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Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light
Test series by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: October 4, 2012
Long Term Report: March 19, 2013
Energizer Carabiner Area Light
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing/kayaking and most other outdoor activities, but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.
The Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light (I will refer it as the light for the most part later in the review) is just what it says it is; a light designed to light up an area as opposed to a directional light. However, there is directional light capability on the light by using the single LED located in the front end of the light. It is also designed for hands free use by hanging it with the carabiner just about anywhere light is needed. The only limitation would be having to have a suitable place to hang it since light is not designed to be free standing. Fortunately, most tents are equipped with some sort of overhead loop, and of course my hammock, which is where I plan to use it, has a ridge line. The light is also shaped to be conveniently hand held. I would most likely be using it in the flashlight mode if using it hand held but of course could use the area lighting feature if that type of light proved to be needed. I could see this being handy when walking at night with someone else who did not have a light by just holding the light down to the side at arm's length with the area light on.
And now for a closer look at the light itself. The outside of the light is made of plastic and is waterproof. The shape is interesting in that it is flatter than round but not perfectly flat on any side, edge or end. It has 7 LEDs, three on each side and one facing forward. The 6 LEDs for area lighting (3 on each side) are covered with a translucent plastic material. This materiel not only protects the LEDs but diffuses the light a little. I have already taken the light out at night just to get a feel for it. The area light is bright but more of a glow as opposed to a piercing harsh beam. Having looked directly at several LED lights I can say this is a good thing. Speaking of which, the directional light has a clear plastic cover and it is much brighter to look at. Disclaimer, don't look at any light directly as it could cause eye damage. I only looked at this one quickly and at a slight angle to establish the facts.
The light switch is a simple push button affair which cycles the light on in area high, then area low, directional and back off. The switch is firm but not hard to mash. It has a pretty decent feel in that it clicks smoothly but crisp as opposed to having a mushy feel. The light is shipped with Energizer Max AAA alkaline batteries which use Power Seal Technology. I have no idea what this is but the website claims they will store up to 10 years without losing power. Of course I use my lights quite a bit and never have had to worry about my batteries lasting that long, but I'll be honest, if they made it half that time period I would be pleased. Here are the key features listed on the website.
Features and Functions
Trying it out
First of all, kudos to Energizer for making the packaging easy to open. I had the light out of the packaging in just a minute or so and without the need for a knife. The next step is to open the light by mashing the 2 marked areas on each side (or edge) and pulling the cover off which exposes the inner portion of the light. The next step is to insert the 4 AAA batteries which are included. They go in slots on either side of the light. I would like to say I got the polarity right the first time but I failed to notice the little indicators which point out that 2 of the batteries are inserted in the opposite direction of the 2 on the other side. I was going by the springs located on the same end on both sides. I normally find that putting the flat (negative pole) end next to the spring is the correct way to go. Anyways, once the batteries were in correctly I slid the cover back on. It doesn't exactly snap into place but you can tell it is properly seated. It does take a little force to pull the cover off or slide it back on but I think this is due to the rubber o-ring being plenty big to make a good water tight seal. One other thing to remember is to be sure the switch is located on the proper side. The cover will slide on and close with the switch on the wrong side...don't ask me how I know. Here is the light with the cover off.
My next step was to attach the carabiner which is about 3 in (76 mm) long and appears to be made of aluminum. The swinging gate is easy to open, and to put it on the light, just open it and pass the open end through the hole in the light and let the spring loaded gate close. Now the light can be hung by just clipping the carabiner wherever needed.
Energizer Carabiner Area Light with cover off
After it got dark I carried the light outside and walked around in my yard. I noticed that the shape of the light fits very comfortably in my hand so it works great as a flashlight. It also fit comfortably into my pants pocket but would have ridden better with the carabiner removed. Anyways, the single LED is plenty bright for walking around in the dark. I also tried the area settings on high and low. Both settings lit up my immediate surroundings nicely. I carried a book and could easily see the text easily just holding it a few feet over the page. I did note that while walking around, light held down at arm's length, that there was quite a bit of glare from the light itself in either area setting which was distracting as I walked around. When I put it in the directional mode the glare went away and it was just like walking around with a flashlight. It remains to be seen how the light will perform in my hammock as a reading light but I'm hoping I can position it slightly behind my head and I and can see the text clearly. My only concern right now is that any motion in the hammock may cause the light to move enough to be a distraction. Here is the light hand held in the area high setting.
That's all for now. I will be having my knee scoped tomorrow (the 5th) so it will be several weeks before I get to do any serious testing.
