See in the Dark
Goal: Stay safe and navigate at night. And find the dropped screw under the seat.
All the parts in this series:
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Navigation
- Part 3: Communication
- Part 4: Medical
- Part 5: Survival
- Part 6: Utility
- Part 7: Lights (You are here)
- Part 8: Defense
- Part 9: The Bag
- Part 10: Organization
- Part 11: Checklists
- Part 12: Conclusion
We trust we don’t have to explain the criticality of having a flashlight in your get-home bag. We further hope that we don’t have to point out that, since being able to see is sort of necessary for you to get home, you should not be content with one flashlight. “Two is one and one is none” is a glib and often silly way of expressing the need for redundancies, but in the case of flashlights, it’s stone-cold truth.
We recommend two lights in your bag, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to carry one in your purse or pocket, put a fourth in your glove compartment and so on. We view flashlights like knives; you can’t have too many.
When you choose your lights, select a regular handheld light and augment it with a headlamp. They each serve some uses better than the other but they can still be used interchangeably for most needs, making them good backups for each other.
For a flashlight, we’re not planning on any high-speed, low-drag secret squirrel kind of action, so anything that is reliable, easy to use under stress (just one button is fine) and preferably has multiple brightness levels. You’ll also want one with a clip, which gives you options for carrying and using, such as in your backpack, pocket or on the bill of your baseball cap.
Here's a quick list of everything in the picture:
And now for some details.
We’ve always liked Surefire lights, both handheld and on our weapons. Surefires are American made and while many of the models can get quite expensive, they’ll stand up to being dropped and run over while you’re changing your tire.
Surefire Stiletto and Stiletto Pro flashlights are our absolute favorites. The flat profile and clip makes carrying and stowage easy and comfortable, they have three brightness levels plus a strobe, and they’re rechargeable so you don’t need to carry spare batteries.
The Stiletto retails for $129 and has a plastic body with a button that cycles through 600, 250 and 5 lumens. The Stiletto Pro trades up for an aluminum body and more brightness: 1,000, 300 and 25 lumens. We prefer the Pro but money has to not be an object for you because it retails for $229. In our judgment, it’s worth it because it’s our everyday carry, go-to flashlight.
If you prefer a traditional round-body design and want something more affordable, check out the Surefire G2X Pro, which will give you 15 lumens for reading maps and 600 for doing work. It retails for $79, but keep an eye out for sales. It doesn’t have an integrated clip, so if you take the advice in our how-to-pack-your-bag section and plan to stow it for quick access, get something like the Vertx MAK standard to hold it and attach it to a hook-and-loop panel.
Like with all our tools and gear, we like a headlamp that is versatile and not limited by its design. In the case of our pick, the Petzl Actik Core, that means using the included rechargeable battery pack but carrying 3 AAA batteries, which the Core can also use. It’s watertight, rugged and has multiple brightness levels up to 450 lumens (plus a red light to save your night vision). It retails for $69 but some not-very-aggressive Googling will net you a lower price.
Finally, throw a couple glow sticks in your pack for emergencies. They’re long lasting, cheap and can be used for everything from area illumination to marking a trailhead for a friend. Whatever brand you have is fine and if you don’t have any, here's a box of them.
Thus concludes our shortest, but perhaps most critical, section. It is impossible to understate the importance of having good lights with you in an emergency scenario, so if you want to be Ready Rated, make sure you have at least two with you.
Next up, how do you defend yourself on the way home? Part 8 - Defense.
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