Gear Review: Wiley X Captivate Lenses (Models shown – Contend, Peak and Breach)

In this review, it’s all about a lens; a new Wiley X lens. As someone who relies daily on the best quality sunglasses, but that also needs EN. 166 & ANSI Z87.1 safety standards, Wiley X has been my go-to brand and has never let me down. I also, in most cases, prefer polarized lenses for glare reduction and enhancing colour depth. Wiley X have now produced a further enhancement to the polarized lens by increasing colour contrast with the CAPTIVATE lens. In this review the focus is primarily on this new lens itself, but can be seen in three of the first models to feature the lens; Contend, Peak and Breach (which also has the gasket technology).

What’s in the box?:


Here is what is included for all three models.


A look round the Contend:
This ‘Contend’ has the Blue mirror version of the CAPTIVATE lens.


A look round the Peak:
For the ‘Peak’ it is the Copper CAPTIVATE lens.


A look round the Breach:
Lastly the ‘Breach’ has the Bronze Mirror CAPTIVATE lens. Also look out for the gasket, and in this model, the side vents that can be opened and closed as required.


What is the CAPTIVATE lens like to use?

First impressions? That is actually very difficult to describe when you go from one of Wiley X’s already superb polarized lenses to the new enhanced CAPTIVATE polarized lens. Between one Wiley X polarized lens and the CAPTIVATE lens, is there a marked difference? It is simply not possible for there to be a massive difference. Instead it has taken a longer period of use to really appreciate the improvement, as I have now experienced a wide range or lighting conditions and locations with differing colour ranges.

None of the lens versions on test are completely neutral, so all give a slight colour cast to the overall rendition of what you see. This is one aspect of the eyewear we choose that adds an extra dimension and allows us to see more and differently than without any lens.

Since getting to know the new CAPTIVATE lens, I’ve been trying to work out how to best show what this lens does, and am still no satisfied, but here goes with my attempt.

Bear in mind, that like all of our senses, we have our own built in ‘automatic balance’, so like a camera has a White Balance setting, and this can be set to Auto White Balance, our eyes also do this to some degree, and after wearing a lens for a period of time our eyes adjust to them.

Coming from daily use of Wiley X lenses already, first impressions were of an excellent lens, but could I see what made them different? Over time, and with swapping back to the standard polarized lens, the answer was yes. What I was seeing through the CAPTIVATE lens was clearer and more defined. It was subtle, but the impression was of sharper edges, and a higher clarity. As we are seeing objects which don’t typically have a ‘border’ or ‘outline’ in a different colour, we are seeing the edge of an object as its colour meets the next background or object colour.

The intent of the CAPTIVATE lens is for it to reduce light in the parts of the light spectrum where Blue merges with Green, and where Green merges with Red so that you see a more significant difference between blue/green and green/red boundaries.

This is not done to such an extent that you can’t see certain shades, but so that you have an impression of higher contrast between colours. As I said before, this is not so marked you put them on and see something so unreal, but rather that with more use you can appreciate how clearly you are seeing your surroundings.

In an attempt to show the effect of these lenses, I am including two galleries with photographs taken through the different lenses. In the first set, the camera is set to a fixed Daylight White Balance (so is not adjusting the colour balance), and in the second set the camera is set to Auto White Balance to try to introduce some of the acclimatisation our eyes have.

There is a control shot first with no lens in front of the camera, then the three different models.

Daylight White Balance set


Auto White Balance set
This is the set I feel, more closely represents what your eyes see (but not exactly) for each lens type. The stand-out photo is probably the one of the metal cover in a pavement which has weeds growing round it and when you go from the control shot to the Contend lens. The green really stands out.
Another characteristic I like about the Bronze Mirror lens in the Breach was how it gave a pleasing deep bronze cast to the rusted metal surfaces in road furniture (manhole covers etc).


Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Sorry, not being biased, but really nothing.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Lens quality.
The clarity of vision.
Subtle effect of the enhanced colour contrast.
Strong and comfortable frames.
More innovation from Wiley X.

Light Review: The 10,000 lumen Fenix LR35R

Can it be true? 10,000 lumens from a light you could fit in your pocket? In this review of the Fenix LR35R I put Fenix’s claimed output figures to the test. As well as this companion review there is a full length video review, with behind the scenes insights into the testing. It turns out that this light went beyond the limits of my test equipment and meant making modifications to allow an accurate reading to be taken.


Here is the video review:

INDEX:
00:00-01:20 Intro
01:20-07:31 Looking over the LR35R
07:31-13:28 Measuring parasitic drain
13:28-19:56 Troubleshooting – comparing cells
19:56-20:43 Troubleshooting – benchmark measurements for sensor modification
20:43-24:28 Modifying the integrating sphere
24:28-26:02 Results – USB charging
26:02-26:57 Results – Thermal imaging
26:57-30:40 Results – Runtime Graphs
30:40-32:11 Results – Beam shots
32:11-33:35 Summary


What is in the box?:
As this is a pre-production sample, there is no un-boxing as only the light was supplied.

A good look round the LR35R – Things to look out for here are:
Be sure to check the video for many of these details.


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!


Batteries and output:

The LR35R runs on two 21700 cells which can be recharged in the light.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Before getting onto the output graphs, let’s quickly look at the USB charging graphs. Fenix have use a pulse charging approach which the three images show clearly. Peak charging current is 3A.


And the three runtime graphs which show the effect of the thermal regulation, and how this is countered with stronger cooling.


A thermal image taken during the runtime testing.

The LR35R in use

A real surprise that this output can be achieved in a light smaller than one of my old favourites, the TK35. It does heat up very quickly, and in normal use, hand held, the thermal regulation kicks in much faster than on the runtime graphs which had strong cooling.
The built in charging is very useful, especially as all the 21700 rated chargers I have would not take the long Fenix 21700 cells. It also means you don’t need anything else, and can swap the cells if needed.
As the LR35R is so small, I really wish Fenix had added a lower sub-lumen mode, as for me that would make it a fantastic all-rounder.
Be aware that the headline 10,000 lumens is only short lived, but if you take it down a notch or two, the performance is very very strong.
Beam tint and beam profile are very useable, and overall this is a powerhouse that is easy to live with.


Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Lack of a sub-lumen mode.
Heats up very quickly.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Hits that 10,000 lumen headline figure.
Very strong performance on High and Medium output.
Surprisingly compact.
USB-C charging built-in.
Comes with two high-capacity 21700 cells.
Great Beam tint and profile.

Light Review: Surefire E2D Defender and Stiletto

With Surefire, your main expectations might be high quality build and performance, so read on to see if these lights keep up with Surefire’s standards. In this review are two quite different models; the latest update of the classic Defender E2D (in this case the two-mode ‘Ultra’) and the EDC-optimised pocket-friendly USB-chargeable multi-mode, programmable Stiletto.

What are we looking at?:

Though this review is all about the two headline lights, as well as primary cells I’ve been able to test the Surefire rechargeable cells for the Defender.


Moving onto the main feature let’s get into the details of these two.


Taking a more detailed look at the Stiletto:

The Stiletto is a new style of light, taking on more of the form of a pocket knife and slipping into your pocket in the same way, and with a clip to hold it in place. To achieve this narrow profile it has a built-in battery and USB charging, allowing the shape to not be compromised by replaceable batteries.


Taking a more detailed look at the Defender E2D Ultra:

The Defender E2D is a classic Surefire model, bit it has moved with the times. Starting life as a incandescent bulb light with lens/reflector, it has grown to use LED and TIR optics. This latest version has raised the output to 1000lm+. It is mainly the head of the light that has changed in appearance compared to the earlier models you might know.


Surefire’s rechargeable CR123 option:

Surefire have been a little behind other manufacturers with regard to taking up rechargeable batteries. In years past, dedicated Surefire owners have had to find their own way, often going to the lengths of getting their battery tubes bored out to take 18650 cells plus a few other methods.
In this case, the cells themselves are not Surefire branded, instead Surefire have chosen K2 Energy’s Lithium Phosphate cells.


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

The character of each beam is really very different. Starting with the Defender and it’s mix of smooth hot-spot and spill beam giving a very useful all-round capability. The spill beam is surprisingly wide, so much so you can see the bezel crenellation shaping in the outer edge of the beam.

The Stiletto has a Surefire ‘MaxVision beam’; I’ve come across a few variations of this, but in essence they have all been quite wide and evenly lit to give you ease of vision at close to mid ranges. You will notice in the direct comparison that the Defender’s beam is actually wider than the Stiletto’s. This is even more noticeable in the outdoor beam-shots. The Stiletto however lacks the hot-spot and provides nicely even lighting.


Batteries and output:

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

This is a table of measured results. PWM frequencies are recorded by an oscilloscope, and in some cases are clear and in others are more like superimposed noise. It only appeared that the Defender’s High beam when using the RCR123 cells showed any PWM. This is possibly due to power supply pulsing with the different voltage of the RCR123 cells which were able to produce a higher maximum output than on CR123.

In the runtime graphs, first check the start of the run and you can see how the RCR123 cells are capable of keeping that peak output from the Defender until the programmed slope-off of the output after 60s. However skip onto the full runtime and you can see the RCR123 cells run out after thirty minutes, but the CR123s go on a lot longer and with much more warning they are getting low. For ‘duty’ use you will still want to use CR123s, but the RCR123s give great guilt-free lumens.

Performance is solid from the Stiletto and output is more than good enough for EDC; 45 minutes of 500lm-plus output is impressive.


The Defender E2D Ultra and Stiletto in use

Though by no means a lesser light, there is perhaps slightly less to say about the Defender E2D, so I shall start with that. For me the ‘Ultra’ version is absolutely the one to have. The output levels are so opposite with a 9lm Low and a 1000lm+ High, these might seem too at odds to work well, but they do. If I could add one thing to the Defender E2D it would be a way to user program the Low to be the first mode, but without this the High-Low mode order ensures it lives up to its name.

Thanks to the beam shape and hot-spot, the 9lm mode does a great job for those daily needs of a bit of light. It hits the right balance of being low enough for complete darkness but not so low it is useless for anything but pitch black.

I have many 1000lm+ lights and many into the 5000lm+ level, yet the Defender seems to manage to appear brighter than similar output lights. I have never been left wanting by the Defender (running on the RCR123) with its solid performance and beam profile.

The slim body allows easy cigar gripping and general operation is what you expect from a tail-switch light.


And the Stiletto, this is a very different concept and is very different to use. It’s flat profile and large pocket clip make it one of the easiest lights I’ve used to pocket carry. Ergonomics are a really strong point with the Stiletto. In general use you will find the main side-switch falls nicely under your thumb. Side-switches are far superior to tail switches for EDC tasks, and make it more comfortable to hold the light for extended periods with a low arm position.

But of course, the Stiletto also has a tactical tail switch so you have the option of the high tactical grip with direct access to High. This leads me to the set of images in the gallery as I personally found the tail switch (which is quite stiff) gave me a few issues with grip and the Stiletto sliding forward. I had to use two methods to keep it stable; one was to hook my little finger just round the front of the aluminium head, and the other was to ensure I had the Stiletto rotated so I was gripping onto its width and not onto the flats. (check the gallery for examples) It has been fatiguing to use the tail-switch for longer periods, but with the streamlined shaping this is unavoidable.


The Stiletto’s main power switch is one of three areas on the rubber side panel; I am mentioning this to describe something else to be aware of. To the left of the main switch is a programming switch, this has not caused any issues in general use. However, the USB charging port cover is something to be aware of as I have often found myself trying to turn it on by pressing this part as it is quite ‘button-like’. It is very easy to do this, especially if wearing gloves, so just needs a little awareness and grip adjustment to correct.

