The answer is “yes” and we’ll provide you with some buying guide advice to help you pick the one that meets your needs.
We acquired one of these compact flashlights (which we will review separately) and frankly weren’t expecting much.
Wow! Were we ever amazed at how much light came from it!
Not only was the beam brighter than we expected, but it was longer than we would have guessed from a unit that small.
We wondered how the one we had compared with others on the market, so Vicki researched this information and came up with a blank list of technical details gleaned from various units, which may be described as follows:
- Number and type of bulbs
- Number and size of batteries required
- Body material
- Lumens (for each mode)
- Hours of bulb life (or bulb longevity)
- Switch (how it turns on and off)
- Number of Modes (1, 2 or 3)
- Weight (in ounces)
- Length (inches)
- Width (inches)
- Strap as accessory
- Keychain available
- Waterproof (to what depth or IPX rating)
- Model number (or ASIN)
- Magnifying lens
By looking at flashlights listed on Amazon.com (with whom we have an affiliate relationship), we found that the types of lightbulbs include halogen, Krypton, standard LED and CREE LED.
Prior to writing this article, we were unfamiliar with CREE LEDs.
According to Wikipedia, “Cree Inc. is a multinational manufacturer of semiconductor light-emitting diode (LED) materials and devices”.
Also according to Wikipedia, “Solid-state devices such as LEDs are subject to very limited wear and tear if operated at low currents and at low temperatures. Many of the LEDs made in the 1970s and 1980s are still in service in the early 21st century. Typical lifetimes quoted are 25,000 to 100,000 hours, but heat and current settings can extend or shorten this time significantly.”
The mini flashlight we acquired had an on/off switch unlike any other flashlight we’d ever used.
Instead of turning it on/off by sliding a switch forward or backward — or depressing a button — this model turned on/off by twisting the head of the unit on the body (the same action required when opening or closing it, such as when one replaces a battery).
If the unit has a button that needs to be pressed to turn the light on, find out if continual pressure needs to be applied to keep the light shining.
If so, this can become uncomfortable or even downright painful.
Any flashlight that has a press button switch that is stored in a tight area may be turned on and left on by accident.
Not only does continual use draw down the battery’s charge but counts against the bulb’s lifespan.
Two-Hand Operation and Hands-Free Operation
If your unit requires continual pressure on a button, you may not be able to use it if you are doing a task that requires two hands.
(We do not recommend holding it on by putting it in your mouth or between your teeth.)
If you are in a situation where you only have one hand to turn on the device, a “twist-on” type unit may not work well for you.
Can a mini flashlight be positioned to shine on something from a distance, in hands-free operation?
Probably not nearly as easily as a flashlight that has a flat base to prop it up.
Compare the units below, which are available through Amazon.com, with whom we have an affiliate relationship.
(The flashlights shown in the image near the top of this page are available through one link below.)
Some mini flashlights have multiple “modes” or brightness intensities. For example, there may be low, medium and high light settings.
Each setting has a corresponding number of lumens.
In the case of a multi-mode compact flashlight that “twists” on, setting a specific “mode” of operation may be a bit tricky.
Obviously, the bigger or brighter the beam, the quicker the battery’s charge will draw down when the unit is on.
We saw no mini flashlights that took anything more or larger than three AAA batteries.
Vicki installed a single rechargeable AAA battery in ours.
Whenever the beam did not seem as bright, this was an indication that the battery needed to be recharged, not that the flashlight was failing.
Truckers who are deciding if it is worth it to them to start using rechargeable batteries will need to first determine if they have the ability to recharge batteries in their trucks.
For many company drivers, an inverter is required.
Vicki checked the specs on the bottom of our recharging unit and found that it takes only 6 watts of power, so even a small cigarette lighter style inverter may work.
Each mini LED flashlight (that takes one or more AAA batteries) is physically smaller in size than a standard flashlight (which may take “C” or “D” cell batteries).
In fact, the unit that Vicki tested is about as long as a standard tube of lipstick, but not as big around; it easily fits in a loose pocket, purse or belly pouch.
The unit Vicki tested is longer than a standard key, so for truckers who put their keys in tight-fitting pants, it may be a bit uncomfortable.
There are mini flashlights that are specifically intended to be attached to keychains.
Before putting a keychain flashlight in one’s pants, refer to the section above about press button switches.
Because of their smaller size, compact flashlights may be easier to lose than bigger ones.
They can also fall down in small crevices in your truck.
Unless you have a designated place in your truck where you always store your unit without fail, you need to take this matter of storage into account.
Money saving tip: Do not let the physical size of a mini flashlight fool you.
Depending on the model, it can put out as much or more light than a standard flashlight.
Better-made mini flashlights may be more expensive but may also have a lifetime warranty.
Take into account the warranty when evaluating the difference between price and quality.
For example, how would you evaluate the difference between a $3.95 compact flashlight that has no warranty and a $34.95 mini flashlight that is waterproof and has a lifetime warranty?
How many non-warrantied units can you buy for the cost of a more expensive one?
How prone are you to losing small things?
If this is a problem for you, you might want to stick with a larger flashlight.
If a lifetime warranty is offered with your unit, make sure that you register it.
That way, if you ever need to use your warranty, you can.