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Photon and other micro-lights
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Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Photon and other micro-lights on 01/04/2013 21:08:41 MST Print View

I use a Photon light as a backup (and occasionally, as my only light).

I'd like to replace it with something with an easier battery change. I find that when the battery runs out and I go to change it, the process is very awkward and time-consuming, and the result unreliable.

What brand would you recommend now? And what color light (if there is a choice)? I suppose I'd choose the color that is brightest or is longest-lasting on a given battery.

- Elizabeth

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Depends on 01/05/2013 05:36:12 MST Print View

What size and battery are you looking for in a backup? For lights the size of the photon using a button cell the photon really is the best out there iny opinion.

I would not go to a pico light or stream light nano as those cells are a real nuisance to find and replace.

So the most logical step would be to aaa (or cr2 which is smaller but more expensive and less common) and the fenix eo1 is a great and affordable option that is tested and proven in a lot of pockets and key rings. If you want more light the eo5 is an option but you'll get less runtime. As a backup I'd probably stick with the eo1.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Photon and other micro-lights on 01/05/2013 07:50:42 MST Print View

Rather than carrying a spare battery, carry a spare Photon with battery.

They're so light the weight isn't that important. Having a total seperate unit is more reliable.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Pico on 01/05/2013 09:01:46 MST Print View

I really like the Pico and carry it as my only light on most trips. If I were to carry a spare I would just carry a second light. They are only 1/4 ounce or so, so carrying a spare is no big deal. That said I generally have no need for a spare since I use it only for a few seconds at a time and not very frequently. The 15 hours of battery lasts me for months.

Alex Eriksson

Locale: Austin, TX
-1 Pico on 01/05/2013 10:08:56 MST Print View

If you're considering carrying a Pico on a keychain, I would advise against doing so, or advise against carrying it anywhere where it can rub against things. Both Pico lights I've carried on my keychain suffered from the barrel/bulb slowly unscrewing itself as it brushed up against other things on my keychain, until it became completely unscrewed and dropped the barrel/bulb and batteries on the ground, lost forever. I've loved the light other than that but at this point I think it's a simple design flaw and won't be buying one of the twist style lights again. For me the little squeezy type lights work just fine and don't suffer the same flaw.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Photon and other micro-lights on 01/05/2013 15:19:23 MST Print View

+1 on carrying a spare Photon light instead of swapping batteries in the wilderness. To swap batteries, you need a teeny tiny Philips screwdriver, which is likely to weigh as much as a spare Photon.

For years I carried "longest lasting color" Photons, now I carry white. Too many times I've been stumped trying to discern colors on a map or other essential thingy, only to be thwarted by a monochromatic yellow, green, or red light. White lights are about half the battery life, IIRC.

Last long trip I tried a a cheap Photon knock-off, with an orange body that had a sturdy, rotating clip attached. The orange body is much easier to find in the dark. The clip is very handy, attached to hat brim or tent loops or fabric, for cooking, reading, foot repair, etc. CountyComm ARES SO-LED, $4.00 each (I can't even buy batteries that cheap). The switch is kind of flaky, but usually works on the second or third try.

The equivalent genuine Photon light is the Doug Ritter Special Edition MkII Photon Freedom Micro. Yellow body, less sturdy clip, all the other Photon goodness, $15.95.

Simon Wurster
(Einstein) - F

Locale: Big Apple
Re: Photon and other micro-lights on 01/05/2013 21:49:30 MST Print View

As others have said, carrying an extra Photon is a great idea. The Fenix E01 or E05 are also good ideas, as they use AAA cells. Either weighs 0.7 oz with a Lithium AAA (about 2X the Photon). The E05 is brighter, has a nicer tint (the E01 tends to be blue-ish), and has a nice floody beam, but the cell only lasts about (I think) 3 hrs., whereas the E01 gives a solid 6 hours (with a diminishing light level giving an additional ~12 hours of usable light). The 3 hour figure sounds short, but with normal short-spurt use, that translates into weeks of daily use.

