As humans, we rely on our sight more than most senses, so the ability to see is vital in a survival situation. No survival kit is complete without emergency lighting of some description.
This time around, we’re going to look at battery-powered options. That usually means some sort of flashlight.
We have lots of choices when it comes to selecting the right one for us. Depending on which kit you are preparing – your Everyday Carry Kit, Bug-Out-Bag or In-Home – you will have certain things to consider when selecting the most suitable flashlight.
One of the key components in purchasing a flashlight is the amount of lumens the flashlight produces –
A unit of luminous flux equal to the light emitted in a steradian by a uniform point source of one candle intensity
In other words, how bright is it? Many times, more lumens means more battery weight – and more cost. Be sure to know the lumens output when comparing similar flashlights.
Also remember that this list is cumulative, in that items from your Everyday Carry Kit are also included in your Bug-Out-Bag list, as you’ll already have them with you!
Here are some options outside of the standard D-Cell flashlight we all know and love –
Everyday Carry Kit
EDC flashlights need to be lightweight so they are not adding too much weight to your person or kit, portable so they are easy to carry around with you and durable as they are likely to get knocked around in your everyday life.
• They are small and super lightweight for easy carrying.
• Inexpensive – as they are readily available in a lot of stores – price is usually pretty low
• No need to remember them when out driving, as they’re attached to your keychain
• The amount of light given off (lumens) is likely to be relatively low due to size
• They are a ‘one use’ tool; there is not really any other task that you could use a keychain flashlight for other than its intended purpose. In a survival situation you need your tools to be versatile so this is something to bear in mind.
Small Tactical Flashlights
• Powerful, high-lumen beam
• Generally have a side clip to allow attachment to pocket, belt, purse or bag.
• Many have a special jagged casing around lens to allow it to be used as self-defense weapon or emergency car window-breaker.
• Can be expensive, especially those made of specialty metals such as tungsten or aircraft grade aluminum
• Many tend to be battery hogs because of the high-lumen output.
Smart Phone Flashlights
• Low-cost, as the flashlight app is generally available for free
• Surprising amount of light that is good for short-term, up-close work
• Big battery hogs. Must weigh benefits of light with loss of power for other functions.
• Low-lumen, wide-spread beam.
• Can’t be used in wet weather conditions.
Bug Out Bag
You will likely have more than one type of flashlight in your bug out bag. Considerations for a bug out light – they should be as light as possible to make sure they are not adding significantly extra weight, they need to be easy to handle so you are able to complete other tasks while holding the light and importantly they should be multi-use where possible. You do not have unlimited space in your bag so multi-purpose gear is essential.
Lantern Flashlights (portable)
• Super bright light beam that lights far in front of you
• Has a handle so holding the flashlight is easy and convenient
• Usually quite heavy so may not be ideal for long bug outs due to muscle fatigue, etc.
• Takes up space due to their large size
• Wherever you look – there will be light. Whichever way you turn your head, a beam of light is lighting the way in front of you
• Keeps hands free for other tasks
• Usually will have more than one light setting so lower light settings mean less light but longer battery life. Some head torches have infrared settings and automatic light control.
• Good quality head torches can be expensive. Particularly ones with lots of settings.
• A basic head torch will have on average around 10 – 12 hours of battery life so spare batteries will be needed – if you are planning on bugging out for a while, multiple flashlights will be needed
Crank (hand powered) Flashlights
• Powered by you so as long as you have the ability to crank, you will have light
• One minute of cranking will provide 30-60 minutes of light depending on your flashlight
• Many also include an AM/FM/Weather radio, allowing you to eliminate that additional cost and weight from your bag.
• The rechargeable battery will eventually wear out meaning the torch is no longer functional (normally lasts around 500 charges)
• Takes physical effort to power so if you are in a weakened state, this could prove difficult
In Home Flashlights
In the event of a blackout or any other emergency that could plunge your home into darkness, a flashlight is the first survival tool you will reach for. These flashlights need to be reliable, able to be unused for periods of time without issue and easy to operate in darkness.
Battery-Powered Lanterns (camp-style, semi-stationary)
• Can be stored for an extended period of time without use and will not lose power in batteries. (regular testing is needed)
• Project significant amounts of light over large areas
• Many have low, medium and high output selection switches to conserve battery power
• Spare batteries are required to ensure continued use
• Most won’t have a power gauge so when batteries run out , the lantern will turn off without warning
Power Failure Flashlights
• Will turn on automatically in the event of an AC power failure
• Can be disconnected from wall plug and used as a portable flashlight
• Many units have spare battery charging capabilities
• In a blackout situation, once battery power has expired, flashlight cannot be used
• Generally more costly than other in-home options due to versatility