Two AAs. There are so many lights and different gadgets that are powered by two batteries in this size. How many times are you looking around the house for a fresh set of AA batteries? When I think about it, two AA batteries make up the power needed for most of my gear, from GPS, to a CD player, to my basher digital camera. Arguably the most common flashlight in the world, the Mini Mag-Light is also powered by two AAs. For a long time, nothing was as compact and handy. It seems there is a hole for a Mini Mag-Light or a flashlight of similar size in most of my gear cases and organizers. I thought I was really on top of the world when I modified my Mini-Mag-Light to have one of those fancy LED light bulb modifications too. It was when I hit the ON button for the LD20, that I realized my little world of Mag-Light perfection came to a crashing halt.
When I received the Fenix Lights LD20 from 4Sevens to test down in the Everglades, I thought to myself that it couldn’t be a AA light. It was just too thin. It seems that the modern day “tactical” flashlight designed to be much thicker than the batteries that go around it. I figured with the girth that it had to be some kind of juiced up AAA light. I was wrong, as this light holds one of the most common batteries in the world. In headlamps, though, this battery seems rare. Most companies prefer to use two or three AAA batteries, thus sentencing the user to carry different types of batteries if they have items that carry other sizes. A few light companies are getting the memo though, and we may see some promising things in the near future.
The LD20 is barely larger than a cigar tube, and the flashlight has a more compact head than your standard Mini Mag-Light. The bezel has square sides to keep it from rolling, and to truly appreciate this feature, try positioning a Mag-Light on the front of your car hood to do a random task. I don’t remember how many times I’ve had some of my old flashlights fall off of the table. I even recall a time when a buddy of mine cracked a tile with a larger C cell model. The overall body of the Fenix LD20 fits in most places that the Mini-Mag-Light such as an organizer slot in something such as a Camelbak compartment, or the pouch on an officer’ pistol belt, giving someone like an LEO a few seconds just to get their blinders on.
The head of the flashlight has a deep reflector, which the guys at 4Sevens informed me was responsible for the consistent flood beam. With a Mag-Light, there is a dead space in the middle, called a “donut” that hurts the overall light output. This donut makes a small less-lit spot, and decreases the flashlight’s overall effectiveness. The center of the spot on this light is just as white as the outer core. Most of the deep reflectors that I’ve encountered for Fenix are supremely made in the same fashion, without the donut thing I’ve seen with many other lights.
The LD20 has a push button on/off device that is recessed inside two metal projections with holes to act as the lanyards. These holes are small and may be tough to get the full width para-cord. If you took the seven inner strands out, you may find that it may be easy to get it through the hole. Smaller chord such as the Kelty reflective chord available at REI may also help, of course you have to have a smaller flashlight to find your flashlight then. The push button is recessed into the button cap, making the light capable of standing up on end. It is wobbly, but can serve as a marker on a table easily. I used the end of a container I had to make a light disperser expanding on the overall usefulness of the light. With the home made light diffuser, I had to turn the light down to the medium and low settings, as it was too bright inside a tent on the higher settings. Between the bezel and the body of the light there is a rubber o-ring, and the bottom has the same type of o-ring. They came oiled up and each one goes into a specific channel as the head of the light twists down onto the body. Though it would be hard to lose them, Fenix includes extra rubber seals for a replacement, and the instructions dictate how to go about re-lubricating the rings.
The specs list this light as waterproof to IPX-8 Standards. What does this mean? It is basically a certification stating that the light is waterproof down to 8 feet for thirty minutes. The light can termed as “waterproof”, however, I wouldn’t make it your dive light. While crayfish hunting, I have been known to dunk lights (sorry Howitz!) to see just how “dunk-resistant” they are. The Fenix LD20 was dunked pretty hard into the waters of the Everglades numerous amounts of time without any faulty results. With a large beaker, I took a fresh set of batteries and plugged them into the light, submerging it in water for 30 minutes. At the 15 minute interval, I went to inspect the water to find that it was noticeably warmer. I didn’t have a thermometer on me at the time, but it would have been nice to get a reading. I’ll be purchasing a temperature gun in the near future. So this light could be used in a downpour without any worries, and as long as you aren’t conducting any full submersion passage diving, it would work pretty good for a caving light as well. The size also fits the old school AA Mag-Light head bands, so strapping it onto your helmet would produce quite a melon beam (headlamp). I’m not a big fan of those light holders, though. I’ve seen them fail and they are hard to aim.
So, I got the measuring wheel out and set a few tests in the back yard to measure how far the light goes. At 100 yards, the light’s spot showed no signs of blurring. Spotting small 3 foot tall objects was easy for the light at that distance. I put the LD20 in turbo mode on a fresh set of energizer batteries, popped on the timer, and watched a movie. At 1 hour and 38 minutes, the light was extremely dim, finally fading off. Interesting enough, even when put in the lowest mode, the light would blink a few times and turn off, thus signifying the end of the battery life. Bear in mind that this is using the alkaline batteries, and not the lithium AA batteries that many recommend for the light. I would test with lithium batteries if I had an unlimited source. I just saw some of the new energizer batteries at shot show and they looked pretty promising. The other tests yielded about the same results as advertised, lasting 4 hours and 42 minutes on the high mode. This is pretty good for such a small light. You could get a set of fresh rechargeable batteries for this tool and get over the “wasting battery” stinginess that I view with many finicky outdoorsmen.
The LD20 has a special place in my heart for the amount of light it emits. I know I’ve talked about this light and that light being perfect for backpacking, but this light would be great for that and more! Traveling with this light would be great in situations where you can’t bring a big light and might need to just go down to the hotel lobby to get new batteries before you go out for the night. The size coupled with the weight makes this compact torch high up there on the cool list.