If you want the longest lasting Photon, get the yellow one. It only uses one battery (CR2032), and the current draw is very low with yellow LEDs (as well as red and orange). The only problem is yellow is kind of ugly, muting all colors into grayish-yellow haze, making it awful for determining which wire to cut to defuse bombs :-)

Personally, I wear a NVG green photon with a single CR2032 (instead of the stock 2X CR2016 cells) just about 24/7. The single cell is less bright, but lasts much longer. The NVG green, when adjusted to the barest amount of light necessary, makes everything look a very high-contrast black-and-white. I believe this is because the human eye is most sensitive to this green wavelength, so it needs much less of it to see (shapes), thus it's use in night-vision goggles. That said, nothing beats a micro-lumen pure white light as you'll find on a Zebralight headlamp or flashlight for rummaging in the tent or even the campsite.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
micro-lights on 01/06/2013 06:21:12 MST Print View

I carry the Photon Freedom Micro LED Lights and they are easy to change batteries if needed. Just your knife tip will open it, no screwdriver needed.

I reviewed them here:

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: micro lights--- how small is small? on 01/06/2013 06:58:03 MST Print View

I have come to prefer small single AAA or AA battery flashlight designs like the Fenix E01 and Olight i2 or i3 over the button cell lights. They are much more durable, waterproof, brighter, better beam pattern, and longer battery life. The don't have the annoying light spill of the mico lights and you can choose a model to match your headlamp as well. Battery replacement is easy and can be done by feel in the dark without tools.

These models are indeed heavier than a button cell light, but can't be called truly heavy. I think portability is the real criterion over total weight and the single AAA/AA flashlights are very pocket friendly. I carry a Fenix E01 on a daily basis and use it often.

+1 on carrying a complete spare micro light vs replacing batteries in the field.

My $0.02

Edited by dwambaugh on 01/06/2013 07:00:36 MST.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Fenix on 01/06/2013 08:20:47 MST Print View

I have carried a Fenix LOD for a few years now- I'm not even sure if they make it any more but it sounds like one of the EO versions folks are talking about. I have never changed the battery.

Honestly, picking the Fenix was part of my campaign to standardize my few electronic hiking widgets to all use the same battery. My Garmin Geko (which I almost never take along anyway), my SPOT, and my Fenix all use AAA. So do the Petzl headlamps that I use occasionally or lend out. If one widget dies I can scavenge batteries from the others, and if I carry spares I only need to carry one type.

AAA are available in rechargeable versions, and also high-power lithium versions (which the SPOT requires). If you run out of batteries on the trail they are a hell of a lot easier to find in a small-town store than a CR123 or somesuch.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Photon and other micro-lights on 01/06/2013 09:49:06 MST Print View

A photon button light is always in my pocket around town, and used to go into the back country with me... but eventually stopped: the pain of changing the battery (especially with cold hands) and the poor runtime at reasonable levels of brightness. Most trips I bring a much larger Zebralight H51. I would second the small Fenix lights using a single AAA, though I think what used to be the iTP A3 EOS Update is better. From my recommended flashlights page:

On minimalist trips I switch to a iTP A3 EOS Update which is now called the olight i3 eos multicolor. This is one of the best flashlight values: $20 for a high efficiency AAA flashlight with good regulation and a nice range of brightness settings. The original A3 update was (in lumens: 1.5 for 50h, 18 for 4h 80 for 55min the new version I don't like quite as much (2.5 for 20h, 20 for 3h, and 70 for 42minutes). This flashlight + lithium battery weights just .6oz (18grams).

photon on 01/06/2013 13:11:14 MST Print View

I find the photon alone is acceptable.
I avoid using it as much as possible. When I do its basically on lowest setting.
I hike in daylight, sleep when its dark.
Get everything that needs doing, done while its still light.
Throwing bear line, cooking, set up shelter, answering nature, etc.

Unless you night-hike, or break down camp in dark in morning, it works fine most of the time.

No, you dont want to have to change batts in dark with it for sure
Like other said, two is easier than spare batts too.
But, with batteries only 0.15 oz for pair, you can carry several sets of batts too easily for extended trips.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Photon lights - a few corrections on 01/07/2013 22:48:24 MST Print View

A few corrections to my earlier post about Photon lights:

Most Photon lights do not require a Philips screwdriver to open; a pen or knife tip will work fine. Replacing batteries in the dark in the field will still be challenging.

Photon light run times with their included batteries are:

12+ hours: White, Blue, Green, Night-Vision Green, Purple and Ultraviolet

120+ hours: Red, Yellow, Orange and Infrared

Disclosure: My sister, niece, and nephews have worked off and on for LRI in beautiful downtown Blachly, OR, but I bought almost all of my Photon lights at retail.