Archive for the ‘Flashlights’ Category

Fenix MC10 Anglelight

April 19, 2010

The Fenix MC10 Anglelight has become my favorite flashlight.  Out of the maybe 10 flashlights I own it’s my favorite.  Although it is expensive with a cost of around $50.   At 125 lumens on the highest setting it’s real bright.  The MC10 runs on only one AA battery.  You can’t put lithium batteries in it for some reason.  It is very small too with a 4″ length and width of maybe 1 1/2″. You know when you get a quality tool or a well made firearm?  You know how you can feel high quality engineering?  That’s the feeling this itsy bitsy light sends.  The particulars of why this pretty light won my heart:

  • It has a clip on it like the old GI anglelights.   Unlike the clips on the old Army lights though this clip is a real grabber.  The other nice feature that someone obviously thought of with the clip is that it turns a full 360′ around the flashlight.  This means that you can clip it to just about anything and turn the light to face in the direction you want.  Got that?  Because the clip rotates you can clip the light to the inside of a pocket so if it falls off it falls into your pocket.  Clip it to the inside of you jeans pocket, point it at the ground and both hands are still free.
  • The head of the light tilts from 45′ down to 45′ up.  So you can clip the light to your pack or a pocket and pivot the light down towards the trail or set it on the ground (yes it stands on its base) and point the light up at whatever you may be working on.
  • It’s waterproof to a degree.  It ain’t a dive light, but it won’t melt in the rain either.
  • It has a bunch of settings – high, medium and lo and then a sos and fast strobe.   Switching between settings is a little tough.   You first set the main function i.e. constant or strobe then you hold down the switch to change between the setting within that function.  Get that you hold it down to switch between settings.  Strange.
  • It has a built in metal loop so you can hang it and it also has a place where you could attach a lanyard.
  • The other kind of neat little feature is that it has sort of a lens cap that when you flip down diffuses the light from spotlight to flood.

Anyways, the MC10 is pretty small, very bright and adaptable to meet almost any need.  If I could only bring one flashlight and size was a factor (Anyone who says size isn’t a factor is a liar.  Haha.) this would be the light.  But ask me the same question bout a gun and it’d be my S&W 317.  In this picture here if you look closely you can see that the little lens cover light diffuser is flipped up.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!

Went to a local farm where they have a section set up to nurse sick animals back to life and I saw this nice set of  hooters. It is a beautiful time of year in New England.  This a picture taken from the top of a little knob. It’s a big sky day.

You wouldn’t know it by looking but there are hundreds of thousands of people between here and the horizon.

Advertisements

Night vision

July 8, 2009

If the first thing that you thought of when you read the title was night vision goggles or sights (it was wasn’t it?) then, IMHO, you may be relying too much on technology and not enough on developing your own skills and body.  No it’s not what you think, Gen 25.4 thermal infrared high-tech, big military contractor big bucks stuff.  Night vision for us po’ boys is what happens after you’ve been out in the woods under the stars for a few minutes.  It’s the natural adjustment of your eyes to limited light.  It’s great if you can afford the big ticket battery operated stuff, but seeing how I can’t, this entry will be about the free night vision.  This isn’t to disparage the high tech, but batteries die, goggles get lost or left behind and equipment breaks.  Sure it’s great to have a GPS unit, but you should also have a compass, be able to find direction with an analog watch or by tracking the sun.  Get my drift?  Learn to rely on your body’s natural responses.

When you get out from under artificial lighting at night your eyes will start to adjust to the darkness so that you can see better.  It takes a couple of minutes to start the process and after about 25 minutes your eyes will be fully adjusted.  Even on real dark moonless nights your eyes will adjust as best they can.

