Survival Strobe

Any recommendations on a rescue / survival strobe? As my kayaking becomes more adventuresome, I realize I need one. I am considering a military surplus SDU-5/E, converted to lithium battery. Any thoughts / experience? Thanks.

I have…
a Princeton Tec Aqua Strobe but the one you’re looking at is probably fine.—Rich

Essential Gear
Essential Gear makes a VIP light that can be placed flat on a deck or worn on a pfd. Horiz. visibility is about 3 miles and vertical visibility is about 5 miles. Ruggedly built. LED powered = long burn time.


don’t see it
are you talking about a white light strobe made with white LEDs with 360degree visibility approximating the output of a xenon strobe?

I see two strobes a lot

– Last Updated: Apr-27-04 12:10 PM EST –

one is a d cell secured by pin, it uses a magnetic switch. It is a common orange one. usually available fron sportsmans guide for short money. I see it being used by good paddlers often. another is princeton tec strobe. not familiar with the military one you mention.

VHF, parachute flares, greatland laser flare, standard flares, and signal mirror are also worthy of your consideration.

In the cold waters of new england the strobe is not the first priority on my list. Got to get out of that cold water in an hour or two. If I make it to an island however I might be really glad that one is always attached to my pfd.

Check out these…

– Last Updated: Apr-27-04 6:46 PM EST –
I have the flashlight/strobe combo. I havn't needed it in an emergency situation (yet) but the flashlight part has come in handy( small caves, around camp at night). Hope I don't ever need the strobe but for coastal paddling I like to have it along. I also always carry a spare set of batteries, a storm whistle, three aerial flares and a CD I don't like. They make a great reflector. Hope this helps.


ON combos, not for me
I want to know if I ever need my strobe that it is ready to go. It would require a lot of discipline to never use the flashlight part of a combo, so I’ll keep my strobe a strobe. Nothing wrong with folks going whatever they want, but information and consideration of emergency gear is good.

consider flares and a headlamp
I’m not keen on the idea of a dual purpose lamp/strobe. Afraid if I need it I will have weak batteries.

I lost my strobe sometime ago and am not replacing it as there are too many blinking things off the Maine coast, and a strobe would look not important. In am emergency I want something to look important. So I have aerial flares, and a separate headlamp for collision avoidance. Usually dont paddle with any light on as my night vision is better with natural light.

pfd light
you might look at the “C-Light” by ACR. Gives a beam of light straight up and also 360 degrees around. Not too expensive at less than $10.00.

C-Light by ACR - Not a strobe
Decent all around marker light and limited flashlight (I keep on one my PFD). They do make strobes too. Strobes are specific use emergency only items. I’d recommend both.

Greatland Laser
I had my tax refund money burning a hole in my pocket, so I ordered a Greatland Laser Flare. The medium sized one that is machined out of delrin. It throws an impressive beam, and I’m sure it would get attention day or night, on the water or aimed at an aircraft. I still carry aerial flares when on big water, but after seeing a demo on the USK video series I am not going to rely on pyrotechnics.


i have that dual strobe/flashlight unit on the back of my pfd and while it’s a drag to reach, i can if i need to do so. i have never used it as a flashlight expressly because i have it as emergency gear and those batteries in there may save my my butt and i figure are not there to get me around the camp.

the idea of the combo is that if you have an emergency you have a piece of dual use equipment but i would be careful on using it for convenience.

princeton tec makes some fine headlamps that are waterproof enough for diving and so certainly fit kayak needs for something you can throw in the day hatch and fish out when you get to camp. they have led models available and they will last pretty much all season with a fresh set of batteries depending on your use.

my 2 cents

which ones
I have had problems with 2 Petzl Tikkas in that the battery compartment corroded in a nano second and when cleaning the contacts broke.

What model of Princeton should I look at?

Whatever strobe you end up getting, just make sure you remove the battery if you are storing it for a while. I had a Harmony strobe that corroded very quickly. I thought it just wasn’t watertight. Backcountry store replaced it for free, but they told me that the corrosion may have been caused by leaving the battery in while not in use.

Forget the CD - they don’t work well.
Try using a CD and then try using a real signal mirror.

After doing that test, I threw away the CD. The mirror is much brighter and easier to aim.

Spend the $5 on something that could possibly save your life someday.

strobe by ACR
ACR , the epirb people,offer a combo flashlight /strobe thats good down to 385ft, they work extremly well, if a commercial fisherman can’t destroy it,you won’t…west marine carrys them $28.and warrenty is great

good point
You definately want the juice when you need it. I have found the flashlight to be a good indicator of the state of batteries. Nice bright white light…O.K.

Yellow light… better replace those cells.


Proper use of emergency strobe.
I want to make sure that my understanding is correct. The only time a stobe is activated is in what is considered to be an emergency and you are trying to summon help. Is that correct?? It is not be used as a tool to increase visibility during sudden cloudy/stormy conditions or at night.

Is this correct??



– Last Updated: Apr-29-04 7:51 AM EST –

Stobes are considered to be a visual distress signal under the following circumstances.

See USCG Navigation Rule 37, Inland Only, a high intensity white light flashing at regular intervals from 50 to 70 times per minute is considered a distress signal. And Rule 22 states that a special flashing light (Inland) should be visable for 2 miles.

Rule 36/37:
Rule 22:

Offshore you should use the other types of signals, pyrotechnics, SOS flashing, etc as described in Rule 37.