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Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > Gerber Omnivore Multi-Battery > Test Report by Rick Allnutt

 Gerber Omnivore Flashlight
Test Series by Rick Allnutt

Gerber Omnivore with battery choices

Initial Report - 1 October 2008

Field Report - 6 January 2009

Long Term Report - 15 February 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Rick Allnutt
EMAIL: rick@backpackgeartest.org
AGE: 55
LOCATION: Helotes, Texas
GENDER: male
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.8 m)
WEIGHT: 190 lb (86 kg)

Over the last several years, I have become an ultralight camper with a three-season base pack weight of about 8 lb (3.5 kg) and skin out weight of 17 lb (8 kg). I have completed many section hikes on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in all four seasons, and many trips to state parks, with a total mileage of about 1650 miles (2500 km). I am a gearhead, a hammock or tarp camper, and I make much of my own equipment. 

Trail Name: Risk

Risk's Ultralite Hiking Page: www.imrisk.com


INITIAL REPORT
1 October 2008

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: GerberGear
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website:  http://www.gerbergear.com
MSRP: Not Available
Listed Weight: Not Available
Measured Weight: 3.1 oz (88 g) 
                            3.9 oz (111 g) with AA battery
                            3.5 oz (99 g) with AAA battery
                            3.7 oz (105 g) with CR123 battery 

The Omnivore flashlight is a bright LED light designed to work with several battery types. When I opened the package, the light felt and worked just like I thought a flashlight should. But when I opened the light to put a battery in, I was in for a surprise. Read on to find out what that surprise was.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Omnivore has a cute and meaningful name. One definition I found of omnivore was "one that takes in anything available". And that is just about what this flashlight does. I have a tendency to collect batteries in my kitchen closet. My headlamp uses three AAA batteries, but they only come sold as pairs. AA batteries show up in my closet the same way.  Some battery driven device needs one battery and its package mate goes in the closet. Recently, I have bought or acquired two devices that use CR123 batteries. The promise that this flashlight would use any of these cells was intriguing.
 
For one thing, the CR123 battery is a 3 volt cell, while the AA and AAA batteries are 1.5 volt cells. It was interesting to see how the light can deal with different voltages. For another thing, all these batteries are different sizes.

The flashlight has a single 0.7 watt LED which is focused into a beam by a non-adjustable lens. The body of the flashlight is aluminum and has an anodized black matte finish. The back end of the flashlight has a hole to tie a lanyard (no lanyard was provided) and a pushbutton switch.  The button can be pushed in halfway to give an intermittent beam of light (push and I get light, release and light goes out). When the button is pushed in all the way, there is a very quiet click and the light stays on until the button is pushed again. There is a considerable difference between the distance needed to get intermittent and continuous light.

To open the battery compartment, I unscrewed the front of the light which comes off like many other aluminum flashlights. There is an O-ring near the threads that is apparently designed to make the light water resistant. Here was the surprise I talked about above: Looking down into the body of the light, there is a unique stair step design of the battery compartment. Without any inserts or devices, I found that I could drop any of the three battery types into the compartment. There is a place for any one of them.  Only the AAA battery needs to be put in visually, to make sure that it is on the right step.  The other two battery types can go no where except to their assigned stations.

The battery life listed on the package materials varies by battery type. It is 4 hours for a AAA, 5.5 hours for a AA, and 5 hours for a CR123. This is not the hundreds of hours that a head lamp provides, but the Omnivore is a much brighter light that projects a beam much further than a head lamp does. The brightness of the light also differs depending on the battery.  With a AAA battery it gives 10 lumens and 140 LUX. The AA gives 12 lumens and 140 LUX. With 3 volts available, the CR123 puts out 18 lumens and 210 LUX.  Gerber rates the flashlight for a beam of 150 ft (46 m) with the AAA or AA batteries and 190 ft (60 m) with the CR123 battery.

SUMMARY

The Gerber Omnivore flashlight is a bright light in a tough case. It has a unique battery compartment that allows the use of three different battery types. It uses batteries much more quickly than some LED lights, but it is handy for a bright white light to see into the far distance. 

The things I really like about this light are:
- Uses several battery types that collect in my junk drawer
- Appears to be built very strongly

I thank GerberGear and BackpackGearTest.org for selecting me for this test.  

FIELD REPORT
6 January 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

25 October 2008 – Overnight at Government Canyon State Natural Area, Helotes Texas. Hammock camping. Temperature 50 to 80 F (10 to 27 C) Clear night with many stars visible. Testing sack, pack, and light. 

