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Coast HP3R Focusing Rechargeable LED Pen Light

By Ian Fielder

There is a multitude of companies producing high quality pen lights on market. Most of these lights are pretty standard and have fairly common set of characteristics. If you are not a flashlight collector it is easy to overlook products. Generally, when I am looking for a new flashlight I want a brighter light and can carry it in a pocket. Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to use the Coast HP3R rechargeable LED pen light and have been extremely impressed by its functionality and technical features.

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The Coast HP3R is a rechargeable LED pen light that is manufactured from lightweight aluminum. It weighs in at 1.8 ounces and is close to 6 inches in length. The barrel diameter is measured at .63 inches and includes a removable clip. It is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery or a pair of alkaline AAA batteries. The rechargeable battery on high output setting provides 245 lumens for 1.5 hours. Using Alkaline batteries, it illuminates at 86 lumens for two hours. On the low output setting the rechargeable battery provides 26 lumens for six hours and the alkaline battery lasts 26 hours at 10 lumens. The different batteries and settings also give a variety of maximum ranges. Using the rechargeable battery, the flashlight will project out to 305 feet on high power and 102 feet on lower power. The Alkaline batteries will project out 180 feet and 62 feet respectively. One of the best features of the flashlight is its twist focusing mechanism. Coast’s name for it is the Universal Focusing Optic System. The mechanism is smooth and easy to adjust the beam from spot to flood. Even more noticeable is the extremely clear bright white light that doesn’t have any dark rings that you often get with other flashlights. Turning the flashlight on and off is achieved with a rubberized tail cap. Moving between high output and low output is accomplished by clicking the tail cap a second time. By far the coolest feature of the flashlight for me is all of the charging options that come with the light. A quarter turn and slight pull of the barrel near the tail clip will unlock the charging port. The Coast HP3R comes with AC, DC, and USB adapter, which provide enormous flexibility in recharging the battery. So whether you are on the road, on vacation, in the office, or out in the woods multiple options exist to keep the flashlight functional. The Coast HP3R is water resistant and comes with a lifetime warranty.

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I took the Coast HP3R on three trips to the beach for the express purpose of testing it while walking on the beach at night. Using the rechargeable battery on its high output setting the HP3R was awesome to use. On the second trip in Myrtle Beach I stayed in a condo that was several stories tall. From the balcony facing the beach I was able to project the light out into the surf. It easily illuminated the beach sand far below especially with the beam focused down to its smallest setting. When walking on the beach I used it to look for crabs in the water. There were a lot of people doing this activity and the Coast HP3R was the by far the brightest flashlight on the beach.CoastLight4

Last fall I went on my second hunting excursion in Western Pennsylvania and the Coast HP3R was my flashlight of choice for getting into the woods long before dawn. I charged up the battery using the AC adapter the night before and it was ready to go by morning. Moving across a brush covered field was a relatively easy trek using the light. I used it at wide focus so that I could avoid thorns encroaching on the cut path. Once I got to the tree line I focused down the beam to illuminate the treacherous path of fallen trees and thorn bushes. The 245 lumens of the flashlight was more than enough to get me safely to a spot in the woods for a gray dawn and no deer.

 

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The last test I used the Coast HP3R was around my house. I purposefully, late at night, turned the lights out and walked around my basement and garage to locate various objects. For these tests I switched back and forth between the high and low output settings. Both settings were sufficient for use in doors and it allowed me to easily and safely navigate both basement and garage hazards.

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The best features of the Coast HP3R all have to do with battery use and recharging. The flashlight comes with one rechargeable lithium polymer battery. It can also use 2 AAA alkaline batteries. Versatility is important when using this flashlight over extended periods of time. While the lithium battery allows for more light it comes at the cost of less time. Alkaline batteries give less light but last a lot longer especially on the low output setting. If I were to take this hiking or camping where I cannot recharge the batteries using the AC adapter I would add a couple of pairs of AAA batteries to use once the rechargeable one is done. What would be interesting is to get a small portable solar charger and use it to recharge the lithium battery. I currently do not own one but I think this would be a great way to keep the rechargeable battery powered up.