‘Programming switch’ – yes the Stiletto can be programmed, with each switch independently programmed into one of two modes. I definitely prefer the default mode and I’d only change if I were mainly going to use the Stiletto in High. Programming is very easy – you hold the programming switch down until the indicator shows blue and then press either the main-switch or tail-switch to toggle it between modes. This programming switch also activates the emergency strobe.

Having three levels and the ability to swap the order from L-H or H-L is very useful. The most used mode for me was the Low, followed by Medium. High was too powerful for most of my EDC uses, but great to have for quick blasts.

The previous gallery has two in-use photos on a pathway to compare these two lights. In the earlier beam-shot gallery you could see the effect of the even circle of light the Stiletto emits. Once you get outdoors and don’t have light bouncing round to fill in the areas beyond the outer edge of the beam – the tunnel vision effect becomes more pronounced. You can see with both the Defender and Stiletto aimed in the same way, the Defender view is complete where the Stiletto’s beam leaves you blind beyond the narrower circle of the beam. Using the Stiletto in unlit areas required more beam movement and scanning to see where your feet are going.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Defender E2D Ultra – no direct access to Low.
Stiletto – tail-switch a bit too stiff to hold-on in tactical mode.
Stiletto – beam profile can cause tunnel vision in unlit outdoor areas.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Defender E2D Ultra – Powerful output (that seems more than it is).
Defender E2D Ultra – Great beam profile.
Defender E2D Ultra – Excellent neutral beam colour.
Defender E2D Ultra – High and Low level.
Defender E2D Ultra – Lockout.
Defender E2D Ultra – Slim and easy to carry.
Defender E2D Ultra – Super quality build.
Stiletto – Very ‘pocket friendly’ shape.
Stiletto – Choice of modes.
Stiletto – Two switches, side and tail.
Stiletto – Programmable modes for switches.
Stiletto – USB chargeable.
Stiletto – Fuel gauge indicator.
Backed by Surefire’s guarantee.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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Knife Review: lionSTEEL bestMAN

I was first able to handle the lionSTEEL bestMAN folding knife at IWA 2019 – those were prototypes. The finished production knives shown in this review are further refined compared to the prototypes (which you might have seen on the @TacticalReviews Instagram). lionSTEEL have taken the traditional folding pocket knife and modernised it using the best materials and giving you the choice of two blade shapes, single or double bladed versions and five handle materials.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the single blade bestMAN – Things to look out for here are:

Though looking very traditional, the bestMAN uses modern materials.


A good look round the double blade bestMAN – Things to look out for here are:

Packing in a second blade gives both available blade shapes in one knife. In this case a little more traditional with a wooden handle.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blades are made from M390 steel.

Originally developed following the release of the Chris Reeve Knives Impinda, the bestMAN has been tested for opening and closing torque. The raw data is included but it is the average torque figures in bold that I would direct you to look at. Remember to check the technical testing link above for more on this.


What is it like to use?

After spending a lot of time carrying the single and double bladed versions, this feels the right place to start. Initially I would have been adamant that the double blade version was without doubt the one you had to have – two blades are better than one – one main blade and one left razor sharp as a backup – the whole ‘one is none’ thing. To a degree maybe, but I’ve gone the other way and found the single blade version to be my favourite. The reason being two-fold, firstly it is noticeably smaller and far less obtrusive in the pocket, and secondly it is much easier to open the blade. Nail-nicks are not ideal if your nails are softened by water or otherwise not very strong. With the single blade version you can pinch-grip the blade as well as using the nail-nick so opening is definitely easier.
The double blade version still has that advantage of giving both blade shapes and a second sharp edge, just with the burden of being a bit bigger.


If you do need to chose between the drop-point and wharncliffe, this might be easy if you have a firm favourite, and either way you won’t go wrong.
The straight cutting edge and lower point of the wharncliffe suits many EDC cutting tasks better for me than the drop-point.

Modifications:

No surprises for anyone reading my reviews, when I bring up the sharpening choil/rear point. Some of the bestMAN blades have a more pronounced cutting edge heel than others, but in general, not sufficient for my liking. I have made a minor modification to the blade heel to add a Victorinox style sharpening choil. Shown here is the double blade version with both blades modified.


Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Double bladed version more difficult to open.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Excellent M390 steel.
Nice traditional ‘friendly’ looking slip-joint.
Choice of two blade shapes.
Choice of single or double blade.
Choice of five handle materials.
Reliable design.
Smooth precise action.
Large nail-nick.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

As well as the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Gear Review: Wiley X Mega-Review! – Detection, Aspect and Vallus.

In this Wiley X Mega Review, I’m testing three recent models, the Detection, Aspect and Vallus. Each of these provide different looks, fit, features and lens specifications, giving this group a nice balanced mix. Since first finding Wiley X many years ago, I’ve not looked back when it comes to eye protection, lens quality, fit and style.

A little more Background:

In this group we have a flagship model, the Detection, with its set of five lenses to suit all lighting conditions without any reduction in eye protection. Frameless and with large wrap-around lenses the Detection is intended to provide maximum visibility and coverage ideal for, but not limited to, shooting.
Adding in the Aspect with emerald polarized lenses fills in more of the Wiley X offering, and the Vallus taking a third spot in this line-up rounds off a nicely balanced group.
Another crucial factor in the selection are those models in a size suited to my face. Wiley X offer a wide range of sizing options with the specifications clearly shown so you can find the right fit for you – another reason I find Wiley X difficult to beat.

The Detection:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Detection – Things to look out for here are:

Starting this gallery is a quick spin round the front, side and rear views, before moving onto the smaller details. Unlike most lens swapping glasses, the Detection lenses keep their nosepieces.


