Shine a light

In this edition of our monthly Gadget column, we examine flashlights.

Shine a light

Fenix TK15 LED Flashlight

Halloween is no exception as costumed menaces march through the streets in search of candy, with only a flashlight to ward off demons and monsters. The days of cheap, neon, plastic flashlights are over. Take the Fenix TK15 LED Flashlight for example. The Cree LED light has a reported lifespan of 50,000 hours, an aircraft-grade aluminum waterproof casing, and a max output of 337 lumens. To grasp the power of this torch, imagine one lumen is the illumination equivalent of one birthday candle if you’re viewing it from a foot away. Packed into the roughly six-inch long flashlight are more than 300 birthday candles that shine up to 700 feet. Four brightness levels decrease illumination and increase battery life—two 3V CR123A Lithium batteries or one 18650 Li-ion battery—but with the same design and power employed by hunters and the military, why go dim? $80.

TechLite Two Piece Tactical Flashlight

Big-box retailer Costco has it all—including a flashlight with enough power to raid a small drug den. With a maximum output of 150 lumens, a Cree LED bulb life of 40,000 hours, and aircraft-grade aluminum construction, this TechLite offering could be the younger cousin of the Fenix TK15. It operates at three intensities—100 percent, 30 percent and strobe, the latter of which the Fenix also offers—but uses AA batteries which are much easier to find and replace. You can turn the six-inch light into a pocket flashlight by removing the middle section and running it off one AA battery instead of two. It’s a nice feature for travel or working in tight spaces. Costco’s price tag—two flashlights for $32—also makes it the right choice for reliability and durability in everyday situations that don’t involve tracking serial killers through deserted warehouses.

Blackfire Clamplight

The Clamplight is a multi-purpose torch with a base that doubles as a clamp so you can fasten it to a car hood, pipes under the sink, or a rafter in the attic. The Cree LED head has two articulation points that allow for a wide range of positions. It still supplies 100 lumens from three AAA batteries. The clamps can remain open so it sits on a tabletop or you could tuck them away to create a more traditional cylindrical flashlight. Like many multi-purpose tools, it offers versatility, but it could feel like you’re playing with a listless Transformer at times—getting it in the exact formation you’re looking for while the power is out could be pretty annoying. Though it could live anywhere in the house, it will probably never stray too far from the garage workbench. Retails for $30 but on Amazon sells for a more reasonable $18.

—Matthew Craggs