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The only extremely minor issue with the HP3R would be the lack of a lanyard. This is by far the best flashlight that I have personally used for an extended amount of time and a lanyard would have been especially useful to me when hunting. There were a couple of times when maneuvering through brush and thorns that I almost dropped the flashlight.

CoastLight8smOverall, the HP3R is the nicest, most technologically sophisticated flashlight I have ever used. It offers a CoastLight9smlot of flexibility in terms of battery use, recharging options and all around quality. Having used the HP3R for several months it is my go to flashlight for any and all tasks. It is water resistant as I submerged it in water and it didn’t stop functioning. In addition, I am impressed by the packaging and accompanying literature with the flashlight. The box is durable with foam cutouts, bags for the chargers, and color printed reference card that is also repeated on the exterior of the box. Kudos to the staff at Coast for the presentation of the product as it is some of the nicest I have seen.

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The MSRP for Coast’s HP3R is listed at $94.99 according the company’s website. A search of the Internet will find prices generally about a third less than list. I believe that it is a great product and completely worth the money. If you are in the market looking for a solid rechargeable pen light, then I highly recommend the HP3R.

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For more information:

https://coastportland.com/product/hp3r/

 

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Olight S15 Baton

Flashlights for every day carry have become more popular in recent years. They are an extremely useful tool that has found its way into many professions as well as with people who practice outdoor survival skills. The key features of every day carry flashlights are their small size and variety of functions. The Olight S15 Baton is a great example of an everyday carry flashlight. I was really impressed with its features, brightness and ease of carry.

              

Olight’s S15 Baton is made from aircraft grade aluminum that has been anodized in black. The S15 Baton measures 3.4 inches in length, is almost an inch in diameter and weighs only 1.62 ounces without batteries.  The S15 has a multi function switch that can be cycled through four levels of brightness from .5 lumens to a maximum of 280 lumens. It also includes a strobe light function. The S15 Baton uses a CREE XM-L2 LED that is powered by one AA or 14500 battery. This is a nice feature that allows you to utilize commonly available batteries.  According to Olight’s technical specifications one battery will provide 45 minutes of continuous light at 280 Lumens. I did not use a 14500 battery nor have I needed to replace the AA battery that I put in for testing.

       

The S15 Baton has a number of other cool features that make this light stand out from the competition. First is that the light can utilize up to two extended tubes which allow you to install two additional batteries that extend the burn time of the light. To accomplish this extension all you have to do is unscrew the butt cap and then screw on one or two extended tubes, insert more batteries and reinstall the butt cap.  The second feature that really impressed me is the memory function that will remember what you power level you last used when you turn it on. In addition, you can lock out the control to prevent accidental activation.  All of these modes are accessed through one button.  This is definitely a flashlight that I would encourage reading the instructions as well as keeping handy should you need to reference. I honestly can’t remember needing a set of instructions for a flashlight but in this case they are useful and necessary. The third feature that is really neat is the magnet in the butt cap for attaching to metal surfaces.  Lastly the S15 Baton is waterproof to 6.6 feet as well as drop resistant to the same height.

     

To test the S15 Baton I first used it at night to find some hand tools in my garage. I secured the lanyard to my wrist so I wouldn’t drop it and once I got the lock off of my garage door I hit the S15’s switch on high power.  The 280 lumens provided more than enough light for me to locate the hand tools I needed in the back of my garage. I repeated this test in my basement by safely navigating the steps using the S15 Baton. While in the basement I cycled the S15 through its low, medium and high power settings. All three settings provided enough light for me to find anything I store in the basement.

The S15 has two other important modes that I needed to consult the instructions to complete. The first of these modes is an extremely low power setting that doesn’t mess up one’s night vision. By pressing and holding the on button for one second you get dim light at .5 lumens. At this brightness I was able to read a paperback book. The second mode is a strobe light that it is activated by double pressing the one button. Admittedly, the strobe function was a bit disorienting to me. Additionally, the strobe would be great in assisting search and rescue personnel to locate you in an emergency situation.