The first thing you need to do if you find yourself outside at night is to stop.  Stop walking.  Stop moving.  Stop and give your eyes 2-3 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

If the lights ever go out due to EMP, solar flares or more pedestrian causes like equipment failure or thunderstorms you should be used to moving around in the darkness.  If you spend all of your life, 24/7, under artificial lights and sitting in front of a TV or computer screen then if you find yourself in drowning in the dark you may feel uncomfortably blind, or worse, maybe even freak out.  You should spend enough time in the dark, that you are used to the dark, both physically and psychologically.   Just like exercise makes a body strong, spending time in the dark will make the darkness your friend.

One of the best ways to do this is to get out and walk at night.  You also need to practice walking in woods at night without lights, because if you can do that under a dark sky and be comfortable, then you can walk on a street or sidewalk in the dark too.  When is the last time you made a point of getting out at night? Now it is summer now.  It’s a great time to get out and ramble the woods and meadows. Get out and listen to the creatures of the night.  Get used to finding your way at night without light.  Learn to embrace the dark.  Your world is dark for half of your life so get used to it and use it to your advantage.

When I ski in the woods at night, very rarely do I put my headlamp on.  If there is snow on the ground it helps to reflect the ambient light.  With a moon and snow on the ground sometimes it is so bright that I cast a shadow.

As long as you walk with the aid of lights your eyes will never adjust to the darkness and you’ll miss seeing the world around you.

One problem with using lights at night is that it sets your night vision right back to zero.   Another problem is that a flashlight or headlamp will light you up at night like a Christmas tree.  If you are walking at night and using a flashlight, I’m also out walking, but I won’t be using a flashlight.  I’ll be able to see you walking with your artificial cone of light from hundreds of yards away.  You might as well be wearing a glow in the dark bullseye.  Even better if you have a headlamp on, then all someone need do is aim two feet down from that and….

If you are out walking at night using your flashlight and you come upon someone else walking don’t shine light in other peoples’ eyes.  It will ruin their night vision and piss them off.  If I’m out doing my own thing, minding my business, enjoying the woods, of course I won’t be using a flashlight to light my way.  I’ll have one (or many more) just in case, but I won’t have it on.  Please if you come upon me don’t shine your stinking bright light in my eyes.  Don’t be rude, either shut your light off or point in down at the ground while we pass each other.  Most likely I’ll see you coming from far away because of your cone of light and I’ll step off the trail into the woods.  I’ll be quiet and just allow you to pass right on by.  You’ll never even see me.

I can’t count the times I’ve been in the woods at night and seen and heard bright and loud people coming my way and I have just ducked off the trail a couple of feet and laugh silently as they obliviously walk right on past me. You’ll never even know that I’m there watching you, unless I choose to let myself be known.  Don’t be ignorant of your surroundings.  Keep those flashlights and headlamps off while walking at night. So get out and practice.  Get used to walking in the dark without the use of battery powered technology.

GET OUTSIDE EVERY NIGHT!!!

Okay, the digital camera is MIA so we got some old night pictures to post.  Here is Running Bear taking a breather while SKIING AT NIGHT SANS LIGHT.

Snow5And here is another buddy with Green Eyed Dog getting ready to take the downhill WITHOUT ARTIFICIAL LIGHT.  The only light is the flash from the camera.  Trust me this grade is much steeper than it looks, and it’s on cross country skis, at night, without flashlight.

ns2Just do it.  Get out there at night without headlamp or flashlight.  Wait a minute or two for your eyes to adjust and learn to be as comfortable walking around in darkness as you are during the day.

Let there be light

January 24, 2009

Here’s another gear review.  This entry will be about flashlights.  Please note that I do not have any advertisements on the blog so I am free to give my truthful opinion as I am beholden to no advertisers.   I don’t think it’s necessary to spend $100 or $200 on a good flashlight.  BTW if you have stuff to add, if I made any mistakes or you have any recommendations, please post a comment and I’ll add it into this entry so we can get a real good flashlight article going.

