Flashlights are arguably one of the most important tools to have in your bug-out toolbox. We have previously discussed the importance of keeping a working flashlight with you for survival at night. We have also tested plenty of flashlights over the years, and found that the power source is a critical point for all of them. Some offer rechargeable solutions, others need their batteries replaced, but what about a light that can use both? Dead batteries can be a major source of frustration, or even put you in danger depending on the circumstances.
We recently picked up one of Streamlight’s newest flashlights, the ProTac HPL USB. This light’s dual-fuel feature can solve the dilemma of either being unable to recharge your flashlight or unable to find disposable replacement batteries in an emergency.
Streamlight has been one of the leaders in the rechargeable flashlight industry for decades, and is responsible for a huge variety of consumer and industrial lighting products. Their Stinger line is popular with military and police forces worldwide. The ProTac series of lights was developed to maximize performance and reliability in a single package. With four modes, multiple power sources, and a tough aluminum body, the Streamlight ProTac HPL USB is worth considering if you’re looking for a new torch for everyday use or your bug out bag.
The HPL USB is a fully-loaded flashlight offering an extremely bright 1,000-lumen light in a medium sized package that is a solid choice for most situations we came across. At just over 9 ounces in weight and 7 inches long, it’s not unwieldy or overwhelmingly heavy for pocket carry. The head features a triple-sided anti-roll ring to keep the light right where you set it. The body has a crosshatched knurl that helps you hold the light even with wet hands. The backside features Streamlight’s signature multi-function Ten-Tap power button. The light comes with a lithium ion rechargeable battery, USB charging cable, removable pocket clip, and nylon pouch.
Water and drop resistance come standard with the HPL USB making this a good all-around flashlight. All of the openings are sealed with lubricated O-rings to prevent water from infiltrating. The light also features a lifetime warranty, so if it were to stop working, Streamlight will take care of you. While Streamlight flashlights are not generally at the low end of the price spectrum, the HPL USB is quite reasonably priced for the features you get. The base light package seen here retails for less than $100 at major online and local retailers nationwide. Let’s take a look at some of the features of this new flashlight.
As mentioned before, the light features four modes. These are accessed via single, double, or triple taps of the end cap button. They include high, medium, low, and strobe. The light comes out of the box with modes set to high, strobe, and low — accessed in that order. However, this light also features Streamlight’s proprietary Ten-Tap Programming. This allows the user to select one of several mode/activation order presets. By lightly pressing the button nine times and holding on the 10th, the light will change to high power only. Following this procedure again, the light will change to low, medium, and high power modes in that order. Reprogramming one more time will return it to the default setting.
This programming is nice, but a few more programming sets would be beneficial. It’s worth noting that there’s no way to access medium mode and strobe in the same programming set — we wish there was a quick way to cycle through high-medium-low-strobe without going through the Ten-Tap procedure. Also, many other lights on the market offer SOS mode, timed auto-off function, or even a dimming mode to precisely set how bright the light shines. The addition of some of these options would add even more versatility to this light.
The belt clip is solid and a nice touch. In testing, the light felt secure on a belt and in our pockets. Admittedly, it’s a bit large as a pocket light, so the removable clip is a cool feature. One drawback we noticed is that removing the clip scratched the black anodized coating off the light, which was kind of a bummer.
Another useful feature of the Streamlight HPL is the ability to power the light via multiple fuel sources. The flashlight comes standard with a rechargeable Li-ion battery and USB charging cable. The charging port is located under a sliding collar on the body of the light. If for some reason you don’t have access to a USB charger, the flashlight will also function using a pair of standard CR123A batteries or a single 18650 Li-ion battery. A safety feature built in to the light prevents it from charging anything other than the included rechargeable Li-ion battery, so there’s no need to worry about causing damage by accidentally trying to recharge disposable batteries.
When charging the flashlight, a small LED next to the USB port lights up red, then green once the light is fully charged. This takes approximately 7 hours from a totally dead battery. According to Streamlight’s website, the HPL USB will run for 1.5 hours on high, 3 hours on medium, and 20 hours on low. One thing to note is there is no end of run time notification with this light, it will simply turn off. It would be nice to have the charging light next to the USB port glow green, yellow, and red or at least flash to indicate the charge level of the light.
Like other popular Streamlights, the beam on the HPL USB is powerful. In fact, it is 1,000 lumens with a 1,200-foot beam distance in its highest setting. In medium it is roughly half that, with 400 lumens and a 770-foot beam distance. And in its lowest setting, it is 65 lumens with a 300-foot beam distance. So while it’s versatile with multiple fuel options, you can also provide as much light as needed for your current situation.
As with most high-output flashlights, on the head of the light will get very warm if used for a long period of time at full blast. This is a common issue with most compact high-output flashlights, and until someone creates an LED that doesn’t produce heat, this will continue to be an issue.
The Streamlight ProTac HPL USB is a solid flashlight with several useful features, durable construction, and a lifetime warranty. It’s also moderately-priced, making it a good value. If you are looking for a new well-rounded flashlight for day-to-day use, bug out situations, or just to put in your camper drawer for weekend excursions, the HPL USB is a good choice with useful features. Check out Streamlight.com for more info on this and all the other lighting products they offer.