The last test I used the S15 Baton for was to crawl under my wife’s car one rainy night because it had a steering issue.  The butt cap of the S15 has a magnet in it which allows to you attach it to metal surfaces. I attached the S15 to the frame of the car and began to look for the problem. The S15 gave off a ton of light and I was able to identify the broken steering link pin that was affecting the handling of the car. The inclusion of a magnet in the butt cap of the flashlight is extremely useful when working on vehicles or around the house. I am not sure how useful this function would be when camping in the wilderness as there isn’t usually a lot of metal about to attach the flashlight.

     

I don’t normally carry a flashlight with me all the time so the idea of and everyday carry light is somewhat new to me. That being said, I replaced my usual pocket knife with the S15 Baton for a few days. The S15 Baton with the lanyard attached definitely interfered with my access to my wallet which I also carry in my front left pocket. The pocket clip works great and the S15 Baton never fell out my pocket while carrying the light. On several other occasions I stashed the S15 Baton in a cargo pocket or in a backpack when travelling.   It took some getting used to but the idea of carrying a flashlight at all times does have more appeal to me now.  I think in the future if I choose to carry an EDC light I would prefer a belt holster to using the pocket clip.

      

Overall, I am extremely impressed by the S15 Baton.  This is my first experience using an Olight and it definitely was a learning experience. Every other flashlight in my small collection only has one or two functions. Using a higher end more sophisticated flashlight has definitely changed my perception about tactical and every day carry lights. Clearly technology has really evolved in flashlights and it definitely has a 21st century feel to it compared to my other flashlights. The next time I purchase a flashlight I will be definitely looking for an Olight.  While Olight doesn’t have an M.S.R.P listed on its website for the S15 Baton it can be purchased for fifty dollars or less from a variety of Internet retailers.  Considering all of the features of the S15 I think it offers great value for the money.  If you are in the market for an awesome everyday carry light that has a lot of great features I highly recommend the Olight S15 Baton.

Our review light was provided by Going Gear and they can be reached at www.goinggear.com

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Camelbak Octane 22 LR Review

Purchasing a new backpack can be an arduous and time consuming task. The market is crowded with a lot of manufacturers providing a variety of styles of pack to meet diverse hiking needs. Camelbak has been in the game a long time developing packs that have internal water reservoirs. Recently, Camelbak has developed a line of ultra light packs that utilize the newly designed water reservoir that resides in the lumbar area of the pack. One such offering in this line is the Octane 22 LR.

Please note that in the photos included with this article the stitching on the bag shows a 20 instead of a 22. The pack used in the review was an early model sent out for review and testing purposes. After a triple check of the product before finalizing the design the Camelbak folks found that actual capacity was even better than the first thought and was actually 22 liters! For more than a decade I have used a Camelbak packs and water reservoirs for hiking. It is with great enthusiasm that I have the opportunity to test out the Octane 22 LR. 

The Octane 22 LR is manufactured from Diamond Box Rip, taffeta and nylon and comes only in black, lemon and chrome color combination. There are reflective materials on the rear of the pack as well as backpack straps. The pack has 1160 cubic inches of storage space or 19 liters. Combined with the 3 liter water reservoir once can deduce why it was named the Octane 22 LR.  While most of the storage is in the main pack space there is an overflow area on the back of the pack. The very top of the pack has a small area for wallet, keys or electronic device. The Octane’s harness is made of ultra light 3D mesh that includes a pocket, a whistle and an adjustable sternum strap. The waist belt is 1 inch thick and also includes two small zipper pouches at the base of the bag. The entire pack with water reservoir unfilled weighs in at 1.95 pounds.  This is significantly less than the other Camelbak packs I have used in the past.

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My favorite part of the Octane 22LR is newly designed water reservoir. Typically water reservoirs have been oblong in shape kind of like a two liter bottle and rest along the spine from the bottom of the shoulder to the lower back. Camelbak has a developed a bladder that is more triangular in shape and is designed to sit in the lumbar region of the back. I really like this design especially in terms of how the rest of the pack is built for packing gear. Traditionally most packs that have water reservoirs are loaded in the top of pack into a sleeve that runs along the back of the backpack. The Octane 22 LR loads from the bottom via two small zippers and a Velcro closure. I really like the way the water reservoir fits into the backpack from the bottom. The water tube and bite valve are fed through small openings in the bag that is then secured to a clip on the shoulder strap.  In older packs the water bladder takes up a lot of room and protrudes into the main pack storage area. The Octane 22 LR has remedied this by the design of the water reservoir. Access to the packs main storage area is unobstructed.

