Life+Gear LED Flashlight $24
- 400 lumens is plenty, don't believe the propaganda put out by Big Lumen
- High mode, Low mode, and Strobe mode (also known as "whoa, super-high mode")
- Also has a red light on the tail that flashes or glows, in case of emergency or if you want to see but not too well
- Made with aircraft-grade aluminum, so you can fashion it into a 747 in a pinch
- With 10,000 hours of life, the Cree LED might outlive you
- Model: LG21-70004-BLA
The Goldilocks flashlight.
Here's what a 1500-lumen flashlight is good for:
- Impressing your friends for a couple of minutes: "Look, it's shining on that tree a block away! Better not point this at the sky or the FAA might come after me, ha ha!"
- Nighttime search-and-rescue emergencies.
- Causing temporary blindness.
Here's what a 400-lumen flashlight is good for:
- Every other thing you will ever want to do with a flashlight.
Yeah, too-dim flashlights suck. Get much below 100 lumens and it’s more of a lantern than a flashlight. But too bright can be just as bad, if there's so much glare that you still can't see anything, or if it uses so much power the batteries are dead half the time, or if the flashlight is so cumbersome it's a pain in the ass to do whatever you're trying to do in the dark.
You need the Goldilocks flashlight. A good flashlight for a good price. 400 lumens is just (b)right. Definitely much brighter than that old plastic flashlight of your grandpa's, and much more durable, as you can see in this rugged hands-on test.
Wouldn't one of those expensive 700- or 800-lumen lights be twice as bright? No. The human perception of light is logarithmic, not linear. What that means is that an 800-lumen flashlight will not seem more like 1.41 times or 1.25 times as bright as a 400-lumen light, depending on how you look at it. Point is, lumens are an objective measurement of light output, not a subjective measurement of how your eyes see the light. So an 800-lumen flashlight isn't that much brighter than a 400. But it is much bulkier, much heavier, and much more expensive. Unless you're working the door at a biker bar and you need a flashlight that doubles as a bludgeon, 800 lumens is overkill.
The higher price is only the beginning. You'll pay even more in hassle every time you try to cram it into your backpack, or run out of batteries, or have to lug it around. Lumen fetishism is an expensive taste.
Plus, you know a 400-lumen light has not been optimized to put a gaudy number on the box. Not that we're complaining. As long as the flashlight companies chase the lumen geeks, the rest of us get really good flashlights for cheap. Come on in - the porridge is fine.