Long Term Report: March 19, 2013Test Locations and Conditions
The Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light in my hammock just before dark
I camped out four nights and used it several other times out in my yard. Conditions have been the typical cold and wet winter type weather for Northeastern Alabama but I did not camp out on the coldest nights. The coldest temperature at which I actually used the light was during an overnight hike on January 2, 2013 when the low dropped to 33 F (1 C) My pack weight was around 25 lb (11 kg) for the first three hikes but on my last hike I got it down to 17 lb. (8 kg). I managed to miss rain during my overnight hikes but my last overnighter was right after some severe storms passed though so the trial was very wet and my hammock tarp got pretty wet as the wind continued to blow after the rain stopped. I hiked on local trails that start just a short distance from my front door. I consider myself extremely lucky in that the scenery along these trails is just about as pretty as anywhere else I have hiked including the Smoky Mountains. There is just not quite as much elevation change. I live at 1200 ft (366 m) and the creek I hike down to is around 800 ft (244 m)
Long Term Test Results
My first overnight hike was on November 17. The temperature was 52 F (11 C) that afternoon and dropped to 35 F (2 C) overnight. I just had my left knee scoped a few weeks prior to this hike so I only hiked about 3 miles total (5 km) and I stayed on the trail around the top of the bluff I had been walking the past few weeks while day hiking. I used the light for about an hour to read an Outdoor Life magazine before turning in for the night. It was a bright night with clear skies so I really did not need the light for the few bathroom breaks I took during the night but I used it anyways. I noticed that I could hardly tell any difference between the high and low area light settings both inside and outside my hammock, but for reading, the bright setting did seem to make the print pop a little more. I woke up at 4 AM wide awake so packed up for my hike home. I hung the light on a handy limb near my hammock but not on either of the trees I was hanging from. I did notice that as I was taking down my hammock the shadow my body created caused the area in front of me to be pretty dark. However, by moving slightly to the side I could get enough light to see the knots. Of course I have done the same thing in total blackness so I'm not sure it mattered much. The only other thing I notices was that while hiking out in the dark I found it difficult to use the Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light in the flashlight mode while holding my hiking pole so I resorted to using it in the high area light mode. I was hiking pretty close to some steep drop offs and did not want to risk falling. The area light did not light the trail at my feet quite as well as the directional light did, but I did not have to keep it aimed as precisely so this actually made using the area light safer. It took right at an hour to hike home. Here is a photo of me reading the Outdoor Life magazine.
My next use was on a short 2 mile (3 km) overnight hike on January 2, 2013. It was a chilly 45 F (7 C) when I left the house and cooled down to 33 F (1 C) by the next morning. I actually packed my head lamp just in case I ended up doing any night hiking but did not. My knee was feeling a lot better so I hiked down to the creek this time. I did use my hiking poles but all during daylight hours. I basically used the light while reading in my hammock, to grab a snack during the night or getting out of my hammock for a bathroom break.
Using the Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light for reading in my hammock
My next use was on March 12, 2013. The high on this hike was 51 F (11 C) and the low was 35 F (2 C). I had actually planed an overnight hike the previous weekend when it was much warmer but working on a ladder 2 days in a row helping my dad put a tin roof on his shed left me very sore and unable to get around very well. Anyways, since my knees were still hurting the following weekend I decided not to hike down to the creek but instead stayed on the trail that goes around the top of the bluff. It has lots of ups and downs but nothing near as steep as the trail leading down to the creek. I hiked 2 miles (3.2 km) to an overlook, then a mile (1.6 km) back to a good campsite and then a mile (1.6 km) home the next morning. The one major difference from my previous hikes was that I did not pack a magazine this time. I had picked up my first smart phone for my birthday in February. This meant I used the Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light even less this trip. I probably used it for about 30 minutes total during the night.
My last use was on March 18, 2013. I was not sure I would make the trip but the severe thunderstorms cleared out a couple of hours before sundown. The Temperature was 55 F (13 C) at the start of this trip and dropped to 37 F (3 C) overnight. The hike followed the same route as the March 12 overnighter, but to help my knees which were still tender, I did some major load (weight) cutting. I got my total pack weight down to 17 lb. (8 kg). I did use the Energizer Carabiner Area Light several times to get up during the night. It was cloudy the first several hours after dark but by 2 AM the skies were clear. I tried to determine if the light output had diminished any from the first nights use to now, but to be honest, I could not tell. It was still plenty bright for what I was using it for, mainly fiddling around in my hammock or getting up for short bathroom breaks. I have probably used the light for around 6 hours total so far, about 2/3rds of the time divided evenly in either the high or low area light setting and the other 1/3rd in the directional light setting. In other words, around 2 hours in each of the three light settings. I'm not sure how much less energy the light uses in the area low or directional modes, but I was surprise to get 6 hours (and still going strong) considering the advertized run time is 5 hours in the area high setting. Here is the brightness as it appears on the area high setting from this most recent trip.
The Energizer Carabiner Area Light is a very useful light. Its weight is reasonably low so that even an ultralight hike should not be too put off by the weight aspect. I like that it uses LEDs which translates in longer battery life compared to other types of light bulbs of the same general light output. I also like that I can hang the light over a limb when I arrive at my campsite and leave it there while I go about setting up camp. I did not actually have to set up in the dark but I did hang it on a limb while breaking camp once. If I planned to do much night hiking with hiking poles I would recommend using a headlamp instead of this light but would actually consider bring both since I think this light is better for using as an overhead light in my hammock. Assuming no campfire, I would definitely prefer it for a camping trip with friends because it could be hung overhead and not have everyone shining a headlamp in each others eyes while sitting around chatting before truing in for the night.
This concludes my reporting for the Energizer Carabiner LED Area Light. I would like to thank Energizer and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this light.
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