Hello, I’m Mr. Gadget®, and I’m a flashlight-aholic.  There, I’ve admitted it to the world.  I just love LED flashlights.  I know I am not alone with this affliction. These from Fenix are unique and outstanding in my findings and clearly a cut above others I’ve seen.  They ooze quality along with exemplary performance.

I first noticed Fenix lights when gifted one, an LD10 R4 model.  Hit the link.  See?  I told you it was awesome!  I looked them up at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas earlier this year and met with some of their fellow flashlight fanciers.

As you look at the Fenix site linked at the top, you will notice, as I did, two distinctions of power sources.  One is a group of lights powered by relatively expensive disposable Lithium batteries, such as type CR123.

For this report, I decided to focus upon those lights in their line that use standard, disposable AA and AA alkaline cells, the really inexpensive ones, such as, in bulk, from Costco, or the Rayovac brand from other retailers and online.  These lights would be not only powerful but also more economical to operate and appealing to the greatest number of people.  Also suited for these lights are rechargeable NiMH AA and AAA batteries for those who would have their lights in daily use.  In addition, for likely four times greater runtime between battery replacements, these could also use the expensive disposable Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA and AAA batteries.  The latter configuration is recommended in high-importance, mission-critical situations, such as during away-from-base night hiking, camping and cave exploration, and for travel when using a Fenix is sure to come into play, to name a few usage models, as well as just for fun.

The Fenix-branded lights I’ve focused upon include a true tactical-type light in their lineup as well as other, more pedestrian, yet high performance flashlights; lights that are extraordinarily bright, and with strobing capability (rapid flashing) so as to disorient a potential opponent when in darkness.  This feature would be useful to security, military and law enforcement personnel, primarily.

All Fenix lights are built to what seems to be exacting standards and with exceedingly intelligent design.  They are not in any way just flashlights, such as what you’d find and expect from the likes of Mag, for example.

Materials of highest quality; the design of even the screw threads created to join together the pieces, anti-rolling design, most use super-bright, highest quality and longest life CREE LEDs of the latest technology, have digitally-regulated output electronics that maintain constant brightness, either pushbutton or twist to operate multi-mode switches going through different brightness levels, strobing and/or flashing SOS signaling are some of the salient and most notable features.

Another important, even critical feature is the extreme care and quality of the optics design.  ALL but one of the evaluated lights shine not only brightly, but with a nice, tight beam with a lot of “throw” to illuminate far ahead in the distance.   The exception is the TK45 that throws more of an automotive brightness-type beam, with more spread, but a great area light for distance.

Those lights in the line featuring standard AA and AAA batteries start with single-cell models that are only half again larger than the battery inside to a monster 8-AA cell, triple-headed “flamethrower” of a light featuring an exemplary 760 lumens of illumination at its maximum output.  This is stunningly bright, innovative in appearance and unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  This one model has four levels of brightness and three flashing modes!

For reference, the TK45 (above) is not a particularly large flashlight.  One’s hand comfortably grips around the lower barrel.  It is slightly less than eight inches long, yet is powerful like few others for its size or any handheld size, and at a reasonable cost for the build-quality, output and features, for only about $150! At its lowest brightness level, which is with one LED in dimmed mode with one LED on, the runtime can be as long as 232 hours.  At full brightness, there is more light delivered than from a 10W HID light, said to be on par with an automotive headlight.  Yikes!

As this light operates in its low brightness mode, each time the light is actuated from the off position, it toggles 1-2-3 through each of the LEDs.  And then, there are the three 3-LED modes from bright to BRIGHTER to OH-MY-GOSH!

This is an engineering AND design statement piece, to be sure.  I know of no other light quite like it, with all the positives it presents.  Do you?

The model first mentioned above, the LD10 R4, that little flashlight, features illumination up to an impressive 132 lumens, yet is powered by a single AA battery and is so small.  I compare this illumination to another, completely different favorite, reviewed light, the Pelican 7060, the flashlight created in conjunction with and selected as the LAPD patrolman’s duty light I thought was so bright when it was introduced about three years ago. The 7060 “only” throws 170 lumens of light, yet it is about six or more times the size of the little Fenix LD10 R4.  The cost of the LD10 R4? About $50.

