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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.

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As Sean pointed out yesterday, it’s that time of year again — the time where we start to see tools packaged and targeted at the gift-buying crowd. We ran across the above “set” in a big box the other day, and it strikes us as a great example of the genre. Let’s take a look at it specifically, but more importantly, let’s look at how this particular package exposes some of the tactics you’re likely to see in the marketing deluge that we call “the holiday season” — and what you can do to get the most bang for your gift bucks.

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It’s a rare day when we pass up cheap tools. In the case of cheap light, we’re very similar to a moth to a, well, you know. I saw this one in the discount bin at the local drug store for $2. In this case that’s roughly six-and-a-half cents per LED (31 total).

With the whole side panel and front bulb cluster wrapped in a 10″ aluminium frame, these LEDs are light and sturdy. The light packs are bright and work well for either close work or general lighting, considering the power plant is three AAA batteries coiled in a cylinder at the butt of the unit.

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So you got a flashlight with your last M12, M18, or v28 kit purchase, but you bought before they started shipping LED lights as standard. Then you (or someone else, *cough*Sean*cough*) drops it off the back of a truck and dinks out the little incandescent bulb. You could swap in another incandescent, but more and more often now we’re seeing in-place LED replacement parts like the one pictured above. It’s compatible with pretty much any of the existing Milwaukee incandescents, but we’ve even heard of people swapping it in for other similarly-shaped and -sized bulbs.

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We love writing about flashlights here at Toolmonger, mostly because flashlights are incredibly useful but somehow almost always seem to end up as the least-thought-out “extra” in a combo count. We think (and suspect you do, too) that flashlights are good for more than just increasing tool count. So I couldn’t help but give a mention to Makita’s new offering, the excitingly-named (kidding) LXLM01. The name might be forgettable, but I thought one thing when I saw this sucker: it looks exactly like those awkward lights everyone carried around on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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They’re nothing super-special, but you can never have too many lights of various sorts kickin’ around the shop. Northern Tool is currently offering a pack of three different LED lights — all featuring various flexible arms — for $10.

The smallest is a “mini 1/2-watt light” with a 4-3/4″ arm. The middle-sized one includes three LEDs and a 7-3/4″ arm, and the big hulkin’ on with the clamp mount brings six LEDs to bear with an even longer flex arm.

Wel-Bilt 3-Pk of LED Flex Lights [Northern Tool]


This light has almost made the favorites list for the last two years but has been knocked out somehow or other. This year, however, it stands as proof that Milwaukee has been kicking ass of late with products that make sense. Our M12 lights have been through all manner of hell and still perform beyond expectation.

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They say the trick to being a good arms dealer is to quietly arm both sides and wait for the repeat business. It would appear Stanley has learned that lesson; they supply security and law enforcement with gear, and now for the other side of that equation the Ultra Bright 5 watt LED spotlight is available for clumsy, teenage vagrants as seen here. It’s a growth market, really.

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When I covered a cigarette lighter flashlight a while ago, many people commented that it was a cool idea, but it just wasn’t executed very well. Maybe rather than having your flashlight live in your cigarette lighter, it might be more practical to take a regular-looking flashlight and build in an auto adapter so it can be recharged right in your car without any special cables. Out of the few entries in this category, I looked into two that looked the most promising: an OEM flashlight from Duluth Trading Company and a model from Dorcy.

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These aren’t exactly going to make killer work lights, but it seems everyone I know loves the idea of these little, bright pocket LED flashlights. And who wouldn’t? The form factor is perfect for tossing in a camping bag or your glovebox. Of course, the high-end ones can run you upwards of $50 — and blind you from 50′. But the cheap-ass models, while significantly less powerful, get pretty cheap indeed. I guess they’re pretty much the penlight of the new century.

And here’s one you can have for $4.50. Hell, it’s even Prime-enabled on Amazon, so if you happen to have a Prime account, you won’t even pay shipping.

PS: Yes, I know there are shops online (and even on Amazon) advertising this for as little as $0.01. But you’ll pay an imperial assload of shipping, which means you’ll likely pay more than $4.50 all said and done. Hence why I picked this one.

Neiko 9-LED Compact Aluminum Flashlight Via Amazon [What’s This?]