• Brighter isn't always better. Too bright a light can cause glare on a page you're trying to read, wake your sleeping partner, or make it hard to adjust your eyes back to the dark.
  • Don't compare flashlight brightness just by lumens. Consider how much the flashlight concentrates the light into a spot -- or diffuses it more broadly -- as well as how far it throws the light, plus the quality of the circle of light cast. A flashlight that's great for closeup tasks may not be effective at all for checking the outside of a house at night.
  • If you use a flashlight a lot, consider the cost of batteries. In the long run, a more efficient flashlight may be less expensive than a cheaper flashlight, once the cost of batteries is taken into account.
  • Lithium-ion batteries are better for cold weather and long storage, but they do cost more. If you pick a flashlight that uses only lithium-ion batteries, experts recommend buying lithium-ion batteries in bulk, since they store for about ten years.
  • Consider the availability of batteries. For the greatest flexibility, pick a flashlight that uses either alkaline batteries only, or more than one type. Alkaline batteries are available just about everywhere in the world and store for about six years.
  • Cree XR-E and Luxeon LEDs are more efficient than Nichia 5mm LEDs. Efficiency means getting more brightness or runtime per watt.
  • Textured reflectors usually smooth out the beam. Smooth reflectors tend to concentrate the light more in the center, so the best reflector depends on whether you want maximum brightness in the center or a smoother gradation to the edge of the circle of light.
  • Bodies with the most durable finish cost more. Among aluminum bodies, Anodize type 3 is the hardest, but Anodize type 2 is tough enough for most users. (Powder coating is least durable.) Among polymer bodies, experts say price is a good clue to durability.
  • Xenon bulbs produce the whitest incandescent light. Consider whether or not the whiteness of the light is important to you.
  • Bi-Pin bulbs and complete lamp assemblies are the best incandescent format. Bi-Pin bulbs are tiny, so it's easy to carry a spare, but they can come loose if the flashlight gets dropped. Complete lamp assemblies don't loosen, but they are more expensive.

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