A little while back, I got in touch with 4Sevens, the American distributor for Fenix Lights, one of the several light companies they represent. I spoke with Dave Chow, President of 4Sevens, and informed him of a little trip that I was planning to go the Everglades with some friends. I and some other enthusiasts were planning a trip to the Everglades to do a little snake hunting, and that’s best done at night where we can shine a light around and catch eye shine in the darkness. We felt like 4Sevens would have just the stuff we’d need to make this a successful trip. It wasn’t long before a package arrived full of goodies perfect for helping to shed a little light on the subject of herpetology. In the box from 4Sevens were several of their higher-end models including the Fenix LD01, the Fenix LD20, the Fenix TK10 and a Zebralight H50-Q5. I was excited about the quality of the gear we received and informed my fellow snake nuts that their days in the glades would see them stocked with blinding LED lights that would reveal serpentine secrets we might have missed otherwise!
By the way, this won’t be our the normal test review. We get out there and we get ‘em muddy. This review is intended as a basic overview of our trip and the ways that the lights from 4Sevens helped facilitate our journey in the Everglades. We will be following up quickly with individual reviews of each model that was provided so the reader will have a more detailed understanding of the construction, operation, and the pros and cons of each individual light.
For this trip, we all rotated the various lights provided by 4Sevens every night so I could get some feedback from each person. Doing this also allowed me to observe the lights’ performance while they were being used. Half the time, the lights were used during road cruising where we would look for the snakes to come out on the road to cross or heat themselves up. We would pass the snakes, stop, and another person would run out with a flashlight to stop it from getting away. During the trip we camped, hunted and also walked habitat, boardwalks, and checked out culverts at night with the flash lights. Needless to say, these flashlights got quite the workout during our night in the Florida tropics.
Fenix LD01: The Tiny Mighty Light
I have an ARC AAA flashlight that I have used for quite a long time. That was, until I held it next to the Fenix LD01. Even on the low setting the Fenix LD01 blew it out of the water. At 3 inches, this little light would be well suited for the key chain or the camp kit. From Tim Stetzer’s review of the regular E01, it seems that Fenix can pull off a AAA light with great results. The digital LD01 continues this tradition with the addition of three different power levels and an aluminum casing. This little light still gave the amount of light needed to go and spot snakes such as the first cottonmouth we found alongside the road. One of the other things I saw the other guys do is use this light to assist in focusing with some of their camera equipment while shooting pictures of the snakes. Another time, Kevin, who one night decided to sleep on a hill a couple hundred yards away from the main camp, signaled me with the tiny light and I was impressed by the output that was visible from such a long distance. Another useful feature was the low power setting that gave enough glow to maneuver around the large tent without waking up the others. The light output levels go in the order of medium, low, then high, which is interesting but I still found that medium proved to be the most suitable and widely used. The LD01 also found its way into my pocket during a recent night time fishing trip where its accessibility and overall handiness made it the most used light on the trip. The LD01 came with a pocket clip, lanyard for keychain use, and spare o-rings, as all of the Fenix lights do. This is undoubtedly the most powerful AAA keychain light I have ever seen, and it is now my main EDC light. For compactness combined with punch, it would be hard to do better than the Fenix LD01.
This is the same light that I did a full review on a while back that was borrowed from a friend. While I won’t cover too much on this light, I’ll list some of the features as outlined on the webstie at www.4sevens.com.
- Utilizes a Premium (Q5) Cree 7090 XR-E LED with a life of 50,000 hours
- Two modes of output, selected by turning the bezel
- General Mode: 12 lumens (30hrs) -> 55 lumens (5.5hrs) -> 107 lumens (2hrs) -> SOS
- Turbo Mode: 180 lumens (1hrs) -> Strobe
- Digitally Regulated for Constant Brightness
- Uses one 3v CR123A battery (not included)
- 8.0cm (L) x 2.1cm (D) or 3.1 in (L) x 0.8 in (D)
- Made of aircraft grade aluminum
- Durable Type III hard anodized finish
- 38 gram (or 1.3 oz) weight (excluding batteries)
- Waterproof to IPX-8 Standards
- Toughened ultra clear glass lens with AR coating
- Push-button tailcap switch
- Capable of standing up securely on a flat surface to serve as a candle
It once again proved itself as a powerful, tiny pocket spot light. Kevin affectionately termed the P2D the 3 finger light, as we had problems trying to keep all the light names straight on the trip. I found that this light fit perfectly in my door handle area and was always ready in case we had to quickly deploy a light–which happened just about every hour during the road cruising sessions. Mike was able to spotlight geckos with this light on trees despite their cryptic camouflage. It absolutely did not disappoint during this new adventure, but, much to my dismay, I still have to give it back to my friend Dave Simmerly!
