Having a flashlight in an emergency situation is often useful and occasionally critical. Thus you should have one (and batteries) in any survival kit, and even better, as part of your EDC (Every Day Carry) equipment.
Such a flashlight should use common batteries, be bright, have a long run time, be small and light, waterproof and impact proof.
Olight Baton Flashlight Review
The Olight Baton series are some serious contenders, particularly the S10, S15 and S20.
Here are the specs:
As you can see, these are pretty impressive. The brightness is pretty good for lights these size, and the run-time at the lowest setting is incredible. Half a lumen does not sound like much, but it is quite adequate for many tasks in complete darkness. And if a half lumen is not enough, there are two intermediate brightness levels as well as the highest level. Impact resistance and waterproof depth is fairly good.
All three models utilize the Cree XM-L2 LED and are constructed of hard anodized aircraft grade aluminum.
These have a “strobe” function which is of limited use, since these do not have a “tactical” configuration. They do not have the more appropriate survival function of a “S-O-S” flasher. The lights are controlled by a single button on the side. These buttons are small and flat, and a bit hard to find by feel. Once you learn the control sequence, one handed control of the lights is quick and easy.
Each light comes with a nice clip to aid in carrying it. These hold the lights with the lenses up, which results in them getting dusty quickly. On the other hand, it makes them easier to spot when they turn themselves on in your pocket. The clips rotate fairly easily, which can be a problem if the switch rotates under the clip, which presses and holds the button in, turning the light on, to max brightness. So far, I’ve had the clip pop off once, but in general they are pretty good and hold the light in position well.
The lights have a “lock” function, which is only marginally effective. The incidences where the light is turned on “by itself” are reduced but not eliminated. To activate this function, press and hold the button while the light is off. It will turn on in the lowest mode; keep holding the button in and it will turn off. From now on, pressing and releasing the button has no effect. To turn off the lock, press and hold until the light turns on. If the lock is not effective enough in your situation, the end cap can be backed off 1/8th of a turn to prevent unintentional activation.
To increase the brightness level, press and hold while the light is on. When you turn off the light, it remembers the last level which was used, and turns back on to that level. To go from off directly to the brightest level, double click. To activate the strobe while the light is on, double click. Turn off of any light function is a single click. This is fairly obvious and straightforward.
All three have a strong magnet in the tail cap, which holds the light to any ferrous (iron) surface. It can also wipe your credit card stripes or any other magnetic media, so be aware of that when deciding where to carry it. The magnet can be removed if you prefer.
The smallest, or at least shortest, is the S10. This carries like a dream, but is so short it is a little hard to handle. The S15 is a bit longer, but the shaft is a little thinner, which also makes for less than optimal handling. There is a shaft extender available, which allows using 2 AA batteries. This does not add any brightness, but it does extend the run time, and makes the light very easy to handle, similar to a mini Mag-light. The S20 is my favorite, with top performance and a size which is easy to handle yet carries well. This model claims to have a “battery weak” indicator in the control button.
When the batteries die, the lights stop working without warning. Even my S20 did not seem to give any indication before stopping working despite the claim of a “battery weak” indicator; perhaps that indication went away well before the batteries reached critical level, or it does not indicate correctly if rechargeable batteries are used. All 3 models work with rechargeable batteries; this is great for EDC, but recharge them regularly and make sure you have fresh regular batteries available for emergency situations.
Each comes with a lanyard, which is, as usual, difficult to install, and spare O rings. None have a belt case. Accessories include a traffic wand and filters, and for the S10 and S20, a weapon mount. The latter seems of limited use, since a remote switch or even a tail cap switch does not appear to be available.
The S20 is my current choice for EDC, utilizing a high capacity 18650 Li-Ion battery which gets swapped with a freshly charged one every couple of weeks or after extensive use. I have CR123 pairs in all my bigger survival kits. The S10 is backup in case I lose the S20 (which is what happened to my previous EDC light). The S15 (with extension shaft) is used around the house. I did not replace the single AA Fenix light in my medium sized kit with the S15, even though it has somewhat better specs, because the light is in a belt case fastened to the outside of the kit, and the S15 does not have a belt case. The list price of these range from $55 to $65, but you can often find them 35% to 50% off (make sure it is the latest model by checking the max lumens).