Review: 3 Practical-Not-Tactical Flashlights for Less Than $16

Not all flashlights have to be tactical and not all of them have to be expensive. In this review, I’ll take a look at 3 different lights that offer more functionality and usefulness than their cost would indicate. None of the lights reviewed below cost more than $16 each.

Streamlight Microstream

Streamlight Microstream

The Streamlight Microstream is interesting to me because it seems to occupy the space between tactical lights and keychain lights. It is small enough to carry on a key chain but it has a very useable tail cap switch that lets it serve as a backup tactical light. At just over 1 ounce in weight, it can be comfortably carried as a backup to a larger light.

Streamlight says the Microstream puts out 28 lumens for 1.5 hours which is pretty decent for a single AAA light. You will likely still get useable light after 1.5 hours if you are stuck without a spare battery, but output will be greatly diminished by then. The Microstream will surprise you with how good 28 lumens can look. Streamlight did a great job sorting out the reflector on this light. It has a very useable beam profile with surprising throw for such a small light.

Streamlight Microstream Tailcap

The body of the Microstream is constructed from hard anodized aluminum. The switch is covered with a rubber boot and the lens is made from polycarbonate. Its clip has a two way clip that allows for bezel up or down carry. It is also handy for attaching the Microstream to the brim of our cap to serve as an improvised headlamp.

The only real issue that I have with this light is that the switches are fairly stiff. Momentary activation is easy enough, but if you have to click it on, it takes significant effort.

Princeton Tec AMP 1L

Princeton Tec Amp 1L

The Princeton Tec Amp 1L isn’t a tactical light but it is definitely a practical light. Like most Princeton Tec lights, it is made from plastic and very water resistant. It boasts 45 lumen output for 72 hours (72!) from 2 AAA batteries, a large loop for attaching it to your gear, and a built in bottle opener. That’s right. I said built in bottle opener.

Princeton Tec AMP 1L with Diffuser Cone

The Amp 1L is available in two different versions. The more commonly found version is just the light. There is also a version that comes with a white plastic cone that snaps onto the bezel that turns the Amp 1L into an area light. It works great and while the cone is available separately, it is cheaper to just seek out the combo package that includes the cone. I should note that my AMP 1L that came packaged with the cone didn’t have the bottle opener, but I think the current package lights now include the built in bottle opener.

This light is great for all kinds of outdoor pursuits. It is also a perfect addition to your BOB or power outage kits. It can be used to peer a fair distance down the trail and then, by attaching the diffuser cone, it makes a great lightweight lantern. This versatility along with its durability, run time, low cost ($10-12), and ability to remove the barriers between you and ice cold refreshment make the AMP 1L a great all-around light.

eGear SplashFlash

eGear SplashFlash

I recently posted about a deal that I found on the eGear SplashFlash and many of you conveyed to me that you were able to pick up several of them. Well, I hope you held onto your receipts because I have good news. The price has gone down to less than $2 a light and if you take in your receipt, they will adjust the price.

This light is a bargain and deserves to be on this list at its normal $8-10 price. The SplashFlash is about the size of a tube of chapstick and yet it has already replaced much larger lights for me. It runs off of a single AAA battery, features plastic construction with a large o-ring to make it submersible, and comes with a small carabiner. It has two modes of operation that are selected by twisting the bezel into the on position. The first time you turn it on, it will be in constant on mode. The second time will put the SplashFlash in SOS beacon mode.

What makes the SplashFlash special is a combination of 4 things: size, weight, run time, and its ability to replace much larger lights. I have already mentioned the size above, but, with the included carabiner, it weighs only about 1 ounce. It will run for 11 hours (I have actually seen more than 12 hours of useful light) on a single AAA and its frosted dome spreads its 25 lumens around the entire room. The result is a tiny light that weighs almost nothing, and can replace a lantern in your kit.

I always used to carry small battery powered lanterns when camping. The term “small” in the previous sentence is relative because the lanterns/area lights that I used before are about the same size and weight as 5 SplashFlash lights. These are a great addition to a BOB or emergency kit.

Wrap Up

There is room in any Trigger Jerk’s budget or backpack for lights like these!

3 Responses to Review: 3 Practical-Not-Tactical Flashlights for Less Than $16

  1. Publius February 11, 2013 at 18:04 #

    My favorite pocket flashlight is the Streamlight Microstream body with the head from a Fenix L0D-Q4. Gives a forward clicky switch with a five mode head that has a glass lens and bumps up the output substantially over the base Microstream.

  2. Fred February 11, 2013 at 22:40 #

    I’ve been carrying the Streamlight for a couple years now, and I have no complaints.

    When the battery gets low though, it tends to just blink off, rather than shine dim light. Upside is, real world use (even in Afghanistan…) I’ve been getting upwards of 6 months off a battery.


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