The Surefire E2L-AA Outdoorsman is Surefire’s first production AA powered light, which is a big departure for the company that has been making only CR123 (and one CR2) powered lights up until now other than their rechargeable options. Surefire always includes batteries with their lights, so they, of course, include lithium Energizers. Regular alkalines work fine in the E2L, but Surefire recommends against them if you want the best performance. That, and having an alkaline leak in a $165 flashlight might make you cry.
The E2L has two outputs, 3 and 80 lumens. The 3 lumen mode is perfect for up close work or when you want to conserve battery power. The 80 lumen mode is there for when you need more output and are trying to light up farther away objects. The light uses Surefire’s TIR lens/optic for a really nice combination of throw and flood.
The iTP R01 is a pretty cool little light and is the only high powered rechargeable one I have ever seen that is meant to charge off of a USB cord. If you are like me, you probably have a hundred little adapters from cell phones and other devices that will let you charge it in a regular wall socket and probably a car cigarette outlet as well.
The R01 was meant to be a simple light, with only one mode and no other fancy features. Police officer customers of ours have been really pleased with the light, since they can keep it charged for duty and it is brighter and more compact than what they are used to. No extra modes means that they do not have to do any cycling to get to the high brightness, so it is always at maximum output when you need it to be.
The Olight M31 Triton has the same LED and reflector as the SR50, but in a longer, thinner body. Both lights use the Luminus SST-50 LED to put out 800 lumens out the front of the light on high. The M31 has three brightnesses plus strobe, giving you a wide range of available illumination options for just about any situation. The large smooth reflector on it gives some great throw, meaning that you can light up stuff hundreds of yards away when necessary.
The M31 changes modes in the same way as the M20 and M21, by loosening and tightening the head. Each time you do that, it will cycle between the four available modes. It is powered by 3 or 4 CR123 batteries or 2 18650s. If you want a ridiculous amount of light, the M31 is a great choice.
The Olight SR50 is the smallest light in the Intimidator line. It’s not exactly compact, but compared to the SR90 and SR91, it is svelte.
The SR50 is powered by 6 CR123 batteries and puts 800 lumens out the front of the light. There is a lower output at 200 lumens when you don’t need as much light and want to save battery life. Strobe rounds out the available modes.
For those of you tired of seeing my million and a half flashlight video reviews, here is something a bit different. I’ve been using my new backpacking backpack, the Arc’Teryx Axios 50, for a couple of months now and have become a huge fan. I made a video running through the features on a recent trip to the North Georgia mountains. OK, there is a flashlight in this one, but I (barely) resist the temptation to turn it on.
The Axios 50 is billed as a lightweight pack, but Arc’Teryx has managed to cram in more features in this pack than my old Gregory that weighed almost double the weight. It has three pockets on the lid instead of the regular single one, a mesh back that does a really good job of keeping your back dry, comfortable suspension, and a very water resistant material. I was honestly not expecting much from the suspension, but I wore it for several hours on my first trip and didn’t mind the 35+ lbs I had stuffed in there. Normally, we get to the camp site and I ditch the pack so I can keep exploring, but I actually kept the pack on while wandering since it felt fine.
Here is the video to give you a better idea of what I mean:
Fenix makes some, big, complicated lights, but they also do a really good job of making small and simple ones as well. The E01 has long been a standard of inexpensive, simple lights. The output on the E01 is not all that great though, so the Fenix LD15 was made for people who want a compact light that still has a good bit of output.
The LD15 is powered by a single AA battery and has two modes, 117 and 8 lumens. 117 lumens does not seem like a ton of light when compared with some of the lights that we offer, but it will still light up a room and even objects 50+ yards away. The lower output is great for when you don’t want a ton of light, like when reading or poking around in your tent.
The Fenix TK45 is an interesting light. In a time when most other companies are ditching multi-LED setups for the newer, massive LEDs, Fenix headed in the opposite direction with the TK45 and put three LEDs in three separate reflectors. The result is a surprisingly nice beam and a lot of versatility.
The TK45 has four brightnesses and three flashing modes, all of which are controlled by two switches below the head of the light. Switches on the side of the light instead of the tail allows the user to hold the light in a more natural position, which is great for a light this size. The highest brightness is 760 lumens for times when you need full power, but it can also go as low as 8 lumens on just one of the LEDs for times when you need the light for up close work or when you want to save battery power. Speaking of batteries, the TK45 is powered by 8 AAs, same as the TK40.
