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As with pocket knives, we at Toolmonger have never met a flashlight we didn’t like. That’s not to say they’re all created equal — but in general we dig lights. However, when Life+Gear sent us a few of their highland series lights we decided not to play nice. In fact, we were quite unfair about the whole thing: we gave them to my wife. Let me explain.

My other half has been in security and law enforcement for going on 20 years now. And while Chuck and I look upon the humble flashlight as a useful tool to illuminate the dark, the thin blue line also deploys them as door stops, pry bars, shovels, hammers, beat-down sticks, and, my personal favorite, “I don’t wanna touch it; you touch it.” It’s a much more multi-purpose tool when they get involved. So when we handed over the the pair of 400 lumen, 3 x C battery, 11.5-inch Aluminum-bodied lights, we knew they’d get a workout.

The tactical ring right up front on the business end is what made us think of this test group in the first place. Modern lights have adopted that feature for blunt thrusting the thing like a club. Next came the three LED lights with different modes: the main light has high, low, and strobe. The back end, powered by a 50-hour watch battery setup, sports a red light the has glow, flashing, and S.O.S. modes (though our test models were missing S.O.S. mode). The 400 lumen light worked great, but should that not be enough for you, the folks at Life+Gear tell us their series goes from 80 all the way up to 1,000 lumens, which must but a little like a pocket sun, not to mention burn through batteries.

One of my favorite features of the light turned out to be the solid ring underneath the head. After hearing tales of the exciting lives of these lights, I thought the ring must have some sinister purpose. In reality it turned out to be like the moment in Indiana Jones where Belloc unfolds this wicked-looking torture device that turns out to be a jacket hanger. In our case, when the trooper dropped it into his ring keeper on his belt and it caught on the ring I felt pretty silly. The ring holds the head of the light off the ring enough so you can grab without looking and clear the keeper in seconds.

These poor flashlights were passed around, collectively achieving a week in turn with a state trooper, a sheriff’s deputy, a corporate security guard, and a tactical team sergeant. The one that came back to the shop was on the gently worn side of things. The casing was banged up pretty good, and one of the prongs was severely bent and scuffed. As worse for wear as it looks, this flashlight served with distinction: it propped a stranded motorist’s hood open, was closed in a squad car door (twice), beat a 1-1/2″ steel pipe back into its socket, found a little girl’s lost teddy, was used in many lockup rounds, and, as we understand it, shattered a window to ventilate smoke in an RV fire. In short, the pros used them like they use all their equipment — hard and to every advantage available.

One of the lights never came home, finding its permanent home in a squad car. The other will also return to service soon after getting these pictures taken, headed back to the sheriff’s department, banged up though it may be. The $100 price tag seemed like a worthwhile investment to each of the professionals who used them. More than anything else this proves the lights did well out in the field. They may not be my cup of tea, but then it looks as if they really weren’t designed for me and my boring-ass work in the shop.

Highland Series 400 Lumen Flashlight [Life Gear]
Street Pricing [Google]


15 Responses to Hands-On: Life+Gear 400 Lumen Tactical Flashlight

  1. mike G says:

    Looks like a pretty cool flashlight thats good for everything! Illuminate a room and bust open a car window. not bad!

  2. KN says:

    Now that’s a way to test a light! Kudos on the review.

  3. joe homeowner says:

    I can’t wait till harbor freight rips this one off!!!

  4. Matthew Gerber says:

    Not Belloq…Thot. Belloq is the rival French archeologist.

    Agree that this was a great way to test these lights. What a workout. I guess these would be great for camping with the Scouts then…hopefully less burning RV window breaking though.

    • Golobulus says:

      The German in Indiana Jones is named Toht.

      My only gripe about these flashlights is having to cycle through the low/flash/high/off setting. I wish there was a selector switch that could be set to high and that the light could just be turned on and off with the main button.

  5. Brad Justinen says:

    Awesome post!!!!

  6. Mike G says:

    @matthew G. Sounds like a good flash light for Boy Scouts and fits with th motto of Be prepared and then some!

