Badass flashlights are a dime a dozen. These three flashlights are the best of the lot, from tiny EDC to lighting a bait-sniffing coyote up 200 yards away.
My wife says I have a problem. She has asked me (more than once) if I was locked in a dark closet for an extended period of time during my formative years. She questions why I ask her to grab CR123A batteries. She gets irritated when her had scrapes against a clip on the side of my pocket. I get looked at funny when I express my enthusiasm when the power goes out. I know I'm weird, but I've taken the first step with admitting my issue: My name is Drew, and I have a flashlight addiction.
I love them all. Little tiny keyring lights. Belt-clip EDC lights. Headlamps. Big-ass 5-D cell 1990's cop Maglights. Gimme gimme gimme!
However, I came to the realization the other day that I don't need any more - personally. (But going forward, I'll just, y'know, buy more for my family. Just in case.) My illumination needs are set. I've found the perfect illumination triumvirate that truly covers all my needs and makes me feel warm and fuzzy... and I bet they'll be a great combo for you, too. Most every situation you might need a light for (save area illumination like a lantern) is, in my eyes, taken care of with these three dynamite lights. Let's take a look!
The Streamlight Microstream is one of those flashlights I keep coming back to. A tiny bugger of a flashlight at 3 ½ inches long and under two ounces in weight with a battery, the Microstream offers performance all out of proportion to its diminutive size.
The Microstream utilizes a single AAA battery to power its LED bulb for over two hours of runtime.. The light throws a brighter-than-you'd think 28 lumen white light beam with a hot spot that is rather focused. The body of the Streamlight Microstream is black anodized aluminum, with a push-button on/off tailcap so you can use the light single-handed. Rounding out the features is a stellar steel two-way clip that allows you to secure the Microstream to your pants pocket, as well as on the brim of a baseball cap to use as a headlamp.
I've used Microstreams for years now, with my only complaint being that they're so small, they're easy to lose! Once I lose one, I usually seek out a different single-AAA LED light (Such as the Fenix LD02 and Surefire Titan) to try out and see what other offerings are out there. However, I always come back around to the Microstream. I feel naked without one clipped on the inside of my pants pocket. They are, quite frankly, the perfect Every Day Carry light.
I originally heard about the Hybridlight Journey series of flashlights while listening to The Survivalist Podcast on my way to work one day. A gentleman on the podcast was talking about illumination, and practically swooned over the Hybridlight Journey flashlight. My internal flashlight geek started drooling; I ordered one up immediately.
I received a Hybridlight Journey 160, a medium-sized number that appeared, well, unremarkable at first glance. However, the Journey 160 has a few tricks up its sleeve that will appeal to outdoorsmen, survivalists/preppers, and run-of-the-mill individuals alike. You see, Hybridlight is a company that pays its bills by offering innovative solar-powered illumination products for extremely reasonable prices. Yes, a solar-powered light. You read that correctly!
The Hybridlight Journey 160 is a fully waterproof, high/low/strobe 160-lumen LED flashlight that boasts an integral solar panel that can be used to charge the flight's enclosed 2,400 mAh lithium-ion battery. That battery will hold a charge for up to seven years (!) without needing a top-off. The uber-tough plastic housing keeps the weight down to just over a quarter pound - only 4.5 ounces. But that's not all - unscrew the O-ring sealed tailcap of the Journey Hybridlight 160 and you'll find a surprise - a standard USB port you can use to plug in charging cables to charge your smartphones and other devices. The Journey 160 also has a Micro-USB port that you can use to plug the flashlight into an external power source so you can top off the Journey's battery before you head out the door.
The Journey 160 will fully charge itself in direct sunlight, but it needs several hours to do so. A full charge will net you 25 hours of light when the light is used on the low setting. The Journey 160 will automatically save 20% of its battery for illumination purposes, so if you use the light to charge a phone in the dark, you can rest assured that you'll still have illumination juice left to get you through the night's trips to the outhouse. Drop it in the water? No problem! It floats, too.
The Journey 160 is my go-to flashlight to keep in my pack when I head out in the woods. 160 lumens is plenty for almost anything you'll need it for, and the self-charging capability means no spare batteries are required to pack along. If my phone goes down while using the GPS or taking pictures of a kill or catch, I can simply plug it into the USB port on the Journey 160 and top it off. I keep one in my glove compartment of my car as well, and toss it on the dashboard to charge via the solar panel while I'm at work so I know I'll always have a topped-off light in case of emergency. A Journey 160 will cost you about 30 bucks on Amazon... and it'll probably be the best 30 bucks you've ever spent in your entire life.
Fenix TK20R: $100
Saving the beast for last: the Fenix TK20R is a brute of a flashlight that is likely overkill for the vast majority of situations you'd need a flashlight for. The TK20R uses a CREE XPL HI LED bulb to throw a toast-making 1000 lumens of light over 1000 feet. A gray button on the light casing provides the brightness settings - turbo/high/medium/low/strobe. Weighing in at close to a half-pound with an 18650 battery, the Fenix TK20R is ridiculously overbuilt. I'm not terribly willing to try, but if you had to bludgeon an elk to death with a flashlight, I'm betting the 6-inch long, 1-inch wide machined aluminum TK20R would get the job done.
The real reason I love this light is not just its sheer lighting horsepower, but because it is easily rechargeable. There is a Micro USB port in the tailcap that allows one to plug the Fenix TK20R into an external power source using a provided cable, and charge the provided 2,900 mAh 18650 battery. Heck, you could plug your Fenix TK20R into your Hybridlight Journey 160 to charge! Fenix has also introduced 18650 batteries that have their own Micro USB ports, so once your TK20R is charged up, you can charge a second battery to carry with you for emergency illuminaton needs. (CR123A batteries can be used, too.) You may not need the extra battery, though: if you don't use the brutal 1000 lumen "Turbo" setting, you can expect longer run times on a single charge. For instance, if you bring the power level to the 150-lumen "medium" setting, you can expect runtimes of over 10 hours on a single charge. The juice-sipping 10-lumen "low" setting will give you over 135 hours of run time.
With a standard 1" body and tailcap operation, the TK20R is a shoe-in for weapon-mounted light duty. However, mine does nightstand duty so I can illuminate things that go "bump" in the night - in the yard of the neighbors three houses down (if needed.) It also makes the rounds with me while walking the dog at night, lest I be surprised by a skunk or rabid critter. The TK20R's included pocket clip allows the TK20R to slip in a pocket if needed, but the light is better suited in a belt pouch due to its size. The TK20R also boasts strike bezels for defensive striking as well as blinding light use; this makes the TK20R a great choice for purse or messenger bag carry. While the Fenix TK20R isn't cheap at around $100, you can rest assured it will last you a long, long time.
Pro tip: join the Fenix mailing list, and receive an online coupon for 20% off with free shipping on your first order - it's how I got mine!
An Illuminating Argument
There are approximately, by rough count, one bazillion other high-quality flashlights out there to fill a variety of roles. The beauty of this availability is the personalization for you. Size, material, operation mode, brightness, clip design, battery use - all these options are available for you to peruse through to figure out the flashlight that will work best for you and all your needs. However, take it from a self-proclaimed flashlight nerd - these three phenomonal lights are among the best of the best at their intended roles, and are worth every penny of your hard earned dollars.