The choice is huge. There are big flashlights. There are heavy flashlights. They can have different light output, beam distance and durability. These are all factors to consider when purchasing a flashlight. To help, we have created this guide.
The following performance factors help classify flashlights.
Lumens are the measure of brightness. The rating on the packaging of the flashlight will tell the highest brightness setting powered by new batteries.
The beam distance is measured in meters. It is the max range at which the beam shines light equivalent to a full moon on a target. The light of a full moon is considered to be safe for travel outdoors.
There are multiple beam types. The two main ones are flood and spot. Flood covers a larger area whereas spot is pinpointed. Sometimes the beam is adjustable. Make sure to play around with the setting to see just how pinpointed the beam can get. The more focused the light, the further away it is seen.
Run time is measured by checking how long it takes the light output to drop 10% of the rated output of new batteries, rounded to the nearest quarter hour. Light output may vary over time.
It measures how high of a fall the flashlight can survive. Lights with a certain rating have been tested by dropping the flashlight onto concrete 6 times from the rated height. The rating is given in meters.
The IPX system is used here. If something has a water only rating - it is written as IPX6 (if the water rating is 6). If it has a dust rating, it is written in the X spot. For example a rating of IP56 has a dust rating of 5 and a water resistance rating of 6. A water resistance rating of 6 will protect from powerful water jets; it is basically waterproof. A water resistance rating of 8 can handle submersion in water over 3 feet up to 4 hours.
The Color Rendering Index is rated from 0 to 100 percent. It shows how accurate a given light source is at rendering colour when compared to a reference light source. Light sources with a high CRI reveal the original colors of the object better. This may be important if you’re interested in photography.
LED colour temperatures can be divided into three types of light: white light, neutral white and warm white. White light is the coolest tone while warm light is the warmest. Neutral white is somewhere in the middle. Neutral white has high CRI which means it reduces eye strain. It also has low colour temperature and long wavelength which allows it to penetrate rainy and foggy weather, and its high luminous efficiency also saves battery power. It is recommended to use neutral white lights in harsh outdoor situations.
If regulated output is mentioned it means a steady brightness level throughout the use of the flashlight. As the battery diminishes in power - the flashlight keeps nearly the same brightness. Unregulated lights give off light proportional to the battery level, meaning they grow dimmer with time.
A wide beam is preferred so you could see the immediate area around you. You’re going to want to keep your hands free to manage the dog so look for a lanyard. Choose a compact size flashlight. You can keep it in your pocket if needed.
A light with a dual distance beam is a great idea as you need to see the ground ahead and just ahead of the front tire. You’re going to want to make sure it is easy to mount. An indicator would be something to consider so that other people on the road see you.
Make sure it has IPX8 in case of bad weather. A lantern style is great to use in a tent or around your camp.
A tailcap switch is useful for one-handed operation. A strobe setting to disorient the perpetrators. A reinforced bezel would be useful in various applications such as smashing windows.