Q: I need a good flashlight for camping. Any suggestions?
— Reed, Alameda, California
A: Many factors go into choosing a good flashlight: battery life, durability, output options and brightness.
I tested a Fenix E35 V3.0 ($70, fenix-store.com) and Fenix E12 V2.0 ($27, fenix-store.com). Both are made with high-strength aluminum. A strong aluminum or high-quality plastic should give you the durability you need.
I prefer flashlights that offer variable output settings for the right amount of brightness — measured in lumens — for the situation. For example, the E12 has three settings: high (160 lumens), medium (30 lumens) and low (5 lumens). For reading in your tent, 5 lumens provides plenty of illumination. With a maximum setting of 20 lumens, the Cub Scout LED Gel Flashlight ($8, scoutshop.org), available at the Scout Shop, can get that job done.
Different outputs require more power than others, so at the lowest setting, the E12’s AA alkaline battery should last up to 70 hours; the highest setting will drain the battery in about an hour. If you don’t want to keep up with extra batteries, look at lights that come with a rechargeable one, like the E35, which also has a feature to check the battery life.
Remember, a Scout is courteous, so be aware of where you point your light. You don’t want to flash a powerful beam into someone’s eyes.