Let these guys show you the way
I need to confess something – let’s get it out the way now…OK. Ready? I’m just going to come out and say it…A dependable torch/flashlight and/or headlamp has to be one of the most seriously underrated possessions that you can own. There, I said it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either been saved or doomed by having or not having one with me respectively.
Since incandescent light bulbs are being replaced by more energy efficient, brighter LED ones, the lighting revolution is very much underway. From vehicle headlights that are almost atomic explosive in their brightness to office illumination that is more pleasant than real daylight not forgetting about home mood lighting and of course the improved clarity that accompanies every iteration of our smartphone and screen devices.
What you may not know is just how good portable torches/flashlights have become. The low power draw to high lumen output means that many flashlights work incredibly efficiently as rechargeable devices. Not only this, modern torches are pulling double duty as portable power bank options – ensuring that your other critical devices (phone, camera, MP3) are able to make it through the day when they are running low.
But that’s not all. Many of these light-casters use hybrid power sources. Running on a variety of different batteries – allows for even higher lumen output from larger capacity batteries, but provide you with the low-cost, easy-to-purchase standard batteries when high lumen counts are not required. That last point is especially vital when travelling by plane – as battery restrictions placed on air-travel mean that the only way to justify taking a good quality torch with you is if it will run on run-of-the-mill, cheaper and more widely available battery types.
I would like to outline two manufacturers who I believe exceed expectation in practically every way and yet still appear to not get enough mention – which is a paradox as they are making some of the best quality, high-value flashlight/torches out there.
I am pleased to say that I have been extremely happy with the examples I have purchased from both of these outfits and all models I own are still going strong – despite being subjected to a high degree of use.
By now hopefully, many of you who read this blog will know that I don’t spin stories or ideas that are currently doing the rounds, as always the content here is original and hopefully – illuminating, OK enough with the light jokes.
While we are on the subject of content – I think it wise to also admit that I am in no way sponsored, nor have I been approached by either of these manufacturers. I’m simply making an honest, heartfelt recommendation from the point-of-view of a very happy customer.
So the first of these manufacturers have gone with an ironic choice of name – but is one that thoroughly represents value and marries this with function, aesthetics and performance.
Enter Nitecore. For the price and the features, you get across an extremely healthy range of products you can’t really go wrong. I myself opted for their rechargeable headlamp NU30. Which is an extremely lightweight headlamp at around 85 grams that’s capable of pumping out 400 lumens with a throw distance of over 120 meters. Not only that but it comes with a potent red-light feature – so if you are planning on preserving your night vision as you run that after-dusk cross-country-dash, or need to maintain a low presence while fishing/nature watching or just want to be able to scare the hell out of your fellow campers with your nocturnal pranks – it’ll do so amicably.
Turbo mode (full brightness to us mere mortals) will last over an hour, but the next mode down from that pours a respectable 180 lumen will last for almost an entire day at 22 hours and dropping down to the lowest of the four brightness modes of just 1 lumen will give you around 330 hours or nearly 2 weeks of light before recharging is necessary. When paired with a power bank or portable solar charger, topping-up on-the-fly during the daytime is both more environmentally sustainable and significantly more cost-effective. The NU30 really does defeat the darkness.
Nitecore spread out their range of offerings across 6 key activity areas: Military, Law Enforcement, Search, Hunting, Every Day Carry (EDC) and Outdoor/Camping. The lighting solutions are tailored for these and offer a wide array of additional useful applications from selectable multi-colour outputs, strobe/SOS functions, extreme throw distances, intelligent recharge features, impact & weather resistance, self-defence etc. You can find out more by having a look at their website, where you can also find your nearest dealer.
If you need further testimony by way of an example of their flashlights – I also purchased a simple AA operated torch for everyday carry (EDC). Nitecore’s MT1A (Muti Task 1 AA battery operated torch) fits the bill perfectly – especially with regards to air travel. With a max output of 180 lumens and over a 100-meter throw, this normal, strobe/SOS functioned torch is small and perfectly formed. 55 grammes makes it lightweight and discreet enough to throw in your bag or stash in your pocket without being reminded that it’s there.
The second manufacturer that should equally be on your illuminated radar is Klarus.
Did you see the Mummy with Tom Cruise? Me neither, but that’s not Klarus’ fault.
That film featured Tom using one of their monster torches the RS80 which has a throw distance of nearly a kilometre. Which is probably essential when you’re a Scientologist and need to be able to communicate during that close encounter.
Asides from the unusual, highly niche offerings like the one above, Klarus has been making excellent, tough durable torches that are accessible to customers from all walks of life. I have a discontinued XT15 ‘Falcon’ tactical torch that impressed me from the instant with its magnetic charging, 400+ meter reach, solid construction, crenellated head for self-defence and instant strobe mode accessible via a separate tail cap button.
In other words, this torch has been my rock for everything from walking my dog, to exploring and hiking. I love it. So much so that I bought several slimmed down similar model for relatives. From the young adults to the pensioners in my family – they love their Klarus torches and by token only give my Nitecore investments the time-of-day, high praise indeed.
The Klarus product portfolio breaks down in a similar fashion to Nitecore’s with the same 6 fields, albeit military and law enforcement are grouped together, the new Diving field, encompasses their waterproof flashlight range.
What I really admire about Klarus is their dedication to evolving the platform and not just in terms of function but also aesthetics. They are progressive with changing consumer tastes and trends Manny of their ranges now include alternative build materials such as copper or titanium in addition to standard steels and aircraft grade aluminium.
The only downside is as a company they regularly update their product range, so if you take too long to secure one of their torches that takes your fancy early on, you may find that it won’t be around for long. Don’t be fooled. It’s not a reflection on quality or design standards either. All of the models I have purchased for family members are now discontinued – but they work just fine. That said, Klarus do a great job of tweaking the capabilities of their popular models with many of these returning as new and improved iterations of past versions.
You can check out their range and nearest retailer here.
Lastly, it’s work noting that both Nitecore and Klarus are keen developers and innovators of intelligent battery recharging solutions – devices that can ensure that batteries with varying different voltages etc. are optimally charged without incurring damage (overcharging) or insufficient charging (undercharged). Intelligent charging helps prolong the life of the batteries and safeguard their performance which in turn, improves the performance of the devices they are used in. All of this makes sense given the manufacturers’ end products. If these follow the tailcoats of their stellar lighting solutions then one can expect a reassuringly high standard throughout. As soon as feasible I’ll look into picking up a couple of these from both manufacturers and provide you with an enlightening (see what I did there?) update.