Outdoor Gear: Flashlight Buying Guide
Do you know what to look for when buying a flashlight or a headlamp? Do you know what all the new fancy flashlight terms are all about? You wouldn’t think it is that complicated, would you? It’s not if you’re headed to Crappy Tire to purchase a throw away, super heavy, everyday flashlight, or picking up a basic headlamp from Walmart for the weekend. However, if you’re looking for a good piece of gear, you should put a little more thought into it. As always, ManCamping is here to help. Here is a guide to what you need to know when buying a flashlight for your adventures. You can use this guide for headlamps, or flashlights, they both use the same terminology.
The Terms You Need to Know:
Beam Distance: How Far The light will travel over a distance. Are you looking for a light to find your drink when you put it down around the camp fire or do you need to find that tiny portage marker from the middle of the lake, in the dark of night because you got lost? How far do you want to be able to see?
Lumens: Total measure of how much light the flashlight will produce. A match produces about 12 lumens and your car headlights produce about 1200 lumens for your reference.
LED or Bulb: Almost all flashlights are now LED. LED is much more powerful and uses less power to run them.
Runtime: How long the battery will last when the flashlight is on. If you are going to be away for a few days/nights without access to a store or battery charger, how long will you need this flashlight battery to last?
Battery Type: 18650 battery (High capacity), AA, AAA, C Cell, D Cell, Other. This is important. Have you seen the price of batteries lately?
Size & Weight: Self explanatory. However, something you may want to consider if you are having to carry your gear. (Canoeing, Hiking, Military Night Ops, Hostile Campsite Takeovers, Etc.)
An awesome light, comes with a little bit of research, doesn’t it? These are just the basics, there can be a lot more variables if you dive right into things. We’ll keep it simple for now, however some other things to consider would be:
- Modes: Different light brightness/flashing modes such as S.O.S. and strobe.
- Type of LED: Colour (Warm or White)
- Hotspot: The most intense, centralized part of the light beam
- Flood: The ability to illuminate a large area
Let’s look at two lights and compare them so we can give you some examples. The first light will be the Armytek Predator Pro XHP35 from our website and the second will be a Maglite from Canadian Tire.
*All information gathered is listed on manufacturers websites. We aren’t just making this up.
**We’re using our Armytek lights to show a comparison, not to brag. But…. While we’re here…. 😎
What does all that mean?
First off, yes there is a price difference. That should be expected from all high-performance gear of any kind. The performance specs, and what you will get out of it will far out weigh the price difference. (Don’t forget the cost of batteries too!) We are simply putting these two beside each other so that you can see the difference, and explain the terminology to you. Because we are helpful like that.
- The longer beam distance of the Armytek light allows you to see a further distance away. This will allow you to see what’s ahead well before you get there. 151 meters before.
- More lumens. The Armytek light is almost 13 times brighter, giving you more light for whatever situation you find yourself in. Ever tried to find to find a small item in a field of grass with a Bic lighter? Wouldn’t you rather have more light?
- Longer Battery life. Have you ever had a flashlight run out of batteries? What would you do if you were 20 miles into the bush and that happened? You can’t just run to the gas station for more batteries.
- Size and Weight: This comes down to personal preference. Maybe you like something heavier? Or maybe you want to save on weight. Up to you.
- Waterproof and Shockproof. While not all that important if you are car camping, if you tip your canoe, fall down a cliff or get caught in the rainstorm from hell. You’re going to want to have it.
Let’s do the same comparison with headlamps. We’ll take one from our website (Armytek Wizard), one from Walmart (Coleman Divide), and we’ll even throw in one from MEC (Petzl MYO RXP)
It’s not always about price as you can see above. The Petzl headlamp is more expensive, produces less lumens and less beam distance but is still $20 more.
If you have other questions about anything here, or about any of the flashlights we carry, feel free to reach out to us. General@ManCamping.ca
More information on Waterproof/Dustproof codes can be found here: http://www.dsmt.com/resources/ip-rating-chart/