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.