally every day is darkness.

When the sun goes down if you are safely snuggled up in your home you have lights on. What about when you go outside after sunset? What about if there is a power outage? Are you prepared?

To be prepared for the dark means having something to provide light. Yes, I am referring to a flashlight. Do you include a flashlight in your EDC items? You should.

A flashlight can be very useful for something as simple as finding a dropped object that rolls away from you in the dark. It’s hard to find that dropped object in the dark, but not with a flashlight. But a flashlight can provide more than mere light; it can also provide safety and security.

Old Style Flashlights

Now that we have established that if you don’t carry a flashlight every day you need to, let’s take a look at some options. With so many styles of flashlight available you may not be able to decide which one is best for your needs.

Old style flashlights use an old style incandescent light bulb. Incandescent light bulbs work by a hot, glowing metal wire and these bulbs do not last very long. In fact, you could drop an old style incandescent flashlight while it is on or while the bulb is still hot that filament can break rendering your flashlight useless. If you do use this type of flashlight you should make sure to have plenty of spare bulbs as well as batteries.

Modern flashlights utilize an LED (light-emitting diode) bulb which is practically indestructible and lasts for thousands of hours, some as much as 100,000 hours! This is a much better technology than was available in the past therefore I strongly recommend that you get a flashlight with LED bulbs. Many LED flashlights are also rechargeable and so there is no need to worry about spare batteries or bulbs.

Keychain Flashlight

Multiple LED bulb flashlights are best, but for a flashlight that is small and carried on your key ring one bulb will do. There are tons of brands from cheap (made and priced) to overly expensive. Shop within your budget but buy the best item that you can afford. Check the specs!

A quick online search shows that a keychain flashlight can cost less than 1 USD or as much as 10 USD.

A keychain flashlight can come in really handy for finding something in the dark like the front door key slot if your porch light went out while you were gone. It’s also handy for looking under the seat for something you dropped. Granted, a keychain flashlight isn’t as versatile as a larger flashlight but it can still come in handy and beats a blank in a pinch.

stylus pro 90 lumen pen light

Pen Light

Next on the list is a slightly more powerful flashlight that fits right in your shirt pocket next to your ink pen or easily stores in your purse. It’s a pen light.

The one pictured provides 90 lumens with a bulb rated for 100,000 hours.

That’s pretty powerful for such a small package. A pen light is also easily stored in your console, glove compartment, tackle box, jacket pocket or clipped on to the strap of you BOB or back pack.

Seriously, Though…

The above mentioned flashlights are handy to have but they are lacking in some areas. Sure, they will help you locate something you dropped in the dark or ease locating the deadbolt lock. These small flashlights could even pull double duty as a Kubotan in a pinch.

I’m not quite sure however that they are bright enough to illuminate that dark corridor or sidewalk or blind a potential attacker. So, with that in mind let’s take a look at some serious flashlights.

tactical flashlight with strobe

Photo: tactical flashlight with strobe

A Bright Idea

Some flashlights, like tactical style flashlights, produce a very bright beam of light yet are small enough to carry in your jacket pocket, back pants pocket, belt pouch, or in you BOB without taking up too much room.

It is also small enough to stow easily in the console or glove box like the penlight does and, although it takes up a little more space, it produces much more light as well as serves another purpose.

The other purpose is some tactical flashlights offer a strobe feature that is excellent for blinding a potential assailant. With the extremely bright light, (one offers 5000 lux and only costs about 20 USD), if you shine a really bright light into a person’s eyes they will involuntarily wince and close their eyes or even turn their face away from the light.

That gives you an opportunity to strike and if you hit a person when they aren’t defending or tensing for it that strike will have a greater effect. In other words, you blind them with the bright strobe light then knock the blankety blank out of them. Another option is that when they are momentarily blinded by the light it gives you a split second to draw your weapon and fire upon, stab, or kick your assailant (you know where to kick them).

Shocking News

One of this author’s personal favorite styles of flashlights are flashlights that offer not just a bright light and a strobe light, but they have a shockingly useful feature as well. This feature is a stun gun!

I can’t help it, I just love these flashlights. So innocuous looking yet so very effective, your assailant will never know what hit them. Considering the low cost of one of these flashlights it’s a no-brainer to have one on hand for just such an emergency, especially if you prefer a less than lethal option of protection.

Here is a funny video of people being tased:

A Sharp Idea

kootec flashlight with knife

Photo: kootek flashlight with knife

The stun gun flashlight is a bright idea, (I know, I know), but there are other flashlights that double as a weapon (besides a club) as well. One of those is this little guy here that offers a knife hidden in the handle as a defensive weapon.

Again, the combination of a blinding light, then striking with the knife, will have a devastating effect on a potential assailant. It will be a bad day for them for sure.

NOTE: Remember, any object you choose to utilize as a weapon is useless without the proper training to gain the skills to be effective with it.

Here’s a video review of the above knife light:

Training: Another Bright Idea

If you choose to use a knife as a defensive weapon not only do you need to learn how to properly wield the knife, but you also need to learn human anatomy to know where to place your strikes to cause maximum and rapid blood loss.

Because let’s be real here, if you are using a knife there is going to be blood, and if you intend to draw blood the goal is the rapid loss of blood pressure that will bring a human being down. Keep in mind that if you pull a knife and don’t know how to use it there is the possibility it is taken away from you and used against you.

maglite 5d

Photo: maglite 5d

Bigger Is Better…is Bigger Better?

Some may choose to have a full sized flashlight rather than one of the pocket sized options. Although more conspicuous to carry, in some instances it doesn’t matter if the flashlight fits in your pocket or not.

A larger flashlight can be easily carried in a belt carrier or in a side pocket or pouch on your BOB and be at the ready when you need it, right? Well…

Although larger flashlights like this mag light are typically thought to be able to provide a brighter light, cover a greater area, and shine for greater distances; the reality is that this giant, bulky mag light only has 135 lumens.

That is far less powerful than the much smaller, much brighter, much easier to carry LED flash lights shown above that have up to THIRTY TIMES the lumens of a larger traditional flashlight.

This tells us that bigger isn’t always better. The reason the smaller flashlights are brighter than the bigger flashlight is because they use the modern LED bulbs. However, there are larger flashlights available that utilize LED bulbs and have the high lumen output along with the larger size that will enable you to club someone like a baby seal. This brings us to another use for a large flashlight: as a baton.

A 5 D cell size mag light was the go to flash light for law enforcement for decades because of that reason and also because before the LED bulb they were brighter than smaller flashlights.

The reason they were brighter was simply because they all used filament bulbs and the brightness of these is determined by the voltage. Since the larger flashlight used more batteries to provide more voltage they were brighter. Now you can get a small, 3 volt (2 AA batteries) flashlight that puts out 200-500 lumens, considerably more than that large mag light.

Closing Thoughts

As with any gear that you buy to be prepared for any emergency, you should shop around, read reviews, compare prices, compare specifications and buy the best item that you can afford.

Keep in mind that the most expensive item is not necessarily the best item. There are many lower priced items that are as good as or even better than their higher priced counterparts.

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