Wanting to build or buy a wow light for around $50

Hi there,

I am needing a flashlight that offers “wow” factor, to give as a gift for an upcoming kayak trip.

I have a convoy c8 with an XM-L2 and think it is a great all around light. Good distance and useable spill. I was reading about this 17mm BLF FET driver and am imagining upgrading the C8 I have with that and a high discharge battery. Maybe even finding a copper chunk to help with heat if needed. What am I missing? Will that actually work and provide a noticeable bump in performance over what I currently have? IS there a better option you can think of for sheer output in that price range?

The other option is too buy a modded light that someone here is wanting to sell. I have seen these crazy triple led convoy s2s, but something tells me those might be a bit out of my price range. Never the less, if you have something that offers WOW in my price range, pls shoot me a pm. BTW I live in Texas. Thanks for the help


I have a couple of C8’s and I really like them. I would suggest either a 10x7135 driver or a fet driver from Richard at Mountain. You must do spring bypasses on both ends and need to mount the LED on a direct thermal path mount and it should be copper. A good AR lens will also help. A good high drain battery will also help. There is nothing wrong with the C8 for a compact thrower that will still fit in a pocket. You could go with a de-domed XP-G2 and really reach out, in that small form factor.

As always, you know what they say about opinions… :slight_smile:


If you’re giving the light to someone used to Maglites, etc then any off the shelf C8 would make them go WOW :slight_smile:

Edited to say that the difference between a C8 with 8 or 10 7135’s is not readily apparent unless someone is doing a side-by-side comparison with them, at least for me.

I’m about to mod my C8 in a similar fashion as what you’re saying; FET driver, XML2 U4 on Noctigon, double spring bypass, AR glass and a quality battery. There isn’t much more you can do to it without re-enginering the entire light. Like SIG said, even a stock C8 in the hands of someone who is used to Maglites will still impress them, I’m sure. I’d make sure they understand the risk of having a hotrod light though. Maglites can run on high until kingdom come…. a C8 with a FET will burn a hole in something :smiley:

Usually the most “wow” lights like triple S2’s aren’t the most practical. They wow you for about 60 seconds then you have to turn it down or burn your hand. I like something more throwy like a C8 or X6 when I’m outdoors, but many times those lights don’t impress as much as a tiny hand burner. The X6R is a great gift for the non-flashaholic because of the built-in charger.

Aim for “Wow! It still works after it was underwater for five minutes” I’d think.

Something that uses Energizer Lithium primary AA cells, which work fine in cold conditions.

Unless they are planning to paddle at night - bright as hell with good throw is probably not the "wow" you need. In any case, I've never been able to use a light in the canoe that didn't blind me with the spill coming off the deck. Headlamps are even worse as you light up your upper arm with each stroke, killing your night vision. Sorry to be a party-pooper!

For a kayak trip, you need to be more concerned with carrying enough spare batteries or a way to recharge them. Most of the use will likely be around camp in any case. Perhaps the "wow" you need is in the context of "wow - this thing actually has usable levels of brightness with great runtime".

Remember, most of us here love pocket-rockets with direct drive and spring bypass, but we are likely never too far from a charger.

And don't forget to educate them about the precautions needed for Li-Ions if they are coming from a Maglite experience as some here are speculating.