  7. Jerry says:

    Seems to be a pretty good light. However (this is a personal issue), I am so tired of worn out naming ideas for all kinds of products. “Tactical” seems to be a word that attracts a lot of folks. I even spotted a “tactical can opener” which was simply the old military standby opener. Of course, they could have made it even worse by calling it an “iLight”. That damned lower case “i” shows up everywhere. Sealy (I think) even makes an “i-Comfort mattress.” I guess it’s not vanity if the “i” is lower case? For a good, tough, potent light, I’ll stick with my old “Mag”lights. I have several of them in various configs from a single “AAA” to the big “police style head cracker.” Either bought as LED or converted.

    • NorskeDiv says:

      I want a “strategic” can opener for theater sized can opening operations. No reason to limit yourself to squad based can opening.

  8. I have long held the opinion that the word “tactical” usually only means “black”.

    Also, those pronged heads have a purpose other than hurting people: They let you see if the flashlight is turned on, when it’s balanced on its nose.

    A simple un-crenellated edge won’t let any light escape when the flashlight’s lens-down on a table, allowing absent-minded users to flatten the batteries for nothing, and possibly also damage the LEDs through overheating.

  9. mike G says:

    Call me crazy- but a think a bunch of police man and women beating this flashlight to heck- smashing in windows, busting bad guys, banging pipes back into place- constitutes tactical. All i’m saying. But I do agree slapping a tactical label on something just because its black- is not cool.

  10. Black Soap says:

    Be thankful your samples didn’t have SOS. Many new lights are brighter than would have been believed a few short years ago, and at the same time last longer, but manufacturers seem to think they can’t compete without throwing in some added complexity. A lot of them switch to SOS mode after turning the light off and immediately back on – which gets done a lot more often than you might expect. Hand the flashlight to someone who doesn’t have a degree in operating expensive flashlights, and see how long it takes before SOS mode is activated. Ditch the SOS mode completely, and just make a bright, efficient light. If I want a less-blinding light, I’ll carry a smaller light in addition to the giant light – and won’t blind myself looking for my keys by accidentally turning it on in the wrong mode.

    Another problem many multi-mode flashlights have is parasitic drain – their is constant small drain on the batteries, usually used to “remember” the last setting used. That means that if you set the light on a shelf for a while, it will probably be dead when you pick it up a month later. To make things worse, completely draining an alkaline battery is a pretty good way to make it leak, ruining your expensive flashlight in the process. This is common in many lights, but it appears NOT to be the case on these Lifegear lights.

    I’m glad to hear those lights turned out tough. Better, well made lights with fewer modes – that is what everyone should be going for.

    As far as the “tactical” comments – yes, anything colored black will be sold as “tactical.” As long as some states (which will remain nameless) don’t try to pass “assault flashlight” bans, the only thing the tactical label hurts is your wallet. (anything sold as “tactical” is automatically worth more, apparently. Just like polarized sunglasses cost more in the fishing section than in the sunglasses aisle).

  11. Brandon says:

    looks good for the price point and i like the red light on the rear. id probly use this on my bicycle as a head light and tail light.

  12. Jim says:

    The S.O.S. function is activated by pressing & holding the end-button. About 4-5 seconds will do it. It’s a very rapid SOS sequence, but an SOS it certainly is!

    It can activated on mine either from the start-up (no red lights on) position or, if you press & hold it for 4-5 seconds while the red lights are flashing, it will shift to SOS mode.

    I stumbled on this totally by trial & error, just like figuring out about the separate 2016 battery to power the red-lights on the endcap.

    I do like mine, though, and since they’re back on sale come 9/1, there’ll probably be a couple more in my future…

  13. JARED H says:

    I received this flashlight as a gift two years ago. I’ve only used it a few times camping/fishing and now the light for each mode is too dim to use even after replacing with new batteries. I’ve replaced with new batteries several times, but the light is still too dim to use and doesn’t perform how it did when it was brand new.

    This company only offers a 1 year warranty on their products. Any reputable flashlight company will have a lifetime warranty on their products.

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