 

Also notable and tested from Fenix is their LD01, powered by a single AAA battery, yet throwing an impressive maximum of 85 lumens. Its convenient twist-head switch is easily one-hand operated through its three modes, from medium – 28 lumens, providing about 3.5 hours of light, to low – 9 lumens, providing about 11 hours of light, to its highest output of 85 lumens, providing about 1 hour of light, all on that single AAA battery!  About $40.

 

Stepping it up slightly is the LD15, powered by a single AA battery.   This model operates with the same twist-head switch as the LD01 above, but performance is raised to a maximum of 117 lumens in two modes – 8 lumens with a maximum runtime of 39 hours and the full-power mode with a runtime of about 1.5 hours.  This simple design is at home in a pocket or on a keychain and can stand on its tail for area illumination as a candle, the same as the LD01. About $35.

 

Next up, the LD20 R4 (for Revision 4), powered by a pair of AA batteries.  Double the length of the LD10, yet still so small, with more light output, at a maximum of 205 lumens, it offers four lighting modes of low, medium, high and turbo, and a pair of flashing outputs, both strobing and flashing SOS.  This is an ideal light for hiking, camping and daily use.  This is an outstanding and very bright, yet small and unobtrusive light hitting the sweet spot in size and performance, in my view.  Even at its lowest illumination setting of 9 lumens, there is plenty of useful light nearby, lasting up to 71 hours.  The “medium” brightness setting of 55 lumens ought to shine for 13 hours.  The “high” brightness setting, 105 lumens, is specified to run for about 5 hours.  At full, “turbo” brightness of that massive 205 lumens, expect about 2 hours of runtime.  All this performance, and, like all the others, waterproof to the IPX-8 standard, which means it is waterproof to a depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. Translation?  It’s better than just splashproof and should work well if held and used in a torrential downpour or dropped in a puddle.  Oh and this one’s only about $50 delivered (for the 180 lumen version – the 205 lumen version is becoming difficult to find, but it also costs more).

I could go on for quite a while showcasing these Fenix lights I admire and recommend with my highest degree of respect, but I will not. Just one more . . .

The MC10 is the company’s first anglelight, with a head capable of tilting 90 degrees and a maximum light output of 125 lumens, while powered from just one AA battery.  Clip it to a belt or cap and use it hands-free while working under the hood or any indoor use, as well as other outdoor needs.  The multifunction push-button switch taps three levels of lighting output – 5 lumens (65 hours), 50 lumens (5 hours) and 125 lumens (1.2 hours) – and two flashing modes, strobe and SOS.

Another area of impressive and thoughtful customer care is the packaging of the products detailed above and tested here at Gadget Central.  Each comes with one or more extra O-rings, as may be needed by the individual product.  Each, as dictated by the product design, comes with a strap, clip or keychain ring as needed.

Each is also packed with the warranty statement – The company “will replace products afflicted with manufacturing defects within 15 days of purchase and repair a light free of charge within 24 months of purchase if problems develop with normal use. If repair is required after 24 months from the date of purchase, we will charge for parts.  The total repair fee is dictated by the cost of the replaced materials.”

There is also an admonition to properly maintain the light by lubricating and replacing O-rings as needed, and cleaning the contacts from time to time.

Some flashlight makers provide a limited lifetime warranty or even an all-fault warranty, covering the product no matter what fate befalls it causing failure.  Fenix is not in this camp.  On the other hand, just how rough does one need be to destroy one of these exceedingly sturdy Fenix flashlights?  You decide. I am not concerned.

The company updates products as new and better LEDs become available, hence the R* on some model names.  Instead of having to design a completely new product if all the other elements of a particular light are winners, as they appear to be, then fitting a new, better LED is the perfect update. No need to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  Right?

Great care and attention to every detain is obvious.  The optics seem near perfect, supporting a tight, focused pattern that is balanced in appearance with exceptions as noted above.

