In plain sight : The power of the MagLite Flashlight and some other stuff!



This guest post by Marti and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

1x1.trans In plain sight : The power of the MagLite Flashlight and some other stuff!Let me preface this article by saying that I am by no means a Techie, actually I am technologically challenged. A few weeks ago I decided to focus on my preparedness regarding some everyday items that while in plain sight, often go unnoticed. There are four I would like to discuss: Flashlights, thermometers, can openers, and clocks/watches.

Flashlights. Boy was I in for a surprise! Who would have thought that such a simple item could prove so complicated? So as not to bore you I will hit the high points. I googled for a quality flashlight and to my surprise, most policemen no longer carry the big Maglite style flashlights. The ones advertised were all compact, high beam, far distance, long life, and LED. After much reading, I was thoroughly confused and decided to ask base Security (I’m military) what brand they used. Just before I got the opportunity to do this I went to a gun show.

One of the vendors was a flashlight salesman. I asked him to give me an overview of the brands he carried and to make recommendations. Many that I had researched were in the $100+ range. As we were talking another service member came up and said he was looking for a good flashlight as when he is deployed, he needs one to inspect equipment. As I picked his brain he told me the LED styled one he had died so he needed a new one. According to the vendor, these LED flashlights have a 100,000 hour life and the one he said was pretty good cost about $140.

Being old school, I asked him how does one replace the lamp (bulb). To my amazement he said LED’s don’t have replacement bulbs, you just pitch the flashlight in the trash once they die. I cannot see pitching $140 in the trash. Also, I am skeptical of the 100,000 hour life as the Marne previously mentioned used his on deployment – deployments generally are under one year. These high tech LED flashlights are marketed at 100,000 hours, or an 11 year 4 month life span. My biggest concern was that if LEDs have any type of circuitry, will it survive an EMP – worst case scenario?

With this in mind, I began to look for MagLite brand flashlights. Where I’m from, MagLites are the Cadillac of flashlights. I had picked up quite a few around Christmas at Wally World. When I went back and reviewed my inventory, I was surprised to see that most of them were LED. After doing further research I have discovered that the flashlight industry is basically getting away from incandescent or conventional bulbs and moving (very rapidly) towards LED. With permission I offer the following quote from http://flashlightsunlimited.com/magbulbs.htm “An Important Message Regarding MagLite C-Cell And D-Cell Flashlight Bulbs Note that MagLite is currently releasing new Magnum Star II xenon bulbs.

This new high-performance xenon bulb type is now available for all two-cell through six-cell C- or D-battery incandescent MagLite flashlights. The production of all original White Star and Magnum Star bulb types has been discontinued by the factory, so as remaining inventories of those obsolete types are depleted, only the newer Magnum Star II types will be available for purchase. The transitional period is expected to be one year or less.” (I spoke with the owner of Flashlights Unlimited; his name is Floyd and told him I was going to be submitting an article for the blog so he gave me a more thorough schooling.)

In other words, the makers have gone from the old incandescent bulb which most of us probably still have (these bulbs are considered more easily breakable); to krypton, which is a gas inside an incandescent bulb (this bulb is considered brighter but has “hot spots” and streaks); to Xenon –again a gas inside an incandescent bulb. Xenon bulbs are considered more shock tolerant than the original incandescents and are a bit more expensive as well. While the LED bulbs are the relatively new kid on the block, they are NOT incandescent. They reportedly last longer, have better throw characteristics, are more shock resistant, and you get about 3x the battery life. The downside from a prepper’s perspective is that they do degrade over time, usually after about 10,000 hours, and are not as shelf stable as the old incandescents ,(as all types of the incandescent bulb – including xenon and krypton have an indefinite shelf life).

My observations have been that Mag Lite flashlights are sold at Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, K-Mart, and a lot of other places, but you cannot buy the bulbs at all of these places. Matter of fact, employees in these stores are unaware that the Mag Lite stock of bulbs and non LED flashlights they have on hand will likely be their last of these older model bulbs and flashlights. If you go to Mag Lite’s website you can find locations near you that carry their various products. Floyd informed me that he does business with a guy who is currently commissioned to remove all of the previous versions of the incandescent bulbs from factory produced Mag Lites so that the flashlight can be recycled. Floyd in turn purchases these unused factory bulbs and offers them to the public for resale. (This is not black market). For those who currently have a Mag Lite, if it has the old bulbs, a new bulb is now on the market. This is the MagLite Mag Num Star II Xenon for flashlights using C and D sized batteries. These bulbs will not be sold as individual bulbs but as a kit that has a combination of metal and plastic “retrofit” components along with a bulb to replace the current bulb. The down side to this is the individual bulb is cheaper but now you have to buy it with the kit which cost just under $5.

