We’ve all seen the wide variety of LED lights that outdoors folk use in their woodsy pursuits. Most of us opt for the utilitarian black models available from various manufacturers. Over the past couple of months, we’ve had the chance to review a couple of lights from ICON that not only perform well, they look pretty good too.
Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you that I’m not much for fashion. I go with what works and feels comfortable, not with what looks good. But, when I can have both, then it doesn’t hurt to spruce up the appearance either. That’s some of the design philosophy of Icon Lights. In their provided info, they detail their desire to produce something that has excellent output and looks excellent at the same time. Just from what I’ve experienced with their Modus 2 and their Rogue 2 during this review period, I’d say they accomlished that goal. If I were to liken the ICON flashlight to another product on the market, I would have to mention the Ipod. Apple design engineers undertook the project by focusing not only on the performance of applications, but also on the overall aesthetics and an intuitive human interface. I remember when the first Ipod came out and I was amazed that I never had to read the instruction booklet to learn how to use it even though it had numerous functions. It was simple, but it was also elegant as well. They had coupled beauty and utility rather than sacrificing one for the other. That’s what Icon is striving to do with their products.
Both the Rogue 2 and the Modus 2 are similar in both the power source and their respective light output. Each one is powered by 2 AA batteries (hence the 2 in their name) and they both produce 100 lumens of light on the high setting and 10 lumens on the low setting. Both have a “clickie” tail switch that turns the light on and changes the setting from high to low. It’s at this point where each one takes its own identity so to speak. The Modus 2 has a white polymer body that has rubberized fins (for lack of a better word) that help fill your grip and make holding the light more comfortable. This “open architecture” design and polymer materials make the Modus 2 a lightweight carry option and it helps dissipate any heat from the light. The Modus 2 also has environmental seals that make the light weatherproof. This is a necessary feature for us outdoors folks that will get caught in the occasional rain shower while out on the trail.
The Rogue 2, as mentioned earlier, has all the functionality of the Modus 2, but it’s a more beefed up version for folks that need something a little more robust. The biggest difference is the Rogue 2 has an aluminum body and it’s also waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes. Its appearance is a bit different from the Modus in that it’s available in either green or black. The model I received for review is the black one. Also, the fins on the Rogue 2 are machined out of the aluminum body. This is a nice design element adding some aesthetic appeal as well as offering more area for heat dissipation. The Rogue 2 comes with a very nice, albeit somewhat thick lanyard that’s very comfortable to wear about the neck. The lanyard also comes with a disconnect clip in the middle so you don’t have to keeping putting and pulling it over your heard when the light is needed. I’ll tell you right up front that I had a hard time picking a favorite between the Modus 2 or the Rogue 2.
I used both of them extensively the past couple of months. Usually, I have to remember to take gear out and to use it “on purpose” to make sure that I have enough time with a product to write a review. That wasn’t a problem with these two lights. Even with the other lights I have on hand, I kept picking up these two lights time and again whenever a little illumination was needed. I think I settled on the Rogue 2 as my favorite since it’s built a little stronger and is waterproof, and it found its way into a couple of different packs and spent time with me at a couple campsites this fall. That said, the Modus 2 probably gets more use since it’s on hand at the house. Between frequent power outages here in the country and the constant dog walking, the Modus 2 probably got the most use of all.
One other intersting thing that I found is that even though both lights are rated for 100 lumens on the high setting, the Modus 2 seemed to put out just a little brighter beam than the Rogue 2. With new batteries in both, I did a side by side comparison to see if my impressions were correct. Though there isn’t a huge difference in output, there is a slight difference in favor of the Modus 2. I can’t say that’s true for every Modus 2 out there compared to the Rogue 2, but that was just what I noticed with this pair. No matter which one you pick up, you’re going to have more than enough light for what you’re doing unless you’re needing a long distance spotlight. I remember when the first modern Tactical lights came out in the early 90’s and every one was raving about how bright they were compared to the standard maglight. Even those new models then only had around 60 lumens. These two lights from Icon trumps that easily, and accomplish that feat with just AA batteries rather than the more expensive CR123 cells.