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I had the opportunity to do some field testing with the Octane 22 LR by taking it on several day hikes while on vacation. Each hike was approximately four to six miles on nature trails close to my home and gave me a chance to test the backpacks abilities. On each hike I filled the water reservoir to its three liter capacity. I tried to pack lightly and included a medical kit, a survival kit, a MRE, and a light rain coat. The pack was as comfortable to use as my older Camelbak and I really liked the way the water reservoir sits in the lumbar region of the back. Given the packs light weight design and the way it was packed, the Octane was pleasant to use even without the waist belt. 

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Normally for longer day hikes I pack more gear and found that I had a lot of unused space in the Octane. Based on this observation I feel that this pack could be used for an overnight trip by including a small tarp, space blanket, extra food and a change of clothes. Picking through all of my gear I packed the Octane 22 LR this way minus the small tarp which I currently do not own.  A tarp, light blanket or poncho liner can easily be attached to the outside of the bag. Given the volume of the bag and its water reservoir the Octane 22 LR could potentially be used as a bug out bag depending on how it was packed.

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The only issue with the Octane 22 LR as tested is the waist belt.  If your pants size is less than 38 inches you will have no difficulty utilizing the waist belt. A buddy of mine who has a svelte 32 inch waist and of average height put the pack on when the belt was fully extended.  It fit comfortably around his waist at the navel.  Another friend who I asked to try the pack on has a 38 inch waist and of average height was able to secure the belt at his navel.  It was a tight fit but he was able to push the belt down to his belt line. In my case I have a long torso, big shoulders and wear pants in a size 40. I was able to secure the waist belt at my navel but it looked terrible and was unpleasant. Due to my long torso and shoulders I was not able to push the waist belt down to my belt line as I have with my older Camelbak pack. When I compared the two together my old pack is a bit longer.  If you are above average in height and have a large frame the waist belt may be a no go with this pack.  I hope that since this is an early version of the backpack that in its final configuration it has more adjustability in the belt. Just a couple of more inches of material in the belt would allow larger folk to fully utilize all the features of this great pack. As long as your world isn’t framed in XXL this pack is ideal.  My own personal sizing issue aside, hiking without the waist belt was not a problem and the pack never felt uncomfortable during use.  

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Overall, the Camelbak Octane 22LR is great backpack that provides a lot of functionality in an extremely light weight bag. Camelbak’s M.S.R.P is 130 dollars for the Octane 22 LR. A search of the Internet will yield prices close to M.S.R.P as well as a site or two that offer the bag for a little less than 100 dollars. Backpacks vary greatly in price these days and considering what is available in the market the cost of the pack does not seem exorbitant. Based on my past experience with Camelbak’s products from years of hiking I definitely recommend the Octane 22 LR.

For more information: http://www.camelbak.com

 

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Condor Lochnessmuk Review

If you are familiar with the name Nessmuk as it applies to the traditional 4 inch skinner made famous by outdoorsman George Washington Sears under his pen name Nessmuk, then it is only appropriate that this monster sized version from Condor’s Joe Flowers bears the name of a much larger beast of mythical proportions.  Joe Flowers’ has taken the design and enlarged it into a capable camp knife. If you think Camp Cleaver when you look at the Lochnessmuk you aren’t far off.

The Lochnessmuk is a huge knife that measures in at 16 inches. The blasted satin blade is manufactured from 1075 high carbon steel measures 10 inches in length and it is 3/16” thick. The 6 inch handle is made from hardwood and is pinned to the tang with three brass pins. The end of the handle has a sizable lanyard hole that will accommodate a paracord or leather lanyard. The Lochnessmuk includes a well made brown leather sheath that has a belt swivel loop as well as a snap closure to keep the knife secure. As a hobby I do some leatherworking and I really like the design and construction of the sheath.  Both the blade of the knife and the sheath have Condor stampings on them and the blade also has as stamping that indicates the knife was manufactured in El Salvador. The Lochnessmuk weighs 1.65 pounds. Despite the wider tip and belly of the blade it is evenly distributed.