As for flashlights, the handwriting is on the wall for me, the above mentioned stores are selling out of the non LED flashlights. Flashlights Unlimited does sell the old style bulbs (both Krypton and Xenon) in bulk and individually. For my type of flashlight they did have the Krypton bulbs in stock for $19.95 for 24. Personally I like the fact that Mag Lites have a spare bulb in the tail of the flashlight, and I want to have a non LED option. I do not get any reimbursement for mentioning Flashlights Unlimited. Their prices were the best I could find for Mag Lite products and the owner is very willing to speak with you. His hours are 12 Noon to Midnight 7 days a week. The xenon and krypton bulbs are specifically designed size specific. Do not use a bulb designed for a 2 cell (battery) flashlight in a 4 cell one and vice versa. This could cause a fire hazard and there is a warning on the bulb package to that extent. Given a SHTF scenario, since I will have to be my own fire department and doctor, I prefer to follow directions on this one.

The next three items I will discuss more succinctly:

Thermometers – while the majority of thermometers today are digital, that also means a small circuit board inside. There are some non-digital mercury free thermometers still out there. In a grid down or battery dead situation, a good back up would be such an instrument. The most popular one is made by a German company called Geratherm. They sell two types, one in regular sized print and the other called MegaTherm which is encased in a magnifying tube so the numbers are easier to read. The price range on these are $7.50 – $9, and can be ordered on the internet, or purchased at Wal-Mart, Walgrens,and http://www.drugstore.com . I have tried the regular sized one. The biggest complaint I have read about these thermometers is the shape. You definitely have to keep the lips shut when using as it is not a small tipped round thermometer. As with all standard thermometers, it takes about 3 minutes to get an oral reading, but I had no problems shaking it down and really liked the protective case they come in.

Manual Can Openers – many are flimsy and I have a bunch of them. I did discover a great one made in the USA. It is by a company called EZ-DUZ-IT. The founder, John Steuby was the designer of the popular Swing A Way wall mounted can opener but the Swing A Way company went to China – need I say more? Mr. Steuby came out with the EZ-DUZ-IT after Swing A Way defected and owns EDI. There are a few varieties on the market of the EZ-DUZ-IT, but the most highly rated one is the one for $13.19, with black handles that you can get via Amazon. You can also google Mr. Steuby directly, he does respond to e-mails.

Clocks/Watches – most are battery powered, however there are still some wind-up clocks out there. I’ve had success finding clocks in working conditions for as little as 50 cents. I’ve seen a few watches on the internet but cannot attest to their reliability at this point. Still on my list to research.

Hope these observations have been of some benefit to the reader. Can you think of other items we take for granted that need to be considered in our preps?

This contest will end on February 16 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rules that are listed below first… 1x1.trans In plain sight : The power of the MagLite Flashlight and some other stuff!

Comments

  1. riverrider says:

    good job, marti. i like fenix flashlights, they run on aa’s, very tough. i use the victorinox manual can opener, made by the swiss army knife company. you can feel the dif when you pick it up. wind up clocks and watches of quality are hard to come by, much needed. we really had a hard time finding one after the derecho outage. wound up with a cheapo chinamart one that loses time. calendars that run out a few years would be handy too. i used to get one on the back of my checkbook but no more.

    • One thing to remember about calendars, except for a few holidays, there are only 14 of them; it only matters what day of the week January 1 starts on and whether it is a leap year. So you can save up old calendars and reuse them. (My parents would get calendar towels when I was growing up.) Now, it does take 28 years to get all the different leap-year calendars, but you can fill out your collection of non-leap years much quicker.

      • John, like your folks my mother used to get cup towels that had the calendars on them, In fact I still have a few which though well used are still pressed into operation when the landry backs up (I am the essentail pack rat). Your comment brought back a lot of memories

    • JB in ILL. says:

      Small-Hand held Solar Flashlights are a thought also – no batteries required- They are not super bright, but are useful in small areas or for reading. In a worst case situation, Batteries will become non-existent.

  2. Thanks for doing the research. I knew about the bulb changes, but not what they ment.

    I am a big fan of the large, 3 D-cell mag light. I have then stratigically positioned around my house, where they will be the handiest in a power outage.

    On a humorous note, when my oldest was 18, still in school and at home, she came home VERY late. Seems the “took the long way home” and had a flat tire. Her Mom and I were outside, me thumping the flashlight in my hand, directing my wife to take the girl inside. I was says that “Junior and I need to have a talk” and I wanted to test the unconditional warranty on my flashlight. He was very intent on his flat tire while we talked. Since we was the middle son, already a high school drop out (like his older brother), and only 2 years ahead of his brother doing the same, I was not terribly upset when a month later when he told me he couldn’t marry my daughter as I scared him.

