Monday, June 3, 2013

Best AA Flashlights For 2013

Unlike AAA flashlights, which are mostly "twisties", the AA flashlight format is pretty much evenly distributed by switch type. The switch type for a flashlight generally determines its size and shape, and people have differing preferences. For this reason, I am going to break this list up into four categories: Forward clickies, reverse clickies, twisties and electronic switch controlled. For each category, I will give a little background on the pros and cons for each type of switch.

Top 5 Forward Clickies


A "forward" switch, or "forward clicky", is a type of switch that will turn the flashlight on momentarily, without fully engaging the switch. For this reason, it is also sometimes referred to as a "momentary on" or "tactical" switch. This type of switch is quieter, because there's no "click" sound when the switch is momentarily engaged. There's also less wear on the switch if it's used regularly for momentary on. It is referred to as "tactical" because this type of switch can be quickly pressed to use for signaling purposes.

The main downside to this type of switch is that it tends to be a little bulkier than other types of switches, and flashlights using them tend to be a little bulkier. Another downside is that flashlights which use this type of switch for mode switching tend to be less intuitive than light which use a so-called "reverse" switch.



#MakeModelProsCons
1SunwaymanV11R*- Superb build quality
- Infiinte brightness ring
- XM-L U2 Emitter
- Expensive
- Control ring design less efficient
- Needs separate extender

24SevensQuark Tactical AA- Good Design
- Efficient circuitry
- Good user interace
- Expensive
- Cannot tail stand
- Some units suffer "pre-flash"
3NitecoreMT1A- Superb build quality
- Switch has superb feel
- Reversible clip
- Cheap!

- Quirky user interface
- Clip is snap on type
- Clips scratches the unit


4Fenix LD12LD12- Good build quality
- Efficient circuitry
- Side mode switch
- Rugged
- Does not work properly with li-ion
- Reported PWM on some units

5JetbeamBA10- Rugged
- Good build quality
- Simple
- Switch has squishy feel
- Only 2 modes
- Truly awful clip

*The V11R requires a separate AA extender to be able to run AA and 14500 li-ion batteries. Though, they do make a dedicated AA model, the V10A, which is a slightly older model.

Top 5 Reverse Clickies


The "reverse clicky" switch is the exact opposite of a forward switch. The light does not turn on until the switch is fully engaged and released. This type of switch tends to be much more compact, and much more intuitive for switching modes than a forward switch. The main downside is that you lose the momentary on feature.



#MakeModelProsCons
1EagleTacD25A Clicky- Superb build quality
- Efficient circuitry
- Good mode spacing
- Huge following
- Expensive
- Complex user interface
2XenoE03- Good build quality
- Efficient circuitry
- Lots of emitter options
- Comes with backup switch
- Average quality switch
- No pocket clip
3FenixE11- Good build quality
- Simple user interface
- Only 2 modes
- Does not tail stand
4ThruniteArcher 1A- Good machining
- Latest emitters
- Moonlight mode
- Average build quality
- Average quality switch

5LumapowerLM31- Sleek form factor
- Good mode spacing
- Uses PWM
- Average build quality

Top 5 Twisties


A "twisty" flashlight has no switch per se. The "switch" is engaged by turning the head (bezel) until it comes in contact with the flashlight's body, completing the electrical connection. Because there's no actual switch, these types of lights tend to be very compact, often not much bigger than the AA cell they contain. They also tend to be more reliable, as there is one less point of failure.


#MakeModelProsCons
1EagleTacD25A Mini- Superb build quality
- Efficient circuitry
- Expensive
- Complex user interface

2FenixLD15- Superb build quality
- Efficient circuitry
- Expensive
- No li-ion support
3L3 IlluminationsL10- Available with Nichia 219!
- 3 or 4 mode models
- Optional moonlight mode
- Cheap!
- Average build quality
- Twist action a little tight
4ThruniteSaber 1A- Mode memory
- Efficient circuitry
- Well spaced modes
- Average build quality
- Some folks don't like memory
5NitecoreSENS-AA- Novel motion sensor
- Good build quality
- Cheap!
- Motion sensor just gimmick?


Top 5 Electronic Switches


The flashlight with an electronic switch is a fairly recent animal. Flashlights in the category tend to be smaller and more rugged, because there's no actual switch mechanism. They also tend to have a more complex user interface, though usually more powerful than old fashioned switches. Also, electronic switches do draw a small amount of power when the light is turned off. Some of the more recent designs draw less power from the batteries than the battery self-discharges on its own, but that drain is always there for these types of lights.


#MakeModelProsCons
1ZebralightSC52- Good build quality
- Very Compact
- Efficient circuitry
- Lots of modes
- Huge following
- Possible pocket activation?
- Complicated UI
- Customer service issues?
2SunwaymanC15A- Superb build quality
- Efficient circuitry
- Support for li-ion

- Expensive
- A little bulky
3NitecoreEA1- Very compact
- 2 switch design
- Glitchy user interface
- Average build quality
4JetbeamDDA10- Good build quality
- Digital display
- Good mode spacing
- Gimmicky?
- A little bulky



2 comments:

  1. I stumbled on this post in my constant search for my idea of the perfect 1xAA light and given your list you might like to have a look at the Crelant V11A. I've been carrying mine around for awhile now and it is very very close to my idea of the perfect 1xAA light, if only a little bit on the big side. I also noticed the Xeno E03 on your list but don't see the lack of pocket clip in the con side. I would have one in my pocket if it had a clip.

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  2. The V11A does look nice. It has a constant current driver and a forward switch, my two favorite qualities in a flashlight. Hmmm I think I will add your note about the E03, too, thanks for the feedback.

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