There's a reason that "Let there be light" was the first thing in the Bible: without light, most of us are at a serious disadvantage. You can carry all the guns, spare magazines, knives, and first aid supplies you want, but if you're stuck in the dark you're going to have trouble using any of them effectively. That's why a flashlight is one of the most important items you can have in your pockets. It's also one of the most overlooked as well.
Flashlights come in all shapes, sizes, and specs and if you're anything like me, you probably have half a dozen within easy reach at any time. I've bought numerous lights over the years and, much to my wife's dismay, seem to find new ones all the time. When you're looking for a flashlight, its battery type/usage and the bulb/reflector are just as important as it's size. A flashlight that's too big or too heavy won't get carried and a flashlight that sucks batteries or has poor illumination won't get used.
LED lights are becoming more common all over the place and the flashlight world is no exception. LED bulbs use less power than incandescent bulbs which means you don't have to change batteries as often, the bulbs last a lot longer before they need to be replaced, and they run a lot cooler. The downside is that unless you're willing to pay a lot of money, they're usually going to be dimmer than a regular incandescent bulb.
And when it comes to batteries, the flashlights that use the CR123A batteries will tend to be brighter, often significantly brighter, but will often drain the batteries very fast. The CR123A batteries are also much more expensive than standard AA or AAA batteries.
When I'm at work, I have four different flashlights within arms reach and they all use different combinations of bulbs and batteries as they're each for a different type of situation.
Surefire G2 Nitrolon
I keep a Surefire G2 Nitrolon
in my messenger bag and have it primarily as a backup or for illuminating a large room or from a far distance. It cost around $35 , uses two CR123A batteries, and has Surefire's P61 incandescent lamp which will put out 120 lumens of light. This has a pretty far reach and can light up a fairly large area very well. Unfortunately, that bulb also drains the two CR123A batteries within 20 minutes or so. It has a cap at the rear that twists clockwise to turn the flashlight on and have it stay on. It also has a push button that will let you push to turn the light on and the light turns off when the button is released. This used to be the flashlight I carried in my pocket everywhere, but it went through batteries too quickly and was a bit too large (over 5 inches long and more than an inch wide) so I soon upgraded.
My current EDC flashlight is the Inova X1
- a LED flashlight that uses 1 AA battery and cost around $23. Only 4 inches long and less than 3/4 of an inch wide, it can put out 25 lumens for around two and half hours. That's significantly less light than the Surefire, but it's still enough to light up an entire room well enough to see and, in tight spaces or up close, it actually is better as there isn't nearly as much light reflected back at you. And, not only can it do it for seven times longer than the Surefire, it uses a standard AA battery so it's much easier (and cheaper) to replace the battery when it runs out. Like the Surefire, it has an end-cap that rotates clockwise to turn on the flashlight and have it stay on as well as a button that will turn on the light when pushed and turn it off when released. This light has come in handy several times at the office when we've had a power outages or needed to find someone's keys they dropped in the parking lot. It even came in handy at the local pub where the power went out during happy hour. I was in the bathroom at the time and I'm glad I didn't have to fumble around in there.
I also keep a Mini Maglite
in my bag. This flashlight costs around $14, is almost 6 inches long and an inch wide, and uses 2 AA batteries to produce around 15 lumens of light. This light is a spare to cover me if my Inova breaks or if I need to loan a flashlight to someone. It is a pretty common flashlight and has a well known, and well deserved, reputation. Unlike the other flashlights, it also comes with a spare bulb that is stored in the end-cap.
In addition to the three hand-held flashlights, I usually have a Petzl Tikka headlamp
in my bag as well. This light, which cost around $30, uses 3 AAA batteries and, in the brightest of the 4 lighting modes, can put out 40 lumens for an hour and a half. It also has two lower power modes and a strobe mode that could be used for signaling. This light is a bit bulkier due to the head-strap but I've had a few occasions where having a hands-free light has been very helpful. Try changing a tire at night while holding a flashlight - not the easiest thing to do.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of flashlights out there, each with a different type of situation to which they're best suited. A well prepared Cubicle Ninja will have at least one, and probably more, of these handy at any time. As Matt noted in a previous comment, if a disaster strikes in or around your office, "your flashlight is going to have a lot more to do with your safety than your gun."
Chronicles of the Cubicle Ninja