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Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > LRI Photon Freedom Micro Flashlight > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

LRI Photon Freedom Micro LED Light
By Raymond Estrella

August 30, 2012


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 51
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 225 lb (102.00 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly ultralight, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.

The Product

Manufacturer: Laughing Rabbit Inc. (LRI) Photon Freedom Micro
Web site:
Product: Photon Freedom Micro
Year manufactured: 2009-11
MSRP: US $15.95
Listed weight: 7 g (0.25 oz)
Actual weight: 6.8 g (0.24 oz)
Dimensions listed: 0.94 x 1.97 in
(24 mm x 40 mm)
Dimensions verified accurate
Battery type: CR2016 coin battery
Color reviewed: Black
LED color reviewed: White
Picture at right courtesy LRI

Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

The LRI Photon Freedom Micro is the best mini-LED light I have ever found. It is tough enough to withstand being beat up in my pack or pocket, and the included clip lets it replace all of my 3-season headlamps. It is one of the rare pieces of gear I have that I can find nothing to complain about. Please read on for the details.

Product Description

The LRI Photon Freedom Micro LED Light (hereafter referred to as the Freedom or light) is a very advanced small LED light recommended by the manufacturer as "a must have personal safety tool". I use it as a 3-season backpacking light.

The minuscule Freedom is housed in a black (in my case, others are offered) glass-filled polyurethane body that is said by LRI to be ultra tough. They say the white 4.5 lumen LED bulb is unbreakable too. LRI has a video on their web site that is pretty amazing, backing up the claim. The lifetime warranty proves that they mean what they say.

A single flush-mounted button turns on the light. It goes to Full Power at the first push. If the button is pushed again rapidly it will cycle through other options. The other four are: Slow, Medium and Fast Strobe, and SOS/Morse Code modes. If the button is not pushed rapidly again after the first push, the next time it is pushed will turn the Freedom off.

A really neat feature is the brightness control. If the button is held down after turning on it will cut power to the LED bulb dimming the light gradually until the desired level is hit. There is no high, medium, low, just an infinitely variable adjustment.

The case is sealed and is water resistant. When opened the batteries may be replaced easily. It comes with Energizer Lithium CR2016 coin batteries which are said to last for 12+ hours with my bulb. At the rear of the case is a built-in lanyard ring.

Anybody seen my soup?

The Freedom comes with a 2.5 g (0.09 oz) quick release ring that is like a mini-carabiner, but I have removed all of them from my lights.
Watch out, it's gonna bite
What I did not get rid of is the nylon hands-free Photon Clip that came with the Freedom. This 5 g (0.18 oz) accessory has a carrier body (carriage) that the Freedom snaps into. The Freedom's bulb slides into the curved arms at the top right of the picture here. The two locking posts at the top left plug into the Freedom's lanyard ring.

The carriage has a round swivel cup that snaps onto a raised post and ball that comes off an alligator clip. The clip has a stainless steel spring that is very strong for its size. Some pretty aggressive teeth grab and hold well on everything I have tried it on.

The clip also has three small but strong magnets mounted into the surface of the outer part. These allow the clip to adhere to ferromagnetic materials, like the soup can in the picture above.

The thing I like best about the clip is that I can flip the Freedom over and insert it into the carriage with the power button down. This keeps it from being turned on in my pack or pocket.

The Freedom also comes with a necklace attachment that can be threaded through the lanyard ring, but I immediately threw them away.

Field Data

Over the past four years I have used the Freedom lights on at least 1200 mi (1932 km) of backpacking. It would be crazy to try to list all the places I have used them but they have been on every 3-season hike I've taken in that time. They have been as far north as Lake Bronson and Judge C R Magney State Parks, both near the border of Canada on either side of Minnesota. They have been as far south as the California/Mexican border at the start of the Pacific Crest Trail. They have been in my pack in California, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Elevations have been from below sea-level to 14,500 ft (4420 m) above. Temps from below freezing to 118 F (48 C), in all kinds of weather conditions from rain, snow and hail, to beautiful warm sunny days and mild nights.


I used to carry a headlamp on every trip I took no matter what. They are the best way to use a light in my opinion. I have also always carried a small "thumb light", usually attached to my safety whistle which resides in my pants or hip-belt pocket. Sometimes I threw an extra miniature light in my top pack pocket for just-in-case. One problem I had with all of them was that they would turn themselves on, wasting the battery, or they would get broken from all the jostling around while hiking.

I heard about the Freedom from a gear forum I frequent and bought one to give it a try. Immediately I liked it resulting in me buying two more. I soon bought another two Freedoms to keep in Minnesota, where I spent 9 days each month. (Now I am there full-time, hence the five pictured at the top of the review.)

The thing that sold me on them was the hands-free Photon Clip. When I go out at night I always wear my permethrin treated hat to keep mosquitoes away from my neck and head. The hat always interfered with my traditional headlamps. The Freedom, in its sweet little clip let me just use the hat itself as the way to carry my lighting.

Plus I loved the way that the clip would protect the power switch when the Freedom is inserted upside-down. I have no idea why LRI does not mention this hidden feature. I can't be the first to have thought of it I am sure. But since using the Freedoms I have never had a light accidentally turn on in the pack or pocket.

They are tough too. I usually have one in my hip-belt pocket and another in the top lid pocket of my pack. Maybe the best example of their toughness was a time that I inadvertently set off a rockslide while bushwhacking in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. I rode the rocks (it was a scree-field) for quite a way, tearing up my clothes and beating myself up pretty good before I could arrest myself. The Freedom had popped off of the ball-swivel but otherwise was fine. The LED bulb still worked! I wish my leg had been that tough.

On short trips I carry the two Freedoms, but on trips of four days or longer I also throw a couple spare batteries in my pack. I have never had to replace them in the field but have put fresh batteries in two of my Freedoms at home after hikes that I noticed them getting dim. I have used both Energizer and Maxell lithiums in them with no discernible difference.

I have never had any reason to use the flashing or SOS modes, but do use the variable brightness feature to cut the Lumens when in my tent.

The Freedoms are not bright enough to hike at night with for my taste, so when I plan pre-dawn starts I bring a regular headlamp. But otherwise the Freedom is my main lighting for all my 3-season hiking. I do carry one in winter, but just as a back-up for my winter headlamp. Trying to use the Freedom in the extreme temps I see will kill the batteries pretty fast being attached to a hat. But it will do OK in a pinch if I keep it warmed by holding it in my hand.

Seeing as these sweet little lights are so tough and reliable I expect to be using these for a long time. If I were to ever lose them I would replace them with new Freedoms right away. They are great lights.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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