When i was a kid, and I’m talking about, oh, eight or ten years old, I remember having a GI anglehead flashlight to play with. (Hey, when youre a kid a flashlight is a damn cool toy.) I remember thinking how lame it was and why would anyone make a flashlight that was bent at an angle like that? It never occurred to me that the reason the flashlight was bent 90 degrees was so you could hang it on your gear and it would shine a beam directly in front of you. No, that sort of tactical thinking didnt come until much later.
Years ago I was looking for an LED light that could be clipped to a shoulder strap on a backpack or vest to provide forward-pointing illumination. Ideally, I wanted something that would offer the usual bright white light but also some red lights and maybe a few other features. At the time (and we’re talking about, oh, eight or ten years ago) the only thing I could find that came close was the Inova 24/7. On it’s face it seemed to have a lot going for it…it had eight different light functions, ran on the CR123 batt, had a clip to attach it to gear, and came in a nice olive drab color. So, I dropped the coin and bought one. I’ve never been happy with it. Selecting what mode you want the light to be in is accomplished by turning the bezel of the light to one of eight positions. Problem was, the bezel was a bit loose and if i tucked the light in my bag it was entirely possible for the bezel to get moved, thus turning on the light while it was in my bag and using up the battery. Not good. Additionally the spring clip on the back never was tight enough to keep the light from sliding off the straps. Also…not waterproof. In short, I was not pleased but it was the only option at the time that seemed to meet my needs.
Time goes by and eventually my attention is drawn to the Streamlight Sidewinder series of lights. Specifically the Compact version. Four different LEDs (white, red, blue, IR) with a strobe option and four levels of brightness for each color. Thats about 20 different functions. Also, waterproof. Best part is the on/off and mode selector switch are extremely resistant to accidental manipulation. I wound up ordering one last week and it showed up today. I am mightily impressed. This thing looks like it will accomplish everything I originally wanted that the 24/7 was uanble to. I’m also thinking about getting the larger non-compact version that runs on AA batts.
Purpose? Well, it certainly would work for the situations where I need my hands free but still need to see what I’m doing. A headlamp would probably do the trick but finding a headlamp that has regular white LEDs and red ones and takes AA batts is a tough find. Oh, theres a few out there but theyre a lot bulkier than these two Streamlight products. Anyway, I’ll be playing with this one for a while and we’ll see how it works out.