Lens swap on the Detection:

Most lens swapping designs have a moment of ‘should I be pulling/pushing that hard?’, but not with the Detection’s arm lock making swapping easier than any other I’ve used to date.


The Aspect:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Aspect – Things to look out for here are:

Starting this gallery is a quick spin round the front, side and rear views, before moving onto the smaller details. The Aspect has sprung hinges that allow the arms to both open up wider than the normal open position, to conform to larger heads, and also protect the hinges from over extension. This pair of Aspect glasses has the Emerald, polarized lenses for all the bells and whistles.


The Vallus:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Vallus – Things to look out for here are:

Starting this gallery is a quick spin round the front, side and rear views, before moving onto the smaller details. The Vallus is the most conventional in terms of ‘features’, but keeps thing simple and solid.


Technical Testing:

With a wide range of lenses, one of the specifications that is important to me is the light transmission. (I also have a hyper-sensitivity to light) using a fixed and stable light source and a lux meter, the transmission was measured to compare it to the Wiley X specifications. The results are shown as comments in the raw photos included in this gallery.


What it is like to use?

Truly an EDC for me, the time so far (as it does not end with this review) has given me some interesting material for three specific sections.

Protection test:

I couldn’t quite bring myself to shoot the brand new Wiley X models, but had an old pair of Wiley X made 5.11 Cavu glasses which were past their best. Testing these three new models inspired me to take the older Wiley X lenses out for a shootout!
Needing to choose silenced guns, I had a .410 shotgun, using .410 Long plus the Chiappa Little Badger in .22LR using subsonic hollow-point. Clearly the impact energy of the projectiles is quite different, but gives a stepping up of hitting power.

For the test, the glasses were held loosely and shot from around 15m. In both cases the lenses did come out of the frames, but had they been on a face, they would have been supported. The .410 was stopped by the lenses, but the .22 was not – still a very impressive result for a direct shot.


Wiley X saved me from serious eye injury:

It only has to happen once, so never let your guard down. Never, never go without eye protection even for seemingly safe jobs – the Wiley X Vallus has saved me from serious eye injury.

Despite spending plenty of time on ranges and using power tools and machinery, I have actually never had anything significant hit my eye protection. The mark on the lens shown in the gallery came from the freshly cut end of some coiled steel fencing wire that slipped from my grip and sprung straight into my face, with force, literally scoring a bullseye. Were it not for the Wiley X Vallus lens, I’d have been pulling out this wire from deep inside my eye; it all happened so quickly.

Initially I was annoying that it happened with a two week old pair of glasses, but I’d rather that than the alternative. I’m always super paranoid about eye protection, and in this case I have no doubt it would have been very bad, so am extremely glad it was Wiley X I was wearing.


Every day with Wiley X:

Readers who know me might remember I have a condition giving me hyper-sensitivity to light, and that this means I wear sunglasses every day at all times I am outside during daylight hours, and frequently indoors as well.

So when I say I have lived with these sunglasses from Wiley X, I have lived with them and worn them for hours and hours every day for months.

Detection – For shooting or any action sport, the Detection is superb. Its large wrap-around frameless lenses give you uninterrupted vision covering all your peripheral vision as well (good for picking up moving objects). The level of cover also ensures the highest level of protection from flying fragments.

Aspect – With glare being one of the worst things for my light sensitivity, polarized lenses are a real eye-saver. Generally I prefer the neutral type of lens (smoke/grey) so the Emerald is not something I might have jumped at, but if I allow myself to consider looks, well, these got more compliments than any eyewear I’ve worn before.

Aspect – The sprung arms on the Aspect afford it a level of comfort and ease of putting them on, but there is a small ‘feature’ which becomes more obvious over time. When you put them on, compared to arms without the sprung hinges, the Aspect will stay where it was when you let go. So if it is slightly crooked, the arms are not strong enough to straighten them on your face. You do need to ensure you put them straight. If you are popping them on and off quite a bit, this becomes more noticeable, where the standard hinge glasses, just snap into place, these don’t. A trade-off for the comfort.

Vallus – I’d not normally go for the non-polarized lens for my main eyewear, but the Vallus has claimed its spot thanks to the great comfort and excellent side protection due to the wide arms. The neutral colour lens works well, and not being polarized also means there are absolutely no ‘screen viewing issues’ which are a common hazard of the polarized lens.

Vallus – As described earlier, the Vallus has also actually saved the sight in my right eye, so I do have an even greater affection for them.


Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

I’m trying something slightly different and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Detection – lens holder in case can leave a mark on the lens which can be cleaned off. (Wiley X are already fixing this)
Aspect – Arm sprung hinge prevents the glasses auto-centring on your face.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Detection – full coverage without the loss of any peripheral vision.
Detection – super easy lens swapping.
Detection – lenses to suit all lighting conditions.
Aspect – great comfort due to sprung arm hinges.
Aspect – fantastic Emerald polarized lens.
Vallus – light and comfortable.
Vallus – good side protection from wide arms.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit and start/join the conversation.

Knife Review: Viper Tecnocut Dan 1 and Dan 2

Could the Dan (1 and 2) by Viper Tecnocut be the perfect EDC knife? It was during a meeting with Tommaso Rumici (the designer of the Dan) about a completely different fixed blade design of his, that Tommaso produced a Dan 2 from his pocket and handed it to me. We were still talking knives, but now onto something very different. Intended as an easy to carry, and as widely ‘EDC Legal’ as possible pocket knife (due to size and lack of a lock), the Dan gets so much right, it was an instant hit with me. Since then I’ve not been able to put it down. In this review of the Viper Dan 1 and 2, I take a very close look at this knife and why it works so well.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

The two knives in this review were provided without packaging or any accessories as they came directly from the Viper Tecnocut display stand at IWA 2019. This also means they have been handled and ‘played with’ by hundreds of people during the show, so might not be in perfect condition.