  3. Thanks for the information on the replacement bulbs on the MagLite. I just checked the 6 D-cell MagLite I keep near my bed and it’s not working. Anymore, though, providing light is a secondary purpose. It is not quite as long and heavy as a baseball bat, but it is solidly constructed of metal. It gives a different twist to “in plain sight”.

  4. James Nelson says:

    The high price of the upper end LED flashlights gives me a near fatal case of sticker shock. I have found that there are many excellent LED flashlights in the 10-15 dollar range. I prefer LED flashlights for the battery and bulb life, I converted my older Mag Lites to LED bulbs.
    There are lots of places that sell good quality lights at very reasonable prices, I have gotten them from Amazon, Woot, and Sam’s Club among other places.

  5. Grandpappy says:

    I was thinking leds were the greatest thing since sliced bread. Especially after the compact fluorescent fiasco!

    The way I read this, Maglites with xenon bulbs are still very useful, since the bulbs can be stocked and replaced inexpensively.

    Just realized we have no windup clocks, no paper calendars with more years out.

    Gotta get some P51s, and an EDI or two.

    Thanks for the reminders. Little leaks sink the ship, a milliliter of prevention is better than 10 megatons of cure…

  6. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    You can find old Swing-A-Ways at SA and thrift stores pretty easily. Buy a few of them for ‘just in case’.

    I’m liking the new Rayovac ‘Indestructible’ flashlight sold at Home Depot. I tried to find the Defiant model, but (so far) have been unsucessful. For $20 ish dollar range, a lot of good flashlight – pretty powerful.

    Good post.

    • blackprojekt21 says:

      I have two of those smaller Rayovacs… They’re built like tanks and bright as the sun! They WAY outperform my 2D cell Maglite…

      • I, too, am very impressed with the new Rayovac ‘Indestructable’ line. They come in several sizes utilizing several differnt battery sizes. A couple – three months ago Home Depot had the 2 AA version on sale for $14.88 (may be off on the pennys) and took the chance to pickup three of them for testing. They are well made, have a high (100 lumens/15 hour runtime) and low (18 lumens/35 hour runtime) setting which is controlled by a tail mounted push button which allows it to be used in a tactical manner if need be. This light is more than adequate for 95% of the uses you will need in a SHTF situation, and it is built VERY well. It survives the 30 foot drop test and has a IPx4 ‘waterproof’ rating (if you are considering purchasing a flashlight in the future google the ‘Outdoor Gear Waterproof Rating System’ as virtually all decent flashlights sold these days will have it’s rating, as well as it’s lumens output, clearly displayed on the packaging). Many people make the mistake of getting ‘too much’ flashlight – that is considering only the maximum output and trying to get as bright as possible. While a light that throws a good strong beam a long way is desireable in some security situations, in most cases you will use a beam of less than 40 lumens, and this of course will make your power source go much, much longer. I speak with some authority on this as I am the owner/operator of a 20 acre campground in Texas and have been for over 20 years. Needless to say I have gone through a LOT of flashlights and have seen many changes in technology. While Maglite was the leader in the flashlight field for many years they have been faced with somewhat of a marketing crisis as the advances in tech have allowed flashlights to grow smaller and smaller while getting brighter and brighter. Not only have they converted the larger lights to LED bulbs they have also come out with a new line of smaller LED (besides the mini Maglights we all know, although they too have been converted to LED) which is sometimes refered to as the XL line. The XL line are small, about like a slightly longer roll of quarters and run on 3 AAA batteries. I must mention that in my many years of HEAVY flashlight use I have never had a LED bulb go out on me and I have been using some of them in excess of 12 years.

    • Pardon my ignoramce, but what is a ‘swing-a-way’.
      Thanks.

  7. Good information to remember, i love mag lights. they last forever and not to hard on batteries. im also a big fan of led lights. I keep both on hand. good post.

