By Jeff “Venture” Fournier
I had heard SOG was getting into the flashlight market and I wondered what to expect from a knife company branching out to non-sharp items. SOG usually puts out quality designs and has been in the knife business for years. I was not expecting an innovative light with just the right amount of solid features with a few tweaks folded in. I received sight unseen a SOG Dark Energy model flashlight and was really happy with how it worked out.
The SOG Dark Energy 200A Flashlight model DE-04 ( using 2 AA batteries) should work as a great light for anyone who needs a well-built illumination tool that covers a lot of ground utility wise. Physically the Dark Energy (DE 04 from now on.) is a ‘T’ aluminum body flashlight around 6 ½ inches long weighing in at just under 6 ounces. The knurling on the grip is also enhanced by integrated flats around the flashlight body to help prevent rolling, as well aid in manipulation. It only comes in black.
To evaluate the light I carried it at work (Contract Security), at home, and on vacation as my ‘only use’ flashlight for well over a three month period. The DE 04 was light and very handy. I hardly noticed it clipped to my pocket with its built on carry clip with a lanyard hole and the SOG DE 04 rides in a bag well. The clip kept it from falling out when jostled and left it button end up for easy access and use with one hand. I am used to carrying an EDC light of less than a few ounces so I was really happy with how this performed in this area. Carrying extra ounces that don’t really do anything is inefficient.
As a lighting device it worked well for area, close in, and medium distances. I had good results in pitch darkness out to 60 meters. While the beam is diffuse at that range without a crisp spot light it still illuminated the areas I wanted to see be they frozen rivers or empty parking lots.
While the body of the DE 04 is reinforced somewhat for a strike the lights size alone gave you slightly more heft that the roll of quarters. As a light for security or law enforcement it fit the bill perfectly. It will not fall down and break easily.
While on my trip for 3 days of island vacation camping I used it as my only flashlight. This is against my normal inclination to carry a backup, which has saved me in the past when the main light failed, but I figure the DE 04 seemed reliable and I wasn’t wrong. The SOG stood up to rainy weather, humidity and general knocking about on a campout. I hiked with it in the bag even during daylight excursions and considered it a great extra that didn’t take up a lot of space or weight when on the trail.
I tried the disorienting strobe mode on several volunteers and most did not feel any blinding or disorienting effects even when hit directly. I have since found out that many people are more resistant than others to this type of light effect, but even so the strobe flash setting would work great as a signal strobe in an emergency situation. The other modes lend themselves well to conserving power or situations where you would be over lighting the area just to read a map.
Run time wise the Dark Energy stayed pretty true to its specs on the SOG website ( max output 200 lumens for 32 mins) even after the 32 minute mark on full output the light dimmed to about 50% brightness an kept on going for 4 hours before becoming very dim but still on. With the other settings of ‘reading mode’ (low) and 40% power (medium) the user can conserve or switch to a mode he needs depending on time estimations and availability of more batteries. These settings are more intuitive than I would have thought they would be with only a quick button press to shift mode after activation. The mode switch sequence is: full, medium, low, and strobe. During use I never had the awkward moment when I could not switch it quickly to the mode I needed for the task at hand. I changed the batteries once in almost 4 months and I really could have gone longer with the reduced power modes. Being that these are standard AA batteries available everywhere is definite plus as I have unified my lights to the more common AA and AAA cells long ago.
I would recommend the SOG (and by extension any of the DE series lights) to anyone looking for a solid, dependable flashlight in the 2 AA category. If you are a first time light buyer or getting one for a friend this is the light to get. It can be of use to anyone from homeowners who want a tough light for around the house to folks ‘on a mission’ civilian or otherwise. The SOG Dark Energy DE-04 lists for around $70 and can be found for a little less if you look around on the web.