Flashlight Belt Wear

Question: I'm a handyman by trade and am looking for a small flashlight to wear on my belt to work everyday. The nature of the jobs I work necessitate easy access with one hand. What are my options for an affordable flashlight to wear on my belt? Thomas from Baltimore.

Answer: There are many options available to you on the flashlight, or torch market, as the British would say. Check out my flashlight reviews for an idea of what's available. I would first decide which flashlight best fits your needs then decide on how to carry it. I'm going to recommend flashlights that have click-on tailcaps that are simple to manipulate with one hand.

Maglite XL100

One very recognizable brand is Maglite. They have a new LED flashlight labeled the XL100. It's 1" in diameter by 5" long and uses three AAA batteries to fuel a maximum output of 83 lumens. It has several modes that are selectable via the tailswitch, including normal, strobe, low output, signal, and SOS. Battery life on the high mode is 5 hours. It's 201 hours when used in the low mode. Best of all, the XL100 sells for around $35 online. The only negative about the XL100 is that the user interface is somewhat cumbersome. If you take time to learn its' operation, it's not a big deal. I prefer simpler user interfaces, however.

Fenix E21

Another good option is the flashlights from Fenix Lights. They offer a variety of lights that run on AAA or AA batteries. One option is the E21. It is about 6.5" long by 1" in diameter. The E21 runs on two AA batteries that are inexpensive or may be free from your employer. The E21 has two output modes that are changed by turning the bezel. The low output mode produces 48 lumens for 11 hours. In high mode, the E21 has an output of 135 lumens and a runtime of about 2 hours. Like all Fenix lights, the E21 includes spare replacement parts and accessories, such as O-rings and rubber tailcap boot. The E21 sells for around the same price as the Maglite XL100; $35.

Surefire GX2

If American made is important and you don't mind ordering batteries, the new Surefire GX2 is a good choice. It's 5.2" long and 1.25" in diameter at the bezel. The body is made from molded polymer. The GX2 has two output settings; a 200 lumen high mode and 15 lumen low mode. The runtimes are 2 hours on high and 45 on low. The GX2 runs on two CR123A lithium batteries. Obviously, the 200 lumen setting gives the user the option of a much higher output than the other lights mentioned. The 200 lumen mode was probably intended for more of a tactical role, however. The GX2 sells for around $95.

Belt Holders

All of those three flashlights are small enough to work well in a belt holder. There are many different belt pouches, holders, and sheaths on the market to fit those flashlights. One of the best options, in my opinion, is the Nite Ize Lite Holster Stretch. The Lite Holster Stretch fits any diameter flashlight from 5/8" to 1.5". There are no retaining bands or straps to undo before drawing the flashlight. Elastic tension holds the flashlight in place and re-holstering is easily done with one hand. The Lite Holster Stretch also has an easy-on, easy-off belt clip so that you can wear it without having to thread the pouch around your belt buckle. Best of all, it sells for only $9.

Pocket and Belt Clips

Another thing to consider is that many flashlights now have pocket clips installed on them. Most pocket clips will also clip to a belt. Keep in mind that wearing a flashlight with a belt clip is makes it more likely to be bumped and lost. Some good options for flashlights equipped with pocket clips include the Streamlight Pro-Tac 2AA, the NovaTac Storm, Surefire L1 and E1B. All of the flashlights mentioned are waterproof to more or lesser degrees. When choosing a flashlight, decide how much spot (think spotlight) or flood you want from the beam. If you are looking to light a whole room, you'll want more flood. If you want a tight beam to reach out into the distance, spot will be important to you. Every flashlight model displays differences in the spot/flood ratio. Also, stay away from the mini flashlights due to more difficult switching options. Larger flashlights have easier to manipulate clickie tailcaps.

I recommend against rechargeable flashlights because they are usually much larger and will need downtime to recharge. It's much faster to just install new batteries and keep going.

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