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Author of How to Prep When You’re Broke and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
Preppers are flashlight junkies. Most of us have dozens of additional light sources stashed in every room of our homes, our vehicles, our bags, and even our outbuildings. But “getting your fix” aside, you don’t want to waste money on less-than-useful lights. In this article, I’ll talk about my four favorite flashlights, where you can get them, and why I like them. I’ll also talk about the kind I don’t really care for, and why I don’t like them.
If you ever wanted to read an ode to flashlights, you’re in the right place.
A quick word on batteries
You know how families and prepper groups often like to coordinate their calibers so that everyone’s ammo is interchangeable? I do the same thing with batteries.
I only buy things that use AA or AAA batteries, and I prefer AA when I can find that. AAs are generally cheaper than AAAs.
This way, I only have to stock a couple of different types of batteries. I can buy in bigger bulk and save more money. I always, always buy name-brand batteries. They last longer in both your closet and the device you’re powering. Can you imagine going to your stash of batteries during an emergency only to find that they were no longer good?
First things first, I want to write a brief ode to the regular, old-fashioned flashlights like the ones my dad always kept around. I have five or six of these, and they can be purchased very inexpensively. They’re not durable enough to survive being dropped frequently, but having some simple lighting that you can stash in all your rooms is a great idea.
I like this set of four that takes my beloved AA batteries. And because it comes with enough batteries to power all four lights, you can get started without needing to break into your battery stash.
I have mini flashlights in every purse and bag I own. I also have a mini flashlight on my keychain. The idea that no matter where I am or what I have with me, there’ll be a light with me, provides a small layer of safety and security. And yes – lighting IS a safety issue. Imagine trying to navigate your escape in the dark if you happen to be in some kind of nighttime emergency. Unless you want to risk making matters worse by twisting your ankle, falling from a drop-off, or stumbling over an unseen obstacle, lighting is essential.
The ones in this set are extremely bright and powerful and take only a single AA battery apiece. They’re also tiny enough to tuck just about anywhere.
For my keychain (and those of my family members), I grabbed a set of these. They do NOT take the batteries I keep on hand but at the price they are and for the amount of time the original battery lasts, I treat them as disposable and replace them when the battery runs out. It actually would cost more to replace the battery than to replace the flashlight. It’s not very environmentally friendly but talk to the maker, not me.
There are rechargeable flashlights for your keychain, too. These are highly rated, adorably cute, and come in a big set of colors. However, I know that I’ll forget to recharge the light on my keys, so for me, this just isn’t a reliable option.
I have had the same spotlight flashlight for more than ten years. It has stood me well in the deep, dark Algonquin Forest in Ontario, Canada, the remote mountains of California, and to walk the dog at night in North Carolina and still be able to find the poop in the dark. These strong, sturdy lights have the benefit of illuminating things well for a longer distance and cast a broader circle of light. They aren’t meant to be used when you’re concerned about being seen, but if you want a good look at your surroundings on a very dark night, this is what you want.
Mine is an Energizer brand, the older version of this one, which is very reasonably priced and comes with batteries. I like that it uses AA like most of my other off-grid supplies. I keep it right by the door so that if I need to go outside in the middle of the night, or to see what’s outside, the light is right there.
My dad always kept a rechargeable version that plugged into the wall, but the modern ones all seem to be powered by USBs.
Finally, to round out my favored four, are headlamps. These are perfect for hands-free tasks when the power goes out so that you can do them without clenching a mini-flashlight in your teeth. I’ve used them to read, to do cross stitch, and to make meals in the dark. I’ve used them outdoors when I had to deal with livestock emergencies at night. (Although one comic moment comes to mind when my daughter and I were both outside looking for a missing hen, and we kept blinding one another when we’d talk because we’d try to make eye contact.)
Headlamps work for a long, long time on one battery, and they’re really useful.
Now, the elephant in the room for me is rechargeable flashlights.
I know lots of people love them and stock them. The nice thing is that most are now recharged by USB, and any solar phone charger will work to boost them back to full capacity. You no longer need the bulky battery chargers of the past to make them work.
But…here’s why I’m not a fan.
These rarely hold a charge as long as a battery does, and you can’t leave the items on the shelf and expect them to work in six months the way you can with a battery-operated device. Call me old-fashioned, but I really prefer battery-operated emergency lighting because it will be available when I need it. And if it’s not available when I need it – say my AA battery is kaput – then I can make it ready in a few seconds by replacing the battery. I don’t have to wait 20 minutes to a few hours to let it recharge.
But this is a personal decision and preference.
If you like rechargeables, all the lights I’ve discussed above come in USB-powered formats. I can’t recommend them because it’s not something I use, so carefully check the reviews before getting one, and be sure to have a way to recharge them in an emergency, like one of these solar power packs.
What is your favorite kind of flashlight?
What kind of flashlights do you keep on hand? Do you have an addition to my favorite four? Do you like all the types I mentioned here?
Let’s discuss flashlights in the comments section.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.