We all own a flashlight or two and I know a couple of preppers that actually have an obsession with collecting them. The obvious purpose of a flashlight is to provide light when it is otherwise dark so that you can see what you are doing. While all flashlights perform this task, there are other important things to consider when purchasing a flashlight for long term disasters. Many people only consider the price. As in they go to Walmart and purchase several $5 flashlights and check that off their prepper list. But flashlights are not all equal and there are many important aspects other than price that one should consider before making a purchase. Some of these are brightness, durability and reliability. But one thing that is often overlooked is simple efficiency. To me, efficiency or in other words how long the light will work on a single set of batteries, is the most important factor. 95% of all flashlights sold only last about 2-4 hours on a single set of batteries/single battery charge and then they are completely dead. But what if I told you that there are models out there that will shine for 60+ hours and that the light is actually bright enough to be usable?
My favorite prepper light is the Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight. This light has a built in lithium ion rechargeable battery. The recharging cable is USB and its built into the side of the unit. The unit can also be charged up via a built in solar panel and/or side crank. Both of these methods aren’t really that great and I don’t use them. The great thing about this light is that it has great endurance per charge and several modes to operate. It has a flashlight mode or a wide area light. It has a built in hook for hanging the light and even a USB port on the back so you can use the battery in this light to recharge a cell phone. And while I wouldn’t consider it the most comfortable light to hand hold, it is by far the most versatile light Ive ever owned. As far as battery life, it will run 7-48 hours with USABLE LIGHT, depending on the mode you use. You can find it here: http://www.goalzero.com/p/239/torch-250-flashlight
My second favorite prepper lights are produced by LED Lensor. The two models I want to tell you about specifically are the P14 and P17. Both of these light are very similar in functionality and brightness except that one runs on 4 AA batteries and the other runs on 3 D cell batteries. The biggest difference is how long they will run on a single set of batteries.
First, the massive performer – the P17 on 3 D batteries will run for 30 hours on the high setting which will illuminate objects 360 yards away (that is the distance of 3.6 football fields!!). However if you need to conserve power but still want usable light, the low setting will last a whopping 300 hours on a single set of 3 D cell batteries!!!! No that is not a misprint… 300 hours!! To put it another way, if you turned the light on, it would burn 24/7 for 12.5 days. In real usage terms, it should last months to years of regular use before having to swap batteries. And I assure you the light is usable at this setting. In fact it will illuminate objects 130 yards away or over a football field in distance.
The P14 runs on 4 AA batteries and also has 2 brightness settings. On the brightest setting, it will run for around 4 hours… but wait – the light doesn’t go dead like all others would. After 4 hours, it will simply dim to the second setting where it can run for 40+ hours! That is incredible and I assure you that the light is very usable on the second setting. Just how bright is the light? On the high setting it will brightly illuminate objects 280 meters/306 yards away. That is the length of 3 football fields!!! On the low setting it will illuminate objects 120 meters/130 yards away – over 1 football field distance. I actually did a test with this light on my own. I turned the light on the high setting and left the light on for 3 days (actually, 55 hours to be exact). I prematurely ended the test when the light was still shining as bright as the low setting and I decided that this light so outperforms anything else I had ever seen, I was completely sold.
So which model is best? Well why not get both! But seriously, we all know that AA batteries are more common and easier to find than D cell. I actually have both lights. I use the D cell version as my main go to light and the AA version as backup. In other words if ever it came down to not being able to find any D cells around I would still have a relatively high endurance light in the AA model. Of course the smart thing to do is to plan ahead and make sure you stock up on plenty of batteries for all of your devices just like you stock up on food.
You really have to see these lights work in person to get a real grasp of their power and endurance. In addition to brightness and endurance, these lights are absolutely reliable and durable. They also have a sliding head that can focus the light from a narrow to a wide beam. There are other impressive models in this line by LED Lensor from lights about half the size with similar performance to one that is bright as the sun (well not literally). There are other companies now producing imitation models that are based on this design, the most notable brand is Coastal. However, since I own a couple of the LED Lensor models, I am sold on the quality of their design, their performance, endurance and reliability.
As you might imagine these are not $5 flashlights. You can get either the P14 or P17 for around $70 and it is well worth that price in battery savings alone. Check these and the other models on the manufacturer website here: http://www.ledlenser.com/family/Flashlights/Heavy-Duty