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Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > Gerber Bear Grylls Intense Torch > Test Report by Edwin Morse

GERBER INTENSE TORCH
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 02, 2013

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 75
LOCATION: Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lb (32 kg) with food but no water. Since then I have made one-to-two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida. Now my pack weighs between 22 and 32 lb (10 and 15 kg). I'm slowly learning what lighter gear works.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Gerber Legendary Blades (Designed and engineered in Oregon. Made in China)
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.gerbergear.com
MSRP: US$ 63
Listed Weight: 5.0 oz (142 g) (with batteries)
Measured Weight: 4.9 oz (139 g) (with batteries)
Measured Weight: 3.3 oz (94 g) (without batteries)
Orange aluminum housing, with the center 3 in (7.62 cm) covered with black rubber grip area
Other details: Requires two AA batteries, included.
Measured Length: 6 3/16 in = 6.1875 in (15.72 cm)
Measured Lanyard Length: 7 in (17.8 cm)
Waterproof design good for 30 minutes at one meter
Tri-sided design won't roll on flat surfaces
Output and run time
High: 140 lumens for 1 hr 30 min
Medium: 35 lumens for 8 hr 30 min
Low: 15 lumens for 17 hrs
S.O.S. 140 lumens
Momentary on push button for signaling
Priorities of Survival - Pocket guide contains Bear's survival essentials

Above information is from the blister pack the torch arrived in, except for the measured weights and length. Here is a picture of the Torch lying on the blister pack.
Torch on blister pack
I did cut away the plastic blister since it would reflect light in the picture. Below is a picture showing the power button on the back of the Torch.
showing power button

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Gerber Bear Grylls Intense Torch, hereinafter called Torch or light, came in a blister pack as do many small objects. The Torch and pocket survival guide were on the front and the included AA batteries on the back.

The Torch is both heavier and much brighter than the small coin light I carry to back up my headlamp. At first glance, it seems to me the 7 in (17.8 cm) lanyard is either just a little short or a lot short. If it was an inch (2.5 cm) longer it would be much easier to loop around a small branch or tent pole. If the lanyard was six inches (15 cm) longer I could hang the Torch around my neck. On the other hand, if the lanyard were much longer than it is it would often be in the way.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

I have found no instructions for using the Torch. Both on the blister pack and on the website it states that there are three settings for brightness and an automatic SOS feature. Nowhere have I found instructions on how to change the brightness settings.

Mostly I ignore instructions until I have a problem. Instructions can speed the learning process.

TRYING IT OUT

I think the tri-sided shape is interesting and very practical. I unscrewed the Torch to put in the batteries. Without thinking, since I had put batteries in many other flashlights, I put the positive ends in first. After I tried twice to turn the light on I realized I had unscrewed the front of the light. I then removed the batteries and slid them in the tube with the negative ends first. Then the light turned on with a push of the power button on the back end.

Like most little kids, when I get a new toy I have to play with it. I went to the backyard after dark to walk around with the Torch. We don't have street lights so our backyard is really dark. I did find that when I hold the Torch as shown on many TV shows it is easy to push the button to turn it on with my thumb. Here is a picture with the Torch held in the high position. My thumb just naturally falls on the power button.
held high
Perhaps there really is a reason people on TV hold their lights high.

Walking miles through dark woods in my younger years I found it easier to carry a flashlight down low with my thumb forward. Thinking about that I realized that the on/off switch was right under my thumb. I got out an old two cell flashlight to be sure my memory was good. Here is a picture with the Torch held in the low position, with my thumb forward.
held low
When holding the Torch this way I have to use my other hand to turn the power on.

It still seems to me that either light held low gives a better view of the path at night. Held low any object in the path throws a bigger shadow, making rocks and exposed roots easier to see. Headlamps are great for doing camp chores. When I walk down a trail in the dark I sometimes hold the headlamp in my hand down low for a better view of obstructions. The next time out I will use the Torch when leaving the tent at night.

SUMMARY

The torch appears to be an improvement over similar lights I've used in past years. While it is heavier than either my headlamp or the small coin light I carry for backup, it is a much brighter light.

It seems to me that the Torch will be much easier to put my hand on in a dark tent than the small coin light. I used a small carabiner to hang the Torch on a closet rod so it will work just as well to hang it in the top of my tent. I will be using the Torch to replace the coin light while I experiment with different uses.



FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

This is a two part review. There is no Field Report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've been backpacking five times during which I carried and used the Gerber Bear Grylls Intense Torch. All five hikes were in northwestern Lower Michigan.
First I did an overnight hike in the Pere Marquette State Forest, July 20 & 21, 2013, south and east of Traverse City, Michigan. The first day was nearly all bushwhacking crossing (wading) three creeks and several gullies with steep high banks, over 11 miles (18 km) of hiking. The weather was bright and clear with a low of 60 F (16 C) and a high of 82 F (28 C). The second day was an easier 10 miles (16 km) on the North Country Trail.

I did an overnight hike with my son July 27 & 28, 2013, from Baxter Bridge to Harvey Bridge on the North Country Trail, in the Pere Marquette State Forest. The weather was cloudy with occasional light rain, the low was 50 F (10 C) with a high of 60 F (16 C). The terrain was slightly rolling with occasional gullies and a total distance of about 23 miles (37 km).

August 28, 29 & 30, 2013 I hiked the popular Manistee River Trail/North Country Trail loop in the Manistee National Forest, south of the village of Mesick, Michigan. The Terrain is rolling to hilly. The weather was mostly sunny with a low of 65 F (18 C) and a high of 88 F (31 C). The loop is 22 miles (35 km) but I added five miles (8 km) south and back for a total of 32 miles (52 km) and two nights out.

