Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fenix EO5: Real Life Review

Fenix EO5 Review with Keys
Fenix E05: Not much bigger than a mini Swiss Army Knife
What I wanted:  A small everyday carry flashlight that's bright, light and energy-efficient.  Relatively inexpensive, too, vis-a-vis durability and reliability.  Battery should be readily available (no CR2 types please).

What it's replacing: 15 and 20-year old Maglite Solitaires (still working though).  Too costly to convert the Solitaires to LED.  The old bulbs are energy hogs and already flicker after the first 15-20 minutes even with fresh batteries.

Why carry one all the time: the increasingly wild weather.  The power situation especially during the typhoon season.  Besides, I was always a flashlight fanatic though never favored the big bulky ones rather left at home.

What I got: After much hewing and hawing, a Fenix E05.  This is my second Fenix actually.  My first one lasted a mere 9 months because of a leaking 7Eleven alkaline battery which corroded and short-circuited the flashlight.

Fenix EO5
In a word: tiny.  Just a tad longer than the AAA battery it uses, in fact.
How I found it: Very bright (27 lumens compared to the paltry 5 or so of the Solitaires) considering the tiny size which is a lot smaller than my old Solitaires, and even shorter than my earlier EO1.  Light is soft and diffused.  (I digress but the about to be launched EO5SS is even brighter at 85 lumens but what the hey, I'm happy with this one).  Build is light yet feels solid (aircraft aluminum the literature says).  

Easy to use with one hand (revolving switch).  I have yet to test the runtime using a rechargeable NIMH battery though getting well over two hours of good light with a regular alkaline battery (AAA).  Ain't scared to get it out in the rain as it's waterproof up to 2 meters which is really a consideration during the rainy (and brownout) season.

Where I got it: After much research online, I stumbled upon www.tacticalasia.com and thought their price was very competitive (P980, plus flat shipping fee and bank transfers).  Buying online can be a risk but happily, my EO5 arrived 24 hours after I placed the order.  I can browse their site all day (and drool LOL) but I digress.

Verdict: A lot of cheaper flashlights out there but as with my Maglite Solitaires, paying a bit more for really durable stuff can be rewarding especially for flashlights usually relied upon during emergencies.  Of course, time will tell if this EO5 will last as long but I have a feeling it just may.  There are also a lot of rather expensive flashlights out there (those sleek Nightcores, for one) but for my needs and budget, this one more than suffices.  Definitely belongs to your bugout bag or keychain.

UPDATE: The EO5 lasted barely three months.  One day, it just refused to light up.  It was in no way abused (dropped, immersed in water, exposed to rainwater, etc. or the battery accidentally placed incorrectly) so as of this writing (Feb 2015), the unit is with the repair person of Tactical Asia.   It's my second disappointing experience with the Fenix AA torches (my first one got a corroded battery stuck after being left for two months without replacement.  I've left batteries in my 15-17 year old Maglite Solitaires for a year and never had an issue with moisture corroding the batteries).   While the temptation to switch to the EO5 new iteration (85 lumens) was there, the two previous experiences led me to try another brand altogether, this time Nitecore.

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