Within the pages of Lightsngear, there are lots of posts pertaining to flashlights. But for all those articles explaining how to use them, how to care for them, which features to look for etc., rarely have I detailed how my personal journey into LED flashlights began.
A History Lesson – Before The “Electronics”
If you’re old enough to remember when cigarette companies were allowed to advertise…then forgive for saying this, but you ARE old! Shocking I know! Anyway, if memory serves me correctly, (and it often doesn’t these days) there was an ad for Virginia Slims which had the tag line… “you’ve come a long way baby”. Yes, It was catchy…which is probably why I still remember it. And this is coming from someone who’s never even smoked! So back in the day when cigarettes were considered “fashionable”, “cool”, and “hip”, most flashlights were still big, hulking, (and not even bright) heavy aluminum cylinders, that required batteries almost as heavy as the lights themselves.
It wasn’t until the introduction of the CREE LED, that one could finally say “you’ve come a long way baby” signalling the age-old incandescent bulb, as an artifact of the past as it pertains to tools of modern illumination.
It Wasn’t Fisher Price … But it WAS My First!
I’m trying to recall where I was, either in a gadget store at the mall, or a big-box retailer when I first saw a line of new Inova LED lights. They were a mere reflection of what LED flashlights are today. They had the latest LED…which again is a far cry from the LED’s that you see today, and their styling was more simplified without multiple lighting modes.
The accompanying photo is a good example of a multi-LED light. I bought one similar to the one shown, and although it was cool at the time, it seems antiquated when compared to what is available today.
The Inova light I swooned over was quite expensive, and very similar to the XO3 pictured. It only had one lighting mode, and was probably no more than 75 lumens. But it was one of the coolest flashlights I’d ever seen. It was only a tease that it could be tested inside the package. And as I pointed the beam at the well-lit ceiling of the store, I could only dream of what it would look like outside the constraints of the packaging, and in TOTAL darkness!
Because this light was a bit more than I wanted spend, I eventually bought a different Inova, much cheaper at about $22, which again was only one mode and used AA batteries. It wasn’t very bright by today’s standards…but I was a proud pup! By this point it was safe to say that my ‘love affair’ with LED lights was starting to bloom.
I couldn’t explain it. But I think because this type was more ‘electronic’ (and brighter) than the flashlights of yesteryear, it added a whole new level of fascination.
Then as I talked about in a previous post, once you have one, it’s hard to imagine not having another…and then another…and then, well you know.
And Then Came Surefire
As the months passed, I did more research. I began to learn about Surefire lights. These really WERE the bomb!! A pint-sized Surefire 100 lumen light that I bought, used, was the absolute brightest light I’d seen to date! Then I graduated to one of the first lights that featured an electronic dimming ring. This was a Surefire U2 Ultra. Again, only about 100 lumens on the highest setting, but it was my crown jewel to date!
Yes, it has grown! However if your opinion echoes that of my wife, you might say…”so what”. Since YOU are reading this however, I would expect a greater level of interest. Yes, there’s definitely a few dollars invested here. Enough perhaps for a romantic getaway! But wait…these lights make wonderful travelling companions! They’re also great to have in an emergency. Their usefulness while camping or hiking is undeniable, and with rechargeable batteries, they don’t cost that much to operate.
What more can I say, I’ve been an official “flashaholic” for many years now, and have shamefully reached snob-status when it comes to these tools. Given the continual advancements in LED technology, I believe my journey into flashlights still has some growing to do. But it’s one that I’ve enjoyed every minute of as well.
What do you think? Am I officially bonkers? Or are YOU at the beginning stages of entering your OWN personal LED journey? Perhaps that’s why you’re on this site? Either way, your comments would be as interesting to other readers, as they are to me.