  8. The timing of this article is ironic. Just the other day I was thinking about how much we depend on our smart phones, and how lost we would be if an EMP fried them. I started thinking about what I would lose that I have become dependent on and take for granted, and how to make sure I have these things covered in my preps. First, I made a mental list of the apps and widgets that I use the most: flashlight, calendar, clock, calculator, and of course, the initial intended use of the phone, communication. It wasn’t until then that I noticed that every clock in my house was digital, and I haven’t yet purchased a 2013 calendar. So, the first thing I did was pull out my old smart phone. Even though it doesn’t have service to make calls, it still pretty much does everything else. I made sure I had the flashlight, calendar, clock, and calculator on it, then placed it in my fireproof safe, which should act as a faraday cage. I have always wanted a grandfather clock, just because I think they are so beautiful. I think now, I will have this conversation with my DH and tell him it is a prepping necessity. :0)

    I want to share an event that we experienced a few days ago. A transformer blew just outside of town. Not only did we lose power to the entire city, but we lost power to the entire county. That was not too upsetting to my family. A little inconvenient at first since my DH and I were watching a movie and the boys were playing Xbox, but we were not in the least bit afraid. Within a matter of a few minutes we all had our flashlights. They are Streamlight Stylus Pro, very bright, and very light weight. My DH always has his on his hip, and mine is always in my purse. We also all had our head lamps on, and we had light in the house with our solar powered (running off of batteries because it was VERY dark outside) light bulbs, candles, and oil lamps. I’m sure our house was the most well lit house in the county. I pulled out the emergency entertainment kit to keep the boys occupied. I then called to check on my daughter. No cell phone service. I tried the land line. No phone service. This is when I started to get a little upset. I looked outside and our city was the darkest I have even seen it. In the past when we have lost electricity, it has only been to portions of the city, never the entire city, and NEVER the entire county, and we have never lost total communication. So, we pulled out our two-way radios, our ham radio, and the hand-held CB radio that we had just purchased that same day at a warehouse sale for only $5. SCORE! There was no communications going on over the ham radio. That was disturbing. We drove to my daughters, she wasn’t home. We drove to my sisters and dropped off a two-way radio. Then, we drove out to my parents who live just outside of town. My mom is on oxygen 24/7 so we had to make sure she was alright. She had several hours left on her unit, and my dad could charge her portable from the truck, so he told us not to bother starting up the generator. We left them with a 100 hour candle since all they were using were flashlights. My mom is now ordering a dozen more 100 hour candles. :0) My DH was able to get in touch with someone over the CB, and found out that hams weren’t working because no one locally had a repeater that wasn’t dependent on electricity. That pretty much defeats the purpose of ham. We only purchased our ham last week and haven’t yet purchased a repeater, but it will be a repeater with a solar panel and battery! We drove to the hospital where I work to see what we could find out. The hospitals phones weren’t working either. In fact, the city’s radios weren’t working either because they went digital. The dispatcher could talk to the officers and EMS, but they couldn’t respond to her. What a mess! There was one nurse that had an AT&T cell phone that had service. The doctor had to use her cell phone to contact a larger hospital in the city 45 miles away in order to transfer a patient. Both the city’s and the hospitals emergency communications plans had failed. The hospitals satellite phone wasn’t even working because it wasn’t properly lined up. We were without power and communications for 3 hours. That was a major wake-up call for everyone. The hospital and city each had safety meetings the following day to discuss ways to keep that from happening again. The hospital now wants my DH to be the Emergency Communications Coordinator for the hospital. They have ham radio equipment, but no one knows how to use it, nor is anyone at the hospital licensed to use it. I think it would be a pretty fair assessment to say that my family was probably more prepared than anyone in the county. I was proud of us. It was a good test run for us, and a much needed wake-up call for everyone else. (patting myself on the back) :0)

    By the way … just a little FYI … Woot.com is having a 3 day deal on batteries. You can buy 72 AA or 72 AAA Kodak Max batteries that don’t expire until 2019 for only $15 plus $5 shipping. That is a really awesome deal that I am about to take advantage of.

    • I’ll second the motion on the Streamlight Stylus Pro. They are ballpoint pen size (I care mine in my shirt pocket next to my pen everywhere), run on 2 AAA batteries with a 6 1/4 hour runtime. Their LED bulb has a 50,000 hour life and they are IPx4 water resistant. While they have been on the market for several years, about 18 months ago they increased the output from 20 lumens to a whopping 48 lumens (again due to advance in technology)! A 48 lumen light will get you out of about any situation you can think of from making your way down and out of a darkened skyscraper to finding your way though the woods. They can be found for less than $20 with just a little searching and are well worth the money. I utlize lithium batteries in mine to get a even longer run time as well as the fact that they are lighter, and they will work with rechargables. Streamlight also offers the Pro Tac line, which offers models that put out 180 lumens for those compelled to reach ‘out and touch someone’. While these are not the cheapest lights available any of the models can be found for less than $50 and, like all Streamlight products, have a Lifetime warranty. I have no vested interest(s) in any of the products I have discussed (but, Hey MD, if they call wanting my email address you have my permission to give it to them! lol!) I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention that while the super bright lights certianly have their uses, in most cases during ANY emergency event it is best to keep a low profile. Any brightness of light, if not used judiciously, will give away your location to others who may not have your best interest in mind.