Just some background for beginners-

Basically three different types of bulbs:

  • Filament – these are the old fashioned bulbs, with the little filament wire that glows, they use a lot of juice, I don’t think they’re very bright, they cast kind of a yellowish glow, generally don’t last a long time and are sensitive to shock, as your batteries die the light from these bulbs really weakens.
  • Xenon – I think this is a gas that they pump into the bulb, it glows brighter than a regular filament bulb
  • LED – a computer chip controls how much juice these use, batteries will last ten times longer with an LED light than a filament bulb, because there’s a chip a lot of them have multiple settings, LEDs will last for up to 10,000 hours, I think the new LED’s are real bright.  Some cast a yellow light and others a whitish light, because there’s a chip as the batteries die the level of light remains pretty constant.  The really paranoid (me among them) know that LEDs are sensitive to EMP attack so we have different type of bulbs…I’m not….. saying anything…but….just in case.

And without further adieu…..

First up is an Underwater Kinetics four C light.

p22This is really a nice rugged light.  You operate it with a switch under the lens.  It’s a light made for SCUBA diving so it is as waterproof as waterproof can be.  The strap is also rugged with a rubber sleeve over it.  As I said, it takes four C cells so it’s kind of heavy.  The batteries do wiggle around a bit, so if that bothers you you could put in a little rubber washer or a slice of inner tube to take up the extra space.  It is a very bright light throwing over 200 lumens.   It is easy to light up the tops of tall trees or  the edge of a field 200 feet away.   If I’m out walking at night sometimes I feel I’m being watched by creatures (you will develop this sense if you spend enough time outside.) so get outside everyday.) so I’ll flick it on and shine it at the treeline or up the river and I can’t tell you how many times I see eyes staring back at me.  This light will freeze the creatures in the paths.  Except for that heron a few weeks ago.  I felt bad about making him fly at night.   This will set you back around $35.00.

p72This is a cheapo emergency all in one unit – flashlight and radio.  It runs off batteries, a grinder, DC converter or a little PV cell that runs on top of the handle.  Not bad, but kind of cheap.  I think I paid maybe 20 bucks for it.   Everyone should have something similar in their emergency kit. You just can’t count on this cheap crap to work so have a backup.  Typical Walmart unit.

Speaking of cheap crap…

p14Here’s some more cheap crap.  Upper left is a $10 LED that takes three AAA batteries.  I’ve never been a fan of the multi-LED lights.  This one proves the point.  Not a fan of the 8, 15 or 80 LED lights.  More stuff to go wrong. Get one good beam.  At the bottom is a plastic filament bulb that takes two AA batteries.  Another poor excuse for a tool.  Upper right is the old fashioned Rayovac double D filament bulb flashlight.  This thing was fine 10 or 20 years ago.  Maybe it’s fine to trade or barter with, but I would never want to depend on it.  Spend your money on something more rugged, waterproof and that will last.  For the same price or a few bucks more you can get a real light.

This is another must have, even though it is also cheap crap.

p19I like this.  It’s one of those shake lights.  There’s a copper coil and magnet inside of it.  When you shake it the magnet slides back n’ forth past the copper coil and somehow creates electrcity to charge the battery.  In other words this baby doesn’t take batteries.    Can’t depend on it because it feels cheap, holds a charge a short time and isn’t very bright, but it’ll be better than TP when the batteries are dead and the store shelves are empty.  I think this was probably around $10-15 at Walmart.  Everyone should have a shake light too.

This is a cool light.

p15I know I just said it, but these things are cool.  It’s a PAL light.  It takes a 9v battery, which I’m not a fan of, but the light makes up for it.  It has four settings – dim, bright, strobe and always on. You get that, even off it is always glowing dimly? Crazy huh.  Even when you shut it off the light glows dimly.  It’ll glow in this “sleep” state for a year.  It makes it easy to find in the dark.  I keep a couple on bookshelves and such and they actually work as a mini-nightlight and if the power goes out makes it easy to find.  Ever have a tough time looking for a flashlight in the bottom of your pack?  This is the light for you, because it will always be glowing dimly calling to you, like a beacon or your muse.  It will glow in sleep mode for a year.  It doesn’t cast a heavy, bright beam even in the high setting, but it’s plenty for most close work or to find your way.  Like I said even in the sleep mode it’s bright enough to find your way down the hall.  It seems pretty waterproof in it’s heavy rubber case.  They come in a few different colored beams too.   The one I bought came with a magnetic attachment and a belt loop.   I think they’re around $15.     I have a blue one.  I’ve thought that it may even be possible to set the strobe function put it on the dashboard and maybe be able to get through traffic faster.  If you like flashlights this is a must have.