Take for example, the LD10 R4 and LD20 R4.  These are not designed to sit on their tail to provide a candlelight effect.  But, on the business end, instead of just having a solid circular metal end sitting outboard of the optics, there are notches cut into it.  If the light is placed upside down on this notched ring, it will be apparent that the light is in the on position.  Light will leak from the notched areas.  While this is not innovative in and of itself, it is an indication of thoughtful industrial design benefitting the user.

As well, most lights have anti-roll capabilities built in.  Who wants a flashlight to roll around?  There may be a clip to prevent rolling, or flat cuts in a protruding, almost nut-like feature, such as is also on the LD20 (and on the LD10).  Take a look at the LD20 image above to see the anti-rolling feature called out.

Talking about the lights in a static way is one thing, but how did they stack up in real-world use?  I’ve had a chance to put them all to good use.  In comparison to lower cost, single purpose lights, such as the excellent and lower cost Duracell Daylight LED line, reviewed here, they shine above the competition, with more punch for their size than Duracell.  And for runtime longevity, with Fenix’ technology their lights maintain high brightness longer than other alkaline-powered lights, with less drop-off until the batteries reach the death threshold.

In conclusion, and in consideration of all the other Fenix models seen, though not tested, I am smitten.  The Fenix Flashlight line is thoughtfully precision engineered, beautifully executed and full of stunning performers, from the bottom up.  These may be the best lineup, the most useful and best operating in all regards of any high performance flashlights on the market today. No, they are not dirt cheap, but products built to last rarely are the least expensive of the lot among competitors.  The certainly are not the most expensive, either.

Who is their target audience and my practical analysis?  First, remember that I mostly favor and recommend lights that can use standard and inexpensive “round cells” such as AAA, AA, C and D cells.  That these same light can use rechargeable NiMH cells or even disposable Lithium Energizer cells is a bonus, as discussed later.

In the continuum of better and useful LED flashlights, I see Fenix at the sport and enthusiast tier.  For example, I think it best to have at hand at least some lights that offer great nearby lighting with exceptional run time.  In this camp, it is tough to beat the 40+ hours of a lot of light from the triple AA-powered CCTrek lights.  These are my around-the-house, multiple deployment emergency lights, ideal for power outages from short to long duration, at home and for travel.

If one needs a daily utility light of impressive power, it’s hard to best the Pelican 7060 LAPD light referenced above, a rechargeable light that shines only up to one and one half hours per charge.  That’s a long time of continuous use, but for one with daily high usage needs, rechargeable and powerful, as this is the right way to go.  Admittedly, this is for a special, relatively few.  Note I show NEED, not want.  It’s a great light to own for the enthusiast, as well, but likely not needed in a normal home environment.

For those without the Jones for the coolest, highest tech LED flashlights, yet there’s a hankering’ for a good and sturdy light for glove box and toolbox, if the CCTrek runtime is not of paramount importance, the Duracell Daylight LED flashlights lights cited above are a great way to go.  It’s hard to beat the price for their performance.

And now, what about pocket use for general consumption?  My basic go-to light recommended for EVERY pocket or purse (and used by us), that is, one for each person you know and love, is the Photon X-Light Micro, inexpensive, dependable & reliable, nearly indestructible, and best priced from Amazon for under $8 each.

The step up in quality, rugged waterproof performance, brightness (and not necessarily long run time per battery set), the lights one would want as an outdoor enthusiast, caver and hiker, traveler to the unknown, searcher of lost persons in wild environs and for those all-important bragging rights to the coolest high performance lights from the smallest package . . . get these Fenix lights.  Friends have yet to be unimpressed with the light show from my Fenix lights!  Replacement standard batteries are cheap AND, for the inveterate trekkers and international travelers, take extra alkaline cells OR load up with more expensive Energizer Ultimate Lithiums as I would.  Shop around and online for best pricing per quantity of these special AA or AAA cells, but be sure they are Energizer Ultimate and not their other, lesser performing Lithiums.

For you or as a gift for the discerning, demanding, appreciative flashlight aficionado, surely one or more among the Fenix Light catalog would be just the right product to be gifted. 

Fenix Lights are really cool, the coolest (to date) flashlights with the highest performance on the market!

 

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