Today’s quick review brings us the venerable Pak-Lite flashlight, and not a minute too soon. With stormy weather outside, winds howling, and the threat of power outages, this seemed like the perfect time to do a write-up on this cool light.
But first, a little bit of background: the “Pak-Lite” is the creation of an Oregon teenager over fifteen years ago, whose design helped launch a family-run small business. They are still cranking out Pak-Lites today, and you can find them in various configurations on their website.
Powered by a single nine-volt battery, the Pak-Lite features a pair of 5mm LED’s (with your choice of color) housed in a small plastic cap. This cap then snaps onto the top of the 9V battery, creating the complete flashlight. My particular copy is from 2004, and after all these years, it’s still going strong. The website claims that these flashlights have been included in USAF pilot survival kits, and used by special operations, and I don’t doubt it. The Pak-Lite is a small, reliable, and robust piece of equipment.
There is a simple switch on the cap, enabling you to select from two modes; high output and low output (or two separate colors, if so equipped). The unit can handle either alkaline or lithium 9V batteries, and is very efficient in runtime. One tip — used smoke detector batteries make a great source of power for the Pak-Lite! No more throwing them out after changing them twice a year.
Here are a few specifications, according to the manufacturer’s web site:
- Weight: 1.5 ounces (42.5 g)
- LED Rating: 100,000 hours
- Runtime (Alkaline): 75+ hours high, 600+ hours low
- Runtime (Lithium): 200+ hours high, 1200+ hours low
- Switch: Gold-plated contacts, rated for 100,000 toggles
Due to the nature of bare 5mm LEDs, you aren’t going to get a ton of throw from this light, but that’s kind of the point. The Pak-Lite excels at close-up jobs requiring a floody beam and a long runtime. Tasks like map reading, rummaging through a bag, looking under a car seat, disaster preparedness, campsite lighting, and so forth are the perfect applications. While not waterproof per se, supposedly the light can be dried out and used again with no ill effects. And since the bottom of a 9V battery is flat, standing the light on its tail to light up a room is no problem!
As LED flashlight technology has evolved in leaps and bounds over the last few years, there is still always a place for a simple flashlight such as the Pak-Lite. In fact, with ever-increasing lumen counts, it’s actually become harder to find an American-made flashlight with a lower output mode. The Pak-Lite has earned a permanent spot in my gear collection and is one of the first lights I reach for when the power goes out.