Which light is best for you? It’s safe to say almost every household has a flashlight, but when it comes to the range of lighting products available, does the one you buy really make a difference?
Essentially, yes. Although all of the lighting products on the market provide light, their benefits vary greatly. Over the last few years there has been a particular rise in product choices in this category, so here are the 3 questions you need to ask before determining which lighting product is best for you and your lifestyle:
1. Which activity will you be mostly using your lighting product for? E.g running at night, at home in case the power goes out, etc
2. Will you benefit more from a flashlight or headlamp for your chosen activity? E.g it is uncomfortable to run holding a flashlight, so a headlamp would be a stronger choice.
3. Do you want a rechargeable or non-rechargeable product? E.g if you go camping there likely won’t be power point to recharge, whereas at home this wouldn’t be an issue.
Then, once you have a clearer idea of what style suits your personal situation, here are the most common terms that are used (and what they mean) to help you crystal your choice even more:
Lumens (lm) – The amount of light you see from a light source. The higher the lumen, the more brightness you will see. E.g a 500lm torch will be brighter than a 200lm torch. See lux vs lumens.
Beam Distance – This is measured in metres and is how far the light beam will shine before it starts to diminish. The distance will vary depending on which light mode you are in (low, mid, high, boost etc). The maximum beam distance a torch will usually be advertised next to the product.
Run time – The run time will be calculated by each individual setting in the product. So a low beam will have more run time and a high beam will have less run time, simply because you are needing more energy to create a brighter light and the battery will run low faster. The run time usually advertised is the run time when the torch is in low setting.
IP Rating (Ingress Protection) – Is the protection the torch will have against dust and water. The first number will be the protection level against dust (6 is the highest) and the second number will be protection against water (9 is the highest), the higher the numbers, the better the protection. If you see an X next to IP rating, as an example like IPX4, the X in this case represents dust as it is where the first number should be, and the X means this product does not have a rating for dust.
Now that you know everything you need to make the best choice, below are the 5 most common reasons people need to use a torch or headlamp and our recommendations:
General Use around the home
For anything around the home, it’s best to have a product that is easy to use, small, and lightweight. You won’t necessarily need a flashlight with all the bells and whistles, but you want something that is durable and has a good battery life plus is cheap to run in the long term. If you prefer a torch option we recommend a P7, or if you prefer a headlamp option the MH3 is for you.
If you are looking for a light to use on adventures, or around campsites, you need a product that has long run time, is bright enough to light up anything in front of you, and something you can see far into the distance with. The most popular item for this type of activity for a torch is the MT10, or if you prefer the headlamp option go for the MH11. See our review of the best lights for backpacking and our hiking tips.
Work Environments (Trade)
In work environments your product likely needs increased durability and to be more robust. You can look for specific products that have added protection (like rubber end caps or roll protectors), or easy to use switches so if you are wearing gloves you can still use the product to its full potential. Something to also consider is a rechargeable option that is compatible with alkaline batteries, so if you run out of battery and don’t have access to a power supply, you can simply add in alkalines to get you out of trouble. For this, the i7R is perfect, or for the headlamp option choose the IH9R.
When looking for an everyday carry option – whether it’s something to keep in your bag or car – a small and lightweight product is the way to go. It is important to have an item that is simple to use and has an easy to access switch so you can quickly light up the footpath or any obstacles infront of you. A great option for this is the K4R which also comes with SOS mode for emergencies. See everyday essential lighting.
Thinking forward and having an emergency plan or kit is a smart idea. A light is something that should be in everyone’s emergency kit at home, at work or in the car. It doesn’t need to be the brightest light out there, but enough to get you out of trouble. Having a product that has a rechargeable option that is compatible with alkaline batteries, so there are no issues if a power source isn’t available (in a blackout as an example), is crucial. A good choice for this scenario is the ML6 Lantern which is rechargeable but is also compatible with 2 x CR123A batteries and has SOS mode plus a battery life of 70 hours.
Now that you are more familiar with the various types, styles, and the pros and cons of each, we hope you find the perfect lighting product for you!