When looking for the best tactical flashlights, we’re always looking for the brightest, most powerful lights we can find. However, there’s so much more to an LED flashlight than just the highest output from how many brightness levels it has to the beam pattern to its user interface. All of these factors go into what determines a good flashlight for some and a bad flashlight for others. So today, I want to talk about a feature that’s been highly debated in the flashlight community: the moonlight mode. I’ll go over what a moonlight mode is, what it’s used for, and if it’s worth it for an LED flashlight to have.
What is a Moonlight Mode on an Outdoor or EDC Flashlight?
First, you may hear “moonlight mode” or “firefly mode.” As far as I understand, flashlight brands seem to use these words interchangeably, but they mean the same thing. So even though I’ll be talking about moonlight mode in this article, it also applies to firefly mode.
Now that we’ve got the difference between firefly and moonlight mode covered, what are they? A moonlight mode is typically the lowest brightness level of 3 lumens or less. Some brands choose to make moonlight modes of 1 lumen while others go below one lumen, around 0.5 lumens or even 0.2 lumens. While some users prefer their moonlight modes to be somewhere between 1 and 3 lumens, others prefer less than 1 lumen. It’s different for every user.
What is a Moonlight Mode Used For?
If you’ve never used a moonlight mode before, you may be wondering what the purpose of having a small amount of light would be. While a moonlight mode may sound like it would be of little use, in darkness, a small amount of light can make all the difference. A moonlight mode allows you to see in the darkness without blinding or disorienting yourself or anyone around you and has minimally disrupts your night vision. So let me give you some examples where a moonlight mode really shines.
Moonlight modes are particularly useful outdoors and is an excellent feature when it comes to camping for several reasons. Depending on how bright the moonlight mode is, this small amount of light allows you to navigate in the darkness without disturbing your night vision or your camping pals. So if you choose to read in the tent at night while your buddy is sleeping, a moonlight mode is great for that. Also, if you wake up in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom, moonlight mode will light up the path in front of you without disturbing your buddy and without disrupting your night vision. Not to mention, it won’t be bright enough to inadvertently wake you up.
With an LED flashlight, moonlight mode is also great for close quarters. In a shared small tent, even 30 lumens at night can be too bright for those inside the tent. When looking around your tent or in your camping bag, a moonlight mode is the perfect amount of light. You can clearly see in front of you without worrying about hurting your eyes or others’ eyes. Also, moonlight modes often have insane runtimes. If you’re wanting to conserve your battery, a moonlight mode is the way to go.
Along that same thought, you don’t need to be outside in a tent to appreciate moonlight mode. When you’re working around the house and you’re in a small space, moonlight mode can really come in handy. For example, the pipes under my sink were making a noise the other day and moonlight mode was the perfect amount of light to see what was going on. If my head had been under my sink and I shined even 50 lumens at my pipes, the glare alone would cause pretty bad discomfort.
Finally, a moonlight mode is perfect for stealth. If you’re in the dark and don’t want to draw attention to yourself, a moonlight mode can help you navigate the area. This is especially useful for police officers and hunters who may need to navigate in the dark inconspicuously. Not only that, but it allows just enough light to look through a tactical bag or hunting bag to retrieve whatever the user may need.
Should I Buy an LED Flashlight with a Moonlight Mode?
This is a fair question and the answer really depends on what you’re going to use the flashlight for. If you plan on going on a camping trip or an outdoor trip of any kind, I’d highly recommend you get an LED flashlight with a moonlight mode. Nothing will make you appreciate that moonlight mode like a weekend camping trip. Between the long runtimes, the soft beam rather than a harsh beam on your eyes at night, and the ability to use your light in a shared tent, it’s worth it. I can guarantee that after one camping trip, you’ll be singing praises for the moonlight mode.
If you want a tactical flashlight for self-defense, I’d consider a moonlight mode though I don’t think it’s necessary. If you hear a bump in the night and want to check it out, a moonlight mode will let you navigate while keeping your night vision preserved. On the other hand, you’ll want a tactical flashlight with an instant strobe or turbo in case you happen upon an intruder. An ultra bright flashlight is really disorienting in the middle of the night.
For an everyday carry flashlight or a household flashlight, a moonlight mode is a good idea, but, once again, not necessary. Because the moonlight mode has such an extended runtime, your LED flashlight will last a long while before worrying about charging or switching out the batteries. For me, that’s preferable with EDC lights.
Also, a moonlight mode can be useful when working on the house. I already told you the story about the pipes under the sink. I actually have quite a few stories where I use the moonlight mode to help me around the house. That being said, a low mode of 20 to 30 lumens wouldn’t be bad either. One way or another, I’d recommend getting an EDC flashlight and general use flashlight with a low mode of under 50 lumens, but I highly recommend trying out a flashlight with a moonlight mode. The Fenix UC35 V2.0 has an amazing moonlight mode that has an 800 hour maximum runtime!