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Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > Gerber Bear Grylls Intense Torch > Test Report by Richard Lyon
GERBER BEAR GRYLLS INTENSE TORCHInitial Report June 19, 2013
Test Series by Richard Lyon
Long Term Report November 5, 2013
PERSONAL DETAILS AND BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 66 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA
I'm in my fifth decade of backpacking, most of it now in the Northern Rockies. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500-4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced marches too. Recently I've actively sought ways to reduce my pack load, but often still choose a bit more weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect. Summer trips often focus on fly-fishing, winter trips on skiing opportunities.
INITIAL REPORT - June 19, 2013
The Gerber Bear Grylls Intense Torch is a high intensity (maximum 140 lumens) LED pocket flashlight. Gerber lists it as a survival tool and includes it with other survival gear designed in collaboration with the British explorer-survivalist Bear Grylls. Listed features include bright orange metal at each end of the Torch for visibility, three brightness settings (140 lumen high, 35 lumen medium and 17 lumen low) plus momentary on and an emergency SOS flashing mode, and a three-sided rather than round body to prevent the Torch from rolling away.
Accompanying the Torch is a pocket guide by Mr. Grylls. It's entitled Priorities of Survival, with sections addressing Protection, Rescue, Food, and Water, the author's highest priorities after "RELAX. Take a deep breath and keep a clear head." This guide includes some useful tips and diagrams for basic survival.
Manufacturer: Gerber Legendary Blades, Portland, Oregon USA
Length, listed: 5.98 in, 22.8cm
Length, measured: 6.5 in, 16.5 cm
Diameter, measured: 1.0 in, 2.5 cm
Weight, listed: 3.89 oz, 110.3 g
Weight, measured: 3.75 oz/106 g without batteries; 5.1 oz/145 g with batteries
MSRP: $63 US
Requires two AA batteries; Gerber supplies these with the Torch
CREE XPG-R5 LED bulb, also supplied
TRYING IT OUT
After removing the packaging I unscrewed the front end of the Torch, added the batteries, and turned on the Torch by pressing firmly on a rubber button on the back end until it clicked into place. Quite naturally, next I intended to check out each brightness setting and the two flashing modes. But I was stumped on how to proceed beyond the obvious on and off by clicking in the button - which yields a very bright light that I assume to be High - and the "momentary on" by pressing the button slightly but not enough to click it in. I tried rotating the head section, pressing the button from different angles, multiple pushes, and searching for a hidden knob or switch. No luck. Then I turned to something I should have done first. I scrutinized the packaging that accompanied the Torch, Gerber's website, and the Priorities brochure. None furnished any help.
Next step was telephoning Gerber at the number listed under "Warranty and Consumer Assistance" on its website. It took two voicemails, but I did get a call back. A service representative first reviewed Gerber's website, then the Torch's packaging and allowed that the answer didn't lie there. After a short pause on hold, the rep informed me that pressing the button once yielded High, twice Medium, thrice Low, and four times the SOS signal. After informing her that I had tried that without success, she put me back on hold to try it herself. While on hold I played with my Torch and learned that it can be done. Press once for High, wait about one second and press again for Medium, and so on for Low and the SOS. When the rep returned to the line I told her that I'd figured it out. She asked, "How?" and I explained. She thanked me, saying she's been unable to get beyond High. I politely suggested that Gerber explain this procedure on its packaging and website to aid the dull and ignorant such as she and I. She thought that this would be a good idea. (Side note: If I waited too long to make the subsequent button presses, back to High I went. This wasn't rocket science but it wasn't more than a second or two either. Perhaps practice will inculcate the proper timing.)
This flashlight earns the "Intense" part of its name. The High setting is very bright, much brighter and more concentrated than I get from similarly sized pocket flashlights. I paced off one hundred yards (85 m) on an overcast midnight and pointed the Torch at my deck, which became faintly illumined. The light was clearly visible to a friend on the deck, thus verifying another of the manufacturer's claims.
The orange ends and triangular silhouette are simple but terrific design features. While I cannot recall ever blaming a missing flashlight on its rolling away, that simply can't happen with the Torch thanks to its three-sided design. On the other hand I have more than once been unable to find an all-black flashlight when searching in a dark tent even when I was using a headlamp. The orange ends are bright and reflect light.
The grey grip between the metal sections is hard rubber and has small indentations on each face, two things that aid gripping the Torch.
Gerber supplies a mesh lanyard that is attached by threading a thin loop through a small hole on the rear end of the Torch, then pulling the lanyard through the loop. This tester's carelessness made this a more difficult job than it needed to be. I accidentally cut the threading loop when separating the Torch from its packaging and so underwent the painstaking process of threading the two frayed ends of the loop through the tiny hole, then cinching them with a square knot. Once in place the lanyard attached easily.
I like packing both a flashlight and a headlamp on camping trips, and I look forward to including the Torch on my summer adventures. Hopefully not, however, for survival purposes.
WHAT I LIKE
Very bright high beam
Easy to grip
WHAT I DON'T
The mystery of how to adjust the flashlight beam. Two issues really. Besides the obvious and inexcusable one of lack of instructions, I'm concerned about whether a feathery touch or good luck is needed for adjustment.