Fenix LD20–The Wonderlight
My personal favorite of the trip, the LD20, had a beamshot that was perfect for the woods. It takes two AA batteries and has a nice, slim form factor. I like this because it also seemed a little less bulky than some other AA lights I’ve seen and used. It has 6 settings including a high, medium, low, turbo, strobe, and it emits an SOS pattern as well. Most of the time, I used it as my spotlight with it in its high mode setting. I had a slew of AA batteries with me that I had as spares for my other gear such as my GPS, so we used this light for everything! It proved to be light in the pocket and quick to hand when needed, putting some other companies’ lights to shame with its longer burn time and its longer throw. In high mode, the burn time is about 5 hours on two fresh AA batteries; in the lowest setting, it can run about 72 hours. This light went with me on a crabbing expedition around a shallow estuary in search of crunchy crustaceans. We were able to find shrimp since we could see their eye-shines from far away. And, as long as the wind wasn’t blowing the water, we could see the outline of blue crab as well.
The main reason that I became so enamored with this light was that this light was compact enough to fit the backpacking spotlight category that I have been trying to fill. The thin compact overall package doesn’t take up much space, and it has a carrying case with a loop large enough to go on any waist strap. With this light, the Zebra Light (below), and your GPS, you could ultimately convert all of your gear over to AA batteries making things easier for any trip you go on since all your spares could be one common size. The shining moment of this light was when it allowed me to spot a coral snake in habitat! Unfortunately, the little North American cobra cousin skedaddled before I was able to get a picture of it. When you compare the LD20’s size to that of a Mini Mag-Light, it’s made abundantly clear how far technology has come in the past couple of decades. The power and versatility of this slim package puts it into a whole other league of performance. While the LD20 commands a higher price than the similarly-sized Mini Mag-Light, the value you get from its performance, lifetime warranty, and long life LED bulb makes it a true no-brainer as a purchase.
Fenix TK10–Fighting the Darkness
Now, we move on to the ultimate weapon as far as the lights that we tested during our tropical adventure! The monster throw of Fenix TK10 made it the most popular light on the trip. Its overall light output and cool factor made it the pick of the bunch. This light blew away all the other lights on the trip with its powerful LED bulb. Nathan, Mike, and Zach all used the TK10 to spotlight American alligators and crocodiles from far away. Everyone was impressed by the long throw of the LED light. Both the TK10 and the 2 AA LD20 easily surpassed the output of a 4-C cell LED Maglight that we had available for comparison. That’s not bad especially for the LD20, since it’s only 1/10th the size of the 4-Cell light. The beam cut through the water when we were in the ponds and swamps, and we had no problems locating spiny softshell turtles and large fish below the surface. We were able to track the fish on their path as they continued to go very far out into the pond, partly due to the reflection of the scales, but mainly due to the output capacity of the TK10. At one point, Zach and I saw something large crossing the road. It was at about the same time that the TK10’s batteries were on their way out and I could not get it to go into turbo mode. But even the medium light output of this model was enough to get an eyeshine from a feline in the mangroves. We are still a little skeptical to call it a panther since it was bobcat size, and that immediate area of the glades does not have many panther sightings.
The TK10 tactical light has a removable nut that fits in the middle of the body for tactical grips such as the cigar grip. I opted to remove this feature and discovered later that Fenix included a small insert to make up for the empty space. It seems they think of everything, because they also included a blaze orange button as well for the back. It also comes with screws and a special clip to affix to the body to allow pocket carry. While we were out on the jungle hammocks in the glades, everyone made sure to know who was using the TK10 so that person could provide backup in case one of us needed to pounce on a reptile.
Both the LD20 and the TK10 utilized tailcap switches for turning them on and off. This was exceedingly useful. Like a liner lock for a knife, these only need one hand to operate. It may not seem like much, but this is a big deal when working with creepy crawlies, as it is usually common to have one hand on the snake and the other on the light. Both came with nylon holsters for the user to wear on their body.
Zebralight H50-Q5 headlamp
This headlamp was completely different from any other headlamp I encountered before. It was incredibly useful during our trip in the Everglades. But, with the myriad number of features and functions that this light has to offer, the staff of Woods Monkey decided that it needed its own video and personal review. Be looking for the video coming very soon!
The lights from 4Sevens made a significant difference to our successful adventure down in the Everglades and the Florida keys. Their compact size and rugged dependability (even when dropped out a car window and found again) make these lights a completely necessary part of any outdoor adventure. It doesn’t matter whether it’s around the fire or in the thickest vegetation you can find. With their lifetime warranty, you’ll be well served with any of the models that are mentioned above.
As we mentioned earlier in the overview, we will be following up with individual reveiws of each model in the next thirty days. So, be looking for more in depth details and observations on the models featured in this article in the very near future!