I did a three-night hike September 10 through 13, 2013, in the Pere Marquette State Forest, from south of Fife Lake, Michigan to the village of Kalkaska. The terrain was rolling with a few hills. The weather was partly cloudy during the days with wind and rain each night. The low was 55 F (13 C) and the high was 89 F (32 C). Total distance on this hike was about 34 miles (55 km).

Finally I did another overnight hike October 25 & 26, 2013 in the Pere Marquette State Forest. The weather started cool and cloudy with rain and wind most of the night. The second day was cold rain and frequent hail. I had planned on three or four nights out but changed my plans because of the cold rain. I've started checking the weather on my cell phone each night and morning. This time it showed all day rain with a high of 45 F (7 C). The thermometer I carried showed a low of 35 F (2 C) and a high of 44 F (7 C) while I was out.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I try all new backpacking equipment in my backyard before any actual backpacking. I tried putting the Torch beside my air mattress on the floor of the tent as I had small coin lights. This worked OK as the Torch was much easier to put my hand on in the dark. The Torch did not roll or slide on the tent floor even though the tent was pitched on a slight incline. I tend to think the triangular shape kept it from rolling and the rubber around the center kept it from sliding. The problem with this was that nearly anything I wanted to do required two hands and I don't have a third hand to hold the Torch. My solution was to hang the Torch in the top center of the tent. This works very well for me since I can always find the Torch and I can turn it on to medium or low level for most things I want to do inside the tent.

When backpacking I use a small carabineer to hang the torch in the hydration pocket of my pack. This way I can always easily find the Torch. When I set up the tent at camp I hang the Torch from the top of my tent.
Gerber Torch hung in tent
Torch not turned on

I now leave the Torch hanging and turned on the high setting when I leave the tent at night. There have been times in the past when I walked away from the tent at night and then had a hard time finding my tent even using a headlamp. Generally, the only reason I leave the tent during the night is to answer the call of nature.
Torch lit in tent
Gerber Torch turned on

When I'm inside the tent I seldom have the Torch turned on. When I do turn it on I turn it down to the second or medium setting, since at such a short distance the high setting is just too bright. The only place I can hang the torch in my tent is right in the center. I can sit up to read and write notes. If I want to lie down to read a book or my old Kindle I have to use the headlamp since the Torch would shine in my eyes.

When I go to get my food sack down while it is still dark in the morning I use the high setting to locate the food bag then switch to my headlamp to get the knot untied and put the cord away. The last two hikes I did it was raining and rather cold when I went to get the food sack down. The metal part of the Torch feels cold to the touch at 60 F (16 C) and when the temperature is below 40 F (4 C) the metal is so cold I try to hold it by just the rubber center part. The last time out I used the Torch to see to hang the food sack. I hope I don't do that again, it is many times easier when I don't have to first find a branch that will work, then to hold the Torch with one hand and throw the rope with the other hand.

Where I live it is just as dark outside at night as any place I might camp. I use the Torch on the high setting to walk out to the mailbox for the paper each morning. I really want to keep my distance from skunks or porcupines that are frequent visitors in our yard.

I was still finding it difficult to switch between the different power levels until very recently. There must be an easier way to change settings. The best way I've found is to grip the Torch firmly with my left hand and quickly push the switch button twice with my right thumb to change settings. With the Torch hanging at the top of the tent I can now reach up, turn it on and quickly switch levels.

I've been using Lithium batteries since this is what I carry for my GPS. If I watch carefully I get some warning when the batteries are about to die. There is a slight dimming for a relatively short period, then suddenly no light when I try to turn it on. Three times I've used a headlamp to see to put new batteries in the Torch. Twice I've used the Torch for light to put new batteries in the headlamp. The difference is that I seldom use a headlamp between backpacking trips while I use the Torch every morning at home. I have not yet had both the headlamp and the Torch go dead at the same time. There was one night in September I replaced the batteries in the Torch about 10 PM and about 2 AM I tried to turn on the headlamp for a trip outside and those batteries were dead and had to be replaced when I got back inside the tent.

After I started writing this report I did two experiments. First I put in a set of new Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries and turned the Torch on. I timed it on full power. After three hours and twenty minutes the light dimmed and started to flicker. I turned it off at three hours and twenty-five minutes. The light was then so dim I would not walk outside with it in the dark. I turned the Torch off and it would not turn back on. Based on this I consider the useful battery life to be a little over three hours with Lithium batteries.

Then I put in new batteries again, turned the Torch on and put it in the bathroom sink and filled the sink with water. I left it submerged for ten minutes and drained the water and dried the Torch. I turned it off, then back on. It still worked just fine. My conclusion is that the Torch is water resistant enough for anything I will do while backpacking.

I still find the location of the power switch somewhat inconvenient at best. The only time the switch location seems natural for me is when the Torch is hanging up in the tent.

SUMMARY

There are situations where a headlamp is the best tool to provide the light I need. There are also situations in which the hand held Torch is the better answer for my needs. When I need to use both hands for a task the headlamp is the best source of light. Otherwise I prefer to use the hand-held Torch. I do have a few likes and dislikes in particular for the Gerber Bear Grylls Intense Torch.

Likes:
The Torch really is intense in the high setting.
The recessed push button makes it nearly impossible to turn it on by accident.
The triangular cross section shape prevents the Torch from rolling.

Dislikes:
I still have a hard time consistently switching to different power levels.
I find the location of the power switch inconvenient at best.
The Torch is cold on bare hands when the temperature drops especially in a cold rain.

This concludes my Long Term Report.
I would like to thank Gerber Legendary Blades and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to use and test this interesting light.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

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