A good look round the Dan 1 in Zircote Wood – Things to look out for here are:

As you take in the details the quality of finish is clear, along with how sleek and efficient each of the design elements are.


A good look round the Dan 2 in Burgundy Canvas – Things to look out for here are:

Getting a sense for the different handle material, but the main difference is the wharncliffe blade of the Dan 2.


Explained by the Maker:

As I mentioned in the introduction, while at IWA 2019 I had the good fortune to both be introduced to this knife by, and able to talk about it with, its designer Tommaso Rumici.

Tommaso presenting the knife to me:

Rather than repeating the explanation, I’d recommend you visit Tommaso Rumici’s write up of the Dan here, where Tommaso gives you the background story of this excellent knife, including where the name came from.

With kind permission from Tommaso, here are a couple of his concept design sketches for the Dan.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

Take note of some results, like the rolled cutting edge length, and thickness behind the edge, which are particularly relevant when comparing the Dan 1 and 2.

The blade is made from N690 steel.


What is it like to use?

It’s a really unusual design, being a cross between a friction-folder and a slip-joint. The Dan can be opened two-handed, or one-handed and although the opening/closing torque of the slip-joint mechanism is nothing to write home about, the protruding tang sits nicely under the thumb allowing you to hold the blade open.

This knife (either blade style) has actually converted me to pocket clip carry. Before ‘Dan’, I had not found a knife/clip design I felt comfortable with. It HAS to be deep carry, sticking up above the pocket edge is no good (for me). Then there is the clip and handle texture combination. My biggest complaint is how vicious most knife clips, particularly the underlying handle surface, are to the pocket material and edge; way beyond the need to hold it in place, and in some cases almost impossible to fit it onto the pocket or get it off again. If you like ripped pockets, great, but not me.

Instead the Dan (both handle materials on test), has the deep pocket carry clip with a clip spring strength that holds, and has not let it go astray, yet is easy to fit and remove. The handle material finish is smooth without being slippery, so provides some grip but is not overly abrasive to the pocket material.

I’ve been carrying this knife daily for 9 months now – pocket clip carry – totally unheard of for me.

Using the short tang (shorter than most friction folders) to open the knife one handed does require some care and concentration as it is very easy to turn the knife into your thumb pad (as ably demonstrated in the photos) and have it bite you. It does require a determined and positive approach to keep from cutting yourself.


Is it perfect? Clearly, as I’m about to show, for me it is not quite there, as I have made a couple of small modifications.

However the initial inspiration for this modification was entirely due to UK EDC carry law – a cutting edge less than 3″. Proven by many cases, this is typically a measurement of the cutting edge being rolled along a ruler, not the straight line measurement. With its sloping back handles, the Dan also has a longer cutting edge than blade length. Combining these factors, the Dan 1 falls foul, by 3mm, of the UK EDC legal carry requirement. I decided to rectify this with a Dremel and remove 3mm of cutting edge while at the same time creating a sharpening choil (which I prefer anyway).

With the success of the Dan 1 modification I decided I needed to do the same to the Dan 2 though this did not have the same EDC legal issue.

For me these are both now the closest I’ve yet found for a perfect EDC legal folding knife. OK, nothing is perfect, but these knives are superb!


Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

I’m trying something new this time and starting with what doesn’t work so well, so I can finish on a more positive note

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

The Dan 1 having a slightly over-long cutting edge for UK EDC Legal.
One-handed opening can be a little hazardous.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Easy to carry streamlined design.
Deep-carry pocket friendly clip.
Ambidextrous pocket clip.
Non-locking friction-folder/slip-joint.
Widely Every-Day-Carry legal friendly (check local laws).
Choice of blade shape and handle material.
Blade tang can be gripped to prevent accidental closure.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Knife Review: Lionsteel B40 and M1

It was at IWA 2019 I first got to handle the new Lionsteel B40, but the show knives were pre-production samples as there were still a few manufacturing tweaks left to finalise; it took a little longer to get hold of this final production model. Another strong design by Mik Molletta, the B40 is intended as a bushcraft knife. For this review of the Lionsteel B40, I have also partnered it with the smaller M1 which makes for an ideal secondary/backup blade, and is small enough to be a (non-folding) pocket knife.

Onto the details:

What’s in the box?:

A quick look at the presentation. In this case, the B40 was a new production model, but the M1 was a ‘show knife’ straight from IWA, so might not have the full packaging.


Starting with the sheaths:

Both knives have leather sheaths, a material I prefer over any other for the sheath.


A good look round the B40 – Things to look out for here are:

The B40’s proportions and geometry make it look like many other bushcraft knives. This is as the design has to primarily fulfil the requirements of wood processing and portability.


A good look round the M1 – Things to look out for here are:

At the size it is, I can’t help but think of the M1 as a pocket knife that doesn’t fold. A pocket knife without the compromises a folding knife’s handle has, and without the concerns of a lock, slip-joint, or friction mechanism. A properly formed handle and no compromise in the strength of the blade.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The B40’s blade is made from Sleipner steel and the M1 from M390.


What it is like to use?

You might have noticed the orange; neither of these knives need to be orange, but for me the priority is not losing a tool in the outdoors. This makes the high visibility handles a great choice.

Before moving onto using these knives, I also had the opportunity to convert the B40 from orange G10 to more traditional wooden handles. Removing and swapping the handles is easy, but the tubular bolt is a tight fit in either handle material so you need to ‘unscrew’ it while applying some pressure to get them out. There is a major difference in the appearance, and feel, with the wooden handles. It is transformed into a traditional looking knife, and the wood feels lighter and possibly as if it has a little more grip. It also becomes a lot more camouflaged in the woods, so the choice is yours. I’ve popped the orange G10 back on.


