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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:13 am 
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I have been working on finding the best (for me) survival flashlight which IMHO is different from EDC or Prepping. Aw heck who am I kidding. This is really just another excuse to spend money, use gear and run through the dark dank woods with a pack. What's the downside here? For survival only the most trusted kit will do. Then again if in a bad way would gladly take whatever was available but that goes without saying. Working up a list of requirements but first need a good baseline. Runtimes, tint, output, battery type, voltage range, modes, beam pattern etc etc etc are all factors to consider.

To start this I am going to compare two possible options. In this case I am not really testing the hosts rather the engines. They both go into either light. To get a baseline before working out the requirements I need to check a few things out. Does higher output really matter as much as one might expect. Does tint really matter? There are many other factors but can't consider them all at the same time. Best to review multiple gear options over multiple tests.

So lets GO!

The setup is ideal to cover a few topics. Heavy rain and thunderstorms has flooded the woods. The dramatic temperature change will probably produce fog in the hills. It's going to be dark, dank and foggy. First the overall preference of a flashlight to headlamp during foggy conditions will be tested and what effect if any does tint really have? Is less light really a negative in these conditions? So here are two lights which should work fine. They're also two considerations for the best (for me) survival light.

1. Surefire C2 with Malkoff M61LL Cool White. The gray one.

2. Malkoff MD2 with M61N. The black one.

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The woods. This is a section of little used blue trail. Basically I haven't seen anyone hiking this stretch for years though is maintained at least once year near as I can tell. Maybe had one actual encounter with another person and they were surprised to see me. It's not in the middle of the Congo rather there just isn't easy or obvious access unless you know the town very very well or are willing to walk for some hard miles from a dirt parking lot which even then is actually down a little used dirt road. Also got bears. LOL! No seriously but they're ok! Basically I can fly down it without really worrying about bumping into another person. Also nice to keep the fantasy alive as fun is really what this is all about.

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It's now dark so game on. Up first MD2. The output is around 300 lumens but can't hold that forever. Runtimes are another factor but that's not on my plate for today. The tint is neutral white. The fog was thick in some areas and as elevation changed would thin out only to get thick again.

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I am moving at about 5 mpr and intend to do this for maybe 5 miles total however taking photos etc will slow me down. Also at times it was just too slippery. In no way would I do this if actually lost. Why? Because there are things looking to do me harm. Water, mud and rocks are all over the place. A mechanical injury would really complicate things.

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The 300 lumens made trail markers easy to see despite the wide floody beam of this engine. Pros and cons to this beam profile.

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Also fallen branches from the storm.

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Nope not a brook, rather the trail because of excessive water runoff. Had to slow down on this section.

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Dang. It was getting harder to see father away when pushing through the thicker fog. Anyone remember the movie...The Fog. The owls were acting up which is always fun.

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Time to change pitchers.

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100 cool white lumens. Noticed the output reduction but started back on the test.

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Things really came up on me fast so had to slow down a bit. The reduction in lumens did have some effect but I was still moving forward kinda the same. What's a mpr less among friends?

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As stated there are things looking to do me harm which I want to see and avoid going under or over. I went around. Nature isn't for or against anyone. It just is.

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Still saw the trail markers though had to be a bit closer (goes without saying) however 200 less lumens wasn't really all that bad. I mean the extra output was missed but not by an extreme measure. Why the trail marker tests? Not getting lost in the first place makes the entire survival situation much less likely. Seems getting lost or getting hurt are the two primary prerequisites. Cutting one's odds in 1/2 off the top is sure worth testing IMHO.

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Testing observations.

1. Based on this and other countless miles on foot in about every condition possible tint was less of a factor even within the fog, rain, snow etc etc. Personally I like NW better but bottom line they both got me back to the truck and have done so over and over again be it Warm, HCRI or Cool White. Pleasing or sucky the end results were always the same. Sure I think a less blue shifted tint makes seeing blue and white blazes easier in certain backgrounds but still in the end the job always got done. Within the context of a survival LED flashlight I am pushing this consideration lower on the list.

2. For moving around more lumens might not give enough of a benefit when their cost in runtimes are considered.

3. Yup a flashlight is better than headlamp in the fog. Too much glare. Had a headlamp on me as well and it was harder to use in these conditions but already knew that from experience.

So that's it for today's testing. Will do more updates to this thread and remember these are just my observations for my conditions. Your mileage might vary.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:56 pm 
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So decided on these two for the flood vs throw. Same tint and battery. Major difference is the beam profile.

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Will do several survival related tasks including crossing a stream, firecraft and bushwacking off trail to see which beam is overall best. Also did a little work for the MD2 based on the results of the last test.

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The drop-in from the C2 got it's own MDX head and hi/lo mode ring. 100 lumens high rather than 300. The low is the same.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:24 pm 
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Hey WW, I'd recommend you check out the Fenix UC-35. I picked it up as my EDC as well as my "last" flashlight. If you want to borrow it for testing, let me know. I'm in Eastern PA now.

