ZZ Top had it right when they sang about Cheap Sunglasses, but there really needs to be a follow up for cheap lights. You can spend a paycheck on a good light – we're looking at you SureFire – and if your life or even a single limb depends on it, that's the way to go. But! If it's more for convenience, stashing a bunch of cheap lights everywhere makes a lot of sense. This is doubly true if you're handing a light to a kid or even a forgetful adult.
GearLight makes some great cheap lights. We tried out their S1300 lantern, S1 safety lights and S500 headlamp. Short review: they all perform perfectly well, stand up to normal handling and even include a few extras that surprised as at the price point they're offered.
The lantern has a foldaway handle on top and foldaway hook on the bottom, for easy carrying and hanging respectively. Three light modes make this great for everything from an emergency light at home to camping use. Three D batteries, not included, run it for 72 hours, and along with a high and medium white light there's a warm white mode that's really pleasant for general lighting.
The headlamp is pretty basic, pressing the big glove-friendly button on top cycles through white high/medium/low/flash modes, and a long press switches to red solid/flashing/SOS modes. The SOS mode is pretty cool, sending out the universal morse code pattern for distress: three short flashes – three long flashes – three short flashes. The light has a modest tilt adjustment but only in the down direction, which is where you'll usually need it anyway.
The S1 safety lights are more of an everyday light. Four lights – two red and two green – come ready for action, with included CR2032 batteries already installed and – bonus! – four extra CR2032 batteries and four velcro straps for easy mounting on packs, bikes, helmets or wherever. There's even a tiny screwdriver included for replacing the batteries. It's really a good deal, especially for kid lights since you know the little floggers will break/lose/trade them for twinkies. Three light modes – solid/flash/strobe – and the batteries last a long time, what's not to like? If you're looking for decent lights but don't want to spend a ton, check out GearLight.
S1300 lantern $14.99 on Amazon
S1 LED Safety Light 4-Pack $13.99 on Amazon
S500 Headlamp 2-Pack $14.99 on Amazon