Many of you are probably already familiar with the Joby Gorillapod. It’s an ingenious little flexible tripod which allows you to set up your camera in any number of impromptu settings. The legs bend and adjust for a wide variety of conditions and they even can wrap around objects such as tree limbs and hiking poles. They’re compact and light weight too so they’re a nice option to a heavy, rigid tripod when in the field.
I’ve had one for a couple of years now and have been pleased by the design so when I saw the Gorillatorch from Joby I knew I’d have to have one. This was another item that went on my Christmas list a year ago and one I tore into like a kid on Christmas day. All of the features that made the Gorillapod so useful carry over to the Gorillatorch and it’s got a couple surprises of its own as well. Let’s take a look!
First off, the Gorillatorch is not just a mount for any light. It has its own dedicated light built into it and it’s a pretty handy one at that. Starting with the light, we have a LED design with an adjustable output that cranks up to 65 lumens. That’s as bright as the old Surefire 6P tactical light and plenty bright enough for anything you’re likely to be doing camping. The light setting is adjusted using a rotating dimmer switch and lets you go from high to very low depending on your needs at the time. The Torch uses three AA batteries which are included in the package. You’ll get up to 80 hours of use on the economy setting, 50 hours on what Joby describes as the “optimum” setting and 20 hours on maximum. That’s excellent considering that many tactical lights spitting out 65 Lumens only get an hour of run time off of two CR123 lithium batteries! The beam provides a flood light which is excellent for working inside your tent or around the camp, but still seems to have a good amount of throw on the high settings to let you reach out and see what might be snuffling around in the woods nearby. The Gorillatorch isn’t tiny at 7.9 x 3 x 2.6 inches, but when you scrunch the tripod legs together it slips into a pack fairly easily. Weight is listed at 6.5 ounces. Not a featherweight, but not bad when you consider the utility of the piece, which we’ll cover in a moment. The light is constructed of a durable and water resistant ABS plastic and uses rubber on the feet to help improve stability on uneven surfaces. One of the neatest features on the Gorillatorch’s tripod is its magnetic feet. I didn’t initially realize that the feet were magnetic as my old Gorillapod tripods feet were not. It’s a very slick feature though. My kids roamed around the house sticking the light to the refrigerator and the steel front door of our house. Both places where it might be handy to set up a light during a power outage!
When it came to field testing the Gorillatorch I can honestly say I used this light for everything. It rapidly became a favorite of mine and is now on my short list of “must pack” items for camping trips. I know that’s pretty high praise, but let me explain why I feel that way. First off, the light itself is handy and easy to operate. The rotating power and dimmer switch is easy to flip on, even with one hand and fast to adjust to the setting that you need. It comes on at the highest setting and then you can dial it down as needed. For general use I found that if you squish the legs together you can carry the Torch around and use it much like you would an old Army surplus angle head flashlight. I had no problems using this as my primary light for general nighttime camp chores. Where it really shined (bad pun intended) though was when you needed to function with both hands. Whether it was setting up a tent at night, cooking, or getting ready for bed, being able to set the light up on its tripod and adjust the light output where you wanted it and being able to point the light where you needed it was extremely convenient. No more holding a flashlight in your teeth, worrying about it rolling away while you did something else, or trying to prop it up so that you could get the light where you needed it. I even found it more convenient than a headlamp personally. I know many campers are fans of the headlamp but sometimes I’d rather light up a whole area than just have the light point where I’m looking.
While setting the light up on the tripod was very convenient there were times when the flexible nature of the Gorillatorch’s legs came in very handy. Inside my tent I was able to wrap the legs around the loop at the peak of my tent and have a convenient overhead light for getting ready for bed and even for reading a bit before hitting the sack. I liked it better than other lanterns I’ve used for that task before too as I could direct more light downward which was especially helpful when trying to read. I also found the ability to wrap the legs around a tree branch invaluable when it came to using a cat hole at night. One trip that I went on this spring was well away from any sort of bathhouse or portajohn so the only option available was to find a convenient spot, dig a cat hole and go about your business. Doing that at night with a regular flashlight or even a headlamp can be a pain but with the Gorillatorch I was able to quickly wrap it around a handy branch, illuminate my area of operations and go about my business with both hands free.
I already touched on some of the uses of the magnetic feet that my kids found in the house, but the other obvious use is when you’re working around or on your vehicle. Being able to just click the light onto the side of the Jeep while we were camping was great. You could easily set the Torch up to illuminate your engine, your tire if you were changing a flat or your cargo area if you were unloading at night. It also made a handy place to just set the light up if you were camped right near your vehicle. The magnets are very secure and there was no concern over the light coming off during use. You probably could drive with the light attached although we didn’t try it. Is your car headlight out? I bet you could clamp the Gorillatorch on and use it as an impromptu headlight if you needed to, especially in the woods, or while going slow on a back road!
I have to say that overall I found the Gorillatorch to be the handiest outdoors light I’ve ever used. Between the extremely versatile set up options available with the flexible, magnetic footed tripod, the adjustable light settings, and the excellent battery life this light has become my go-to light for camping trips from here on out. I like the fact that it uses common AA batteries too which you can find just about anywhere. The same features that make it a great camping light make it a good emergency light too. I’m seriously thinking about getting a couple more to keep around the house in case of storms and power outages. With a price of only $29.95 at REI it’s certainly affordable enough to do so. At the time of this writing they were on sale even cheaper at under $20. If you’re looking for a versatile light for camping, and want one model that can do it all, I highly recommend the Joby Gorillatorch. If you want to see one in action first, then find me on my next campout. You can bet I’ll have mine with me there!
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