Why I Always Carry a Mini Flashlight
Ten situations where my powerful pocket flashlight has been just what I needed
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I am not an everyday carry (EDC) expert who spends hours trying to figure out exactly what I should store in my pockets to be perfectly “prepared” for any situation. I actually find EDC nerds unnecessarily obsessive.
Like most, I tend to rely on my phone for multiple functions, from contacting someone in an emergency to navigating my way in urban and (most) rural settings. And, yes, for providing extra light when needed.
However, I’ve always been curious about the small pocket flashlights EDC nerds carry, so I decided to give one a try. I’ve been testing Mecarmy’s compact model for the past three months to see if it would prove useful. The results? Turns out a pocket flashlight is now my most used piece of gear. And to be perfectly honest, I feel totally underprepared without one on me at all times.
Our resident EDC nerd, writer Wes Siler, has covered pocket flashlights extensively and provides great recommendations for types, sizes, and styles. He’ll also give you his smart recommendations for how and where to carry a mini flashlight.
What Wes hasn’t told you, however, is in what scenarios you’d find such a light useful and superior to the one on your phone. I’m here to share my experience as a way of convincing you why a pocket flashlight is absolutely necessary. The best way to do that is to list the many, many ways my pocket flashlight has recently come in handy:
- Picking up dog poop: I take my dogs to the dog park twice a day, often in the dark because I’m shuttling kids and in front of my computer when the sun is up. If you’ve ever tried to find dog poop at night in a large park with the 50 lumens your iPhone puts out, you know it’s a maddening experience. But when you have 1,200 lumens at the ready (that’s what my pocket flashlight puts out), finding that stray poop is a cinch.
- Warding off an attacker: I feel safe walking my dogs at night, but if anyone were to approach me in an aggressive way, 1,200 lumens to the face would stop them in their tracks.
- Scrounging in a backpack: I love rolltop backpacks for bike commuting but trying to find something at the bottom of the bag is like catfish noodling. Now that I have my pocket flashlight I just shine it in the bag and I can find anything in seconds.
- Setting up camp: While camping, it has been much easier to pull my flashlight out of my pocket where it lives at all times, put it in my mouth, and use it to set up the tent for the kids. Without it, I would have searched the car to find a headlamp, or tried to hold and point my phone light with my chin. Once camp is set up I prefer a headlamp, but the flashlight is better for immediate use.
- Navigating the garage: My garage is absolutely packed, so even with decent overhead lighting it’s hard to find things on shelves or in plastic boxes. Now I just pull out my pocket flashlight, hold it with my mouth, and rifle through my gear piles to find precisely what I’m looking for.
- Peeking under the car: Something in the front suspension of my 2003 Toyota Sequoia started making a terrible creaking noise the other day. Even in the sunlight, it was hard to find the culprit because of the heavy shadow thrown by the car. But after I pulled out my flashlight and slid underneath it was easy to see what was broken in the steering assembly.
- Self-diagnosing a sore throat: I had a bad cold for weeks and couldn’t shake the thing so I finally had my wife grab my pocket flashlight and shine it down my throat. My throat was an angry red and looked terrible, even to our untrained eyes, which convinced me to finally see the doctor who told me I had a sinus infection and needed antibiotics.
- Wandering new places at night: At an Airbnb with my wife, I had to find my way to the bathroom one night but didn’t want to turn on the light. Instead, I grabbed my flashlight from the bedside table and relieved myself without waking her up.
- Providing first aid for the dog: One of our dogs kept shaking his head and it was obvious that something in his ear was bothering him. I laid him down, broke out the flashlight, pulled open his ear, and found the problem immediately—a thorny burr stuck inside.
- Retrieving my keys: I accidentally locked my keys in the car at the ski area a week ago and had four hungry and tired kids waiting on me to figure something out. Luckily, the ski area parking staff dealt with this regularly and was versed at fishing keys out of cars with a long wire. As a friendly staff member angled the wire to the car floor to grab the keys, I climbed on the hood and pointed the flashlight into the car so he could see through the shadows and grab the keys.
I could go on, but you get the point. There’s always going to be a time during my day when a pocket flashlight comes in handy. The same will be true for you, too, regardless of what brand or style you choose to carry. I’m confident there will be many new ways the light will be useful—situations I can’t even imagine at the moment. I just hope those new ways don’t involve as many stuck keys, sick dogs, or sore throats.