Sunday, November 08, 2009

A bright new toy…Fenix LD 20 LED light


So about a week ago I was crawling in ceiling space inspecting new network cabling and removing old.

Somewhere along the way I misplaced the datacomm/telecom scissors out of my Paladin GripPack SurePunch Technician’s kit.   Bummer.

I spent quite a lot more time then trying to hunt them back up to no avail.  In the end I had to pop onto Amazon and order a replacement set.  However while there I learned that I had a bit of un-used Amazon gift-certificate $ on my account that I had forgotten so I figured a new flashlight was in order as well.

I had been looking at LED based lights for some time.  I have a 2-D cell Maglite in my larger tool kit, and there is the 2-AA Maglite in my cabling kit mentioned above.  I then have a 3-D cell Maglite at home and yet another 2-AA Maglite as well.  I also have a micro single AAA keychain Maglite in my car’s center console.  Like most male Americans, the Maglite has been the ubiquitous flashlight of choice in our home. However, after Hurricane Ike hit and Lavie stocked us up with two LED based Coleman lanterns, I couldn’t quite get the nice white LED light and performance out of my mind.

And the cable inspection and work in attic ceiling space with the Maglite really left me a bit unsatisfied.  The light wasn’t as intense and it was very hard to shoot a tight beam past 10 or 15 yards.

So I started looking at a LED light upgrade.  With no real experience or knowledge about them to guide me.

I initially set my eyes on this Smith and Wesson Fluxion Rebel 5 Watt Tactical Flashlight.  It seemed to get good reviews, was at a nice price-point, and had a handy barrel clip.  It looked geeky and cool.

However after reading the customer reviews on the page, I saw more than a few recommendations for Fenix brand LED lights.

So I looked some more on Amazon and found this Fenix L2D 6 Level High Performance Cree LED Flashlight.  It was more expensive and didn’t have the handy clip, but wider reviews on the Net seemed very positive. Not only that, but it had six different light-output levels.

I had almost clicked “add to cart” when I spotted in the sidebar a recommendation for the Fenix LD 20 6 Level High Performance Cree LED Flashlight.  It was again, about $5.00 more expensive than the LD 2 model.  Hmm.

So I hit the wider Net for some understanding on the difference (if any) between them.

And soon learned that the Fenix (pronounced “phoenix”) LD 20 was a no-brainer choice.

In all the reviews it was clear that the LD-20 provided a brighter, tighter beam at almost the same price as the previous model, and the Fenix was a up and coming line to watch.

So I ordered it.  (Note: this was paid for out of our own $.  No loaner or freebee provided for this post.)

And when it came in Alvis and Lavie both quickly attempted to appropriate it from me.

After reading the reviews linked above, it is clear that there is tremendous technology packed in these little lights.  And the pros who review them really have a language of their own.

So for the non-luminary geeks who are wondering about a Fenix LD 20, here are my observations.

  1. It is really, really bright. I could probably drive my car at night in an emergency if I had to by the light it throws off in “turbo mode (180 lumens)”.
  2. The beam center is tight and very bright with no dark “donuts” on my unit.
  3. I really love the clean “white” light the LED generates.  It is much easier to see object detail than the old incandescent bulb light in my Maglites.
  4. Unlike the LD-2 which has a round barrel design, the LD-20 has hexagonal rings like a pencil.  This keeps it from rolling off flat surfaces.
  5. While the variations in the barrel turning seem silly at first compared to the smooth simple design of Maglites, the Fenix design actually provides a more secure grip in my experience, particularly when wearing tactical (or mechanic’s) style gloves.  I either wear a pair of thinner black batting gloves or heavier leather mechanics gloves when doing cable pulling or equipment moving and had no worries that the light was going to slip out of my hands unlike the Maglite barrel.  Having the ability to attach a wrist-lanyard to the end also provides extra drop-free confidence.
  6. It looks mean and cool and techy and “tactical” like something taken directly off the underside of a handgun rail.
  7. The belt-clip is a very nice feature if you aren’t going to use the also nice nylon belt holster (provided) or the lanyard (also provided).  In fact, based on the way I use mini-lights at work and home, if it didn’t have a belt-clip I would take a pass.
  8. It has a great weight and balance in the hand.
  9. It uses 2 standard AA batteries.  Although lithium grade AA cells are recommended for longer light output, this is a really great feature as alkaline are cheap and common and last quite well.  If they do die, you can easily raid a quartz wall clock or something to exchange, and not have to be stuck looking for a custom-size battery that some other LED lights provide.
  10. The price is an amazing value for the quality and performance. 
  11. The mechanical “click-on/click-off” is satisfying, but to change light intensity levels (low, medium, high) a soft button touch is only required.  Then twist the bezel and both “turbo” and “strobe” are also available at a soft-touch.
  12. Yes. It really is water-proof (within limits) and functions underwater (though is no replacement for a dive-light).  So you don’t need to worry if it falls into the ditch, or a puddle, or whatever.

My only problem now is what to do with it.  It’s so nice I don’t want to leave it buried in my large response/tool bag at work.

Instead it will have to go into my smaller daily hand-carry kit along with my classic Leatherman tool, custom USB response stick, Gerber utility mini-knife, and USB hard-drive.  Some tools just need to be always at hand!

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone but I think I know what the guys in my family are getting for Christmas this year.  (And maybe my geeky girls as well!)

Fenix LD 20 High Performance LED flashlight – Highly Valca Recommended!

--Claus V.


Rob Dewhirst said...

I'd be interested in know side-by-side if this is substantially better than the UltraFire C3 Cree, as those are only $18. I have a couple of those.

Nathaniel said...

Nice. I like Maglites a lot myself, but I've found the on/off mechanism seems to get finicky after a while (maybe that includes abuse of flashlight).

My friend also bought one of the new MAGLEDs a while back and didn't like it that well. I think he said it wasn't as sturdy or something to that effect. It is also a little longer.

What I use these days is a regular 2 AA Maglite with the Nite Ize 1 watt LED upgrade ($14.99 at Cyberguys!). I also have an older more beat up one that I use with the less powerful 3 LED bulb Nite Ize has (I use white).

You look like you got a good light to replace it, though.

Anonymous said...

Solid light. gets really warm to touch, but then again I was in moving water with its use. Also good with driving in nails,althought it'll scratch it alittle. Great for jabs to the throat and ribs too.