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November 20, 2008 Comments (0) Gear & Equipment

EDC Depot’s Eco-Twistr

Not too long ago, after a day out in the woods, a good friend of mine and I sat and talked over the best types of gear to have in a pack in the case of an emergency.  After we got into the conversation, it was became apparent that he and I had different perspectives on the type of gear needed.  His thinking was more in the short-term, 72 hour type emergency.  My take on such a pack was that it should include gear that you can use well beyond just 72 hours.  For instance, I love my Jetboil Stove.  But, in a long-term situation, the gas would run out in the canisters and the stove would be pretty much useless other than to hold water or other contents.  While it’s great for a 3-4 day backpacking trip, it wouldn’t be the best choice for a pack you might have to rely on for a month or longer.  So, for my emergency pack (not my regular backpack), I moved to using a camp stove that doesn’t rely on gas canisters for its operation.  The same thought also applies to other items that I or others might carry in their pack.

For instance, I kept a shortwave radio (also AM/FM/NOAA) in my pack for the last few years so I could stay in touch with what’s happening in the world if an emergency happened.  But, that radio ran on AA batteries, and though I could keep a few extra in the pack, eventually, the radio would also be rendered useless once all the batteries died.  Now, they have radios that you can wind with a crank to power for 30-60 minutes at a time, radios that are solar-powered, or radios that use both methods for power.  That type of alternative thinking makes a short-term useful item into a long-term one.  Along those same lines, you have the same issue with flashlights out in the wild as well.  That’s where EDC Depot’s Eco-Twist’r flashlight comes into play for this particular article, and that’s how the EDC has now found a new home in my emergency pack to use for those times when batteries may not be readily available.  While not as powerful as other lights, it can be relied on when those other lights don’t work any longer.

Like any other gadget junkie, I love flashlights.  In my Mercworx emergency pack, I have several of them.  I’ve got a Princeton-Tec Apex headlamp, a couple of Photon II keyring lights, a couple of AA Maglites, and now, I’ve got the Eco-Twist’r as well.  The problem with my other lights is, just like the old radio, they take batteries, and you can only carry so many spares.  So, for a long-term emergency situation, your batteries will eventually die.  The Eco-Twist’r doesn’t have that problem.  Instead of relying on batteries that you insert (such as AA’s), it has an internal battery that is charged whenever you twist the bottom 1/3 of the flashlight back and forth several times.  The bottom 1/3 of the flashlight barrel is actually a separate piece that fits into the rest of the flashlight, so it rotates back and forth when twisted by the user.  This twisting action is what charges the internal battery with the juice needed to power the three LED bulbs. 

Right off the bat when I saw the light, I liked it a lot.  It’s very compact and lightweight, easy to use, has a nice size lanyard opening along with a second, smaller lanyard opening, and it provides a good amount of light.  It weighs in at a feather-light 3.3 ounces, is 1.9 inches in diamter and is only 4.9 inches long.  Now, the Eco-Twister isn’t my first experience with a wind-up flashlight.  About a year ago, I bought a flashlight with a similar thought to a self-powering method by winding a crank on the side of the body.  It, too, has three LED’s, but its body is somewhat more bulky than the Eco-Twister’s slimmer profile.  There is no brand name listed on my old wind-up flashlight.  I bought it at an outdoors retailer as an emergency back up light.  One thing that I did not like about it was that you had to wind the handle that you fold out from the body and start cranking (like reeling in a fish) for dear life just to get a little bit of light out of it.  And, after about 45 seconds of that pedal-to-the-metal winding, you really feel the fatigue in your hands.  It’s just not as ergonomic or as easy to use as the Eco-Twist’r.

The Eco-Twist’r manufacturer’s (SUN) instructions direct the user to twist the bottom of the barrel back and forth ten seconds for 8-10 minutes of light.  It also states that if you continue that same action for 30 seconds, you will get 10-12 minutes of light.  Finally, it warns the user not to continue the twisting action for more than a minute, which I suppose would result in an overcharge of the battery.  The recommendations also state that the most efficent charging result will be obtained if one back and forth motion is done per second.  If the bottom is twisted faster than that, the user will not get as good a charge in the battery. The nice thing about this process is that when I charged the Eco-Twister, my hand wasn’t even close to being as fatigued as when I charged my other self-powered flashlight.  Also, when you do charge it, the Eco Twist’r holds the charge for a fairly long period of time.  I’ve had this model for a while, and I charged it about two weeks ago.  When I came back to it to complete the article, the beam lit up brightly and stayed steady for the proscribed amount of time.  That surprised me considering it’s relatively low cost, type of charging, and so forth.

As I was contemplating how to compose this article, one thought I had was to do a couple of pictures in a dark room of my old wind-up light beside the Eco Twist’r to show a comparison of the light output.  But, as I did the comparison between the two lights, I figured there just wasn’t any point.  The Eco Twistr’s light output completely dwarfed the output from the other light and trying to show the difference between the two is really just a waste of time and effort.  If I exposed the picture for the amount of light coming from the Eco Twist’r, then you wouldn’t even be able to see the light from the other flashlight.  The Eco Twist’r puts out a good amount of light for something you only have to wind back and forth for ten seconds.  It’s more than enough light to help you walk a trail at night.  And, even though you’ve got the light turned on, you can charge it on the go once it starts going dim.  There’s no need to turn it off to do the charging.

As I mentioned in my other EDC Depot article review on the Pocket Chainsaw, EDC Depot has done a great job compiling the tools a person can keep with them constantly for those times when an emergency happens, or just for the times when they’re handy to have around.  Like the Eco Twist’r, the other tools and gear that you find at EDC Depot are high-quality, and more importantly, high-value items that can really help you in a pinch when they are needed.  I’d encourage everyone to go to their site and have a look at the items they have available.  A lot of the items you’ll find there aren’t ones that you’ll necessarily need to use all the time.  But, they are just like car insurance, once you need them, you’ll be glad that you made the decision to get them ahead of time!!

As for the Eco Twist’r, it’s going into my emergency pack as its newest full-time resident.  It’s just one more step in the evolution of my pack from something I can use on a short-term basis to something I can use for years.  Remember the old expression from TV commericals that stated "Batteries not included."?  Well, in this case with the Eco Twist’r, it’s "No batteries required".  And, for a pack set aside for emergencies and for the potential of long-term use, that’s a good thing.

Visit:  www.edcdepot.com

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