  9. Just placed my battery order. They also offer an 8 pack of D batteries and a 4 pack of 9 volt for only $5 each. And, the $5 shipping covers everything you buy until midnight of the day of your order. They already sold out of the C batteries. For some reason, it only allows one item in your cart at a time, so each set of batteries has to be purchased individually, buy you only get charged once for the shipping. Just thought I would pass that along.

  10. georgeislearning says:

    Great article thanks for your time. I work in dark places daily and I’ve used lots of various lights. I found this one http://www.bing.com/shopping/nebo-redline-tactical-flashlight-strobe-s-o-s-220-lumen-5581/p/3D16A6865C1D58785003?q=redline+nebo+flashlight&lpq=redline%20nebo%20flashlight&FORM=HURE

    At the army navy store near my house think it was around 25 bucks. Runs on 3 aaa batteries. I’ve used it for over a year daily and nothing but great things to say about it. The best is 220 lumens at 25 bucks.

    You can run it on low, high, strobe or it even has an sos signal flash as well. magnetic base which I like since I can hold screws when Im working.

    I use this belt holster http://www.lowes.com/pd_97124-76951-LHS-03_0__
    as it has a swivel on the belt bracket so while Im working I can adjust the direction the light is aiming while its on my belt, so hands free.

    I run rechargeable batteries
    Great stuff

  11. georgeislearning says:

    Im looking for a good head lamp does anyone have any suggestions on one they use often. I need to get a reliable one.
    Thanks in advance

    • blackproject21 says:

      I use an Energizer headlamp I bought at Wal-Mart. Adjustable angle and has 3 led’s, 2 white and one red. I use it fairly often and it seems to be holding up well, plus it did ‘t break the bank! I’m probably going to go buy a couple more to leave around the house and in the car.

      • blackproject21,
        I agree, the first headlamps I got were Energizer at Wal-Mart, to try them out to see if they would help at work,auto repair,.They are great,inexpensive and they held up well to the beating they took.I’ve since upgraded to Streamlight headlamps,but I bought a couple Energizers to keep around as back ups. Was looking for rechargable headlamps but the only ones out now are too big,bulky and heavy.

        • The only issues I have found on some of the Energizer models is that the head band which holds the unit to your head or headgear seem to become stretched out and lose it elastisicty after moderate use. This may not be an issue if you do not intent to use them for too long or too often, but after testing several over a 6-8 month period of moderate use, I removed them from my Prep stores as a primary, but did keep them as backups, barter or charity. You also have to go through the entire range of settings from high to low (from which ever setting you happen to be using them) in order to turn them off – this could be a serious problem from a security standpoint.

          • MacTex,
            thats about the same for me 6-8 months,but they are lower cost so I have a few here and there for backup or the kids to use. My Streamlight is tough and bright Iv’e had it for 2 years, still going strong.

          • MacTex,
            a hint…for a cheap homemade lantern…take your headlamp put it around a full gallon jug of water facing in,the water will reflect it,lighting up the room.

            • You know, I just learned that (I read it somewhere, can;’t claim I thought outside the box enough to discover for myself) a few weeks ago. Had just enough time to go through and keep a couple of jugs before we lost elec for a day and half. They worked great – I was really amazed. Even on low light setting they were more than ample to make your way about, do tasks by. After a little experimenting I found that if you mant to move them much you can place the head of the light in the crook next to the handle and it is much more secure. Arre probalby most best utilized when suspended from a ceiling fixture – throughs the light in wide are. Thanks for sharing though, I am sure many people are aware of it.

    • riverrider says:

      g, any model by princeton or petzl will serve you well. they are pricey tho. energizer has an okay one too, very bright, but doesn’t hold up forever like the others.

    • I think it is the ray ovak brand is sold at your local Orieleys. It may not be hi end spend allot of money on but it is serviceable and local.

    • I highly recommend the Petzel line of headlights. While they are a bit more expensive, once you use them you will see where the extra cost went. Petzel was one of the first companies to reconize the need and advantage of headlamps over plain flashlights as they can be utilized as a handheld light very easily or worn on the head or headgear to free up your hands. The Petzel models range from less than $20 to spelunking models that cost hundreds. I issue them to my campground workers and even they can’t seem to break them!

  12. As with ammo and flashlights you can never have to many. I have all kinds of flashlights, from old fashioned incandesents, to led and the super bright tactical lights with cree leds. Also have 4 swingway (older made in usa) can openers 2 hand held and 2 bolt on the wall handcrank. But like flashlights you can never have too many can openers so thanks for the tip on the Ez duz it will pick up a few. Remember one is none, two is one , etc,etc, etc.