Some thoughts on why I selected it:
  • USB rechargeable (relatively standard these days)
  • Adjustable brightness (14 - 960 lumens)
  • Adjustable runtime based on brightness (150 hrs @ 14 lumens - 1.5hr @ 960 lumens)
  • Waterproof
  • Robust metal case

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:00 pm 
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Next to my knife collection I have just as many tactical flashlights of every shape, size and battery type.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:15 pm 
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Tested the low voltage potted electronics omnivore on 1XAA. Vampire sucked it dead in maybe 30 hours but will total up the numbers later. Ran it at 2-8 hours at a clip to simulate real usage. Versatility is another consideration IMHO.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:16 pm 
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thelight wrote:
Hey WW, I'd recommend you check out the Fenix UC-35. I picked it up as my EDC as well as my "last" flashlight. If you want to borrow it for testing, let me know. I'm in Eastern PA now.

Some thoughts on why I selected it:
  • USB rechargeable (relatively standard these days)
  • Adjustable brightness (14 - 960 lumens)
  • Adjustable runtime based on brightness (150 hrs @ 14 lumens - 1.5hr @ 960 lumens)
  • Waterproof
  • Robust metal case


I had good luck with Fenix lights. Only one bellied up on me. Will check it out.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:48 pm 
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And so the testing goes on. Two lights. One flood the other throw both neutral white and around the same output. The throw Predator is brighter I think but not by much. We are heading out from camp.

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My plan was to cross the river however the snow and ice on either bank made that too risky just to test out a survival light theory. One slip and a smack on the head could end badly. Best to keep my quota of luck for when really needed. But we can compare both within this environment and look for a crossing point just for comparison.

Armytek Predator standard XP-G2 NW.

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Throws good but kinda have tunnel vision. Not as bad as the photos might show but still. Snow and ice along the bank.

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It does penetrate water well which might come into play during a crossing. I have crossed brooks and small rivers at night when fly fishing to get back late. It isn't recommenced IMHO but just saying what happened.

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Good at spotting ice in the middle etc. Another danger I decided to pass up. I did stoke the stove before heading out just in case I slipped monkeying around the river. Had a few bad experiences with snow/ice and rivers so a bit shy around that combo.

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Up next. A light with considerably more flood.

Armytek Prime A1 with C2 body.

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A big difference. I don't have much unobstructed range for throw anyways and the flood filled up the space much nicer.

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Still had some good water penetration but got so see a wider area of the river bank.

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The flood at near range.

Medium.

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Firefly.

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Direct comparison.

Throw.

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Flood.

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Pointing at (to the best of my ability sinking into the snow with cold hands) the same tree on the opposite bank for comparison. The Throw made a smaller area brighter but the flood hit a wider area bright enough. This kinda goes without saying.

The shelter. It's about 90 degrees inside and I was looking forward to getting back for some coffee.

Flood.

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Throw.

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I did see the shelter sooner with the throw when walking back but was also following my foot prints so knew the exact direction to point the lights. So far I am liking flooder beams over a narrow throw but the optic on the Prime A1 does allow for some throw as it's a bit of a mix. The older Predator has a throw reflector with a smaller (at one time considered bigger) LED.

To be continued for future updates.

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"Do not mess with the forces of Nature, for thou art small and biodegradable!"

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Last edited by Woods Walker on Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:29 am 
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The omnivore contingency.

For this test both headlamp and flashlight can use 1XAA or 1XCR123. The flashlight can use 1XAA, 2XAA, 1XCR123, 1XAAA, 2XAAA. When night running mechanical injury is a risk. Mud and rocks under foot can put the hurt on. Can't avoid what yea can't see. For this test I took the 1XAA from the headlamp and put it inside the G3/M31L which had 1XCR123 then ran 6 miles over the rocky muddy ground through the hills using just the 1XAA powered flashlight. Also my camera used to take these photos runs off 2XAA. If I needed the light to get out of the woods or during an ER guess who is going hungry?

G3 now setup with M31L and spacers/covers to become a low voltage omnivore with a max of 3.3 volts.

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The light is double tied to the pack. If going though dense brush I would toss it inside so not to get hung up. The lanyard has breakaways just in case. The lanyard isn't really to protect the light from drop damage. It's a low mass Surefire G3 running a single AA with a Mcclicky switch. The bezel is Al and window acrylic. Moved the M91W to a high voltage omnivore setup. This now has a M31L which is also potted and just about bomb proof aka one mode and little to go wrong. Even have a back up twisty tail cap in the omnivore kit. The lanyard is so I don't drop the light then have it turn off never to be seen again. It will be just fine for whoever finds it during the day. Bummer that might not be me so I use the lanyard.

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Running off 1XCR123 but what if the battery was dead and the headlamp stopped working. Sure I should pack enough batteries but sometimes life gets in the way. I got over 5-miles to go.....

