Story by Jim Cobb, Photos by Manufacturer
Like many of us here in the “knife and gear” niche, I’m a fan of flashlights. That wasn’t always the case, though. For years, I just didn’t understand the appeal of carrying a small light in my pocket. A friend finally convinced me to just try it for a week. I picked up a Streamlight ProTac 1AAA flashlight and made it part of my regular EDC load out.
To be honest, I fell in love with it from day one. I found myself using the light multiple times a day! At the time, I was working as a private investigator and often had to visit dodgy areas to serve papers. It was great for avoiding trip hazards in dimly lit apartment buildings. As well as checking my backseat when I got back to my car.
I’ve used several different brands of lights since then, but I keep coming back to Streamlight. The quality is stellar, the prices fair, and the products are dependable. They also have a huge selection, ranging from small enough for a keychain to powerful enough to seemingly cast shadow puppets on the lunar surface (okay, not quite that bright, but damn close). Let’s run down some of my favorites.
The smallest entry on our list, the Pocket Mate is the ideal keychain light. The main body isn’t much larger around than a quarter and it weighs just half an ounce. It has a carabiner-type attachment, so you don’t need to thread it around and around a keyring. Alternatively, it would also fit on a zipper pull.
The single button powers it on and each press cycles it through low to high to off. On high, it blasts out a whopping 325 lumens, which is incredibly bright for such a small light. Or extend the battery by sticking with the low setting at 45 lumens, which is still bright enough for most tasks.
The lithium polymer battery charges via USB, going from dead to full in about four hours. When charging, the power button glows red and then turns green when the battery is charged. It is available in four colors – silver, blue, pink, or red.
What I like: It is small and compact, yet very bright. This is an excellent option for a backup light or for someone who doesn’t want to carry a full-size pocket flashlight.
Pocket Mate Specs
Length: 2.0 inchesWeight: 0.50 ouncesMSRP: $30Buy the Streamlight Pocket Mate
With its unique shape, the Wedge is more than a little different than the standard pocket flashlight. The footprint in your pocket is actually reminiscent of an OTF knife. It has smooth lines and soft edges, so it glides to and from the pocket easily.
Rather than a push button or tail switch, it has a thumb wheel embedded in the side near the head. When you rotate it forward, the light turns on with a full 300 lumens. Push the switch forward a bit more for the THRO© (Temporarily Heightened Regulated Output), which puts out a blinding 1,000 lumens. The switch is spring-loaded at this point and releasing it will dial it back to the regular setting.
The pocket clip is reversible for right- or left-handed pocket carry. It is 5.46 inches long and weighs 3.3 ounces. So, it does take up a little more pocket space than many other pocket lights. However, the ergonomics of the Wedge simply can’t be beat.
What I like: The Wedge is incredibly comfortable, both in the hand and in the pocket. The switch is located exactly where your thumb rests, so it is very intuitive to use.
Length: 5.46 inchesWeight: 3.30 ouncesMSRP: $110Buy the Streamlight Wedge
This model is my current EDC flashlight. At less than five inches long and weighing a hair over two ounces, you’ll never notice it in your pocket until you need it. Click the tail switch and you’ll light up the night with 500 lumens. That is a seriously bright light. You can double-click the tail switch to bring it to the low setting of 50 lumens.
This is another USB-rechargeable light. You simply slide the head forward a bit to expose the USB port. The pocket clip is dual-purpose. You can secure it in your pocket but also slide it onto the brim of your hat without having to reverse the clip, which is a great feature. This light fits my hand perfectly and is exceptionally comfortable to carry and use.
What I like: This is a great light for all-purpose use. It has variable brightness, so you don’t need to blind yourself just looking under the couch for the dog’s toys.
MacroStream USB Specs
Length: 4.5 inchesWeight: 2.20 ouncesMSRP: $52Buy the Streamlight MacroStream USB
The Stinger 2020 isn’t so much an EDC light as it is suited for home and work use. At almost 8 inches in length and tipping the scales at 12.3 ounces, it isn’t exactly a boat anchor, but it is a bit larger than the average person probably wants to lug around.
On the high setting, we’re looking at 2,000 lumens, which is massively bright. On medium, you’re getting 850 lumens and with the low setting you’re still talking 100 lumens. The power setting is changed via a sliding switch. There are two power buttons, one on the front near the setting switch and the other at the tail. Great for giving you options depending on how you carry the light.
This one comes with a charging cradle that can be powered by AC, USB, or even 12V. Cords are provided for all three options. Alternatively, the battery pack can be removed from the light and charged.
What I like: If you truly need to light up the yard, as well as the neighbor’s yard and maybe the rest of the block, The Stinger 2020 is your new best friend. It is just stupid bright, which can be handy in some situations.
Stinger 2020 Specs
Length: 7.67 ouncesWeight: 12.3 ouncesMSRP: $134Buy the Streamlight Stinger 2020
I love a good work light, something I can use in the garage or around the house. The Flipmate is just all sorts of cool. It has a magnetic base, so I can easily mount it under the hood of my car or even under the sink when I’m dealing with leaking pipes.
If you can’t find a metal surface where you can attach it, there’s also a hook that can swivel out from the base that you can use to hang the light. Cool white LEDs provide 500 lumens on high and 250 on low. It also features Streamlight’s Color-Rite technology that helps you better see the true colors of wires or paint.
The light bar swivels 270°, giving you light exactly where you want it. It is USB-rechargeable, with a total charging time of about 4.5 hours. Folded up, it is about 4.58 inches long. Fully opened, it stretches just shy of 8 inches.
What I like: I love the magnetic base and the fact that the light bar swivels. Nobody needs to get hollered at for not holding the light in the right place. This is an excellent choice for someone looking for a reliable light for the workshop or garage. Keep it with your toolbox so you’ll always have it ready.
Length: 4.58 inchesWeight: 8.7 ouncesMSRP: $65Buy the Streamlight Flipmate
A handheld spotlight is great for seeing what made that noise in the backyard late at night. The Waypoint 300 gives you 1,000 lumens of high-powered light that will reach over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). If you don’t need it quite that bright, you can scale it back to 550 lumens on medium or 35 lumens on low. It is a pistol grip design, with a trigger-style switch for on/off. There’s a separate rotary switch for the power settings.
It has an integrated stand so you can turn it on and set it somewhere to light up an area. It recharges in about 4 hours. From end to end, it is about 6.75 inches, and weighs a few ounces over a pound. Again, not something the average Joe will EDC, but great for keeping charged near the back door for nighttime excursions into the yard and beyond.
What I like: Handheld spotlights are very handy and this one is quite powerful without being clumsy or unwieldly. K&G
Waypoint 300 Specs
Length: 6.75 inchesWeight: 1 pound, 8.30 ouncesMSRP: $140Buy the Streamlight Waypoint 300
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Since the company started back in 1973, they’ve pursued illumination excellence by pursuing the same work, hobbies, and interests as their customers. They’re out there in the field hunting, fishing, engaging in low-light shooting training, all that fun stuff.
They learn what works and what doesn’t through hands-on experience. That’s what informs their designs and innovations and what keeps Streamlight at the top of their game.
Jim Cobb is a recognized authority on disaster readiness. He has written several books and is also the Editor in Chief for Prepper Survival Guide magazine. He is a longtime collector of knives, EDC gear, and defense weapons. Jim lives in the upper Midwest with his wife, kids, and a motley crew of dogs and cats.
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