General Purpose Tools

Nu-Flare Rebel 90 Flashlight

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Small, bright, rugged flashlight

I have an uncle who is a hard-core user of flashlights in his work and his hobbies. He’s an airframe and powerplant mechanic specializing in experimental aircraft, so he spends a lot of time looking behind panels and into tiny, dark recesses that haven’t been seen by human eyes since the plane was built. He needs a good light to do this, but he had had a very frustrating time finding just the right one.

A couple of years ago, I had a long talk with him about the features he wanted in a flashlight, and I searched around until I found the Nu-Flare Rebel 90, which I gave to him as a Christmas present. It’s so good that he carries and uses it every day, and when he thought he had lost it, he got a little stressed out until he ordered a replacement. Of course, he found the “lost” light before the replacement arrived, but now he has a backup.

Here are some things that make this the best light for him:

A lot of lights have multi-function switches – actuate it once for dim, again for bright, a third time for strobe, etc. In his experience, these switches usually were in the wrong mode, or would simply fail. This light has none of that – it is either on, or it’s off. It always works exactly as expected, and there’s never a need to think about how to switch modes. The pushbutton switch is on the tailcap, and has a satisfying clicky action. If you only need the light for a moment, a half-press will give you light without locking the light on.

It’s also small enough in both diameter (just over 1″) and length (under 4.5″) that it’s easy to get into tight spaces and to see past; but it’s not so small that it’s difficult to hold onto or easy to misplace. But for all its small size, it makes a LOT of light – you won’t want to look directly into the beam.

I visited my uncle a few weeks ago, and we needed to use his light to look into a dark cranny for a project we were working on together. This spurred some idle fiddling with the light, and that spurred discussion about how long he had had it and his satisfaction with it. He’s been using it daily for a couple of years now, and it’s still a spectacular light. He’s stopped his previous pattern of buying new lights every few weeks, and when I got home, I ordered one for myself.

It does use an odd battery – CR123A. These are more expensive and less readily available than AA or AAA sizes, so he also recommended some Li-ion rechargeable batteries for it. I got a kit with four batteries and a charger, which allows me to keep a set in the light and one on standby. As an added feature, the charger has both a wall plug and a 12V cigarette-lighter adapter, so it can charge batteries either at home or on the road.

-- Josh Drew 08/3/15