I was sitting outside a cafe the other day when an older man sat down next to me and attempted to assemble a flashlight he’d bought at Walgreens. It was the chintziest piece of garbage I’ve seen in a long time, and I had to help him put together this thing, which after some tinkering finally emitted a feeble glow. He wanted something to keep in his car just in case. I wouldn’t trust that junk device, however cheap it may have been. Flashlights are something you want to buy once and appreciate forever, which is why I wanted to check out EPLI’s line of waterproofs — is it something I can recommend to friends, perhaps over the traditional Maglite, or just another toy?
Fortunately I can say that these little guys are definitely worth recommending. I think I’ll always want to keep a traditional four-cell bulb Maglite around, but an emergency or rainstorm, a Britestrike or something similar is a good bet to make.
EPLI and Blue Dot
I checked out two sizes: the “Executive” pen light and a mid-range “Blue Dot” tactical-style light, meant for police and so on, attachment to pistols and rifles. Both are bright LED lights, both have three lighting modes (high, low, and strobe), and both are waterproof.
The differences between the two are bulk, brightness, finish, and of course price. The EPLI is just over five inches long, a bit thicker than a pen, and produces 160 lumens. The tactical is actually a bit shorter, but much wider, and it covered in a crenelated grip pattern that makes it practically impossible to drop, and also makes it into an effective impact weapon. It produces 210 lumens from two cells.
They’re made for single-handed operation, which sounds silly at first, but many flashlights require you to hold them and turn a dial or rotate the crown to switch modes or focus. On the Brite Strikes, it’s done by hitting the button on the end once, twice, or three times. The bright mode is bright, the dim mode is dim, and the strobe mode just gave me blue spots in my eyes for a few minutes. It’s very bright when you’re in its focus and it’s ideal for signaling your location, getting the attention of motorists from afar, or flashing in the eyes of that puma or mugger.
Both flashlights are extremely well-built. I tried pretty hard to damage them, but they resisted all my attempts at banging, bending, dropping, and throwing. They’re also waterproof, their openings sealed with rubber o-rings. I’m not sure I’d trust the EPLI in a dive, but I wouldn’t have any problem taking these guys out in a rainstorm, dropping them in puddles, or putting them down on wet ground. The tactical one is naturally the more robust, with a thicker o-ring and only one opening.
Both have the eerie white light of LEDs, of course, which isn’t something you can avoid. The EPLI has a colder light and narrower focus, as you see above.
The classy look of the EPLI makes it a solid addition to the nicest nightstand, desk, or pen cup. It provides a pretty insane amount of illumination for its size, and it’s not going to break or short circuit if you drop it down the stairs or leave it on the ground while you fix a flat in the dark. To be honest I would feel more comfortable if my friends and family kept one of these around in their glove box or purse. It’s capable, rugged, and I wouldn’t want it flashing in my eyes if I were a mugger. You can find it for under $50 right now, which I think is a good price for a serious device like this.
The tactical one can be found for the rather higher sum of around $125. That’s a lot more than a Maglite. But this thing would live through a hurricane and a half, and will probably last forever. It also has a nice little range of accessories. Want to make an investment you won’t regret? This thing will probably pay off its price tag a few years from now.
I spend so much time with cheap plastic gadgets that it was nice to get my hands on something that I don’t think I could break if I wanted to. Why don’t they build phones like this?