Mini MagLite LED

December 7th, 2012 in Articles Lighting

If a particular gear item functions well, there’s no reason in my opinion to replace it unless the alternative is a major improvement over the original. Such is the case with flashlights.

Mini Mag 2AA LED Flashlight

Mini Mag 2AA LED Model Number SX4201H Flashlight

The Original Mini Maglite

For years, I carried the original Mini Maglite 2AA flashlight with the standard xenon bulb. It was compact, durable, bright, and batteries lasted 4 hrs. Only when LED flashlights began to surface did I take a second look. I ultimately converted my standard Mini Maglites to LED with an inexpensive aftermarket LED bulb conversion kit. The result was okay. It certainly improved battery life, but the brightness remained the same, and I lost the ability to focus the beam.

Mini Maglite: The Upgrade

Fast forward to now. I just got my hands on the new Mini Maglite 2AA LED Model Number SX4201H Flashlight. You can find them for around $20, in a two-pack, with alkaline batteries and belt holders included! This is a very good deal, so how good was the light?

Not Just Another Bright, Shiny Object

For starters, the focusable beam is rated at 77 lumens, which is very bright at 100% power (as bright, in fact, as some much larger LED flashlights). The manufacturer claims “Ultra Beam Distance” at 141 meters. Well, I gotta believe it.

What really makes this Made-in-the-USA light shine (ah, couldn’t help the pun) is the “Multi-Mode Electronic Switch”. It takes a little orientation, but once you learn how to use it, the switch allows the light to display four different ways:

  • 100% Power (battery life 10+ hrs.)
  • 25% Power (battery life 31+ hrs.)
  • Blink Mode
  • SOS Mode

The 25% Power Mode allow use of the light at a lower setting for reading and general camp chores. The Blink Mode is what it says…a continuous blinking light. The SOS Mode is the most interesting. It automatically flashes in the Morse Code S-O-S (three short, three long, three short) until you make it stop.

You see the benefit here. For a Ten Essential “Lighting” Category flashlight, it does it all.

This one won’t push your buttons…

One thing I’ve always liked about Mini Maglites is their positive twist-on/twist-off function, and the lack of a base-cap push button switch. The base cap is instead solid, with a drilled-through lanyard hole.

While great for rapid beam deployment and certain tactical applications, base-cap push button switches can turn on in your pack, pocket, or wherever, when you don’t want them on. Not good for all-important battery life.

Speaking of Batteries…

…AA batteries are used here. Big plus in my book, since they’re common, plentiful, inexpensive, and replaceable. Just personal preference, but I like being able to put new batteries in a flashlight at the beginning of a trip; lithium batteries (use in other LED models) are great for performance, but can be spendy by comparison.

Other Features

A solid base cap enables all Mini Maglites to be used in “Candle Mode”. The flashlight head is unscrewed and removed, letting the beam shine openly. The flashlight body, with the beam upright, then uses the flashlight head as a base with the base cap end of the body set back into the head.

And the lanyard hole…I add an appropriately-sized keyring that can handle a lanyard, or be carabinered to a pack, clothing, or other secure location.

Conclusion

All in all, this flashlight is an excellent upgrade, and for what it does, the affordable price is an added bonus.

Here’s a link to the MAGLITE website if you want more info.