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1XAA NiMH and AA spacer.

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It might rattle a bit and could get a sleeve but functions flawlessly.

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Things yea don't want to blunder into right across my path.

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This is annoying. A field of thorn bushes on both sides and the ground is torn up by ATVs (illegal here). Again the mud could be a problem without light.

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Things like the rock under foot looking to roll away are problems during the day, never mind night. Again no light would be problematic.

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All of these are good reasons not to run or travel at night during an ER but I am not setup for an overnight camp. Sure I could pitch the poncho, insulate the ground, start a fire and put on my fleece or..... just keep on with the nightly jog.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:44 pm 
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Ok the field testing of the omnivore goes in with 1XAA. As many others were recovering from Easter Holiday candy and gorging I was running the dirt roads of the town tonight. Unless my memory is shot (always a possibility) the 2500 mAh Duraloop Pro wasn't charged from the last 6.8 mile of trail run not too long ago. So it appears 10 miles of night travel at a speed of around 4 mpr isn't a problem for 1XAA. This Photo didn't come out good but looks like there is still life in the battery.


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The max I ever did during one night was around 22 miles of trail but was getting bleary eyed for lack of better words around 2:30 am. 5 miles is hardly a problem and not overly stressful and 10 is ok though more stressful. To be honest I really wouldn't want to push far distances on foot in an ER situation at night. That said having the gear to do so increases options.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 12:16 am 
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Hurricane Harvey has shown that sometimes nature comes to you and the kit you can grab and GO with might be all yea got. In these rare but devastating cases reliability of a survival light is key but also a picky eater isn't exactly what I would want. So we are testing the DIY omnivore/kit light again. I have made 3 of these in different configurations. Will do a thread and video on that in the near future. A low voltage omnivore 1 to 4.2 volts IMHO is more practical for a situation like natural disaster as they can run of a single battery. No need to match battery types and voltages. Repeated testing can uncover issues which might not appear if the gear is tested once then tossed in a BOB or other preps.

Low voltage omnivore testing go! This is 3.3 volts max which means no lithium ion however given the reliability of the Surefire G3 host and Malkoff M31L I am willing to live with that limitation for this particular application.

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I can run:

2XAAA
1XAAA
2XAA
1XAA
1XCR123

But can I?

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The cheap Ultra Cell spacer failed. I mean really! LOL! Didn't think there was anything to go wrong. I purchased 4 so replaced it and headed out. This issue will be addressed later.

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Got 7.4 mile on foot with plenty of light from 1XAA. Time to head back out again using the same 1XAA battery.

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As this has an urban/rural twist we will be using dirt roads and streets.

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Which aren't always safe. I am backpack jogging so gotta watch for stuff like this.

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Still plenty of light from 1XAA.

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We got over 8 miles this time.

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For the two days I did 16 miles at night. Still had power but was getting dimmer. The voltage is....

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Not dead but not full either. Time to address that dead battery spacer issue.

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The black spacer is new and feels more robust than the Ultra Cell. Also the contacts seem more forgiving as they're wider though need to test them with 1XAAA. Both ends are identical.

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Lets take it for a test run.

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6 miles later.

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Bottom line was despite having a fairly expensive light system (G3/M31L) most of the utility was removed because of a cheap part failure. I think if the new black spacers pass all the tests will keep an Ultra Cell and black AA spacer in the kits rather than just one. This does bring the obvious question. Why not pack an extra battery in it's place? Hypothetically the spacers aren't consumable (when they don't fail LOL!) and batteries are. So I will also pack batteries however the spacers are always there if needed.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:04 pm 
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Survival/ER prep low voltage omnivore lights.


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4/7s lego. Low voltage tactical head and tactical tail cap on Turbo 2XAA body with extra 1XCR123 body.

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The spacer works great on all the lights except the 4/7 so will use the Ultra Cells for now but double up.

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The physical polarity protection might be the reason.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:29 pm 
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Friend of mine got that, in case you have an iPhone (I know in case of disaster, no cell coverage, but apps, notes, etc.)
This is a 1,500 lumens LED light https://goo.gl/QGfnUX with multi-settings for different light-output, li-ion battery, USB and microUSB to charge flashlight and phone.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 7:20 pm 
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I've been carrying a Fenix PD35 for a while now, and am quite happy with it. Takes 2, CR123 batteries or 1, 18650. I am not set up to verify drain and lumens and whatnot, but it seems to have a respectable lifespan on a rechargeable 18650.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JK ... 0DER&psc=1

I also got this guy, the Atactical A1. Similar, a little different feel in the hand, and it only has 4 light powers plus an SOS, but it comes with a 2400mah 18650 battery with built-in microUSB charging port. For the price it's not a bad little knockaround light. I've been taking these on ATV trips and they've both held up well to dust and rain and a bit of abuse.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NB ... ED7V&psc=1

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:40 am 
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I'm a fan of Fenix lights. Rugged and powerful.


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