Question: What’s the difference between a flashlight and an illumination tool?

Answer: About $70. Or more.

And some pretty powerful lights.

extremebeam32One piece of gear all RVers have is a flashlight. Usually several. I most often relay on a small headlamp that I picked up at REI. It lets me have hands-free use when I arrive at a campsite after dark and need some illumination to set up.

But we also have a couple of regular flashlights in our motorhome.

They are nothing like the “illumination tools”  made by a company called  eXtremeBeam, which offers a series of very high tech, ah, flashlights, typically used by police department and military SWAT and tactical teams. In fact, most of the lights can be mounted to firearms.XtremeBeam Flashlights

The company sent me three of their illumination tools to test out, ranging in price from $70 to $150 or so.

I’m impressed. You can see in the video how well they do lighting up a forest and creek in the middle of the night.

All three have LED lights and use very long-lasting lithium batteries.

Here’s the three I tested in the video:

  • The ExtremeBeam XT8 Proranger flashlight. The company claims it has an 850 foot range. Maybe, but my test seemed to show it fading out a bit less than that. It’s hard to gauge from the video but this little light was just okay, in my view, surely not something I’d spend $70 on.
  • The TAC-24 – The claim for this one is a 1,200 foot range and I have no problem believing that. The price is about $100 and this has several different modes, including strobe and an setting that will automatically send an SOS. Seriously. Push the mode button til it cycles through the other options and it starts sending out three shorts, three longs and three more shorts. Over and over again. Automatically, while you’re doing other things like trying to survive or fighting off angry bears or whatever.
  • The M1000 Fusion – Whoa, baby! This big light takes four lithium batteries and can illuminate an entire block! It weighs a pound or so. It has a claimed 2,000 foot range and, again, my test seemed to validate that. I could have used it as a searchlight outside a movie premiere. It looks like those lights in the old prison escape movies. Or maybe a lighthouse. Whatever. Trust me, it is very, very dark-piercingly bright. Price is $149.

My take?

Police and SWAT teams may love these lights but I think they are a bit of overkill – pun intended – for the average RVer.

The TAC-24 was my favorite. It’s small enough to put in a photo bag or day pack and is perfect if darkness falls while hiking or doing photo work far from camp. If something happened out there in the wilds, those strobe and SOS features would be very handy, especially with those long lasting batteries. I’d buy this one.

And the M1000 blew me away. It is big and very expensive. Because of that, it probably wouldn’t be in my tool kit. But back in the boondocks, all that illumination would sure show what those weird noises are that we hear around the campfire.

My best and most used flashlight remains my old faithful REI headlamp.

But next to it, the TAC-24 is now going to be standard gear aboard the Roadtrek.