Monday, June 25, 2012

Light and Saber Recommendation Series, 2012

Last year I marched through a review of a flashlight and a tool for each of various arbitrary but sensible price categories.  This year, instead of just updating that old list, which would be awfully boring, I decided that would explore your options out there via size.  Here are the old rules.

Here is how it is going to break down this time around:

I will recommend a flashlight and a knife or multitool in each of a few categories. Lights will be grouped by their size and battery, generally speaking.  Knives will be grouped by their blade size, unless there is something where the blade size is not indicative of the overall size of the blade (such as in the case of the Yojimbo 2 from Spyderco, which has a much longer handle than blade). 

Here they are:

Keychain Sized:

Button cell or other super small cell lights
OPMTs, very small multitools, or sub 2" folders

A perfect example of a button cell light would be the LRI Photon, a light probably everyone on the planet has seen.  A very small multitool would be something like the Leatherman PS4 and a good example of a sub-2" folder would be a Spyderco Jester or Ladybug or any of the "Cali Legal" autos out there.
Small Pocket Sized:

Small single cell lights (CR2 or AAA)
Small multitools or 2-2.5" folders

Here I am thinking of a Preon 0 or Preon 1 or any number of CR2 powered lights (or their rechargeable equivalents).  A small multitool would be something like a SAK Alox Cadet.

Medium Pocket Sized:

Medium single cell lights (CR123 or AA)
Medium multitools or 2.5"-3" folders

Here these categories are self-explanatory, but for the medium multitools.  In that category I put things like the Juice or the Skeletool.

 Large Pocket Sized:

2 cell lights (CR123a, AA, or AAA) or 18650 lights
Full sized multitools or 3-3.5" folders

Full sized multitools are true toolbox replacements, things like the Victorinox SwissTool Plus or the Charge TTI.

Pack Carry:

Any larger light
Any larger folder or fixed blade or a heavy duty MT.

A heavy duty MT is something like the Super Tool 300.

I am going to try to tether these recommendations to reality, though I am not going to be shy about providing a recommendation for high end items (though if I do this I will try to also recommend a lower priced item as well).  The stuff has to be readily available as a new product.  That means that you need to be able to go to a store, go to a website, or sign up for the product right away.  If you have to wait, that's fine, but stuff that is out of production will not be considered.  That means the Aeon will not be eligible :(

I wish I had a large enough review database to recommend only those things that I have reviewed, but I don't think that will happen for a long time.  Some of the things I am going to recommend, like I did last time, will be based on reputation, specifications, and my experiences with other products from that maker.  For example, after using the Candiru I feel comfortable in saying that the heat treat and performance of ESEE's 1095 steel is quite good and thus I feel comfortable in saying that an ESEE 4 or 6 would be a good pack knife.  If I did review something I will be sure to note that I did so.

I am also going to be more conscious of value than I am when doing reviews.  Value will be defined as performance versus price, with more performance per dollar being a better value.

There will be stuff that I am going to ignore, so if you want to know why your favorite is missing, read this article

These articles always take a very long time to write, so be prepared for something of a wait between them, but when they are done I hope to have two entirely different approaches to recommended gear, one based on price and one based on size.   Plus, quite a few new products have come out since last year and it will be fun to look at all of them compared to what has been out there for a while.


  1. Aww yeah! This should be good - I'm definitely looking forward to it.

  2. This will be awesome sauce. I too am looking forward to it.

    My only quibble is that 1xAAA lights are keychain lights too, but I know that's just semantics. The point of your categorization is that a 1xAAA light is the second smallest category of EDC lights whereas something like a Ladybug 3 or Jester is the smallest category of EDC blades.

  3. Cool plan Tony. One comment for you. I don't think you forgot about it, but you don't mention it. And that is that small fixed blades like the ESEE Candiru can be EDC knives. Fixed blades do not have to be just pack knives.

  4. Joe you ruined a surprise. ;). I will definitely include them in the large pocket carry.

  5. Looking forward to more good reading from this well written, focused blog. I