Streamlight Survivor Flashlight

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: Flared base for safety.

The Long Version: I've said this before, but it bears repeating. If you're looking for a 'tactical' flashlight because you think that someday you might be in a position where your best course of action is to hit someone with it, then you've made fundamentally poor life choices. In fact, if you're looking for punching-people things in general, this isn't the sporadically-updated reviews blog for you. Go away.

The Streamlight Survivor is a particular type of flashlight that's designed for firefighters. The right-angle light is designed to be worn, not carried, and throws an uncommonly tight beam that's designed to cut through smoke. Yes, the yellow one looks like a cross between a sex toy and a Minion, but sometimes greatness comes at a cost.

I am not a fire fighter, making this a slightly odd flashlight for me to own. But I like ugly utility lights, and it answers a particular need. I'm a photographer, and have been working with night photography in a remote wilderness location, and the Survivor lets me light up trees that are over a hundred metres away from my camera. It's an excellent tool for light painting, especially with the warming amber 'smoke-cutter' installed. While it shows as a ring in these photos, the little CTO disk does average out into the beam at a fairly short distance, making it a nice temperature for mixing with ambient light.

And yes, Streamlight calls those in-beam light modifiers "plugs". Maybe they do have a sense of humour.

The Survivor has both a heavy-duty plastic clip, which is spring-loaded and rugged, along with a metal loop for hooking. The metal loop is attached to the top of the clip, so when it's upright it gives a little extra leverage for attaching or removing the clip from clothing. The upright clip also makes it harder to turn the light on with a one-handed hold, but that's life.

One design shortfall of the Survivor is that nothing on it glows in the dark. Pelican lights are the masters at this, but even a few other companies have figured this out, so it can't be patented. I've addressed this shortfall by applying some photoluminescent tape to the back of the light, which helps, but a glow bezel would be better.

And there's a funny story about me applying that tape. I wanted to clean the body to ensure that the tape would stick properly, so I wiped it down with a paper towel that had been touched with rubbing alcohol. It worked – the tape sticks nicely – but the alcohol also took off all of the black paint that usually highlights the name on the front of the light. I really expected a tool that's designed to be used in hazardous environments to be a bit more resilient than that, even if it is only cosmetic. My Pelicans are all tougher than this.

There are a couple of powering options for the Survivor. I chose the basic 4xAA setup since I'm putting it through fairly light use, and the bespoke rechargeable options are quite expensive. But regardless of which option you choose the light itself is the same, with the pass-though charging contacts on the base, so if I ever find myself running a fleet of these things I can upgrade it to a rechargeable battery pack instead of needing to buy a new light. On the other hand that does mean that the 4xAA cells are housed in a bulky carrier that needs a little pry to open when it's time to change them.

The Survivor is a bulky light, much larger than the 4xAA battery power would suggest. This isn't strictly a negative, since it's designed to be handled by people wearing gloves, but it's worth keeping in mind for civilian use. While the 4xAA light does lose its safety certifications when running with anything but disposable batteries, it works just fine with my usual choice of low-discharge rechargeable batteries – ready whenever I need it, no matter how long it has been sitting idle.

Just like a sex toy.

last updated 20 october 2017


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