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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Gear Review: High-Powered Flashlights

We tested four unique high-powered lights using lithium batteries for lightweight super power.

by: Joe Flowers (Text and Photos)

PAGE 1 2 3 4
Fenix MC10 Angle Light
Fenix MC10 Angle Light
Hugsby P2 and battery options
Hugsby P2 and battery options
Energizer Night Strike Compact Light
Energizer Night Strike Compact Light
Romisen MXDL RC-G2
Romisen MXDL RC-G2

Fenix MC10 Angle Light
The right-angle wonder

This light screams “neato” coming out of the box. The head moves back and forth on an axis to provide light while sitting on a surface or hanging in a tent; the flexing light can also attach to a pack strap or pocket. One button on top of the head flips on the light. While caving, it worked well for lighting lunch, and I just clipped it onto a branch when I was cooking in camp. The angle light has three levels of output, and two types of flashing modes, with the highest level being 125 lumens (the lowest is 5). When you run it at the lowest level it lasted the longest out of our testers. On the low level, with lithium batteries, the light lasted over 3 days while left on. On the high mode, it lasts about 1.5 hours.

The Specs
Weight: 2.6 oz. with lithium battery, 3 oz. with alkaline
Price: $54.95

PAGE 1 2 3 4

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Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Andy S.
Apr 02, 2013

I carry Armytek Predator and I'm happy that this light met all my needs. Variety of modes attracts me because I can choose any mode I need (for home, walking, my car). It's multifunctional light. As for me, $100 is not hight price for good well made flashlight. I prefer to buy one of the good quality than some cheaper lights.

Star Star Star Star Star
Dec 06, 2012

One can argue what sort of light is best (torch, headlamp, etc.) and one can argue how much "power" do you need when backpacking, but this article is a pretty good review considering the article is about high powered flashlights.

My $.02 worth: headlamps are hard to beat when backpacking (and once your eyes get acclimated to the darkness, you rarely need a ton of power).

Feb 22, 2012

$50 is not a lot of money for a good piece of gear.
I carry a $160 Surefire Fury everyday on my person. My pack has a $70 Surefire 6P, my emergency Get-Home-Bag that I keep in the car has a Surefire G2 that's around $60, and all my home defense weapons have Surefire weapon lights, one even being $750 with built in IR for use with night vision.
Flashlights is a very important part of your kit. I've seen cheaper lights break and fail under hard use and ruin trips.
I'll invest my money in a quality product that I know is bomb proof and will work every time I need it.

Feb 21, 2012

I just can't see spending $50 on a flashlight. I just can't do it.

Seems that Backpacker spends LOTS of time reviewing pricy and overpriced gadgetry. Why not find us some deals that are inexpensive AND noteworthy?

Feb 21, 2012

Useful reviews, good article.
Something to think about with the mini-mags - a company called Nite Ize make several LED upgrades and a "smart button" on/off switch for mini-mags that really improves their functionality. For less than $30 (at my local military post's shop) you can turn a trusty but dated min-mag into a much better flashlight.
Also, someone had commented that when you are camping there is no need for a 200 lumen flashlight... I'd say that a 200 lumen flashlight combined with pepper spray (for those who prefer to skip firearms) is better at deterring nocturnal four-legged campground visitors than pepper spray alone...

Jul 15, 2011

I have changed my mini mags xenon bulbs two times.
I have three maglites. Do u know the bulb only last 400HRS? The two AA mini is only 12 lumens for six hrs.I have stop using the older mini mags.

Mar 30, 2011

I'm amazed at the astounding number of flashlight gizmos promoted out there for backpackers.

I'm an ARMY Vet of 13.5 years, mostly in the Infantry, and there's only one flashlight I've ever needed.

It's a Mini-Maglite. Very durable, very water resistant, comes with a lanyard and extra LED bulb, lighter in weight than most of the highly advertised ones, is adjustable from a highbeam spotlight to a dimmer wide swath beam of light, and can be used as a candle for times when too much light will bother others simply by removing the front cover.

You also can find them in a variety of colors, with or without a carying pouch, and with or without a selection of colored interchangable lenses.

They also come in a variety of sizes for varying needs. Mine have been repeatedly droped on rocks, droped off of cliffs, soaked for days in rain, been dunked in the ocean, used in the desert and below freezing conditions, and have even been run over by military vehicles. I've never had one break. EVER!

My only reason for having ever bought more than one is from loosing them which happened about every 5 years. I've never personaly even had to replace a bulb.

That's why the Military, most police departments, and emergency services departments use them.

They also work quite well with rechargable batteries as long as the batteries are good quality ones.

BONUS: They're "truely" fairly inexpensive.

