This month I had a chance to take a look at two new flashlights. You may think that flashlights are a pretty dull subject, but try saying that in the middle of the night when you are miles from anywhere. Even so, you might think that there’s only so much to say. You push a button or turn a knob and light comes out the end. With the Fenix P1D CE and L1D CE, it is not that simple. These tiny powerhouses are more like pocket-sized spotlights compared to normal flashlights.
A word about LED flashlights
In recent years, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have become a kind of gold standard in the flashlight world. They go for 50,000 hours without burning out, use less power, and generate less heat than your standard incandescent bulbs. In addition, they could be produced to put out very clear colors such as actual white rather than the incandescent yellowish shade we’ve come to expect. Still, there were down sides to LEDs. First, they were not as bright as an incandescent bulb. Second, LEDs have a curious property: they are more efficient the cooler they are. As they heat up, they become less efficient. When they become less efficient, they draw more power, causing them to gain more heat and so on. This “heat spiral” could lead to increasing battery drain and LED burnout.
Fenix L1D CE Digitally Regulated Flashlight. (MSRP $55.50)
What’s in the box?
The light, a nylon holster, a lanyard (a bit flimsy, but that seems to be how lanyards for such things are made), two spare O-rings, and a rubber switch boot (I didn’t find one of these in the box and remain uncertain of what it actually is.)
The L1D CE is a single AA cell light that uses a Cree 7090 XR-E LED. This is one of the extremely powerful recent generation of LEDs. In fact, it can put out a lot more light than an equivalent incandescent bulb. To see what I mean by “a lot more light,” take a look at the brightness comparison below. At its brightest, in what’s called “turbo mode” the L1D CE puts out a constant 90 lumens. This is a positively blinding amount of light. Unfortunately, at this level a single AA battery, it can only maintain its output for 1.5 hours. This is where the digital regulation comes in.