21 November 2008 – Overnight at Government Canyon. Cloudy night expected to be cold. I slept in a tarp tent, and the temperature only dropped to 50 F (10 C).  I arrived well after dark and needed light to set up camp. 

20 December 2008 – Night at South Llano River State Park, Junction Texas. Hammock camping. A beautiful clear night with lots of astronomy accomplished.

In addition to the 3 nights above, I also used the flashlight during backyard camping for an additional two nights and during 3 additional non-camping nights of astronomy sessions. 

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Winter camping means long nights. A flashlight is therefore useful for a lot of tasks. Trying to find that tent stake that just fell or seeing whether that bite I just felt on my foot was the first of several hundred fire ants that have crawled up my leg are two examples of the sorts of things that I sometimes think about on winter nights. (I found the stake, and it was not fire ants.)

The Gerber Omnivore has worked great for these and other purposes.  It is bright enough that I can set it on a rock and proceed to set up a tent without holding the light in my hands. Its central beam is bright enough that I can shine it around the campsite to look for the red reflection of eyes to let me know how many animals are presently watching me. (Everything from deer to raccoons to spiders have reflections from their eyes to let me know they are there.) The light also gives me vision to start a fire, or a candle, or to read a book.  

One of the purposes I have put the light to is in helping me to examine star charts for astronomy.  I have been using binoculars for hiking trips and a larger telescope for car camping. Regardless of what optical aid I use, I need a good light to see the details of the star chart. However, to not spoil my night vision it is necessary to put a red filter over the white light. I found that it is easy to do this with the Omnivore.  I cut a small disk of clear packing tape and stuck that over the business end of the flashlight. Then I colored that with a red permanent marker. I then stuck a fresh piece of tape over the first one and colored that red again. This is enough red filtering to keep my night vision intact and it does not spoil the optical characteristics of the light.  It is also easy to remove the filter and go back to white light. I have used the Omnivore for a number of additional hours of astronomy using this home-made red filter and could not be more pleased with the light in this configuration.  

SUMMARY

Things I like thus far:

- The package of the light is small, light, and accepts three different battery sizes.  All my testing so far, with the exception of trying out the three batteries shown in the first photograph, has been with a double A battery.  The flashlight has not begun to dim in an estimated 15 hours of use. 

- The light has been dependable (the switch always works) and as mentioned above, its battery life has exceeded my expectations.

- I was able to find an easy and inexpensive way to add a red filter to the light for astronomy use.


Things I don't like:

Nothing at all. Really.
 

LONG TERM REPORT
15 February 2009

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

11 January 2009 – A night of hammock and equipment testing with clear skies and low temperature of 31 F (0 C). 

13 January 2009 – Gear testing with lower temperature. Clear skies and low temperature of 29 degrees. 

23 January 2009 – Garner State Park Texas. Testing gear and doing astronomy at this dark sky site. Tested BGT gear in cold windy conditions. Low of 30 F (-1 C). 

In total during the testing season, I used the flashlight for a total of six overnights and during three additional non-camping nights of astronomy sessions. 

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This flashlight continued to work without a problem. I never ran out of energy in any battery that I started out in the flashlight. This is partly because I mainly use the flashlight for additional light when close vision is needed to read very fine print. Because the Omnivoree is not a hands free light, it is not my favorite light for reading. However, when I need to look very closely at a small object on an astronomy chart, or to look for a small cactus thorn in my hand, having a lot of light and being able to focus it right at the item of interest is helpful.

I found that I could use batteries when they began to get questionable in other devices - especially since I could use them one battery at a time. This makes the Omnivore a light that is useful in scavenging the last little bit of "juice" in a battery. As the battery came to the end of its life, the light gradually dimmed.

The one thing I would not do again is to have a black flashlight. Exactly why would I want to try to find a black flashlight in the dark? Almost any other color would be easier to find. Unfortunately, it appears that the Omnivore is only available in black at the present time.

SUMMARY

Things I like thus far:

- The package of the light is small, light, and accepts three different battery sizes.  

- The light has been dependable (the switch always works) and as mentioned above, its battery life has exceeded my expectations.

Things I don't like:

Black case color makes the light hard to find at night without a flashlight :-p

My thanks to Gerber and BackpackGearTest for allowing me to participate in this test.


Read more reviews of Gerber gear
Read more gear reviews by Rick Allnutt

Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > Gerber Omnivore Multi-Battery > Test Report by Rick Allnutt



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