p16This is a Princeton-Tec Impact XL.  It takes four double AA batteries.  It’s a LED light.  You turn it on by turning the bezel so it takes two hands to operate.  It casts a sweet, pure, white beam.  It’s very bright and very waterproof.  You see it also comes with a nice lanyard.  Almost as nice as the lanyard on the Underwater Kinetics light up above.  There’s a story here.  About a year after I bought the light it died on me.  I was pissed.  I think it cost about $20-25.  For 25 bucks it better last more than a year.  Who has the receipt for anything a year later?  So I send Princeton an email explaining the situation and forget about it.  Maybe a month later I get an email from them apologizing for the delay (some people left the company or what not) and they give me an RMA to send the light back to them and they’ll send me a brand new one.  I did and they did.   Got that?  They sent me a brand new light!! I can’t say enough good stuff about customer service like that.  You just don’t see that these days.  Good product and good people.  Not the brightest light, but great for camping or hiking.

p20These are two Pelican lights.  The top one takes two C cells.   The bottom one takes three C cells.  Both operate by turning the bezel i.e. two handed operation.  They both come with nice lanyards.  Notice the bottom one also has a spring clip on it.  They are both waterproof.  If you look right behind the bezel on the bottom one you’ll see a round thing with two black stripes.  That’s some sort of pressure release valve in case I’m ever 20,000 leagues beneath the sea.  Not very likely, but kind of interesting.   Both are filament bulbs.  Both are extremely rugged.  The top one is rated for use in explosive environments.  It has so many letters on it – MSHA, class 1, division 1, group D, UL, FM approved, P, SA AUS EX 1145X.  This is like THE safety light.  It also has two built in slots on it that you can run some strapping through to lash it to something.  I can’t say enough good stuff about Pelican products.  They are made work tough for everyday use.  Firefighters use Pelican lights.  You can drop these from a ladder or into the pool and they keep going.  If you’re not familiar with Pelican, the next light you get make it a Pelican.  They are both plenty bright for 90% of what you may need to do.  They’re reasonably priced too.  I think each of them was maybe $30 or so, maybe a bit more.  Not tactical lights though, but buy a Pelican and you won’t be disappointed.  Pelican makes tough, simple work lights.

Here’s another nice little light…

p12This is another Underwater Kinetics light.  This little light takes two AAA batteries.  It’s very small.  It’s rated at seven lumens, but I’m telling ya it seems a lot brighter than that.   Because it’s so small and offers great brightness for its size, this is a great light for backpacking.  This and a headlamp would be adequate for any hike.  It’s operated by turning the bezel too.  It’s also waterproof.   It comes with a keyring and that black thing is a clip that can be clipped to a cap or a pack.  It’s an LED light.  I have yet to change the batteries in mine.  The LED just barely sips the power from the triple AAA’s.   Batteries last a very long time.   I like this light.  It’s a nice clean, white beam.  If you want to travel very light and have a flashlight that gets the job done this is the ticket.  You can’t light up the other side of the football field, but if you want to read, BBQ or find your way down the trail this will do it.   I think this light ran about $15.    You won’t be disappointed adding one of these to your kit.