LONG TERM REPORT - November 5, 2013
The Torch's first trip into the backcountry was a one-week service trip in the Scapegoat Wilderness, Montana, in early July. As is customary on these trips, the United States Forest Service (USFS) packed in our group's food and community gear, but I and each of the other seven volunteers hiked in to our base camp with personal equipment and clothing. I packed the Torch in a hipbelt pocket on my pack; after arriving in camp I moved it to a mesh pocket in my tent during the day and after retiring to the tent for the night. Our hike to camp was about 13 miles (20 km) along the Smith Creek and Telephone Creek trails, through Welcome Pass, with about 1000 feet (300 m) of net elevation gain, to our campsite at the junction of Telephone and Cave Creeks, elevation roughly 6000 feet (1800 m). We had clear weather the entire week, with temperatures reaching 85 F (30 C) on a few afternoons and dropping down to 40-45 F (4-7 C) at night. Despite the lack of precipitation there was ample damp - heavy dew very early in the morning.
Additional backpacking uses occurred on overnight trips in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, in early August and mid-September and in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Montana, in late August. No precipitation on any trip, with temperatures from 40-80 F (4-25 C) in the Park and slightly cooler in the Absarokas. I used the same packing arrangements on the trail and in camp as in the Scapegoat.
Since the days have shortened, certainly since mid-September, thanks to a broken headlamp I've pressed the Torch into service whenever I walk my dog in the dark. That's at least once daily, for a brief stroll just before bedtime, and on recent late Daylight Savings Time days usually also on a 30-45 minute walk first thing in the morning. (Now that the U S is back on standard time, until spring these walks in the dark will now take place in early evening.) We take these walks on my driveway (gravel), my street (gravel), in the woods behind my house (mostly forest duff or dirt game trails), and grassy slopes. Temperatures have varied from 18-70 F (-8 to 21 C), in dry conditions, light rain, snow, and sleet. On these jaunts I start out with the Torch in my trouser pocket, as I have the porch light for illumination and my hands full with a large canine who's anxious to get going. After a few minutes I'll take out the Torch and carry it in my hand, holding the body or the lanyard in my palm. I turn it on when needed, usually most of the walk unless the moon is bright enough to make that unnecessary. (There is very little electric illumination in my neighborhood at 6 am.)
Over the summer I've also carried the Torch in my pack (hipbelt pocket) on a few day hikes that might end in dusk or darkness, just in case, but I've not had to use it.
The obvious performance plus of this flashlight hasn't changed since I first tried it out - this is a very bright flashlight on the High setting, much brighter than given by any other pocket flashlight I've ever used, or headlamp either for that matter. It's bright enough so that when it's snowing I have something of a "high beam" effect, with the stream of light so bright that I have to point it toward the ground to be able to see where I'm going. As with high beams on an automobile, pointing it directly ahead in the snow blocks rather than aids vision - all I can see are falling snowflakes.
This "intense" feature of the Torch is in my opinion no bad thing. When I am hiking or in camp too much light is nearly always preferable to too little. On the Scapegoat backpack it was particularly useful as our campsite lay in a very large meadow. The brighter the flashlight beam the easier it was to see trees, the creek bank, or the latrine at night. Perhaps because I like the High setting I haven't fiddled much with the other two, so I really haven't practiced the finicky adjustment mechanism sufficiently to report with any confidence that practice makes perfect. I can say that in a bit of home experimentation things have gone more smoothly.
One evening when walking the dog the blincking light came on without any action from me, followed about fifteen seconds later by the beam's going off entirely. I tried to re-light it and got the blinker followed in short order by another extinguishing. Apparently the blinking is a warning to the owner that the batteries are dying (or almost dead), as a fresh pair fixed things forthwith. This occurred after an estimated ten hours of use, as noted almost always on High. Ten hours is almost seven times the ninety minutes' stated capacity in Gerber's product material. I re-checked the data that came with the Torch after I got back home that night and found nothing about this warning feature.
The only operational glitch happened a couple of nights after replacing the batteries. Suddenly the Torch turned off without my hitting the switch. I quickly restored light by turning the handle about a millimeter in a counterclockwise direction (the direction I'd use to unscrew the body). Apparently I had over-tightened the connection after adding the new batteries. This issue hasn't recurred, though I'm certain I haven't been perfect in keeping the two pieces in one place, as they don't lock together. I therefore place full blame upon operator error.
Lack of user instructions, about the burn-out warning and the means of beam adjustment, is my only complaint about the Torch. Performance has been great, and the design features I praised in my Initial Report have proven useful in the field and at home. The orange color really helps in locating the Torch, particularly in a tent at early dawn, and the triangular shape does indeed keep the Torch where I placed it without rolling away. Maybe the flashlight body has collected a nick or two but in general it looks as good as new. While I continue to hope never to have to rely on it for survival (especially mine), I plan to use the Bear Grylls Intense Torch regularly for years to come. I like it enough to be considering its companion product, the Bear Grylls Hands-Free Torch, to replace the broken headlamp.
My Test Report ends here, with thanks to Gerber Gear and BackpackGearTest.org for the testing opportunity.
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