I’m not a fan of pull-lanyards (the smaller piece of cord giving some extra grip with smaller knives), as I find them mostly getting in the way or flapping about annoyingly, so the M1 with its Titanium beaded pull-lanyard immediately had me considering removing it. STOP! I was wrong. For the M1, this pull-lanyard with bead works perfectly.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the M1 is a non-folding pocket knife. The sheath might have a belt loop on it, but the overall size when sheathed is still easy enough to pop into a pocket. Now instead of having to choose a folder you can have a fixed blade.
To start with, the pull-lanyard gives you something to easily grab to take the M1 out of your pocket. Then when unsheathing it, although you can get enough grip by just holding the handle, by using the lanyard and its bead, you bring it into your hand so much more easily.
My hands take XL gloves and I find the M1’s handle to be a three-finger grip. The lanyard and bead, gives the fourth finger something to hold and add a little more stability.
I’m perfectly happy to admit when I’m wrong, and the M1 with its Titanium beaded lanyard has shown me I was wrong to consider removing it.

While on the subject of lanyards, without going into the safety arguments for and against, there is a design issue I’ve come upon with the B40 and its lanyard hole. This issue is thanks to the interestingly placed firesteel scraper. As shown in the next gallery, this scraper works very well without a lanyard cord, but should you wish to use a lanyard on the B40, you’ll be covering it in sparks every time you use the scraper. You might then find your lanyard unintentionally becomes tinder and gets burned away. I will be grinding a flat on the blade spine to use instead of the scraper provided.


The B40 hits that sweet spot in size where the handle is full size, allowing a strong grip, and the blade is small enough for power and control, and large enough to use for batoning without being cumbersome. This is why many bushcraft knives look quite similar, and are similar in size.

Use of Sleipner steel falls outside my preferences for a bushcraft knife. Being only a semi-stainless steel, it theoretically needs more care than a steel with higher stain resistance. On its own, this is only part of choosing the right steel, as frequently the reduction in stain resistance is combined with a steel that is easier to sharpen in the field. Sleipner is both hard (so harder to resharpen) and less stain resistance, so would normally have me looking elsewhere. But this is not my first Sleipner blade, and so far I’ve found the stain resistance to be much higher than indicated by its composition. None of the Sleipner blades have given me any issue with corrosion, and none have yet stained despite intentionally not caring for them. When sharpening, it is obvious the Sleipner steel has a high wear resistance, so does require some effort. Diamond stones definitely make this easier. After stropping off a burr formed during sharpening, the Sleipner steel has been giving a very good sharpness, so considering its wear resistance, it actually seems relatively easy to sharpen.

There is an interesting look to the B40’s handle with the flat grip faces having ‘corners’. At first glance these seem like they might become problematic hotspots in hard use. However the rest of the handle, where most of the grip pressure is applied, is rounded and comfortable. These ‘corners’ can be felt, but also provide positive resistance to the knife twisting in your hand.

A knife with a ‘scandi’ blade has become a very popular type of knife for bushcraft, and for good reason; the scandi blade is very good for working wood. But personally I find that to be its limiting factor as the blade’s specialist ability impacts on everything else you might ask of it.

With the B40’s blade, the design has been kept with a leaning a little more towards a utility blade, but with plenty of ability for hard work with wood. As you have seen in the previous gallery, the B40 handles wood very well.

For this review I included the M1 as a companion blade to the B40. Something to use for finer tasks, and as a backup blade. It is too small to choose to use for heavy tasks, but the blade stock used means that if you were caught out with only the M1 it would still be a very capable blade.

Using a full flat grind on the M1 makes its blade a much better slicer than its 3.2mm stock might otherwise dictate.

Lionsteel’s M1 is a knife you should not overlook. It is an excellent general purpose knife that is small enough to carry to pocket-carry. If only the UK knife carry laws permitted this as an EDC, but they do not, so it will unfortunately be limited to duties at home and will certainly be a backup blade for those times I can carry a fixed blade.

The partnership of the B40 and M1 has indeed worked very well.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

B40 – Ideal size for its intended use – bushcraft.
B40 – Sleipner steel has taken and held a great edge.
B40 – Sleipner steel – so far no signs of corrosion.
B40 – Blade geometry allows greater flexibility than many bushcraft knives.
B40 – Quality leather sheath.
M1 – M390 steel takes and holds a great edge.
M1 – Full flat grind, makes it a great slicer.
M1 – Quality ‘pocket-sized’ leather sheath.
M1 – Highly functional pull-lanyard with Titanium bead.
M1 – Super useful fixed blade pocket-knife.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

B40 – Firesteel scraper sparks onto lanyard (if fitted).
B40 – Sleipner steel – not so easy for in-the-field maintenance.
M1 – Belt loop is so tight as to be almost unusable.
M1 – Blade stock almost too thick at 3.2mm.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
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If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

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The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Knife Review: Spyderco Subvert

Spyderco’s Subvert is a knife I was drawn to straight away, but I did not expect it to make such an impression on me. Ok, it’s bright orange, so is going to get my attention; orange being one of my favoured colours for keeping track of things. But there is so much more – the flowing lines somehow disguise the presence of such a large blade, leading many to wonder how they managed to fit it into that handle. In this review of the Spyderco Subvert, I’ll give you a close-up of all the details and tell you why I’m not letting this one go any time soon.

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:


A good look round the Subvert – Things to look out for here are:

The choice of materials and how they come together has resulted in a lot of transitions, all of which are dealt with sympathetically and with great attention to detail. A very impressive build, that continues to impress.


The Blade and Handle – Detailed Measurements:

For full details of the tests and measurements carried out and an explanation of the results, see the page – Knife Technical Testing – How It’s Done.

The blade is made from CPM S30V steel.


What it is like to use?

That photo says something loud and clear, ‘drama’, and that is where I’ll start with the Subvert. Swinging open that lovely large blade is full of drama and feels like deploying something serious. Thanks to the super smooth bearings, once free of the detent, that blade swings completely free. Rolling it round to the solid clunk of the lock kicking in just feels so good. A generous size of opening hole ensures no trouble getting it moving and taking it to fully open without thinking.