Not done yet…

p11This is your basic Xenon tactical light.  It was more than I like to spend on a flashlight.  I think it was about $40.  It’s bright.  The switch is on the tailcap.  You either push it or twist it for constant on.   It only has one setting.  It takes two of the lithium 123 batteries.  These batteries are expensive.  The batteries only last an hour or two too.  Not a bad light, but not my favorite.  It’s a standard size (1″) so it can be mounted on a firearm.

p18This is a real nice Rayovac metal flashlight.  It’s made much better than the crappy orange one pictured up above.  This one takes three C cells.  It’s an LED light.  The batteries last a very long time becaue of the LED.  There are rings that make it fairly water resistant.  It’s nice and bright.  It also has a rubber sleeve around the body that makes it comfy to hold in the hand.  There is a hole on the tailcap that you can slide a lanyard through.  I think this light was maybe $25.  I like this light.  It’s big enough to bash someone in the head if need be.  You can see it’s operated by a button on the body of the light.  This is the light I use most when I walk the dog around the block or have to check something outside.  It sits on top of my fridge.  The downside is that the body isn’t squared off anywhere (it’s round) so it will roll of the fridge or under the car if you put it on the driveway.

p17Hooahh!  This is the famous Maglite.   This light is an old fashioned filament bulb.  It is made like a tank.  It takes three D cells.  It’s fairly bright, but not really.  These lights are made really well.  It will outlive me.  It has an extra bulb built into the tailcap.  There is only one setting.  The switch is on the body.  It seems water resistant, but not waterproof.  This light has mass and would be an effective weapon.  It extends my reach by a foot.   My light is very old at lest 15 years.  It still works great.  Only had to change the bulb once.  The batteries last a fairly long time.  LED kits are also available for these lights.  These are the lights that cops used to use.  They’d hold it over their heads, shine the light in your eyes to blind you and then lower the boom on your noggin.  This light is round so it will also roll away from you just out of reach.  There is no place to attach a lanyard on this light.

The rest of the lights are from Deal Extreme .  This is a great place to buy good cheap lights made in China.  The lights are shipped from China.

p101These two lights are some type of fairly new LED lights called CREE lights.  They are unbelievably bright.  Make a CREE your next flashlight.  These run on one AA battery.  You can see they’re only about 3-4 inches long. These lights probably run $15-$20 each.  As I said they’re very bright and one AA lasts a long time.  I usually load mine with lithium batteries.  These lights each have one setting only.  You turn them on with a tailcap switch.  They both come with lanyards.

p81These are two more lights from Deal Extreme.  I think each of these lights is maybe $20-$25.  These both are also CREE lights so they are very bright.  I’d say as bright as Surefires and alot less money.  They both operate by a tailcap switch.  They both have rubber rings on the fittings so they are pretty water resistant.  Although made in China the threads feel pretty good to me.  Both of these lights have a great feature.  They come with an extension tube so they have multiple battery configurations.  You can see the extension tubes in the picture.  You can see one of the red waterproof seals too on the tube on the left.  The extension tube on the right also has rings, but they’re black so you can’t see them.

The one on the left runs on either one AA or you screw on the extension tube and it will run longer on two AA batteries.   It also has four settings in this order – low, medium, high, crazy ass blinding strobe like a Japanese cartoon and a unique  SOS strobe …—….  Without a memory though you have to flick through them all every time.  So say I want to use the crazy ass blinding strobe on some BG I first have to click through low, medium and high to get to the crqazy ass blinding strobe.  Not so good.

The one on the right runs on one 123 lithium or screw in the tube and a pair of AA’s.  I use lithium AA’s.  It’s bezel is crenalated, that is it has a scalloped surface that’s good for striking BG’s in the brow.  This light won’t roll away from you.

p9This is another light from Deal Extreme with the extension tube screwed in.  It’s also a bright CREE LED.  This one runs off of one 123 lithium or two AA’s.  It has the tube screwed in now.  Comes with a lanyard.  Operates by the switch on the side of the body.  Bright enough to blind.  The bezel on this one has some really nasty crenalations on it.  Wouldn’t be a problem splitting a brow but good with this one in your hand.

Abraham’s Rule number 15,347.7564 of  living – when you start finding flashlights in the pockets of jeans in the dresser you have enough flashlights.

q121Deer tracks in the snow.

q14Deer sleeping hole.