I was given the opportunity to review the Coast HP550 focusing LED flashlight. I love reviewing new gear on the Prepper Journal but some flashlight reviews are highly technical to the point of using calibrated machines to measure beam intensity and throw. I don’t have any of that equipment so maybe we should put this review in the amateur category. I’ll let you know my overall impressions of the flashlight and you can make a determination for yourself if this is something you want to research further. My guess is that 99.9% of you don’t have the equipment to measure these flashlights either and that is perfectly fine. For this article and the Coast HP550 review, we’ll just keep things simple.
Speaking of simple, a flashlight is a simple device. It’s number one mission in life is to provide light. There are a million different shapes sizes and configurations of flashlights, but they all share common characteristics. You click a button or flip a switch and as long as they have power and a bulb, light comes out the end. Brilliantly simple, but very necessary. They are so necessary that we don’t even think of living without them do we? A flashlight is one of those items like duct tape that we simply have. You would be hard pressed to go into any house and not find a single flashlight, but we make sure we add them to any Prepper list of supplies we write down.
Flashlights have really changed over the years and the LED flashlights are the most common and powerful on the market. It used to be a good Maglite was the best thing you could get as a consumer, but the best old Maglite can’t hold a candle to the middle of the road LED flashlights of today.
The Coast HP550 is definitely a flashlight for today, but calling this piece of equipment a flashlight in the traditional sense seems to do it a disservice. I would say the Coast HP550 is more like a floodlight trapped in a flashlight body. At 1075 lumens, this light is better described as a search beam. You can find your electric panel in a black out with this, but it would be much better served looking for lost hikers in a forest, in a driving storm, if they are trapped in a well.
The beam on the HP550 is incredibly intense and makes all the other flashlights I have pale in comparison. Like I said, I would use this to look for survivors in a collapsed building or a lost calf in a huge field. Now, to be fair most of my tactical flashlights aren’t designed to do the work of something like the HP550. My single AA powered light has a 90 lumens LED and I have one that holds 3 AAA batteries that goes up to 200 lumens, but the huge 1075 lumens bursting out of the HP550 requires 9, yes 9 AA batteries.
The 9 battery requirement is what I see most people complain about. I can see that initially this would look like a lot, but if you are using rechargeable batteries like Sanyo’s Eneloop, and have plenty of them, the 9 battery issue is less of a mark against this flashlight. With 9 AA batteries, the Coast HP550 provides 6 hours and 15 minutes of run-time. That isn’t shabby at all in my opinion and I keep coming back to the brightness. You have to see 1075 lumens to believe it. 9 batteries, that I can recharge with a solar panel doesn’t seem too crazy to me for that power.
The Pure Beam Focusing Optic System with Slide Focus on the flashlight allows you to tweak the beam and create a superior beam quality from spot to flood. The spotlight can throw light up to 1151 feet. Try that with your old Maglite. Looking for someone hiding in the woods? This flashlight will help you find them with ease.
The case is made of aluminum and the size fits nicely in one hand. The button on the back takes its cues from its tactical cousins, but might be better placed on the main shaft. It isn’t a deal breaker for me as its easy to click on and off regardless. The flashlight isn’t waterproof, but I don’t go swimming with too many of my flashlights anyway. The simple seals will keep most water out and unless you dunk it in the pool, you shouldn’t have any problems.
If you don’t need to shine light all over the place, the HP550 also has a low setting of 53 lumens. That is plenty of light for routine chores like making sure the door to the chicken coop is closed or finding your way out to the shed. This power saver is a nice option to keep your batteries lasting longer. I think that in a perfect world there would be a middle setting, but I don’t know how you would easily do this with a single selector. I have flashlights that go from low to high to strobe and they never go to the right setting I want. I end up cycling through every one just to get the light off and that is a pain.
You can see three settings below where I had the light on the lowest setting, then high with the beam wide open, then I closed it to create a spotlight. The tree line is about 75 feet away and you can see how bright the light is.
The bottom line for me is that the Coast HP550 is a tremendous light for the price. You can find the HP550 on Amazon, Costco and Sears for about $50. If you are looking for an excellent home flashlight that will shine a ton of light into the darkest places, this would make a great choice.