5 Types of Flashlights You Didn't Know You Wanted

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In the last installment of Carry Smarter, I talked about the reasons why you should carry a flashlight and the considerations in choosing one that fits your needs. In this post, I take a look at some types of unique flashlights with features you may not have known existed, and some you didn’t even know you wanted.

Flashlight collecting is a very deep rabbit hole, and I fully intend to drag you with me down into it in this guide. By the end of it I hope to put a spotlight on what’s out there in the bright world of lights and give you more interesting options to add to your EDC.

Magnetic Selector Ring Lights

SRT3's Selector Ring

The most common flashlight activation systems are push-button clicky switches and twist-on/off mechanisms. For many situations, these are intuitive enough to get through a light’s modes. Sometimes, you can’t spare that extra time to click or twist your way through a menu to get to a desired output, such as immediately wanting a high output without going through four other levels.

This is where magnetic selector rings like on the Sunwayman V11R or the Nitecore SRT3 Defender come in handy, as they not only allow you to simply pre-select your desired output or mode, but the technology also makes infinitely variable output possible. With magnetic selector lights, you get the benefit of both multi-featured modern lights and the efficiency of single-output operation.

Neutral and High-CRI Tinted Lights

EagleTac D25C Neutral White vs 4Sevens Atom AL Cool White

Our eyes tend to prefer natural sunlight over harsh, artificial lighting. Luckily, there are LEDs in the flashlight industry that comes quite close to emulating it by optimizing the tint of the beam. The Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures how close a light resembles sunlight’s effect on color, which is a perfect 100 on the index. While there are “neutral white” LED (as opposed to the bluish “cool white” in most lights) options, the Nichia 219 is currently the highest CRI emitter on the market at 93, providing a remarkably natural tint you could mistake for a deep afternoon glow.

Fortunately, the Nichia 219 is now more common than it used to be, showing up in very inexpensive lights like the L3 Illumination L10. Industry standard emitters like the Cree XP-G2 found in the ThruNite T10 also come in 75-CRI neutral white for a good balance between power and color accuracy.

Neutral and high-CRI tints are one of those things that you have to see to appreciate; but when you do, you’ll wonder how you ever enjoyed flashlights without them.

USB Charging Lights

Olight S10R in Charing Dock

Take a great all-around and well-respected light like the Fenix PD35, double its convenience by adding a built-in USB charging port, halve the number of items in your EDC because you no longer need a separate charger, and the result is an even more useful flashlight in the UC35. Brilliant!

Other companies are starting to adopt the trend as well and offering their own take on charging: Olight’s S10R EDC light, for example gives you a desktop dock with an extra USB port, and Klarus have packed a ton of features like a diffused, multicolored side LED in their RS20.

No matter which rechargeable light you buy, it’s good for utility, even better for the environment, and given the current selection from the top brands, the best addition you can make to your collection this year.

Portable Suns

Nitecore Tiny Monster

There comes a time in every flashlight collector’s career where he or she wonders just how bright can a light get. There’s just something about holding a light more powerful than most car headlamps and able to light up the length of multiple football fields that gets the curiosity going.

Take, for example, the EagleTac MX25L4C. It packs a literally blinding 4800 lumens able to cover a distance of 536 yards (490 meters) into an aluminum tube measuring only 5.6 inches. It makes one wonder if, pointed in the right direction, astronauts on the International Space Station could see it twinkle from Earth.

You can get a bit portable with something like the Olight SR Mini Intimidator or go the sci-fi prop route with the Nitecore “Tiny Monster” TM26; thankfully, such portable suns don’t have astronomical prices, and will still serve as incredible backup lights even when purchasing them just to satisfy a burning curiosity.

Custom Flashlights

McGizmo via fyrstormer

Custom flashlights are the endgame of every flashaholic’s collection. The higher price these lights command often stem from decades of experience and research, use of the highest tier of materials, and in many cases, personal and individual handling of the entire manufacturing process.

Don McLeish is a man who’s built an entire career on creating the McGizmo Haiku, a light generally considered to be one of the best EDC flashlights ever made. Along the same lines is Prometheus Lights’ Jason Hui, who has managed to bring his Beta-QR to market with custom-level fit and finish but mass production availability and reduced manufacturing costs. Be sure to check out my review of that light here.

For many people, including seasoned collectors, the price of a custom light is a bit over budget. I believe, however, that it’s important for these lights to exist as they represent the ideal of the best possible product and push the industry as a whole to make better lights. Like exotic cars, it doesn’t always make sense to strive for or buy one, but it’s nice to imagine the ride you can take with it.

With this Carry Smarter series on flashlights I hope to have convinced you to carry your own dedicated light and ensured it’s one you find useful and enjoyable to use.

Sound off in the comments below if you’ve decided to start carrying a dedicated light, and what unique features it has that led to its choosing. Also let me know if you liked these articles, if I missed any awesome features and tech on my list, and what other EDC topics you’d like us to cover next!

Lede image by D Park

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