Bushnell’s Rubicon T300L HD flashlightOne evening many years ago, on the Mississippi River, I rowed past sunset along miles of riprap. If I ventured close enough to shore to see anything with the flashlight I had, I risked being swept into the rocks. So I drifted for hours in the freezing December night air with spray coating my deck and jacket with ice. I eventually spotted the dim glow of white sand and landed, but by then I was desperately cold. With a more powerful flashlight I’m sure I could have been off the water much sooner.Since then I’ve tried a number of high-intensity flashlights. They initially showed promise, but their 123 lithium cells weren’t universally available and a few hard-to-replace bulbs burned out. LED flashlights, once only good for use in camp, have now become powerful enough for use in a compact searchlight.I’ve been impressed by Bushnell’s Rubicon T300L HD flashlight. It’s just shy of a pound and is powered by four common and inexpensive AA batteries. About the size of an old C-cell flashlight, it has a fish-eye lens on its business end. Behind the lens there’s a kaleidoscope pattern of green cat eyes. Peer into it and you’ll see a black square hole on a field of a white. That square is the shape of the beam the flashlight casts and the thick lens keeps the light quite uniform from edge to edge, just as a slide projector does without a slide. There are high and low settings for the light; you’ll need the low setting for close work, as the high can be painfully bright. The lens is encircled by a ring that emits a low intensity red light well suited for reading charts without wiping out your night vision.

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