A flashlight belongs in your every day carry. This statement often gets me some very weird looks. Replies people give usually follow along the lines of “Why would I carry a flashlight?” and “I’ll just use my phone.” Hopefully this will address these questions and help you understand why you should include a flashlight as part of your EDC.
Why Carry a Flashlight?
Outside of my phone, keys, and wallet, my flashlight gets used more than any other EDC item I carry. If you’ve ever dropped a small item under a car or your desk you will understand the benefit of having a light in your pocket. Even in broad daylight or a well-lit room a flashlight is handy. This is extremely practical and helpful, but if really needed your phone can fill this role. The flashlight starts to really “shine” (pun totally intended) when you find yourself in low light situations.
While I could list myriads of practical situations that a flashlight helps, lets focus here on the safety and security aspects of a flashlight. A flashlight can be used as an impact weapon as a last resort, but just having a source of bright light can help deter an attack. Predators seek the easiest target and someone walking with a flashlight makes them a harder target. Walking to your car in a parking garage or dimly lit street becomes easier and safer when using a light.
Lastly, a flashlight can be used to identify and neutralize a threat if needed. Without getting into the long debate about strobes in a flashlight, a bright light can absolutely be used to interrupt the OODA loop of a would be attacker. A good handheld light assists in threat versus non-threat identification as well. Nobody wants to be the person that shoots the neighbor’s cat because they thought it was a bad guy lurking in the shadows of the garage. Police officers carry flashlights for a good reason and so should you.
Picking an EDC Flashlight
Picking an EDC light might seem daunting. As a boy I carried a flashlight, it was the venerable mini-Mag Lite. This tiny powerhouse dominated the market forever. Choices were limited. Today a quick search on Amazon for “EDC flashlight” brings back over 10,000 results. How do you sort through all of that? Here are three things I consider when purchasing a light: Price/Brand, Size/Battery type, Brightness.
Price isn’t everything and neither is the brand name, both play into your decision though. Sticking with well established brands help eliminate problems. Some quality brands you should look at include: Streamlight, Surefire, Olight, Fenix, Inforce, and Nightcore. Prices with these companies range from very inexpensive to outrageous (in my opinion). Stay away from anything at WalMart especially that has “tactical” in the name. Most of the lights that best fall under what I consider the “ideal” EDC light will range from $40-$100. Depending on your needs you might want to spend a bit less or a bit more but this price range will get you a lot of light.
For an EDC light I recommend a light that is slightly longer than the width of your hand and is ¾ inch to 1 inch in diameter. This size carries nicely in a pocket but still affords some striking capabilities as well as typically sufficient brightness. Battery type plays a big role in both the size and brightness. Selecting a light that runs on AA or CR-123 batteries usually gets you in this size range and the batteries are readily available. For those who have to wear a suit or dress clothes, you may need to consider a pen light. Try to avoid anything that uses weird batteries or watch type batteries.
Selecting the correct brightness can be confusing. Flashlight’s often list their brightness in terms of lumens. The more lumens the brighter the light. What’s misleading about that is lumens describe how much light is given not how bright a beam is. Lumens are very helpful to light up a room, think light bulb, but if possible, you should also consider the candela output. Not all flashlight manufactures give you this stat, but if you can find it you should take notice. The candela measures how bright the beam of light is. This becomes very important if you want to reach out into the darkness and not just illuminate the area around you.
You will probably buy more than one light before you find the right one. In general for an EDC light something in the 150 to 300 lumen range works great. I recommend a tail cap on/off switch that is recessed. Personally I carry the Streamlight Protac 1L-1AA duel fuel flashlight. It can run on AA or CR-123 batteries and provides great illumination for most situations. It’s the light I recommend the most, but ultimately you need to consider your needs and start carrying one today.