I’ve heard a few comments questioning if that blade is actually practical to use. It is certainly a bit different than you might be used to, and can require you to adapt your approach to a cut, but it is always rewarding to use.

The blade stock is thick, and the tip has a wide angle, both of which make it less suited to piercing. However, this tip still works well enough, and adds a level of control, as it is often easy to go too deep with piercing cuts. At the widest part, the blade has been brought down to a nice slim angle making this the best place for deeper cuts; at this point on the blade it is an especially fierce cutter.

Though it is a big folder with a thick blade, that blade has a full flat grind, making the cutting efficiency very good. The overall size does make it a positive choice to carry, but why wouldn’t you?

There is a definite feeling that every part of the knife has been positively designed. What am I saying? When you design anything, some parts of it can end up ‘just being’, passively designing themselves or simply filling in a gap between two other parts. This is no bad thing, just an observation, and in the case of the Subvert, as you look closely at every part, there is a level of positive design and intended choices that fills it with purpose.

I have found myself questioning some of those choices, like a single position pocket clip. More and more frequently, folding knives are offered with multi-position pocket clips, and if you are left-handed or prefer tip up carry then you can change it around. That choice however does make a design messy with milled areas and holes cluttering the handle. Sticking to a single position keeps the rest of the design simpler and more elegant.

Have a flip through this gallery…


I take an XL glove, so you can see it is a good size. It doesn’t feel too large and the size of the blade always brings on a grin.

It is getting to a size that pocket carry might be pushing it, so I wanted to use a pouch. A happy coincidence meant I gave it a try in the Nitecore NCP30, and this almost felt made for it and meant I could go with horizontal or vertical belt carry. I also frequently had this on the strap of a shoulder bag (see gallery).

Is the Subvert the most practical knife you could carry? Not in my opinion. Is the Subvert great fun to use and carry, and does it make you grin when you swing open that blade? Yes, in spades.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Large dramatic blade.
Every detail carefully thought out.
Superb fit and finish.
Single position pocket clip. (yes it is in both lists)
Orange handles and contrast spacer.
Silky smooth bearing.
Strong thick blade.
Full Flat Grind (making that thick blade a good slicer).
Excellent factory edge.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Not the most practical blade shape.
Single position pocket clip. (yes it is in both lists)
Curvy edge will be a bit more challenging to maintain.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this review is on the Tactical Reviews Facebook Page
Please visit there and start/join the conversation.

If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider visiting one of the following to start/join in any discussion.

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)

The BESS Exchange – A forum discussing technical aspects of sharpness and truly understanding your sharpening process.

Gear Review: Nordic Heat Handwarmer and USB Powerbank 10,000mAh

After just popping by for a chat with the nice folks of Nordic Heat at IWA, I found myself leaving with their Large Handwarmer / USB Powerbank. In this review of the Nordic Heat 10,000mAh Handwarmer and USB Powerbank, as well as getting a good feel for it, I have carried out some detailed measurements of output performance for both the heating and USB powerbank.


Thermal image taken with FLIR Scout TK

A few more details:

What’s in the box?:

This is how the Large Handwarmer / USB Powerbank arrives.


A good look round the Handwarmer / USB Powerbank:

It’s a simple concept really, it gets hot, and can charge your phone (or other USB device). Here are the details.


In The Laboratory:

For these tests, I wanted to measure the actual performance of the USB powerbank aspects and then move onto the heat output.
First are a couple of USB power traces for both charging using the supplier charger and cable and then with the powerbank discharging into a large load, again using the supplied cable.
Being a special triple connector cable, I suspect there is some intentional throttling as it only charges at 1A, and for the output it only manages around 1.3A with the supplied cable.


Now, putting aside the supplied charger and cable and recharging with a high power USB charger (6A) and high current cable, the powerbank charges at 2A.

Then seeing what output we get using a high current USB-A to USB-C cable into the large load. Now the powerbank outputs 2.4 – 2.5A. From the graph it does look like this is pushing the output to its limits as we see some power switching noise, but a very solid performance.


A measurement I was not able to make a graph of is the cumulative output measured charging phones. This came to 32.873Wh or 6913.2mAh.


To test the heating output of this handwarmer, a dual probe digital thermometer was used to measure the ambient and surface temperature of the handwarmer. This allows the ambient temperature to be taken away from the surface temperature to remove external temperature variations. The measurements were logged (by video) and used for this graph.

The temperature shown is Degrees C above ambient, and as you can see the output is fantastically stable.

What it is like to use?

Nordic Heat have two sizes of handwarmer/powerbank. As you can see, this larger version, is a good handful for a hand that takes an XL glove size. The smaller version might be a better fit for some, but this does compromise on heating time and USB output power, a compromise worth considering.

There is a built-in light which you access via the power button. It can make the handwarmer into a torch with a very long runtime. A useful and usable addition. Just remember that you are taking from the available power for hand warming or device charging.

Our growing reliability on mobile phones and tablets makes powerbanks almost a necessity, especially in remote areas. Performance as a powerbank is good (see the technical testing section), and you can power up devices with a solid 2A output.


Not quite qualifying as technical testing, I thought it was important to check the heat distribution of the handwarmer to ensure it didn’t have cold spots or problems with heat distribution. So for this I aimed a FLIR Scout TK at it. In this set of images, we start with a control shot with the handwarmer off and left to reach ambient temperature. There is little contrast in the image as there isn’t really any heat gradient apparent. After switching on the handwarmer and leaving it to get up to temperature the heated portion stands out clearly. The heat distribution is nice and even and extends fully over the body, with only the unheated plastic top remaining cooler. In the last image I put my warm, uncovered, hand into view to show how the handwarmer is properly above body temperature and will provide good heating.


