By Drew Dockstader
It has been said and taught in many hunter education classes that when you are alone or lost a warm fire is your best friend. I would have to agree with that, but I would add that when it is dark, a good flashlight or headlamp with plenty of spare batteries can become very friendly as well. Not only will the fire and lights become a very welcome companion, but they can literally be lifesavers in certain situations. Next to matches or a fire starter, a good light or multiple lights with plenty of spare batteries or chargers would be one of the key essentials that should be in every hunter’s or outdoorsman’s pack or emergency kit.
Since there are a plethora of flashlights and headlamps to choose from, how do you know which is the right one to choose for your outdoor/hunting situation? LEDs, or “light emitting diodes,” have just about replaced all of the filament bulbs used in the past. Many new improvements in battery efficiency and LED technology have made flashlights and headlamps lighter and more efficient, producing more light than their bigger and less efficient predecessors. LEDs are almost indestructible and, in most flashlights and headlamps, will never need to be replaced.
Another term you will see listed on all of the flashlights and headlamps now is Lumens, which is a formula for figuring the total amount of light being emitted from a light source but not the actual brightness since the output is unfocused. In the past most of the lights were measured by candela (candle power), which is the power emitted by a light source in a particular direction. To explain all of the different formulas and differences would take someone who is smarter than my whole family, so we will leave it at that.
Many companies have adopted a standard of measure that is printed on their packaging to help you compare apples to apples when making a decision on which light to buy. The chart at the bottom of the page lists the six characteristics of this standard.
Although this standard levels the playing field some, keep in mind that it is a voluntary standard and the manufacturers can choose which categories they list, if any at all. Most of the reputable flashlight manufacturers have started using this standard, or at least parts of it.
It is up to the purchaser which characteristics are important to them. It may be as simple as how many lumens the light puts out. A good analogy to help you decide how many lumens you need is to compare them to horsepower. The more horses you have, the more feed or fuel they consume. The same can be related to flashlights and lumens; the more lumens a light gives out, the more fuel or battery power it consumes. As with other outdoor enthusiasts, it may be as simple as a low price that triggers them to buy a particular light.
For myself and many other outdoorsmen, I believe that reliability, usable functions, and performance for my intended endeavors are the most important characteristics. This is why Huntin’ Fool® wanted to do this simple review and sampling of some of the many choices you have when deciding which lighting product is right for you. I hope it helps with your decision. We appreciate the companies that allowed us to review their products, and here are the results.