Tech improvements in LED lights and batteries open a new era in lighting gear.
A few years ago, the American National Standards Institute, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and representatives from more than a dozen makers of portable lights agreed to a set of performance standards now codified into the ANSI/NEMA FL1 basic performance standard. Now you can look at the package of a light, lantern or headlamp and see how it rates on brightness (lumens), range of beam, run time, water resistance, and a whole set of other features that will help you determine which is the light to buy for your purpose.
The new LED bulbs that manufacturers use in these lights run cooler, use less energy and throw light that heightens color better than conventional incandescent bulbs. Cree is a leading manufacturer of LEDs, and innovative applications for the field are coming rapidly. Manufacturers say that these LEDs are lifetime bulbs; they’ll never need replacing. At least you can rest assured that they’ll be more dependable than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, and that dependability is kind of clutch when it comes to a light source. See slideshow below.
The Coleman Max Ultra High Power Flashlight CT-50
500 lumens Range: 850 feet Burn time: 6 hours, 30 minutes Runs on Cree LEDs on 6 AAAs This is a great, high-power light for transporting afield and for camping. This baby is heavy for packs, but great for cabins, trucks and stationary tent camping. That beam range of 850 feet is close to three football fields in length. Impact resistant to 2 meters. IPX4 water resistant rated, which means that it can be splashed from all directions, but don’t let it sink into water at all. $59.99
With this portable, recharging solar-power cell, you can charge USB-port devices like the ARKA, cell phones and tablets—anywhere you can get the sun power. Keep a BoostSolar on your boat and you’ll never have a dead cell phone, or strap a BoostSolar to your pack out in the field and you’ll have enough power to keep your cameras, phones and anything else going. The portable power pack has a 5000 mAh lithium battery which will charge fully in 30 hours in the sun. It has a 5V/2A USB port for charging most mobile devices and tablets. The BoostSolar also works as a portable battery pack—kept in your car or boat, it can recharge multiple backup batteries. It weighs 11.7 ounces and is roughly 6 x 6 inches. It’s IPX-4 splashproof and is ruggedly built with caribiner clips. $99.99
Princeton Tec Amp1L
45 lumens Burn Time: 72 hours Power: 2 AAA batteries Here’s a handy, mobile light source—a small, lightweight (57 grams) flashlight with a carabiner clip that doubles as a bottle opener. It’s meant to hang handy off a carabiner clip or in a small pocket of your pack—ultimately transportable. The Amp 1L is waterproof for exterior exposure and it has a snap-on cone to amplify its light for area lighting or to use as a marker light. $12.50
UCO ARKA USB Lantern and Light
180 lumens Range: 250 feet Power: 4AH Li-Ion battery Burn Time: 50 hours on low beam Here’s where the technology is up to the minute—a completely rechargeable light. The UCO ARCA lantern functions as a flashlight, lantern, portable charge station and an emergency light, with a strobe function. Smartphones, cell phones, GPS units and digital cameras can be charged by a USB cord from the Arka. Pull out the cone and it’s a lantern; collapse it and it’s a flashlight. The light has 5 lighting modes, plus 3 red LEDs for night vision. Plug USB charge cord into a normal electrical outlet to recharge. The Arka has enough charge to power an iPhone and also provide light for hours. It has a built-in clip for hanging from tents or clothing and a water resistance rating of IPX 5 (highly water resistant). For more information, check out www.industrialrev.com. Industrial Revolution is a cool company with a lot of good, innovative outdoors and survival gear. $69.99
TerraLUX LightStar80 LED flashlight
80 max lumens Power: 2 AAA batteries This light is for close work and short-range illumination. There’s a bite grip on the handle to slip and hold light between your teeth for hands-free use. Good for work in tight spaces or for tying knots on boats, among other scenarios. Water resistant and its long, narrow-diameter cylindrical shape makes for good illumination use in tight spaces, like electrical boxes. Fittingly, the light has a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) which is the light’s ability to render color true—as they appear in natural light. That’s pretty important if you’re in the dark working on electrical systems with color-coded wires. $29.99 TerraLux also sells LED conversion kits for your existing flashlights if you like a light and want to bring it up to speed with the next technology. Check out www.TerraLUX.com. For a strong, handheld outside light, you’ll want to hold at least 500 lumens power. Headlamps with their pinpoint beams are good from 50 lumens up, but when you want to illuminate the night—whatever you’re looking for, or whether you want someone to see you—you want power and range that 500 lumens produces.
