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Light ‘Em Up: Pocket-Sized Back-Up Flashlights

Before hitting the trails, it’s best to be prepared for any and every eventuality you might come across. One of them is finding yourself out after sundown without any means of illuminating your surroundings. Mobile light, in the form of a flashlight that can bathe bright light on any area that you choose, can not only be helpful, but can possibly even save your life.

If your electrical system has gone haywire, leaving your truck without power, or if you’ve got to crawl under your rig to repair a bent control arm, a compact yet powerful handheld light can help you save the day. The merits of having a flashlight to light your path while hiking to safety in the dead of night, deep in the bush, is a no-brainer too. Watch your step!

With so many choices out there, just where does one begin when considering a flashlight for emergency use? We chose to narrow the field down to flashlights that can easily fit into a storage unit in the cab of a truck, such as a center console or glove box, and small enough to stuff into one’s jacket or pants pockets.

We also wanted to showcase flashlights with a long battery life, good brightness, with a useful beam pattern and throw distance, and robust build. Some generate prodigious amounts of lumens, while others are easy to find in the dark. Let’s take a look at some choices for your next back-up flashlight.


5.11 TPT L2 251

Max Lumens: 251

Max Runtime: 58.5 hours

Modes: High / Low / Strobe

Battery: CR123 (2)

Overall Length: 5.1 inches

Weight with Batteries: 1.7 ounces

Notes: Built from water- and impact-resistant polymer composite for durability, the TPT L2 251 can run in high mode for 3.5 hours or a 13-lumens low mode for 58.5 hours. It is available in a bright-yellow color, as shown here, which makes it easy to find in a hurry. Its square-head design prevents rolling.

MSRP: $45


Fenix UC40 UE

Max Lumens: 960

Max Runtime:  150 hours

Modes: Turbo / High / Mid / Low

Battery: CR123 (2) or 18650 Li-ion (1)

Overall Length: 5.8 inches

Weight with Batteries: 5.1 ounces

Notes: The UC40 UE boasts an incredible 960 max-lumens rating and 150 hours of life. It is powered by your choice of a USB rechargeable Li-ion battery or two disposable CR123A lithium batteries.

MSRP: $112


LA Police Gear Operator L1

Max Lumens: 800

Max Runtime: 63 hours

Modes: High / Medium / Low / Strobe

Battery: CR123 (2) or 18650 (1)

Overall Length: 6.1 inches

Weight with Batteries: 6.0 ounces

Notes: The Operator L1 has four light modes, including a high of 800 lumens and an emergency strobe setting. It can run for an impressive 2.3 hours on its high mode or 63 hours on low mode.

MSRP: $60


Nitecore MH27

Max Lumens: 1,000

Max Runtime: 19 hours

Modes: Turbo / High / Medium / Low / Ultralow / Red / Green / Blue

Battery: CR123 (2) or 18650 (1)

Overall Length: 6.1 inches

Weight with Batteries: 7.0 ounces

Notes: Packed full of light options, the MH27 not only fires white light, but also red, blue and green light as well. Colored lights can be great for preserving night-adapted vision. The MH27 can blast up to 1,000 lumens for one hour, or one lumen for an astounding 708 hours. Plus, it has three more lighting modes in between.

MSRP: $90



Pelican 3310PL

Max Lumens: 378

Max Runtime: 202 hours

Modes: High / Low / Flashing

Battery: AA (3)

Overall Length: 6.1 inches

Weight with Batteries: 6.3 ounces

Notes: From the makers of your favorite hard cases comes a rugged emergency-use flashlight, which not only brightly glows in the dark, but also has the capability of running 190 hours on just three AA batteries. After all, what’s the use of a flashlight if you can’t find it in the pitch black of night?

MSRP: $37


Streamlight Scorpion HL

Max Lumens: 725

Max Runtime: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Modes: High / Low / Strobe

Battery: CR123 (2)

Overall Length: 5.5 inches

Weight with Batteries: 4.8 ounces

Notes: If you’re looking for a super-bright flashlight with extra grip in wet conditions, you will want to consider the Scorpion HL. It features a whopping 725 lumens and a rubber, armored cover over its anodized aluminum body, which is textured for a sure grip with gloved hands.

MSRP: $120


SureFire P3X Fury with IntelliBeam

Max Lumens: 1,000

Max Runtime: 53 hrs.

Modes: High / Auto-Adjusting

Battery: CR123 (3)

Overall Length: 7.2”

Weight with Batteries: 7.8 oz.

Notes: With the Intellibeam version of the P3X Fury, you get a variable 15 to 1,000 lumen beam that auto-adjusts to your lighting needs. A sensor built into the head senses and adjusts to lighting conditions so you never need to adjust it yourself. A max output override is available if you need to unleash its 1,000 lumens, regardless of conditions.

MSRP: $279


Uzi XM25 Combat Light

Max Lumens: 500

Max Runtime: 150 hours

Modes: High / Medium / Low

Battery: AA (2)

Overall Length: 5.9 inches

Weight with Batteries: 4.4 ounces

Notes: The Uzi XM25 is constructed of aerospace-grade aluminum and is waterproof up 6.6 feet. It features a bright CREE XM-L2 T6 bulb that is good for 500 lumens of blinding light. It uses easily-sourced AA batteries, which is a plus.

MSRP: $80


Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Winter 2016 print issue of Tread Magazine.

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