The Surefire S2 Stratum is usually the light that I point outdoor users toward when they want a Surefire and don’t want to plunk down the cash for an AZ2. The Stratum has three brightnesses, 5, 50, and 160 lumens, covering almost any lighting need that the average outdoorsman has. Unlike many of Surefire’s other lights, the S2 starts on low, so you have to cycle through the two lower brightnesses if you want that max brightness. The lower brightnesses will get you better battery life and are great for up close and in camp tasks.
Watch the video below to get a better idea of what the Stratum can do:
The last post about a bad experience on the AT made me start thinking about some run ins I have had with sketchy guys on trails in the past. I have never had anything quite like those two women experienced, but I also do everything I can to keep myself out of situations with sketchy dudes.
Thanks to the copious amounts of weed growing in North Georgia, I have seen guys on several occasions that did not look like they were out there to enjoy the woods. Usually I just say hi and keep on walking and look over my shoulder for a while and that is that. Every now and then, I see a guy that really makes me cautious.
One that sticks out is a guy my wife and I met when we first started backpacking together. We were up at Jacks River in North Georgia and were doing an overnighter back when that was still allowed. For those of you not from the area, Jacks River has two main trails going to it. One is 12 miles with 22 river crossings that can be very tough depending on recent rainfall, and the other is five miles that might as well be paved. We have seen groups of people take rolling coolers on that trail, so that should give you an idea of the mix of people that you can see out there.
One time we were out there and we took the wrong trail that put us about a mile upstream of where we wanted to be. It was getting kind of dark, and while we had plenty of lighting (I have been carrying 20 flashlights on all trips since I was 3), we still wanted to set up while the sun was out. On the trail down the river to the falls campground, we came across a guy that was by himself in an area where there were no campers even close. He was shirtless, which is probably smart during a Georgia summer, but that exposed the unholstered 1911 pistol he had tucked into his waistband. Again, this is Georgia and that is in no way unusual (we rednecks love us some guns), but the way he invited us to share his camp and booze with him and his suggestion that we not go down to the falls made me a little wary. He had a little bit of a crazy look in his eye too, which furthered my desire to be elsewhere.
We ended up down at the campground by the falls at dusk and set up with a bit of sunlight to spare. There were a few other groups in the area, but we were secluded enough that we had some privacy. I realized that the decision ended was 100% the right one when a group of college kids came over and offered us a huge steak that they had left over. I guess their steak buyer was not a math major.
Now, I have customers that come in to my store every day that look exactly like that guy that we decided to move away from and they are the nicest guys in the world. I’m sure people I have met on the trail have said that I looked squirrely at some point in my life. Still, I did not feel comfortable in the situation, especially with my wife there with me, so I removed myself from it.
I really want to hear about any situations that any of you might have had with people in the woods that just did not feel right, so I thought I would start things off. Discuss in the comments or the forum.
First off, let me say that for those of you that do not do much backpacking, this is in no way a common occurrence. That said, I have run into guys like this in the past, but you can be darn sure that I camped nowhere near them and slept lightly at night.
Basically, a mother is with her daughter for an overnighter on the AT and comes up to the shelter where a guy is with his dog and is drinking heavily. Things start out well enough, but he starts verbally abusing them and eventually threatens violence. They head out in the darkness, cops are called, and they find out that the guy was following them back to their car.
Again, I want to reiterate that this crap is not even remotely common. Millions of trips are taken each year without incidence, and bad experiences are not on the rise, but we do tend to hear about them way more often thanks to the Interwebz.
So, what can we learn from this? Here is what I think should be taken away from a story like this:
1. Take spare batteries and probably a spare lighting source as well. Unless you are in Alaska during the summer, it WILL get dark at night. You cannot avoid this and you never know when you may need a light of some kind.
2. Use some common sense. I like to believe in the decency of my fellow man, because the average person is a decent human being, but our instincts are there for a reason. If something does not feel right about a situation, remove yourself from it.
3. If you decide not to remove yourself from a situation, be prepared to deal with possible outcomes. I completely understand why someone would not want to carry a handgun, but at least grab a big stick and keep it near you. If you do take a weapon, get the training for it.
4. Do not be afraid to call the police. They are there for a reason. This is one of the things I think they did very well.
That’s all I have for now. I am very interested to hear what some of you might have to say about this.