Some time ago, I added a flashlight to the pile of things that I carry every day. I asked my readers for advice, and ended up choosing Erin‘s suggestion – the Nebo Blueline. After beating the ever loving dog shit out of it before losing it, I had pretty much made up my mind. It was the one for me. However, after losing the second one about a week after I bought it, I deemed the model jinxed, and started considering other options.
I already had a Fenix E21, and a long ago discontinued model from Digilight. The Digilight throws a good, quality beam, but it also eats both bulbs and CR123 batteries like there is no tomorrow. Obviously, too expensive to maintain and too unreliable for EDC.
The Fenix is a good, reliable LED-based light that uses AA batteries. The problem is its length, which is just over six inches. As such, it is too long to carry in my pocket without the significant risk of it working its way out. I tried to stretch a 2AA Maglite belt holster, to no avail. The Fenix was just too fat. I could work it in, but getting it out almost required removing the entire assembly from my belt.
I found the pitifully weak Maglite that went with the aforementioned holster, but it just wasn’t bright enough to be considered a flashlight by today’s standards. I didn’t want to didn’t want to lose the third Nebo that I eventually got around to buying, and I certainly didn’t want the Fenix to walk out of my pocket and disappear.
I tried to find a holster or pouch for it, but Fenix only sells one, and it attaches via carabiner, not a belt loop. Other available third-party pouches/holsters are almost universally described by statements like “fits ShitFire P6 or similar” without giving any specific dimensions. Well, I don’t own a fucking Shitfire, and if you’re going to make me look up the dimensions of a different light just to see if mine will fit in your shitty holder, I don’t want your damn product.
Eventually, I found a recommendation that promised that the Maxpedition 5″ pouch was a perfect fit for the E21. I hadn’t found it in my initial search because Maxpedition really likes their products. They get more for the pouch than I paid for the Nebo. Even so, I broke down and bought one. It is a substantial, well-built item, and the fit is perfect.
I also bought a TerraLUX LED upgrade for the Maglite, as recommended back when I asked for suggestions. I didn’t go that route then because I didn’t know at the time that I still owned a 2AA Maglite, and the cost of the Nebo was less than buying a standard Maglite plus the conversion kit. Shortly thereafter, I found the pouch holster from the piece of shit, broke fifteen minutes after I got it, Cree (spit!) flashlight that I bought from them while I worked there. It is a tight fit for the Nebo, but less so than the Fenix-Maglite pairing.
Now I have my choice between the three. With the upgrade, the Maglite is competitive with the Nebo, although it requires two batteries to do what Nebo accomplishes with one. Plus, I like the pushbutton switch on the Nebo better than the twist operation of the Maglite. The Fenix is the brightest of the three, but lacks a focus adjustment. It really doesn’t need one, though.
Bottom line: The Nebo is my choice for work, since it is small and doesn’t get in my way when crawling around in tight spaces, and it has proven its ability to withstand abuse. The Fenix gets the call for non-work outings, and the Maglite is backup. Now if I can just figure out how to apply the “two is one and one is none” rule without buying some dinky keychain light powered by a button battery, I’ll be set.