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To test out this massive knife I cut up several pieces of an old 2X4 from the garage and started chopping. The weighted end of the Lochnessmuk proved more than adequate for this task. Next, I used the Lochnessmuk for batoning and again it performed extremely well. There is something very satisfying in using a knife in this fashion to make fire wood and the thick tang of the knife makes it very suited for batoning.  I have huge slice from an old oak tree that I have wanted to use to make a table in my garage. It has a lot of thick bark that I have been meaning to remove before the project can get started and I used the Lochnessmuk to hack off the bark with just a few chops from the oak slice. As a last task to test the chopping capabilities of the Lochnessmuk, I used the knife to break up an old pallet that I had stashed away and the Lochnessmuk made short work of the pallet. It took took quite a few swings for the pallet to come apart but I was satisfied with the results as well as getting rid of work related frustrations. All in all the blade design lends itself to chopping and was not tiring to use for any of the tasks.  I would recommend getting a lanyard before using over long period of time as well as use gloves to aid in grip.

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After testing the Lochnessmuk on larger tasks I wanted to see how well it would work for more precision oriented tasks. The base of the blade is narrow and more suited for carving notches and making tent stakes. Using different parts of the blade will also make any camp kitchen duties a snap. It will chop and slice meat, vegetables and bread with ease. The knife will cut paracord, rope, plastic, and aluminum.  In essence, the Lochnessmuk is an all around utility tool that can pretty much do whatever you need it to even if you need for self defense or getting rid of the annoying zombie intruder in your camp.

There are only a couple of minor issues with the Lochnessmuk that come to mind after using this great knife. People with smaller hands may find the handle difficult to use over long periods of time. While the Lochnessmuk is perfect for my gigantic paws some users may not find it so friendly. Since the handles are made from hardwood with a simple finish, the issue could be solved with some sanding and staining. Secondly, some users may not like the swivel belt sheath. The Lochnessmuk weighs just north of 1.5 pounds and weight conscience outdoors folk tend to not like a heavier knife hanging from a belt. I carried it around for several hours on my belt and it took some getting used to. Admittedly, I don’t wear knives on my belt usually. Given the functionality of the Lochnessmuk, I would reconsider my usual habit.  Lastly, I personally wish it had a bit of a hand guard to protect the fingers from slipping onto the blade. When I was using the Lochnessmuk for chopping I positioned my hand further back on the handle to avoid coming into contact with the blade.  The lack of a guard would not prevent me from purchasing or using the Lochnessmuk.

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Overall, this is an absolutely amazing knife to use. I cannot emphasize enough how versatile the Lochnessmuk is for almost any field or camp task. It has a great functional design that works well for just about any bush craft task you would require. I really appreciate the utilitarian design and look of the Lochnessmuk. It isn’t pretty or fancy but will do the job required. In addition, I am really enamored with the name of the knife. It is clever and amusing to me. This may be absurd or superficial on my part but knives should have interesting and cool names.

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To wrap up, I strongly recommend that you go purchase the Condor Lochnessmuk. According to Condor’s website list the M.S.R.P. for the Lochnessmuk at $74.99. I think this is a fair price for a great tool that will provide many years of use. However, a search of the Internet yields prices under $50 dollars. At that price it seems like a no-brainer. Based on my time with the Lochnessmuk, I will be looking at other knives and tools from Condor in the future.

Visit Condor’s Website: http://www.condortk.com

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CRKT Folts S.P.E.W.

In January of 2011 I reviewed CRKT’s Folts Minimalist Bowie and Tanto knives which were variants of the original Minimalist that featured a Wharncliffe blade. Last year CRKT added the slightly larger Folts S.P.E.W. to their line up of neck knives. The designation S.P.E.W. stands for Small Pocket Everyday Wharncliffe. Don’t be turned off by the odd moniker for this knife. At its core the S.P.E.W. is an extremely functional and well crafted fixed blade knife.

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Continue reading CRKT Folts S.P.E.W.