You are walking through a building and the power suddenly goes out casting your path into darkness; what do you do? Or perhaps you drop something into the dark abyss that is the floorboards or your car and it rolls under you seat; can you see well enough to retrieve that gadget?
These are just two potential scenarios that demonstrate why it is good sense to EDC a flashlight. But what features constitute the ideal EDC torch? Below are 6 different attributes that are my must haves when selecting an EDC light.
Size is a very important consideration when choosing your light. It must be sized to fit in the place you plan to carry it, of course. This rules out something like the classic D cell Maglites and many smaller lights. I like a light that can be pocketed or slipped into a pen slot in your bag. For me, this leads me to mostly consider single cell units that are slim and compact.
Battery type is an important discussion when selecting the ideal light. For everyday use, I prefer a battery style that is readily available wherever I may be. Whether you use a rechargeable battery or a traditional disposable variant, there will likely be a time you are caught needing to reload your light and keep going. This has led me to standardize all my lights to AA and AAA cells.
I have further solidified this decision by investing in Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries and a Goal Zero Solar Charger. I feel that this set up will allow me to keep the lights going no matter what sort of circumstance I may encounter.
Have you ever pulled a light from your pocket only to find that the battery has died because the light was inadvertently turned on? If you answer, “Yes!” then you will appreciate a good Lock Out feature on your EDC torch. The lock out serves to interrupt the circuit in the light so that it takes a deliberate attempt by the user to activate the light. These lock outs take many forms, but they will save you batteries and frustrations if they are present and function as described.
REVERSIBLE POCKET CLIP
Pocket clips are great (see my article on the Tec Suspension Clip). They keep junk from piling up in the bottom of your pocket and eliminate that uncomfortable bulge! So naturally, your flashlight should come with one.
A reversible clip though adds an extra functionality to the light; it allows you to clip the light bezel up or down. When set up for bezel up carry, the light can be clipped to the brim of a ball cap(which I always have on), allowing you to illuminate your surroundings hands free. In this way, you get a headlamp without having to carry the extra weight and bulk of a head band!
Ever pulled a flashlight out and clicked it on in the dark only to be blinded by the sudden flood of light? I have, and it's no fun. Further more, it can be dangerous and disorienting. The modern LED bulbs are capable of producing a staggering number of lumens, even from the tiny little lights I prefer. So what is to be done?
Many lights today are built with a set of modes that allows the user to select the amount of output. Some come with 2 modes, others 3 and others many more. One of the most important and useful modes is called Moonlight or Firefly. Supposedly, these levels are set to mimic those produced by, you guessed it, a firefly! What good can such a low amount of light do though, you might ask? Moonlight or Firefly modes are generally enough to allow reading a book or a map, to look through your kit bag for a gadget, or for times when discreet lighting is necessary. It is also low enough that it does not greatly affect your night vision. Firefly or Moonlight mode is a no-brainer.
But, simply having a moonlight mode is not enough for me. I want that mode to be the default mode that comes on when turning on the light. I want to save my night vision initially, and potentially avoid alerting those around me to my use of a flashlight. Thus, when considering an EDC light, I want the ability to access the Moonlight or Firefly mode directly from off. Beyond that, I can be fairly easy going when it comes to User Interface, so long as it is intuitive and simple to remember.
There are certainly other considerations when deciding on your pocket torch. I'll discuss three of them below:
I put the ability of a light to “Tail Stand” (that is, it is capable of standing on it's tail on a flat surface) in the optional category. Some will find this a necessary feature, but with my instance on having a clip that can attach to the brim of my ball cap, it becomes less important. There are times however when a stationary light pointed upwards could be of use. A circumstance when one wants to fill a room with light by reflecting it off the ceiling comes to mind here.
MAGNETIC TAIL CAP
A magnetic tail cap is a great feature and one that should be included on every single cell light in my opinion. But again, because of my pocket clip requirement, it is not really necessary. The ability for a light to attach to any ferrous surface though can be very handy in many cases and should not be underrated.
Switch type can be important in some circumstances. Generally, the smallest light will come a twist type switch where the bezel is tightened or loosened to turn on the light and cycle modes. Some lights come with tail cap click switches that allow the user to activate the light with their thumb while maintaining a firm grip on the body. Still others will use a side switch that is either pressed or slid back and forth. Each switch type will have it's advantages and disadvantages, but I find each of these to be useful and suitable for one handed operation.