Headlamps have become de rigueur in the outdoors world for light at night. But the handheld flashlight still has a place for camping and other activities. This spring I put three flashlight models head to head, including a penlight, a super-bright model, and one made with an "aerospace-aluminum" body.
My favorite flashlight in the test was the pricey and blindingly bright (literally) Pelican Products 7060 LED (pelican.com). The $199.95 model, developed in collaboration with the Los Angeles Police Department, ignites a black night as if it were day time.
The company touts a white beam of 175 lumens for a full 90 minutes without the loss of intensity. This is possible because of a large and efficient lithium-ion rechargeable battery and a strong LED lamp technology.
It weighs about ten ounces and feels substantial in the hand. It is nearly nine inches long. Pelican includes a plug-instand where you dock the light to recharge.
In use at night, the Pelican 7060 LED is among the most powerful beams I have ever wielded. It can blaze a trail ahead in the dark for at least 300 feet. You can shoot a beam into the sky and it looks like a little spotlight on a foggy night.
At the opposite end of the light spectrum, I tested Energizer's High Tech LED Pen Light. This pen-size light is surprisingly bright. It fits in a shirt pocket but has enough LED power to light up a trail on a hike.
The pen light costs only $14.99 and weighs mere ounces. Energizer (energizer.com) cites ten lumens of brightness. It runs for about 23 hours between new batteries, the company specs.
Though it is made mainly for the industrial market, I liked this tiny light as a backup source and a convenient small wand that casts a white bubble of light in the dark.
Finally, the space-age ICON flashlights are made of an anodized "aerospace-aluminum." The company (myiconlight.com) touts that the lights can be "dropped, thrown, and rattled around without any damage." They are waterproof, too.
I tested the Rogue 2 model, which costs $47.99. It comes in three colors and has a unique metal shell design that dissipates heat and provides grip. The company promises "stratospheric light output" from the Rogue. At about 100 lumens, it is bright. Its beam stretched past 100 feet down a dark trail, a solid guide one evening as I hiked into the night.
--Stephen Regenold writes about outdoor gear at www.gearjunkie.com.