Do you need one? Well, do you have a USB powered mobile device – then that is yes for its powerbank capability. Do you like cold hands and feet? No, then that is yes for the handwarmer / heating facility.

Why did I say feet? During testing I found that this wasn’t just something to take when venturing outdoors, but any time you want a heat pack. I’ve used it to warm up my feet in a cold bed, to apply heat to a pulled muscle, to preheat hands prior to putting non-heated gloves on, and generally provide comfort where a bit of warmth helps.

The on-demand heat is where this wins over every other heating option. No boiling water, microwaving gels, lighting a fuel catalyser, just switch on and off as required, anywhere.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Good battery capacity.
2A+ USB output.
Over 7.5h heating on a full charge.
Excellent heat distribution.
Useful to also have a light.
Comes with cable and charger.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Supplied USB cable seems to limit output to 1A.
Supplied charger only provides 1A.

Light Review: Rovyvon A5, A8 and Angel Eyes E300S

Quite literally a ‘highlight’ from IWA 2019 are these lights from Rovyvon, so I was excited to get these on test and see what they could really do. In this review I’ll be comparing the Rovyvon A5 keychain light with two of the same size A8 variants, plus the E300S ‘Angel Eyes’, a larger but still EDC sized right-angle light. There is lots to see, especially with all the extra functions crammed into the A5 and A8 models!

I got this test group from Heinnie Haynes – if you don’t know this online shop you should do.

Taking a look at the A5 and A8:

The A5, and A8 models are all presented in the same way, so this is a quick look at the first one I unpacked.


More of the details of the A5 and A8 models.


Taking a look at the E300S Angel Eyes:

Unpacking the Rovyvon Angel Eyes.


The details of the Rovyvon Angel Eyes.


The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

Here they all are, the different models, and different modes. Check the image caption for the notes.


Batteries and output:

These lights run on built-in cells.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

First up here are the A5 and A8 models and each measurable output. The value measured for UV will be a combination of visible blue light that is output or fluorescence of the test instrument and cannot be taken as a true UV measurement. ‘Max at Turn On’ is NOT an ANSI measurement, but a maximum value when switching on. (‘Below T’ means the output was below the threshold that could be measured.)

Then the E300S Angel Eyes. ‘Turn On’ is NOT an ANSI measurement, but a maximum value when switching on. Moon mode is not really 0lm, it is just below the threshold that could be measured.


Runtime and Charging Time:

In this gallery are charging traces recorded from a USB power monitor, plus the recorded output traces from an Integrating Sphere. Take your time here there is a lot of information.


The Rovyvon lights in use:

I’d had a good play with these lights at IWA, but there is still that frustration waiting for the first charge to complete – all blue – all good to go!

Before I go on, this photo summarises why these lights are so good, and that is their versatility. The A5 and A8 models are all multi colour, multi-function and super compact, and the E300S is very functional and powerful.

Staying on that line of thought, two of the models in this review have UV, and one is GITD. A small gallery to show these features in action.


The timing of this review means I have actually been carrying these daily for several months now. Electronic switches means there is always a chance that parasitic drain (standby circuit power) will deplete the battery, but there has been absolutely no sign of that.

One tiny light which has several functions, definitely makes itself very useful. UV is one of my favourite secondary functions for which I normally have to carry another light. Checking bank notes and looking for elusive little lost objects can be transformed with UV light. The extra colours of light available on the A5 and A8’s secondary side outputs all fit well with other needs; you being seen, marker lights, warnings, gentle night lighting or reading, the list goes on. What do you find most useful?

It is always challenging to design easy to use controls for multiple functions, especially with only a single button (or two with the E300S), and the Rovyvon lights use a variety of press-and-hold or multi-clicks. Depending on your current dexterity (which tends to vary when cold/tired/etc), you can easily get this wrong. The worst case result is getting maximum output when you didn’t want it. This is not a criticism of the Rovyvon lights, but only a consequence of the multi-function / single button interface.

However, with the A5/A8 and E300S there is a conflict in the user interface. To get the lowest level on the A5/A8 you double click, but the E300S requires a press-and-hold. So use the E300S, and when you pick up an A8, and press-and-hold expecting to moon mode, instead you get full blast. As these are both Rovyvon lights I would have hoped for some consistency in the UI across models to prevent this accidental blinding.

PWM (pulse width modulation – strobing the output to achieve lower levels) is a bugbear of mine. Any movement becomes flickery or stuttering. Unfortunately all the Rovyvon lights use this. The E300S uses a sufficiently high frequency that it does not present as a problem, but the A5 and A8, on all lower level outputs, have very obvious flickering whenever moving. If everything is static, then this isn’t visible, but if you are walking along or scanning a space you will see flickering. There are sometimes design limitations that force the use of PWM, as the circuitry needed for constant output tends to be larger, so the small size of these light might be the reason for this compromise. I hope Rovyvon find a way to get rid of the PWM (or at least increase the frequency) as these lights would be outstanding if they didn’t flicker.

Level spacing on the A5/A8 is good, but on the E300S there is much too large a step up from the lowest level to the next one, going from ~1lm to 70lm. It really needs a 5-10lm step.

With such high outputs available from a very small light, the overall runtime at these high levels is pretty low (A5/A8), so if you like using them on full blast, you’ll be recharging quite often, but if you mainly use the lower levels or side light functions, EDC use will be covered for a very reasonable time. USB recharging makes them very easy to top up.

The clear plastic bodies are light and strong with the added benefit of showing the neat internals. They have stood up to every day keychain use along with inevitable drops, bumps and rubbing against keys.

All the details are refined and functional with great clips, carry options and spares.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Multiple LEDs and output options.
Compact and lightweight.
Robust construction.
USB charging.
Excellent fit and finish.
Fully fitted out with accessories.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

PWM – flickering is always a problem.
IP65 rated, so not actually waterproof.
Level spacing on E300S has too large a jump between the lowest levels.

 

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