I use a head torch as it is very handy when gralloching and so on but was looking for something a bit more powerful in a hand torch both as a reserve and for while walking out after an evening of lurking and also exploring in the dark when i spot something that I should really ignore until daylight.
Anyhow, I wanted a decent LED with reasonable run time and that would be powerful enough to fulfil my requirements. I'd been watching the Fenix range for about a year as they get a good name while not being off the scale in terms of price (I believe you can pay £600 for some torches) but I was always a bit wary of spending more than a few quid on a torch.
Yesterday I took delivery of a Fenix TK15. This is a new model and as the development of LED torches is moving so fast I thought it best to go for the latest model to get maximum bang for my buck. It is the first time I've spent more than a few quid on a torch with the TK15 coming in about £68. It did cross my mind that I might be mad but I do an awful lot of sneaking about in forests in the dark so that either proves that I'm mad or demonstrates a need for a good torch.
First impressions are pretty good - the torch seems well constructed and robust and the levels of light output are useful and well thought out. It has a very low output mode that would be enough to allow you to follow a track or to walk in relative safety and in this mode there is enough light to light up a small room. At maximum the output is very impressive for such a small torch and as well as a good throw there is lots of "spill" so you can both see an object in the distance and also light up your local area to allow walking or the like. Tested against one of the larger maglights the TK15 was much, much brighter and the beam pattern was more useful. There are two levels between the minimum and maximum. On maximum the run time is about 1.5 to 2 hours while on minimum it should be around 142 hours.
The torch runs on 2 X CR123 or 1 X 18650 rechargable - I am running it on the 18650 rechargable as the CR123 can be expensive. The torch sits very nicely in the hand when in use. Here is a photo with the industry standard clipper for scale:
The light is turned on and off using a clicky switch in the tail. This switch makes quite a loud click but then if you are turning a light on your presence is hardly going to be a secret from the deer anyhow:
The 4 levels of light output are selected using a silver button just behind the head of the torch which toggles from one level to the next. When turned off the torch "remembers" the last light level used and so turns back on at that level. I try to leave it in the lowest mode so it doesn't come on and totally ruin night vision though it must be said that even the lowest mode is too high to be considered as "moonlight" illumination so there is a pretty high risk it will ruin night vision on low. The mode button sits nicely under your thumb when using the torch:
As can be seen the light also sports a pocket clip which is very strong and robust and it ships with a belt holster and a wrist strap. I suspect that the belt holster will see a lot of use and it will find a place on my belt beside my knife when I'm out on the ground.
As you need a hand to hold the TK15 it will not replace my head torch, or car headlights, for gralloching and similar but for finding the dead deer or even helping find my way out of the woods in the dark I suspect it is going to work well and the light output is most impressive. Fenix claim an output of 337 ANSI lumens and I've no idea what that means but suspect it is good for a 100 yard throw (Fenix claim 215m on the basis that you will supply your own pinch of salt) while the spill lights up the local area nicely. The beam pattern appears very useful giving both good throw and good local lighting.
Good beam pattern
Lots of light
Small and handy
Good run time
Good belt holster
Robust, well made and should be reliable in long term
A lot of cash for a small light (£68)
Uses a tail switch for on/off which is a bit of a fumble