From the earliest days of mankind, one of the few things that separated our particular breed of big-brained monkey from the rest of the competition in the wild was our ability to harness light, in the form of fire. Fire, of course, was paramount to our success as a species for a number of other reasons: it provided heat, safety, and a means by which to cook calorically dense meat, reducing our constant need for foraging… but light freed us from our fear of the dark. Our ability to illuminate the shadows removed the predatory advantages of the animals that stalked us after sundown. That ability to see threats coming where we otherwise couldn’t often meant the difference between life and death – for individuals, and for the species.

If you ask me, out here in the woods of Georgia, not much has changed.

I didn’t always carry a flashlight with me as a part of my EDC. In fact, I spoke to a number of guys when I first started with SOFREP who recommended it, including former Navy SEAL and our company founder, Brandon Webb, all who said a good flashlight was an important part of anyone’s loadout… and disregarded their suggestion. In my mind, a flashlight was the type of stuff gear-guys carry around because it’s a good idea, but not necessarily something so integral I shouldn’t leave home without it. If you’ve followed my writing for a while, you may have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for admitting when I’m wrong – it’s important that a man is willing to do so, in my opinion – and this is one of those times.

I turned the corner while touring Tytan Tactical’s new prison facility in Eatonton, Georgia last summer. The sprawling complex was still raw after years of sitting empty at the time, and I suppose I should have expected to need more light than my iPhone could provide. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only guy on that tour – and two gentlemen, one hailing from CAG (Combat Applications Group, also known as noopener” target=”_blank”>Delta Force) and another from some alphabet agency who were along for the trip too, swiftly produced small flashlights from their pockets that put my iPhone to shame. Where I had been struggling to stumble my way through the darkness, they illuminated entire hallways. Then and there, I told myself I’d incorporate a good quality flashlight into my journo-kit forever more.