They keep getting smaller and brighter.

It’s a super windy day, with temps unlikely to get out of the fifties. So I’m cocooning indoors today.


A little discouraging to look out my bedroom window and watch the wind bounce tumbleweeds up my driveway from the wash, when I just finished clearing the homegrown ones out of my yard. But such is life.

Anyway, I was idly rummaging in my pocket and came up with an Olight i1R2 keychain light that a Friend of the Blog recently sent me along with some other useful stuff, and got to thinking about how the past couple of decades have been an inadvertent tutorial in flashlight trends. I’ve been carrying this one in my pocket for the past week or two, to see if that might be more practical than my favorite BLF belt light and maybe get some crap off my belt. My tentative conclusion is that it’s possible for everyday tech to get too small for practicality.

I mean, I get it: The Olight is obviously meant for a keychain and in that application it might well be perfect. It’s a fascinatingly clever little thing, and really bright in high mode. I’ll find a place for it. But for everyday use I prefer something I can work with one hand.

But that being the way my mind was working, I got to thinking about lights I’ve carried at different times. Walked around digging them out of their various cubbies…


They keep getting smaller, but no less capable. Off grid, you frequently find yourself in dark places very far from a light switch. And so you will also find yourself collecting flashlights. When I moved here I wasn’t aware that fancy lights were a thing, with their own vocabulary – which I’ve never bothered to learn – and practically their own culture. There are fora devoted to the things. I have learned not to mock.

That little light second from the right is a favorite, which I carry when I dress for town and leave most of the belt kibble at home. Gets a lot of use out of a AAA battery, I must say. But for everyday use, I like a tool I can just grab and use. Don’t want to rummage around in a pocket, don’t want to fiddle with it. And that’s why I keep ending up with all this dumb stuff on my belt, I guess.

So for my uses, I’ve settled on a BLF light that a reader sent me almost seven years ago. I mocked it at the time because it’s got like seven different modes, only two of which I ever use. But it’s a remarkably good tool, and I’ve gotten an enormous amount of use from it. Big enough to need its own holster, but the way I walk around most days that’s really a plus. Others’ mileage will vary greatly, but that’s cool. Different tools for different applications.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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11 Responses to They keep getting smaller and brighter.

  1. beaner49 says:

    Yes you need light,.Have you considered a headlamp?
    Leaves both hands free and that is a good thing.
    There are some that clip to the bill of a ball cap , but don’t find them very effective .
    The ones that run on 3 AAA batteries work best for me.

  2. Paul says:

    Having a light is a very good thing – good grief I live in a “city” environment and find I use my flashlight a lot. Anyway I have a Fenix EO5 on the key ring. They don’t make it anymore but have something just like it: https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-e01-v2-0-aaa-flashlight/

    It lives in my pocket with a few other things on a key ring and is easy to find when needed. However, I’m paranoid and carry a ‘main’ flashlight in the other pocket, currently a Surefire Fury tactical/dual fuel.

    When I want light I’ve got it both ‘big’ and ‘small’ and if one craps out I have the other ready to go. I second the headlamp idea – I’ve got a few and one goes with when it’s dark and the dog and I go out so I can find any ‘presents’ she may have for me so I can pick up and go. I also like it a lot if you have to use both hands (fixing something, first aid stuff, etc.) Headlamps are not every day but sure have a place.

  3. Dude, if youre gonna use an abbreviation dont assume we all know what it means!
    BLF?

  4. jed says:

    BLF is a brand. WTF it stands for… (if anything) [SHRUG].

    Joel, you magnificent bastard, I read that blog!

    And sunnofavabee, I even commented on that post, and somehow missed or completely forgot about sticking the ass-end of the maglite into the hood and tail-standing it. Of course, I just did it with both of mine. 🙂

    I actually haven’t been consumed with flashlight desirings since then either. Possibly, I haven’t bought any new ones in the interval – I don’t remember when I got the 2 1000 lumen Klarus jobs. I do kinda want one or two of those convertible things that double as an area light, but brighter than tail-standing the mini-Mag. Geez, don’t get me started again.

  5. Jc Collins says:

    I too like that one second from the right. The reversible clip is what makes it. Light enough it doesn’t pull my hat down over my eyes, it’s point-and-shoot simple. I probably have a dozen on hand in toolboxes, tool bags, tool pouches, bike bag, briefcase (which I mostly use for carrying, I dunno? Tools? I give away at least one per month. Wadda you mean, you don’t have a flashlight?! Take this one, and don’t let me EVER see you without it.

  6. Joel says:

    Beaner: I do have a good 3-AAA headlamp but only use it on winter mornings for Tobie’s early walkie.

    CZ: Somebody already answered, BLF is a brand name and I don’t know what it stands for. Nice light, I’ve used it for almost seven years and can highly recommend it.

  7. Mike says:

    Flashlights have come a long way from those old Ray-o-vac models that you only had to look cross-eyed at, and the bulb would burn out. Even the old Maglites were a pain, simply touching the bulb would shorten the lifespan. I’m glad those days are far behind.

    @ Commander Zero – BLF is short for Budget Light Forum (budgetlightforum.com). They are a group of flashlight “aficionados” who crowd source new flashlight designs through a company named Lumintop.

  8. anonymous says:

    Flashlight technology has really improved in the last 10 years. I have a Nitecore LE Tiki that fits on my keychain that is nearly completely weightless. It is bright for being a computer cord rechargeable battery model, and has a blue and red light feature that sometimes comes in handy as an emergency flasher when walking in dark. Another Tiki variant has a UV light auxiliary, which have been used to detect counterfeit bills and insects. Could be useful for locating scorpions maybe ?

    Anyway, yes, flashlights are remarkable tools.

  9. Tree Mike says:

    Some of us have a flashlight fetish.

  10. Mike says:

    @ Tree Mike – Fetish is such a harsh word. Lets just say there are those among us who have a fondness for technology that illuminates. 🙂

  11. Paul Joat says:

    @Mike That particular BLF light wasn’t built by Lumintop, I think the brand was Astrolux, it was based on an Eagle Eye design that was likely copied from somewhere else. The controller and software was designed by people at Budget Light Forum though.

    And @Joel that rant was worth the cost of the light. I’m glad it’s still working for you.

To the stake with the heretic!