UCO Clarus LED Lantern
150 Max lumens Range: 50 meters Power: 3 AAA batteries. This light source has a handy and useful design. Pull out its white, telescoping dome, stand it upright on its steady base and the flashlight turns into a lantern with a wide beam, good for lighting a desk or tent or part of a powerless cabin. Slide the dome down to flashlight mode and the unit shines a more focused beam. This unit is lightweight, fits well in the hand and is a good choice for backpacking and hiking gear, with recessed D-ring for clipping to clothes or gear. And importantly, it seems to last forever on its three AAAs. With a dimming switch, highly water resistant. You’ll find uses for this light you didn’t know you had. $19.99
Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp
165 Lumens Burn Time: 150 Hours Power: 3 AAA batteries A headlamp is essential gear for outdoors action—for hands-free knot tying at night, for lighting the way while carrying gear through a trail and for navigating out of a dark house before anyone else is awake. Princeton Tec is a leader in making headlamps, and the VIZZ is their newest—a compact, powerful model with three beam profiles for varied lighting needs: spot beam, flood beam and red light for night vision. These are rugged—practically indestructible—and super convenient lights. Indispensable. $43.95
Princeton Tec League 100 Dive Light
210 lumens Burn Time: 10 hours Power: 4 AA batteries Here’s a grippy, waterproof dive light well-shaped for the hand to help you scout for lobster or light your vision of the dark spaces beneath those coral heads. It has a built-in strap loop and lanyard. The League 100 has the highest of Princeton Tec’s waterproof ratings, Level 3. That is equivalent to IPX8 in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. Level 3-rated lights provide waterproof integrity for continual submersion in water at depths down to 100 meters. $44.99
The TerraLUX Infinistar DR, Rechargeable LED Flashlight
1,000 lumens Range: 705 feet Battery: Li-Ion 7.4V Burn time 2 hours The TerraLUX Infinistar DR is, well, stellar. The beauty is you charge this with the charger from an AC outlet directly to the light with the battery installed. The charge port lets you know when it’s charged and you’ve got all the power you need. For home use and limited outdoor use (that 2-hour battery charge) you can’t beat this light. Body made of aircraft grade aluminum. You’ll likely never need a new battery, or likely, a new flashlight to replace this one. $249.99
Mr. Beams UltraBright Lantern
Mr. Beams has taken the utility of a camping lantern and updated it with the latest LED technology and USB charging port capability. The result is a very bright portable light that can charge a smartphone in just a few hours with a design that is attractive enough for a kitchen counter, but durable enough to withstand any outdoor activity.
The Mr. Beams UltraBright Lantern is one of the brightest on the market. It provides 260 lumens of light, lasting over 30 hours; making it an excellent emergency light replacement for prolonged power outages. The UltraBright Lantern also charges USB capable devices with a built in USB output port. With this feature you can easily charge your electronics on the go by plugging a USB cord into the USB Port. The Mr. Beams UltraBright Lantern can power three full smartphone charges and provide 15 hours of light using one set of 4 D-Cell batteries. The Mr. Beams UltraBright Lantern also has a night light mode allowing users to lower light output to 20 lumens for sleeping or extending batteries in the event of an emergency.
The Mr. Beams UltraBright Lantern weighs 12 ounces, is 7.25 inches tall and 3 inches wide. Available in White (MB480) and Green (MB470), the Mr. Beams UltraBright Lantern has an MSRP of $39.99. For more information and purchasing, visit: www.mrbeams.com.