    • george,
      You’ve hit on what I consider the primary consideration when acquiring an LED flashlight, which is the LED module of which I consider Cree to be the top of the line. From high end Stream lights to my lower end Serengeti, that Cree module is what makes the difference in light output. The main differences between the high and low end will primarily be the thickness of the metal tube body and the workmanship. For instance, my low end light has very thin fine threads on the end cap and requires care to ensure you don’t cross thread them. The other thing would be the quality of the switch and how waterproof or water resistant the entire unit is, based on components like O-rings.

      As for can openers, we’ve always used the hand held Swingway and nothing else. One of our wedding gifts (more than 30 years ago) was an electric can opener which we gave away within a year due to lack of use and needing the counter space. The current one is about 4 years old and I’m not sure where it was made, but the quality seems pretty good and comparable with all of the old ones we’ve had in the past.

  13. Texanadian says:

    If the SHTF knowing what time it is will be a function of when the sun comes and goes down. Days of the week/month won’t be that important either except for maybe planting.

    • Can’t be late for the end of the world! Seriously, good point. Up to a little over a hundred years ago you were up with the sun and, in most cases, through when it went down, and back to the saftey of your home. Man has been fighting to dominate the darkness for time immortal and STILL haven’t conguered it. If you absolutely have to have a wrist time peice, there are still some automatics out there that are powered by the movement of your arm. While they may not be the most accurate (compared to Quartz movements) you can probalby cople with the loss of a minute every six months. Sundials still do the job as well (but you may have a problem with Daylight Savings Time).

      • If you push a stick into the ground and watch it on a sunny day, it is noon when the stick no longer has a shadow. You set your wind up clock to noon and you’re good to go. That’s how we did it until the railroads needed to keep schedule, since solar noon in NY city occurs about an hour before Cincinnati. Early coordinated time when that happened in the 1800′s was for a while actually called railroad time.

  14. MountainSurvivor says:

    I like my big black police style flashlight and if it ever dies on me, permanently, I will just have to go with hurricane lanterns, candles and torches. In a couple of months I might go ahead and purchase a carbide lantern and the fuel because, if I remember right, it uses only water.

    • MountainSurvivor,
      I have several carbide lanterns, which have gotten really expensive. I used to use them for spelunking, although the LED has taken over in that arena as well. The problem with them is that Calcium Carbide (which outgases Acetylene when damp) will quickly degrade over time with the least bit of moisture. And yes, that substance has also gotten expensive. They’re a nice novelty, but long term perhaps not a good reliable source.

      • Hunker-Down says:

        OhioPrepper,

        Way back, before grass, we would ‘borrow’ carbide lanterns from the coal miners in the family and use them to hunt for nightcrawlers. They didn’t mind our using the lamps, but always grumbled about us using up their carbide.

  15. Alittle2late says:

    I just recently upgraded all of my maglites to the new bulbs. which reminds me to ck for replacement bulbs for my rechargeable maglite. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Hey guys,thanks for the discussion. One thing I thought of and one I forgot to mention. Thought – trashed flashlights might be a good place to hide some silver. Would still feel like the thing has batteries in it and be a decent billy club. Energizer makes a LED flashlight (i purchased one a few years ago from Wally World) that uses C/AA/AAA batteries. It’s called the Enerizer Weather Ready and has an adapter inside that adjusts to any of these three sizes. This can be handy when you only have one size battery on hand.

  17. Desert Fox says:

    It’s a good idea to stock up on those flashlights that you wind. You won’t need batteries and they work faily good. I’ve been saving old calendars for the pictures for my young grandchildren, I didn’t realize I was prepping!

    For those of us that need longer arms to read…stocking up on reading glasses…or if you need rx’s or contacts…better get a year’s supply. And while you’re at it…ladies…don’t forget the extra make up, cold cream and eye pencils and lipsticks…it might just lift your spirits when the need arises. ;)

  18. SageBrush Queen says:

    re: Maglite replacement bulbs — another possible source of extra bulbs and other Maglite products is your friendly neighborhood Snap-on franchisee. My hubby carries these on his truck and can sell to anyone; don’t know how many others do, but it’s worth a shot and you’d be supporting a local business. (Yes, local! Most guys behind the wheel of those trucks are independent owner/franchisees who own the truck, tools, and accounts and are struggling to compete with the Big Box stores, too.)

    • Great Idea Sagebrush Queen! You do not need an account to buy from them. You just need to pay in full when ordering or picking up the tool.I used to have an account at the local snap on dealer when I worked at a dealership and my rep sold mag and streamlight brand lights.