Now, by today’s standards, 100 lumens may not sound all that impressive. There are lots of lights out there that boast 200 lumens, 400 lumens, and even 1,000 lumens. But, for most folks, 100 lumens does just fine for about 95% percent of their lighting needs. The sweet spot here, though, is these two models have a runtime rating of 3 hours on high and 72 (10 lumens) hours at the low setting. Most lights you find today with those higher outputs typically last only around an hour. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to check the runtime for myself–at least on the high setting. After doing the quick side by side comparison, I left both the Modus 2 and the Rogue 2 on the high setting and left them alone for a while. Every so often, I came back to check and see if I could distinguish any significant light drop off during the runtime test.
After about 2.5 hours, there was a distinguishable amount of dropoff in the output of the Modus 2. I don’t have the equipment to test output in lumens, so I had to guesstimate it a bit. Compared to the output of the Modus 2 with new batteries, I’d estimate it was down to about 70-80% of normal. After 3 full hours, it was at maybe 60-70%. So, yes, it does run 3 hours on the high setting, but you don’t get 100 lumens for the entire 3 hours. This is why I wished flashlight companies would post accurate statistics about burntimes and output. Saying it will run 3 hours at the high setting doesn’t give you the full story. Of course, ICON isn’t the only culprit of this omission of information. A great many of the light companies do this. However, this doesn’t give the consumer all the information needed to be able to comparision shop. And, quite honestly, I think this is exactly why they don’t post all the information. It would be very easy to give full disclosure by graphing a curve to show the output over different periods of time. It’s not that difficult. Again, this is not just an issue with ICON. Many companies fall short here.
But, the good news is that after the 3 hour runtime on the high setting, there was still plenty of light to spare. As I sit here and write this, the Modus 2 is now approaching the 4th hour and I would estimate the output to be around 40-50% of the original 100 lumens. All in all, that’s actually pretty good performance on 2 AA batteries considering the first 1-2 hours the Modus 2 was putting out nearly the full 100 lumens. Not to mention I’m using regular Alkaline cells from Energizer. Lithium cells will last a good bit longer provided I can use them.
In another interesting turn for this review, I walked off and forgot about leaving the Modus 2 turned on. When I realized this, approximately 7 hours had passed. I have a headlamp that I am currently reviewing and I know its output is 35 lumen on a fresh set of batteries, so I thought I would compare it to the Modus 2 after 7 hours of burntime. In the picture to the right, the Modus 2 is the light on the left and the headlamp is the much fainter light on the right. Even after 7 hours, there was still more output than the 35 lumen headlamp with a fresh set of batteries. That’s pretty darn impressive! So, why am I griping? I just like all the facts. I like to do a lot of research on anything I buy and I abhor any lack of pertinent information with regard to performance and the like, especially where my money is required for purchase.
A couple of points weren’t on the website, so I followed up with the company for some specific information. I was told that you could use Lithium cells in the lights rather than alkaline cells. Some LED companies have a prohibition against Lithium cells, so I wanted to be certain. Also, these two lights have a 1 year warranty. Most LED bulbs are rated for 100,000 hours or more of burntime, but you’ve still got all the other little parts that go into making the flashlights. So, only time will tell how they stand up to every day use around the house and in the field. So far, they’ve held up quite nicely and seem to be built as well as any other light I’ve tried in the past. And, that’s having taken the Rogue 2 on a couple of overnights in the woods and using it during some inclement weather. The Modus 2 has stayed around the house, but has seen even more foul weather while taking my dog Jethro out for his walks multiple times per day.
Just like the Ipod I mentioned earlier, the Modus 2 and the Rogue 2 are both simple and elegant. There’s a high setting and a low setting. That’s it. There’s not a multitude of functions, light patterns, or alternate LED colors by twisting the head. High and Low. That’s all most people need. The elegance comes in with the design aspects of the open architecture and construction of these two lights. Unfortunately, I just had the black Rogue 2 to try out. While black is always elegant, it doesn’t stand out most of the time. The Rogue 2 comes in a lime green color which is a bit more “outspoken”, and I’d really like to see this model in a nice blue or Ferrari red. Maybe they’ll come out with more colors down the road. Both lights boast good runtimes on the high setting, and should perform quite nicely for everyone that picks one up. Also, they both take standard or Lithium AA batteries which can be found in just about every store you visit. Best of all, they’re both priced extremely well. You can pick up the Modus 2 for around $26.00 and you can find the Rogue 2 for around $48.00 with a little shopping online.
If you’re in the market for a new LED light and you want something that performs well but also has a little flair, give the new lights from ICON a good long look. I think you’ll be surprise by how well they fit the bill!