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.
Before The “Electronics”
If you’re old enough to remember when cigarette companies were allowed to advertise… yes, you generation `x-ers’, there used to be ads for cigarettes both on TV and in magazines! Shocking I know! Anyway, if my memory serves me correctly, there was an ad for Virginia Slims whose tag line was, “you’ve come a long way baby”. It was a catchy jingle…which is probably why I still remember it to this day. Meanwhile, I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my entire life! NOT ONE. So in the 1970’s, when cigarettes were being introduced to new generations of would-be smokers, flashlights were still in their infancy.
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 which came first, the chicken or the egg? I was either in a gadget store at the mall, or Target, when I first saw a line of new Inova LED lights. They were a mere reflection of the majority of flashlights available today. They had the latest LED…which again is a far cry from the LED’s that are made today, but their styling was more simplified and they only had an on/off switch…and no multiple lighting modes.
The accompanying photo illustrates an LED light with multiple LED’s. The ones I typically saw of this variety, usually had 5 LED’s. I bought one and of course it was very cool (at the time). I don’t have it anymore, but it hardly compares to the ones I’ve bought since.
The Inova light I swooned over (that I know I saw in the mall) was quite expensive. Typically, Inova lights have a very plain and smooth exterior. They don’t have the aggressive knurling that’s found on many of today’s popular lights.
So the Inova light I wished I could afford at the time, was like the XO3 pictured. It only had one lighting mode, and was probably no more than about 75 lumens. But it was one of the coolest flashlights I’d ever seen. It was only a tease that it could be tested from 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!
I eventually picked up a different Inova, rather cheap 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 flashlights was well on its way.
I couldn’t explain it. It was just a tool for emergency lighting, right? But because it seemed that they were more ‘electronic’ than they used to be, (and of course brighter) would have to be the reason for the new fascination.
Then as I talked about in another post, once you have one, you realize how useful they can be in so many more situations that you thought possible.
Thank Goodness for Online Shopping!
So as the months passed, I did more research. I began to learn about lights by Surefire. 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!
Yep, it has grown! But, if you’re like my wife, you might say…”so what”. Yes, there’s a lot of money invested in these as well. I could’ve bought the newest, swankiest, most energy efficient refrigerator money could buy…with what I’ve spent on flashlights. Or, even taken a wonderful trip! But wait…these lights make wonderful companions on a trip! They’re great to have in an emergency, they’re 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 some years now, and am quite the snob when it comes to these tools as well. I believe my personal journey into LED flashlights, still has a bit of 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.