Monday, March 06, 2006

Another preparedness find

OK, I'll admit to being a "flashlightaholic" --there is no such thing as too many flashlights at the Freehold. Go to just about any room, and a flashlight is near at hand.

The thing about flashlights, at least until recently, is that if you wanted a lot of light, or you wanted it for a long time, you'd pay a price in batteries. With the advent of LED flashlights, that's no longer true. You do pay a penalty with LEDs involving the distance you can project light, but usually, that's not a problem.

My major complaint about LED lights is that they were all flashlights, and therefore, more or less directional. I looked for LED lanterns, but the few I found were incredibly pricey.

Coleman (no doubt in cooperation with some Red Chinese company, %@!& it) has come to my rescue with the Coleman Micropacker Lantern. I picked up one at the local Wall-to-Walmart a few days ago for the listed price of $9.99, and have done a bit of experimentation.

The light is compact, about 8" tall and weighing 6 ounces, including the 3 AA batteries for power. As you can see from the Coleman website, it's bright yellow and has a small bail on top for hanging. An interesting feature is a built-in retractable reflector.

Exhaustive nocturnal testing in the Freehold Laboratory shows that the lantern puts off enough light to let find you way around a medium size room with ease. You could dress or carry on similar non-detail work. You can use it up close to read, but if you're like me and your eyes are aging, you probably wouldn't want to do so for hours on end.

The built-in reflector does provide a noticeable if unimportant boost to the light when raised. It's best feature is that it will shield your eyes if you find yourself using this in place of a conventional flashlight.

I haven't tested battery life; I expect it to be on a par with other LED lights with a similar number of LEDs and batteries--which is to say, not as long as the manufacturer claims, and a lot longer than any incandescent flashlight you've ever owned.

It's definitely worth $10. I checked our Walmart the other day planning on buying a couple more; they were already sold out, so I'll be watching for a restocking. These will make excellent birthday/Christmas or whatever gifts for your friends with a survivalist bent. And of course, several around the house for emergencies....

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