How many crappy flashlights do you want to buy?
The answer I learned (at great expense) from scanners, cameras, lenses, bikes, cars over the past 20 years etc is none. “Save” money, buy crap stuff, then less crappy, then half decent, and pretty soon you’ve spent more money than buying something of quality in the first place. And the experience along the way sucks. Can’t afford it? Don’t eat out or drink beer for 6 months. You can afford it.
I wrote my Headlamps and Flashlights article a few years ago, and little has changed except that everything has improved!
My ventures to Yosemite and my backyard grilling efforts remind me emphatically that a quality light opens up new possibilities for properly cooked meat, and safe hikes and photography after dark without hassles (even deep into a canyon).
My top choice is the mind-blowing Lupine Betty (or Wilma) on a headstrap, with the Surefire L4 Lumamax the top pick as a flashlight. Get the L4 along with a 20 pack of lithium batteries, and you’ve got a great emergency kit (use the L4 daily, the batteries stay good almost a decade). Guys, get your wife or girlfriend the diminutive E1L Outdoorsman (better and brighter beam than a crappy 4 D-cell maglite) to fit into a purse for those dark parking lots.
The Lupine Betty 7-LED headlamp has all 7 LEDs color-matched to within 200°K. Amazing color rendition also results in superior depth perception at night. The Wilma is also excellent. Neither are anything like the LED lights you might have experienced, in beam quality, color rendition, build quality, backward compatibility, service, battery life or anything else. Be sure to buy a crappy light first so you can appreciate Lupine’s lights when you eventually get one.
Good stuff lasts a long, long time. BTW, if you’re a cyclist who rides at dusk or night, don’t f*ck around with a “pretty good” light — ambulance and hearse rides are expensive, and I’ve almost had that displeasure even with top lighting. You can get the Betty or Wilma at Gretna Bikes, tell ’em Lloyd Chambers sent you.