Nine Options That Can Expand Your Safe Zone
Over the years, I’ve learned that there are some things you can’t afford to compromise on; a good flashlight is at the top of the list. A durable and dependable light source is of the utmost importance during emergencies, and finding yourself in the dark doesn’t only happen at night. Some sort of illumination should be part of your everyday carry or EDC kit—as well as in your home for safety and security during power outages and in your vehicle for roadside emergencies.
In this review, we’ll look at several different lights from Fenix Lighting that are suitable for use in emergencies and recreational activities alike. Each light is rechargeable from a 5-volt USB port or charger, and one of them can even charge other mobile devices. Due to space constraints, only the most important specifications and features are listed here but we’ve added links to the products if you want to learn more.
All three Fenix handheld flashlights tested include a nylon holster, wrist lanyard, USB charging cable and spare O-ring to maintain the IP68 water/dust protection rating. The LED lamps have a 50,000-hour lifespan. The flashlight bodies are precision machined from aluminum alloy and have a durable, hard-anodized finish.
The Fenix LD30 is perfect for EDC: It’s powerful, rugged and compact. Power is provided by one ARB-L18-3500U rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included) or, as a backup, one 18650 rechargeable or two CR123A cells can be used.
It features five levels of brightness, with more than 70 hours of runtime on low (30 lumens) and over an hour on “turbo” (1,600 lumens). SOS signaling and strobe functions are built in. The momentary/on/off switch, covered by a rubber boot, is located at the rear, and a function push button on the side controls brightness and strobe/SOS features.
The battery charge status indicator is in the center of the side push button. However, there’s no external charging port. So, to recharge, simply remove the battery and plug the micro-USB cable into the integrated charging port. A unique, dual-use pocket clip keeps the light secure in your pocket or clipped to your hat brim for hands-free use.
FENIX LD30 RECHARGEABLE FLASHLIGHT
- Length: 4.3 inches
- Body: 0.9 inch
- Head: 1.0 inch
- Weight: 3.85 ounces with battery
The Fenix PD40R V2.0 is powered by one 21700 rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included) or one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery with the ALF-18 battery holder (not included). Four brightness settings, from 30 to 3,000 lumens, and a disorienting strobe function are selectable from the patented rotary switch located in the head of the flashlight. The high-capacity battery permits runtimes of over two hours on turbo and 88 hours on low.
The extremely intense beam has no problem illuminating the 12-inch-square steel target at the far end of our 400-yard rifle range. The PD40R is easy to operate with one hand, and the rotary switch around the perimeter of the light offers a good grip with gloves or bare fingers. A protective strike bezel surrounds the tempered-glass lens.
FENIX PD40R V2.0 RECHARGEABLE FLASHLIGHT
- Length: 5.4 inches
- Body: 1.0 inch
- Head: 1.3 inches
- Weight: 6.55 ounces with battery
An excellent choice for law enforcement or search-and-rescue teams is the Fenix TK26R Tactical Flashlight. With five modes of white light, as well as independent red and green illumination, the TK26R is loaded with features. Two tail-mounted push-button switches control momentary/constant on, brightness and instant access to strobe functions. A third switch, located just behind the head of the flashlight, selects red and green light modes and houses the battery status indicator. The maximum output is 1,500 lumens from the included 18650 rechargeable battery; two CR123A cells can be used as backup.
Runtime is 100 hours on low (10 lumens), over an hour on turbo and in excess of four and five hours on red and green, respectively. The ultra-clear, tempered-glass lens is protected from impact by a stout strike bezel, and a spring-steel pocket clip helps prevent it from rolling on flat surfaces.
(Note: On the “turbo” setting, the LED light can get very hot. Thermal protection circuitry will reduce the output to prevent damage to the lamp. Time at this reduced output is included in the runtimes stated.)
FENIX TK26R TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT
- Length: 5.9 inches
- Body: 1.0 inch
- Head: 1.6 inches
- Weight: 7.15 ounces with battery
When you need to have both hands free, a headlamp is a great option. Because it always places the light where you look, it’s perfect for walking or bicycling on trails, fishing from a boat or shore, or when working under a vehicle.
The ultra-lightweight Fenix HM50R is an excellent choice to have in your pack for those times you find yourself on the trail after dark. Weighing just shy of 3 ounces, this little light offers amazing runtimes. One 16340 rechargeable Li-ion battery (included) will provide 90 hours at 4 lumens on low and over two hours at 500 lumens on turbo. If no charging source is available in the field, a CR123A lithium battery can be used and will provide up to 128 hours of light on low.
The soft, silicone rubber mount makes it the most comfortable of the head-mounted models tested, and the reflective headband won’t slip when properly adjusted, even when it’s wet from rain or perspiration. This model is submersible to 2 meters (IP68 intrusion rating with charging port cover closed).
FENIX HM50R USB RECHARGEABLE HEADLAMP
Dimensions including headlamp holder
- Length: 2.7 inches
- Width: 1.3 inches
- Height: 1.1 inches
- Weight: 2.95 ounces with battery
“Each light is rechargeable from a 5-volt USB port or charger, and one of them can even charge other mobile devices.”
Versatility sets the Fenix HM61R apart from all the other lights in this review. While it’s a very capable headlamp, this multi-function light can be removed from the head mount to become a right-angle flashlight. The pivoting metal pocket clip makes it easy to secure to webbing on a pack strap or chest rig, and the magnetic base lets you stick it on any ferrous metal surface for stationary light where you need it (such as under the hood of your vehicle).
Powered by a single 18650 rechargeable battery (included) or two CR123A batteries, runtime ranges from 300 hours at 1 lumen output (“economy” mode), to two hours on turbo at 1,200 lumens.
