After reading Tom Fine's informative review of the Mini Maglite Pro [Tape Op #130], I realized that it's been a while since I've talked about flashlights. My favorite task light is the Bosch FL12 Max LED Worklight [], because it offers a wide spread of evenly distributed light, and its built-in magnet and carabiner-like clip make it easy to mount— with plenty of articulation for pointing the light where you need it. But it does require an investment in a Bosch 12V battery and charging system [#102]. I also have a couple beautifully engineered, but relatively expensive penlights [#85] in my toolbox. Unfortunately, penlights are like pens; they're often borrowed and never returned. Therefore, over the years, I've purchased a bunch of affordable compact flashlights for my studio and home, and my current favorite is the UltraFire SK68 Single-Mode Tactical LED Flashlight, which I buy in three-packs for $11.49. Like so many products sold on Amazon, lookalikes are available under countless brand-names, but I've had the best luck with UltraFire— zero duds so far. The switches in particular, which seem to be the most common failure point, have been faultless. Speaking of the switch, the single-mode version of the SK68 turns on and turns off— and that's it. There are no SOS or crazy-blinking modes to frustrate you when all you want is a steady light. The projector-beam lens slides forward and back in a simple one-handed operation— no awkward twisting required— and the beam can be focused from a wide, evenly distributed circle, to a laser-tight image of the LED chip itself. At maximum zoom, I can easily spot birds in trees 500ft away, when I power the flashlight with a single 3.7V Li-ion cell. I use an EBL Protected 14500 Li-ion Rechargeable 800mAh Battery, which I charge with a four-channel MiBoxer C4 Smart Charger, in each of my "keeper" SK68 lights. In the SK68s that might walk, I use a regular 1.5V AA alkaline battery; there's less light output, but more than enough for looking behind racks, inside guitar amps, or whatnot. The SK68s have proven themselves durable; they've survived drops on the studio floor, dog walks in the rain, and rinses in the sink after night fishing. If I had to complain about anything, it would be the SK68's spring clip; the clip has so much tension that it's hard to slide onto the pockets of clothing or nylon tool bags. On the upside, the clip is replaceable, and because it has so much tension, you can slip a keyring underneath it without fear of the ring sliding out... Speaking of keyrings, clips, clothing, and bags, if you're like me, you probably use carabiners to clip things to other things. I love my dual-gate Nite Ize S-Biners [Geeking #95] for attaching keys and other smaller items, and I also have Nite Ize carabiner-lanyards on various lightweight cases for in-ear monitors, iLoks, etc. For larger items, I prefer the Black Diamond Hoodwire Carabiner Yes this made-for-climbing carabiner has a 24kN closed-gate rating and CE0333 certification, and yes that's utter overkill for attaching a water bottle to my backpack, or my eyeglass case to a belt loop; but the Hoodwire has one killer feature that makes it better than any other wire-gate carabiner. A patented, stainless-steel "hood" around its hook prevents this carabiner from snagging, and both the gate and the hood utilize wire that's been precision-shaped to mate perfectly every time. The Hoodwire, and its smaller Oz and larger LiveWire siblings, are the only truly snag-free wire-gate carabiners I've ever used— in any of my indoor geeking endeavors or outdoor sporting expeditions. A six-pack of Hoodwires costs $60. –AH

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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