      • Sage Brush Queen says:

        Thanks, axelsteve, they are a good source for lots of useful gadgets. Knives, too – they carry Kershaw. Like I said, perhaps not all dealers will have them in inventory but a good one would order things for you and should have them within a week. They also carry Streamlight products, which somone mentioned above.
        Just ask your mechanic/service person for their dealer’s cell number. Call him/her during regular business hours, not evenings or weekends, please! :) Then go meet them at one of their stops and pay with your credit or debit card.

    • SageBrush Queen,
      I have been an auto tech for almost 30 years and have gotten many lights from Snap On dealers, they have Maglite and most also carry Streamlight.In most cases they will be able to warranty through them. They are a great source of info on whats hot and new.You will pay a pemium price but many will work with you on cash sales.They also carry batteries,bulbs,lenses,and other accessories.

      • SageBrush Queen says:

        Big D,
        Big thanks for your support of the Snap-on brand and for pointing out the warranty program – another great benefit of buying from a local Snap-on Franchisee! What area of the country are you in? Sounds like you’ve been lucky enough to have had good dealers over the years. My husband has been a Dealer for 23+ years and we’ve seen the gamut of dealers come and go, ranging from “really great” to “pretty clueless” as far as their business acumen goes (which is why I included the advice that not all trucks will have the same things in inventory. ;) )

        • SageBrushQueen,
          I’m in the birthplace of America, Pennsylvania. I’ve had some really good and some not so much as far as customer service.It seems like it can be a great job, but I hear the horror stories too.It’s nice to see some one face to face that you can build a professional relationship with.Knowing that you are getting high quality tools and supplies,and if there’s a problem it will be taken care of.

  19. Cops like Maglites because they are heavy and can be used to crack someone over the head.

    For a good, durable flashlight that is guaranteed for life, I prefer the Pelican.

    That comes from using one during my fire department career. They are tough.

  20. Marti,
    I have a drawer full of old Maglights,they were the best…20 years ago.When

    • I would go to use them the batteries were always dead,every time I dropped,bumped or looked at them funny the bulb would blow.But they were better than the other junk around. Then I was turned on to LEDs from Streamlight,WOW, what a huge difference,better light,longer battery life,durable,reliable,no bulb to break,half the size and weight,did I mention better light?Yes the price was much higher but you figure in the cost of batteries, bulbs and the annoyance factor they are worth every penny.
      The prices have come down dramaticly as the quality has gone up.
      The best on the market are made by Surefire…high end for profesional and military use with a price to match.Second just below is Streamlight…excellent products for every need and good prices and a lifetime warranty. I have several of their products including EDC,work,headlamps,hunting, and emergency lights.
      The only downside is most ,if not all, quality LEDs have computer controls onboard, they probably won’t work after an EMP.

  21. Grandpappy says:

    Several colors have been recommended for low light/night vision preservation. Red for one, blue or green for some other function. Anyone know which is whatever?

    A set of multicolor lenses might be handy, like the military style.

    We have a few cheapo headlamps with blinking red leds, not steady on. Would have to make some lens adapters to get the right colors.

    Handcrank flashlight/power supply units have been criticized for being fragile. Are there any sturdy ones?

    • Grandpappy,
      The red light is for nighttime vision it helps keep your eyes adjusted to the dark,like a pirate eye patch,when reading maps. The blue and green are for tracking wounded animals, the blood shows up better.Some of the higher quality crank lights are made by Freeplay and Eton,but the energizer brand is actually pretty good for the money.

      • Grandpappy says:

        Thanks for the info..I just remember vaguely something about the blue or green light preferable for map reading or some tactical. Can’t quite place it.

      • Good Lord, Big D, you sound like as much of a flashligh junkie as I am! I have also heard that the green light is the best for reading maps as it allows colors(on maps) to appear correctly and is also favored by individals dealing with animals at night becuase it does not cause as much of a reaction as does a white light – any feedback on that?

        • MacTex,
          Yes the green can help maps if colors are important. When using the light to see an animals it depends on the animal what color will spook it more white or red will scare them all a light green may work better,ultra violet is a no no,infared is preferred but then you would need a night vision device,blue is used for tracking blood trails, red is for keeping night vision intact.

        • MacTex,
          One other company that has a new idea is 5.11 Tactical,their UC3.400 is a 270 lumen LED ‘police style ‘ flashlight that has no batteries.Instead it relies on a computer controlled capacitor,plug it in and 90 seconds later its fully charged. Nothing to break or replace.

  22. I’d like to add a sub category to thermometers… meat thermometers. I don’t use mine in the house, but when we camp or grill, or even use the solar oven, I make sure that our food has the correct internal temperature. In a grid down situation or if you’re on the move and unconventional cooking is necessary, you don’t want to get sick over undercooked food. Mine is a simple dial on a probe, which has the doneness for different meats, eggs, casseroles, etc already marked. Additionally, I have a hard copy of these temperatures packed in my cooking box.

