I carry a flashlight with me wherever I go. Why? Because it’s useful.
I never carried a dedicated flashlight, even something like a cheap little keychain fob LED. A couple years ago I started to carry one, and now I can’t live without it. You just don’t realize the utility and cannot appreciate it until you have one on you. There are more than enough times you’ll find yourself out and about, in a low light situation, and you will find it useful to have a light. Our eyes tend to work better that way. 🙂
The flashlight I carry is a SureFire E2L Outdoorsman.
I know. It’s boring. It’s not some tacti-cool flashlight like their Z2 or G2Z or the E2D Defender or 6P Defender. That’s OK and how I wanted it. I didn’t want a flashlight that draws attention. I wanted a flashlight I could take onto an airplane and have no one think twice about. I wanted a flashlight that I could pull out at a Scout campout and no parent or BSA policy would freak out over. I wanted a flashlight I could use on a daily basis, but that I could also use in a self-defense situation if necessary. I think the E2L fits that bill.
Many of the “tactical” flashlights are designed around a very powerful beam of light. That’s great for blinding people, for flooding an area with light. But what if you’re working on something close up? What if you’re out camping, it’s nighttime, you need to read a map. Having 100+ lumens reflecting off the map back into your eyes is not enjoyable. The E2L has two settings: a low power with 3 lumens, and a high power with 60. The low power is actually still fairly bright: shine it in someone’s eyes and they will be blinded; I’ve had it reflect off some close-up materials and still mess up my vision. The high power may not be as bright as some other flashlights, but it’s still amazingly bright. I recall on one campout using my E2L as a floodlight, holding it at arms length above my head, to light the way for a bunch of Cub Scouts and it lit up the pathway some nearly 100′ out like daylight. Another parent was using one of their cheap-o $2 special flashlights and it didn’t illuminate much past the end of their feet. So the variable light output is a big part of why I like this flashlight, because it enables more practical daily use.
The clip on the flashlight is also helpful as a daily flashlight. Just attach it to something like a hat brim and you’ve got hands-free light.
To use the flashlight in a self-defense context, I’ve found the flashlight works fine. It provides ample light, even if all you get is the low beam. In fact, to quickly switch from low to high beam is a mini strobe effect which at least when I’ve surprised some friends doing a quick “from darkness, to low beam to high beam” flicker has proven to be a bit more disorienting than just flashing to a single beam. I have not struck anyone or anything with the flashlight, but I feel that it could work fine for such a thing. The bezel doesn’t have the extreme crenellation the “Defender” flashlights have nor the added strengths of say the Pyrex window, but there’s a mild crenellation and certainly if the flashlight doesn’t survive the encounter I’m not going to sweat it too much… I can always buy another one afterwards.
I’ve been quite happy with the flashlight. I’ve tried using a more dedicated “tactical light” as a carry flashlight, but how often do you need such a thing? If you’re a police officer, perhaps so. But for private citizen me, most of my portable light needs are just daily needs to help me see where I’m going or what lurks in some dark area. I feel the SureFire E2L Outdoorsman provides me with a flashlight that addresses daily needs quite well, and doesn’t leave me feeling at any sort of disadvantage in other possible use areas.
Note: I’m not affiliated with SureFire. No compensation or anything for this. This is just private me talking about the gear I use.