Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Fenix LD01 [AAA Flashlight]

About Fenix


Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with detachable clip
Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with detachable clip
Fenix is a Chinese flashlight manufacturer known for making high quality flashlights. They are also known for fairly conservative designs compared to their competitors. They have a pretty good following among "flashaholics" who appreciate their no-nonsense designs.

Product Description


Price: around $30 to $35 online

The LD01 is a 3 mode LED "twisty" flashlight which takes AAA batteries. It features a Cree XP-G R4 emitter and a hard anodized aluminum body with a spring at the tail.

My review sample was purchased in a gift box from Amazon.com and came with a Fenix E01 flashlight, which is widely considered to be one of the most indestructible flashlights known to man.

Official Specs








Note that my own tests show closer to 1 hour on high with a fully charged Eneloop.

Overall Design


Mode Switching: The LD01 features a M-L-H mode order with no memory. While it isn't my preferred mode order, I do appreciate that arguing mode order is like arguing politics. Still, it would be nice if it had a mode memory.

Emitter: Newer versions of this like, like mine, feature a Cree XP-G R4 emitter, which I think has a slightly better (warmer) tint than the slightly brighter R5. Mine has an almost creamy tint, just like another AAA favorite, the Thrunite Ti.

Body: The head has some aggressive knurling on it for a good grip while twisting. Other than that, the body and the anodizing are good, but nothing special.

Tail: The light can tail stand, even on a keyring. This design seems to give the light a more stable tail stand than any of my other AAA lights.

Clip: The clip is a typical snap-on variety.It's fairly tight and sturdy for being a snap-on clip, but it still isn't as secure or stable as a screw-on clip. C'mon Fenix, give us a real clip!

Batteries: The light can pretty much take any battery that fits. It officially supports AAA batteries, both rechargeable and disposable, but it's also widely known that it will (unofficially) run a 3.6V Li-Ion 10440 cell if you are careful not to run it on high for more than about 5 minutes.

Circuitry: Newer models like mine are current controlled - no obnoxious PWM, not to mention highly efficient.

Fit and Finish


Overall, good. The anodizing on mine is acceptable. Most of these flashlight companies claim a hard anodizing but I highly doubt that even from most of the higher end lights like this one. My Sunwayman lights all have top notch anodizing and among other makers, it's hit and miss.

Other than the anodizing, the rest of the light has an excellent fit and finish. The emitter is perfectly centered, the o-rings were lubed and the light made a good connection right out of the box. There were no scratches, tool marks or irregularities in the body or threads.

Usability


Overall, excellent. This is an EDC light in every sense of the word. It has what I would consider a great balance between flood and throw, though it leans a little towards the throw side with the smaller die XP-G.

I don't know if it's because the threads are of such a high precision, but this light suffers from the "mode skipping" less than my other twisty mode lights.

With a 10440 lithium ion battery in it (NOT OFFICIALLY SUPPORTED), this thing is a real pocket rocket. I usually keep a 10440 in it most times, and if I need to run it on high for more than a couple minutes, I go grab a bigger light. But for most times, having the powerful battery allows this to be my day to day EDC with a fairly large property. It'll light up my entire back yard.


Conclusions


This is a fantastic light. I almost didn't buy it because of all the hype, and then I almost didn't write the review, again, because of all the hype. But this light deserves another review. As far as I am concerned, all the hype is true, though I hear some of the earlier versions weren't nearly as good as this one. This light is an AAA light that is absolutely worth $35.

At any given time, the LD01 is probably in my pocket. Sometimes for camping or road trips, I will swap out a bigger light like the Sunwayman V11R, at which point the LD01 usually goes onto my keychain as a backup.

Since the day I bought it, this light has never been far from my side. From home to hotel to wilderness, it's held up well and earned my respect. My only real complaint is the M-L-H mode order, which I think is idiotic.This light has an almost cult following.

Gallery

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with Fenix E01
Shown with the E01 that came in the gift set

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with Fenix E01
Two solid, but radically different flashlights

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, closeup of reflector
Here you can see the orange peel (OP) reflector

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, clipped to pocket
The detachable clip is pretty decent - one of the better ones

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with Spyderco Dragonfly pocket knife and Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool
EDC Trifecta of Awesome: Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, with Spyderco Dragonfly and Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight - Closeup of Cree R4 emitter
Closeup of the Cree XP-G R4 emitter

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight - Closeup of threads
Closeup of the anodized, trapezoidal threads

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown on scale
Less than an ounce with a 10440 li-ion battery in it!

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with Sunwayman V11R EDC flashlight
EDC Pals, the Fenix LD01 and the Sunwayman V11R

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with Ultrafire 10440 3.6V li-ion battery
Remember, the 10040 is not officially supported, and can explode or melt if you over discharge it, so be careful!

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with 2nd gen. Eneloop AAA
Shown with 2nd Generation Eneloop AAA low self discharge battery

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with 2nd gen. Eneloop AAA
My LD01 came in a gift pack with an E01

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown in wilderness with Spyderco Ladybug pocket knife
Shown on the trail with a Spyderco Ladybug pocket knife
Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, back of gift set packaging
Back of the gift set packaging

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown in wilderness with Spyderco Ladybug pocket knife
Small but rugged

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown in wilderness with Spyderco Ladybug pocket knife
Package came with extra o-rings and split rings too

Fenix LD01 AAA Flashlight, shown with Fenix E01 flashlight
Same grippy knurling on both lights. I just wish the LD01 had more of it, like its companion, the E01


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