  23. Grandpappy says:

    Thanks for the tip about glass thermometers, and the magnifying thermometer. I need one for sure.

  24. Hey all, just thought I would drop my 2 cents in on lighting….for headlamps I have gone through quite a few, all led’s. I have never had a bulb go out, the wiring always goes first(light starts going in and out) and eventually gets too frustrating to even use. The pelican headlamps I own haven’t done this on me though. Actually it is the expensive and feature rich ones like the petzl’s and black diamond’s that seem to crap out the quickest. Bummer because they have always been my favorites.

    Also I just learned a lot about led from reading the back articles on the backwoods home website, they have a very detailed 3 part series going into depth about all aspects of led’s. A few things I learned is that led technology is advancing rapidly, you can build your own LEDs pretty simply(so one could stock up on all the various parts needed). The most interesting thing I learned was that the process of making LEDs is apparently fickle and multiple “batches” will come out of each production run. They are graded and the higher quality ones are more expensive and superior in all ways. Some manufacturers will tell you what “bin” or batch their bulbs came from, the cheaper lights you can assume came from the lower quality bins. Also how each individual light is designed in regards to managing heat really effects the life span of the bulbs. Tat is the reason that the bulbs are rated to last for such a long time but don’t actually survive that long. If the led design does run under optimal temps and conditions the the bulbs would survive a lot longer, but most lights aren’t going to fall into “optimum” conditions. Sorry that was windy, check out those articles if you want to know the whole story….

    • Grandpappy says:

      Might be possible to rewire failed expensive headlamps. This would require soldering, or a conductive epoxy glue. The junctions and stress points can be reinsulated and reinforced with heat shrink insulation and Shoe Goo.

      Do the manufacturers make good on failed wiring on these high dollar units?

  25. try this one. I have prime so shipping is free. I have seven now and they are great and very bright. I love the little yellow laser warning sticker on a flashlight with no laser in it. Do not shine in your eyes.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006E0QAFY/ref=pd_1ctyhuc__sim_01_03
    or
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007FC5A5Q/ref=pd_1ctyhuc__sim_01_02

  26. I recieved a new flashlight for Christmas that has some very intersting features on it and is used by the military. I have no idea what the cost is as it was a gift, but from what I am able to find by way of reviews from the GIs that used it it is well thought of. It is called the PHANTOM WARRIOR TLS and was designed around the concept that the sudden activation of a light is what will be seen, even at a great distance. To aleviate this problem the controls work like a dimmer switch on a overhead room light, slowly advancing the light so that it doesn’t suddenly JUMP out at night. The switch operates in two directions – one direction has spring load on it so that if dropped it turns itself off so that it doesn’t portray your position to a possible enemy. In the other direction it will push to the brightness you desire and remain there until turned off. It is made to hold 4 lithiun AA batterys(will run on alkaline or rechargeables as well), and while it does not give any actual runtimes most reveiws said that it worked for an entire tour of duty without repalcement. The included literature states that the ‘average’ runtime is 150 hours. One of the most surprising things to most people is that the max light setting is less than 100 lumens, and the lowest is around 3-5 lumens, good map reading brightness. I recommend googling it to find out the other features as it is a very well thought out and designed darkness neutralizing device. I have seen it as low as $24.95 on Ebay dut do not know the condition nor composition. It comes with a specially designed mount that allows it to be placed on a helmet but can also be attached to molle straps, coat/shirt pockets, or be used as a stand to place on a flat surface and aim the light at whatever angle you desire. Of course I am totally intriqued with it (simple minds, simple pleasures), but have only had a month to put it through the paces. If runtime proves to be halfway decent it will definelty find a place in my BOB. Different configurations are available to include IR, ultraviolet, red, blue or green (for a three total with white being the constant). It is 6in by 1in and weighs just under 5 ounces with batteries and included clip and (neck) lanyard. It has other features too lengthy to discuss here, so check it out online.

  27. TexasScout says:

    I love my MagLight, but it’s just too heavy so it stays in the house by my bed.

    Thermometers, find some bi-metal 3″ face thermometers. they have various probe lengths and are cheap (15-20 dollars), reasonably accurate (+or- 1-2 deg) and tough as nails.

    Watches, Casio SOLAR powered WaveCeptor. The ONLY way to go.

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  29. You should get some F.R.E.D spoons, they’re fantastic can openers. They’re about the length of a thumb, really thin, easy to use, cheap, and they can open most cans, from coke cans to paint tins.