AS if summer doesn’t descend so quickly into autumn anyway, the recent spate of wet and windy weather has reminded us all that colder and darker days are inevitably on their way, writes PETER BRETT.
Time for all torch users - be they dog walkers, tradespeople or professionals - to make sure that they have a good torch on hand for when it will be needed! And just to make our choices that little bit more sophisticated, Coast has snuck a couple of interesting new torches into its comprehensive range.
Never a company to stand still - it is always developing new ideas - Coast has identified a couple of niches where product development and changes in the market have coincided, creating a couple of new products that really hit the spot.
Rechargeable is the New Green Dynamic for a Head Torch
The Coast FL13R comes in the familiar clam pack that is easy to hang and display in a retail environment. Potential purchasers are given comprehensive - but easy to see and understand - information on the front and back of the packaging. Of course, it also helps a purchaser that there is the ‘try me’ option to test the light output, light options and switch operation. This is enough to kill any doubts at the point of sale about how bright the beam is or how easy it is to cycle through the switch options.
Brass tacks time now, so let me deal with the rechargeable part of the spec. I live in a house in the country where there is no street lighting and relatively frequent power cuts. When the sun goes down it is DARK. Consequently, I have at least six torches in various locations in the house for emergencies, but twice this year I have been caught out on the battery front.
The simple solution is to have a recharging point with a torch nearby so that it is always recharged ready for use. The fact that the FL13R uses a USB connection for charging makes it much more flexible than standard three pin plug chargers. USB charging is an option on many power tool batteries now, as well as laptops, desktops, cars and, increasingly, on adapted mains plug sockets. Users will probably never be far away from a charging point.
Selecting the light options is done via the red switch on top of the torch body. The switch is sensitive and very positive in action so it is easy and quick to cycle through for the option wanted.
A full recharge will give a runtime of 10 hours at the low light setting of 85 lumens. In practice, most head torches are used at the low power setting because the high setting is simply too bright and reflective for the typical close-up work that head torches are used for. 10 hours amounts to a long shift at work or a long night’s angling, so running out of charge should not be an issue.
At the high setting of 270 lumens, the light is so intense that users have to be careful not to flash it into their own, or others’, eyes. Even at this intensity, users can expect a decent run time of five hours. The red light options are much less power hungry, so longer run times can be expected. Many outdoor users like campers and anglers, prefer using a red light because the eyes do not need to get accustomed to it.
The LED on this torch is wide and consequently the beam is a wide flooded light suitable for general purpose vision. Working, as a plumber might do, in a confined space, the beam on low setting provides a white flood beam that does not reflect harshly and provides enough light over the whole work area in front. It is hard to put a number on it but at about a metre distance the lit area is over a metre wide.
Other important features are the IPX4 weather rating, the included safety helmet clips, the comfortably wide and nicely elasticated (not too elasticky!) head strap and the five-year guarantee.
Good news for retailers and end users alike is that the pricing is very competitive: it will be hard (or impossible) to find a rechargeable head torch of similar quality with all of the features, for the price. All excellent reasons for stocking the FL13R.
The classic style hand torch, re-imagined
Think of the standard hand torch used by law enforcement and around the home and you can easily see the HP7XDL. It is a very popular style because it combines a compact body, light weight and a powerful beam that is adjustable for spot and flood light patterns. But this design is expensive – users have to pay for Enforcement-type specs. In some ways, it may seem foolish to fiddle about with a classic but (as ever) new technology, better LEDs and better manufacturing have created an opportunity for Coast to look again at the design and tweak it to suit a slightly different niche.
The plastic clam packaging does its usual job of protecting the product as well as making it easy to display and provide key information for potential purchasers. Not to mention the ‘Try Me’ switch, which is often the deciding factor for many purchasers.
As ever, the key specs are the lumen count and range of the beam. At high setting with 240 lumens on tap and in spot mode, the beam will reach 270 metres. A much lower lumen output of 70 still gives a beam reach of 147m but a runtime of 17 hours on fresh batteries compared to five hours on full beam.
Selecting the beam is simple via the rubber-protected button on the rear of the casing. The straightforward system of simply sliding the head of the torch forward and back between finger and thumb enables focus control from spot to flood.
What users might notice when they shine the light against a flat surface is the quality and clarity of the beam pattern that shows that the lens is a good one.
Once again the HP7XDL has a five-year warranty and an IPX4 weather rating and comes with 3 AAA batteries as standard. If you want an enforcement/emergency services style torch at a lighter weight and a competitive price-point then it’s a very good choice.