To maintain your night vision, the HM61R also features two levels of red light output—1 lumen (low) and 4 lumens (high)—as well as a flashing red light (4 lumens) for signaling, marking or wherever you need a flashing red light.
The polymer mount holds the light very securely at any angle desired and features a sturdy rubber strap to keep the light from being dislodged accidentally. The ventilated head strap includes a top strap to keep everything comfortably in place during hard use.
“Unlike candles, kerosene lamps or other flame-operated lanterns, battery-powered lanterns are safe to use inside tents and around children and pets.”
All modes and brightness levels are accessible with a single push-button switch for simple operation, and a unique, magnetic charging connection means one less place for water to enter (IP68 rated water-/dustproof) … just don’t misplace the USB cable, because you’re not likely to find a replacement at your local store (unless it sells FENIX lights).
FENIX HM61R MULTI-USE HEADLAMP
Dimensions including headlamp holder
- Length: 4.0 inches
- Width: 1.8 inches
- Height: 1.4 inches
- Weight: 5.2 ounces with battery
The Fenix HM65R headlamp features two independently controlled lamps—one spot and the other flood—for a combined maximum of 1,400 lumens of white light. With four levels of brightness in spotlight mode, runtimes range from 97 hours on low (50 lumens) to two hours on turbo (1,000 lumens). With three output levels in floodlight mode, the time range is between 300 hours at 8 lumens and 21 hours at 400 lumens. Power comes from one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery (included). Alternatively, two CR123A batteries can be used as a backup.
A magnesium alloy body makes this headlamp extremely tough, light and dust- and waterproof (IP68). The polymer mount incorporates a detent to hold the lamp in the desired tilt position. The ventilated reflective headband features a top strap to keep the light in place, even when jogging. I found the floodlight to be most beneficial when walking, because it creates a wide area of even illumination; and when I needed to light up something farther away, the spotlight proved to be very effective.
FENIX HM65R RECHARGEABLE HEADLAMP
Dimensions including headlamp holder
- Length: 3.2 inches
- Width: 2.2 inches
- Height: 1.6 inches
- Weight: 5.2 ounces with battery
Lanterns provide area lighting to enhance comfort and safety around the camp or in the home during power outages. Unlike candles, kerosene lamps or other flame-operated lanterns, battery-powered lanterns are safe to use inside tents and around children and pets.
Perfect for use inside a tent or as emergency lighting on a bedside table, the Fenix CL09 lantern is only 3 inches tall and weighs under 2 ounces. Powered by one 16340 rechargeable battery (included) or a CR123A battery, the CL09 will go 90 hours (150 with a CR123A) on low (1 lumen) and about two and a half hours (six hours with CR123A) on high (200 lumens).
Besides providing varying intensities of white light, the CL09 has constant red, flashing red and solid green illumination at 5 lumens each, all with 360 degrees of coverage. Besides a hanging bail, the base of the lantern is magnetic for attaching to ferrous metal objects.
This little lantern has so many possible uses that it would be impossible to list them all and, despite its diminutive size, it puts out a tremendous amount of light! Its rugged, anodized aluminum/polycarbonate construction is durable and lightweight.
FENIX CL09 LANTERN
- IP68 Dust/Water Intrusion Rated
- Length: 3.1 inches
- Diameter: 0.86 inch
- Weight: 1.75 ounces with battery
The Fenix CL26R provides multi-directional lighting: 360 degrees with three intensities (front only; with one brightness setting; and down light at two settings). At 400 lumens on high, this lantern is excellent for cabin tents or at home on the kitchen table during a power outage.
Besides these white light modes, there are solid-red and red flashing modes (360 degrees), which could be very handy in a roadside emergency. Power comes from one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery (included) or two CR123A batteries, and it’ll operate for about five hours on high or 58 hours on “front only.” The top of the lantern features a hanging bail, tripod socket and magnet for multiple mounting options.
FENIX CL26R RECHARGEABLE LANTERN
- Intrusion Protection Rating: IP66
- Height: 3.8 inches
- Diameter: 1.9 inches
- Weight: 5.8 ounces with battery
Last, but certainly not least, is the Fenix CL30R camping lantern. With integrated USB charging, the CL30R is one of the best power outage solutions I’ve ever seen. It’s powered by three rechargeable 18650 batteries (included). However, it can also operate on a single or pair of 18650 cells. The CL30R has five brightness settings (up to 650 lumens) in a 360-degree circle. With three 2,600 milliamp-hour batteries, you can expect 300 hours runtime on economy mode (10 lumens) and about 4.5 hours on turbo. During an extended blackout, the CL30R can be used to charge mobile devices (such as cellphones and tablets) or charge any of the other lights featured in this review.
FENIX CL30R USB RECHARGEABLE CAMPING LANTERN
- Waterproof Rating: IPX7
- Height: 5.4 inches
- Diameter: 3.7 inches
- Weight: 19 ounces with battery
All these Fenix products proved to be easy to operate and performed very well. Their quality and attention to detail are excellent, and they appear durable enough to last many years.
Keep in mind that although each light came with the appropriate USB charging cable, no power adapter is included. Even so, any 5-volt USB supply will work. In fact, several were used during testing, including rechargeable battery packs, computer USB ports, wall chargers and solar-powered USB chargers.
The included instruction sheets were adequate, and it took just a few minutes to become familiar with the controls and functions (I did have a question about one item; it was answered in minutes using a Fenix Support online chat).
All products are covered by a limited lifetime guarantee from Fenix Lighting USA.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the December, 2020 print issue of American Survival Guide.