The power of mini torchlights


Photos By THOMAS AW

Being able to clip a small, light torchlight to the top of your cap’s brim is a great convenience.

JUST as a pocket knife complements a belt knife, a secondary, mini torchlight can be a highly convenient addition to your adventure gear.

Some are smaller than a car remote alarm control, weighing a mere 20-30g.

Even if your plan is to go on a morning hike, it will not hurt to clip it on your pocket or belt pouch, just in case you find yourself stranded or lost past sunset.

Small as they are, they pack a lot more power than the average convenience store torchlight that are powered by alkaline batteries.

As a rough guide, a standard torchlight has a light strength of 100-200 lumens.

The tiny hi-tech torchlights can emit a beam of 500 to 1,000 lumens, enough to turn night into day wherever you shine it.

Clipping this to your chest rig or shirt pocket keeps you hands-free while shining a light ahead of you.Clipping this to your chest rig or shirt pocket keeps you hands-free while shining a light ahead of you.

But to protect them from overheating, the micro-circuitry in these torches will prevent you from using them at maximum strength for too long and they will automatically dim to a lower level of brightness after a few minutes.

That said, one hardly needs that many lumens at all times.

At the lowest setting, most of them will emit light at a strength of just one or even half a lumen, which is perfect for searching for something in your tent, bag or car in the dark without blinding you in the process.

If you only use them at the lowest strength, most of them can stay on for two or three days.

Some are so hi-tech that they have an LED display screen to give you info on how many hours you have left to use the torch at a particular setting so you can plan your recharging times.

The tiniest ones usually have a ring at the other end for you to attach it to a retractable lanyard attached to your pouch or even shirt.

This little torchlight has a small AAA-sized lithium battery that comes with its own USB charging port.This little torchlight has a small AAA-sized lithium battery that comes with its own USB charging port.

This is an indispensable feature because being small, there is some risk of you misplacing or even dropping them.

Larger ones might come with a pocket clip with which you can attach to your cap and turn it into a headlamp; remember to clip the light to the top of your cap’s brim so that the unit does not block your field of vision.

A few have a magnet at the end so that you can stick it to your car bonnet if you need to do emergency repairs, or else onto any metal surface so that you can free your hands while still lighting up the dark.

Yet, others have their LED lights not at the ends but along one side. This is specially for you to clip on to your chest rig or shirt pocket, flooding the area ahead of you with light so you don’t have to use one hand to hold a torch.

Some of these tiny torchlights come with additional features and one of the coolest ones is the ability to shine ultraviolet (UV) light.

LED display showing the number of hours left when the one-lumen brightness is used.LED display showing the number of hours left when the one-lumen brightness is used.

Other than the convenience of using it to verify the authenticity of bank notes, you can use the UV function to search for small wildlife while camping.

Certain spiders, scorpions, centipedes, preying mantis and other creepy crawlies glow in blue, green, purple and even psychedelic pink when UV light is shined on them.

Some tiny shrimps and some baitfish in shallow streams will have bluish spots that glow under UV light.

Some leaves and flowers will look completely different under UV light.

So your tiny backup torch with UV function becomes a delightful toy after dinner when you are camping in the woods.

Other mini torches have a laser light function, so you can bring it along to the office to use as a pointer during slide presentations.

Yet, others have casings that glow in the dark after use, making it easy for you to find it again later.

The security strips of these RM50 notes glow under this tiny torchlight’s UV light.The security strips of these RM50 notes glow under this tiny torchlight’s UV light.

Several come with additional red, blue, green and yellow LED bulbs.

Red light is always useful because it allows you to search for things near you without losing your night vision.

The other lights are tactical indicators that allow a team of people moving in pitch darkness to identify one another.

This assortment of coloured LED lights also serve as an emergency beacon because they can be set to flash in sequence for many hours or even days. So if you are lost in the woods, hang the tiny torchlight up with the emergency beacon function on and rescuers will be able to spot you from far away.

Despite all that, there are a couple of minor inconveniences with these mini torchlights.

Glowing in the dark depths of a bag.Glowing in the dark depths of a bag.

For one, because they are so compact, they are powered by small lithium batteries which have no after-market replacements. Expect them to last three to five years, and gradually, the batteries will not be able to hold their charge for long anymore.

To keep the batteries “healthy”, recharge them often and avoid using the torches till the batteries are fully drained unless you have no choice.

The other feature to take special note of is the waterproofing.

For this, note the torchlights’ International or Ingress Protection (IP) rating.

At IP54, you can happily use it under thunderstorms; it is splash-proof but will not withstand immersion.

At IP67, it can withstand being submerged in 15cm to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.

At IP68, it can be continually immersed in freshwater at depths of over 1m.

These IP ratings apply to all electronical gear and the maximum depths are stipulated by manufacturers.

With so many features and options, consider your outdoor needs carefully before buying a secondary light source and you might end up being grateful for having this backup.

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