Headquartered far from Seattle, Boulder, or any other outdoors-industry hotspot, Adventure Lights Inc. (www.adventurelights.com) takes its sphere of influence not from fleece-wearing mountain townies, but from industries and institutions like law enforcement, search-and-rescue and the military.
As such, its line of flashing, signaling, attention-getting devices includes lights and L.E.D. models that can do things like blip out a visual SOS signal for 350 hours straight.
One Adventure Lights item is the $17 Lazer Stik Powergrip AA: A slim wand made to use in lieu of chemical glow sticks. It weighs just more than an ounce and attaches to a life preserver or boat hull via plastic zip-tie cinches to provide a waterproof light source that will improve your visibility for would-be rescuers or boats run astray in the fog.
Altogether, the company's line for the outdoors includes about a dozen esoteric items, many of which look like children's toys at first glance.
They are anything but.
The VIP Signal Light, for example, is an emergency L.E.D. that has been tested "in deserts, the Arctic, in the stratosphere and hundreds of feet below the sea," according to the company. The result is a beacon light that holds up in almost any extreme environmental condition, including 330 feet underwater and in temps ranging from minus 40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
The product, which comes in several iterations, can be used as a flashlight for small tasks; an always-on blinker to add visibility when you're boating or road biking; or as a beacon that signals the international SOS distress call--dit-dit-dit, dah-dah-dah, dit-dit-dit--via a visual Morse code.
I tested the VIP Standard Yellow Case model, an $81 light that has a focused amber L.E.D., which is color optimized to enhance visibility and help penetrate smoke and fog, according to the company.
The product is strangely shaped but functional, with a metal belt clip and included zip-ties to secure the light permanently to a backpack, life preserver or other object. It runs on a lithium battery (included) for a quoted 350 hours. It measures about 3 by 2 by 1.25 inches and weighs 4 ounces.
Another Adventure Lights product, the $14 Guardian Dual Function, is an all-purpose L.E.D. flasher for signal and visibility use. It weighs less than an ounce and is available with a belt clip base, a wrist strap, or a magnetic base for securing it quickly to something metal. White, green, amber, red and blue are available colors.
The company advertises visibility of up to one mile, and a single battery lasts for about 250 hours. Splash it and you're fine: The little Guardian L.E.D. is waterproof to 300 feet. It has two modes, flashing and steady-on, which are accessed via a twist of the light's solid plastic bulb.
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Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.