I carry only a Petzl e+lite headlamp which has a 10 year warranty and a Mini-Maglite and neither has ever left me wanting, or needing anything else.

Try it, you might find that you never need to look further.

Mar 29, 2011

If you want a cheap, lightweight, water-resistant, dependable flashlight, pick up a Life Gear Glow 200-hr. Flashlight at Target. They're less than $10 and weigh an once or two.

Mar 29, 2011

Someone commented about an external frame that "still works, but just isn't used anymore". Well that external frame weighs 3.5 lbs and the fancy internal frame weights 5 lbs. You are hiking, not going out on the town.

Mar 29, 2011

Pelican or Hubbell flashlights are the best. Drop them and they still work. Waterproof, not resistant, to 100 feet. Great beamspread unlike the Maglite.

Mar 29, 2011

Interesting test, but with so many other good LED lights available that last for 20+ hours and are reasonably priced, why bother?
Mar 25, 2011

Nice post.Flashlight helps a lot specially when emergency comes.It is very useful to us.Finding the right tools to use is what I have found that will surely guide you to choose properly specially the best flashlight you want that will use for a long period of time.

Feb 14, 2011

@ sean-maglites are cheap, bombproof lights with a thoughtful design and a pretty diehard fanbase. the minimag is an awesome little light. they'll be around for a while more, mostly because common sense still exists. hows that? you don't need 200 lumens to do camp chores, and you never have. you don't need to drop money on short-life, high-priced lithium batteries because you don't need self-defense-o-m-g-are-you-holding-the-sun-in-your-hand-right-now when you backpack. you need a headlamp. or a small, rugged LED flashlight. with battery life and sufficient brightness.

also, if we're talking about ridiculously overpowered lights, why the surefire snub? unnecessary, but cool as sh%$*

Feb 01, 2011

The Fenix LD20 is what I carry for hand held and princeton Tec H2O 1M is what I use for my headlamp. I own at least 4 of each. Keeping them in my Jeeps, multiple packs, tool box and at work. Both of these lights are regulated, giving the same brightness and use AA or AAA batteries. I have Surefire and Mag but there going to garage sale. I give Fenix LD10 to the ladies for a gift. Fenix is pricey but better deal if you figure in batteries for Surefire ($5 each) and are far brighter than any Maglite.

Feb 01, 2011

The MC-10 are awesome lights. I use one regularly, the multi-output can't be beat. I do have a singular caution, however. The light switch can be activated by static electricity. Carrying one of these in your front pants pocket, particularly in blends or all synthetic fabrics can activate the light and cause you to unknowningly to burn out the battery. Simply put the light in a dfferent place.

MiniMags are such poor lights I can't believe anyone would even mention them. Maglights lost their oomph 20 years ago and are so far behind in features and technology that they will be hard pressed to ever be a factor in personal lighting again.

Feb 01, 2011

Coleman makes a line of Cree lights that are milled aluminum and start at $28.00. I gave their 120 lumen model as stocking stuffers last year and have 2 at my house. They compare favorably to the 75.00 light I was given as a gift and come in AAA or lithium models.

Chris O.
Feb 01, 2011

Fenix makes the Fenix Headband which allows you to mount nearly all Fenix lights to a headband / headlamp system. It only costs about 20 USD and allows you to mount as many as 2 lights to the headband system. I use mine with a Fenix PD30 and a Streamlight PT1L, I typically only bring one or the other with me when going out of doors, but if I were going to do night hiking it may be beneficial to have both. The Fenix MC-10 has 3 brightness levels, 5 output settings, and has a clip on the back that would allow it to easily clip to any headband, or shirt pocket, or belt - or even from a lanyard around your neck. Not to mention it would be very well suited for standing up and pointing at an area you required light, and both hands. The battery life would outlast any Xenon lamp, and the brightness would be far superior to 3 or even 9 non-CREE LEDs.

shawn hill
Feb 01, 2011

The Fenix MC10 Angle Light is an interesting concept but can't beat a regular headlamp, which also is positionable and lights up whatever area you turn your head towards. And you don't have to worry about being in the dark when you stop in front of your flashlight that you hung on a tree branch.

E Nelson
Feb 01, 2011

These flashlights might be rugged and bright, but you still have to hold on to them with your hands or your teeth. Either way, a headlamp is still the best way to go, and my BD lamp has a very strong Xenon bulb coupled with the triple LED for long use. My headlamp goes with me everywhere.

Chris O.
Jan 28, 2011

Fenix lights are incredible lights, to lump them into a group with Maglite is an insult. They use high performance CREE LED bulbs which boast high output with excellent battery life with a much more usable beam throw. Its like comparing $10 liquor store knives to Emerson folders. People should be less worried about cost and more worried about value.

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