Well when you talk about Survival as I do so often, this piece of kit truly sheds some light on the subject…
A few days ago I acquired a torch with a difference, the Fenix TK15. The moment I received it I realised this really was no ordinary torch. Well of course it does all the things that normal torches do however, the Fenix TK15 is a class above the rest and a lot brighter than the average torch.
First thing that I noticed was that the torch was heavier than I thought it would be. Of course I wasn’t expecting it to fit on a key ring, but it is the right size for a belt torch and that is exactly what it was. It sat nicely in my hand and felt just right as regards to weight, size and texture. I must admit… it looks quite good too.
The packaging was minimal it merely consisted of a plastic tray within which lie the Fenix TK15, instruction sheet, a holster, a lanyard and some spare seals.
Well, normally there isn’t much to say about using a torch. Press a button and then there is light. However, with the Fenix TK15 there is not one button but two; OK so two buttons doesn’t sound like much of an improvement on the average torch but I can assure you its makes it a much better device. This is due to the fact that the first button, which is situated in the tail of the torch is simply powering on and off. The button has two roles, constant and intermittent. When partially pressed (by around about 3mm in) it lights the LED and can be used to send morse code or simply signal flashes. Pressing it fully (about 6mm) switches the light on with a constant beam. Press it again to turn it off. The travel is such that you can use the flash without worrying about locking it on accidentally.
The second button is situated perfectly for the thumb. This is again a press button and cycles through the light modes available at each press. Which are as follows…
- Low – 5 Lumens
- Mid – 47 Lumens
- High – 143 Lumens
- Turbo – 337 Lumens
Pressing and holding the button for two seconds places the torch in strobe mode where it emits a strobe at 337 Lumens which alternates between fast and slow every six seconds.
Each time the torch is turned on it is set to the same intensity it was in before it was turned off. This does not apply if you were using the strobe setting. In that case you start in the mode you were in before you activated the strobe.
The light source is a single LED and projects the bright white light we associate with LED bulbs. No surprises there. However, what did surprise me was how bright 337 Lumens actually is. The torch on its mid setting was projecting a beam that was comparable in brightness to an ordinary torch whilst its highest setting was significantly brighter and even visible in the daylight. Now obviously torches are mainly used when it is dark and the Fenix TK15 certainly shone in this test. On turbo mode it threw a light beam well over 200 yards down the road while the strobe was visible and attracted the eye over four hundred yards away. It was so bright I had to shield my eyes walking back to it for most of the way.
I found that even when set on the lowest setting, I could easily walk around my house and the garden after dark with no visibility issues at all. Upping the intensity to mid when I wanted to increase the visibilty to light the subject that bit more.
High mode would be required if you were out and about in fields and caverns and turbo mode only if you were searching for something; it would enable you to see for far greater distances. It would make you visible for miles much like a flare so you could be located in an emergency.
I would equate the low mode to a normal small torch that you could carry around with you whilst the mid to high mode would be a larger torch which certainly would not fit into your pocket like the Fenix TK15. I’ve not seen any cheap torches with an output anywhere near that of the Fenix TK15’s turbo mode.
The projected cone of light remained constant only the intensity increased when the button was pressed. The beam was focused at the selected intensity on an area about 4ft radius with bleed which spanned about 20ft across at 15 yards. The beam on turbo, although not fully focused was sufficient to visibly light the number plates on cars about 200 yards away and was visibly reflected by car mirrors at that same distance.
Well, we need tough torches for survival and the Fenix TK15 has a tough specification. It can work underwater to 2m. The torch is also resistant to damage when dropped from a height of 1.5m. The kids are good testers when it comes to toughness and it passed that test easy enough. No damage to the torch at all… not even cosmetic. Now, I happen to go swimming every Saturday so I took the torch with me this time. Chlorine isn’t exactly in the spec but it isn’t like it is acid either. In my times out hunting I’ve been soaked for hours and occasionally fall in water while travelling. A good soak in the swimming pool should be a good test. I was in the water for 90 minutes all told. I tested the torch every now and again whilst in the water and it worked fine. It was a good pickup item for diving for and was undamaged bouncing down the water slide. I washed the chlorine off in the shower and when I got home I opened it up to see if there was any water in it at all. There was none.
The torch came with two Duracell CR123A batteries in it. These can be bought at many stores that sell cameras as well as some supermarkets but are unlikely to be in your local newsagent.
The run time for the TK15 is defined as;
- Low – 5 Lumens – 142 Hr
- Mid – 47 Lumens – 23 Hr
- High – 143 Lumens – 6 Hr 25m
- Turbo – 337 Lumens – 1 Hr 50m
There was no defined run time for the strobe and I didn’t really want to spend too much time on it. I guessing it would be over 4 hours run time but having not tested it, I can’t say for certain.
The belt clip was nice and tight and sat securely on my jeans pocket without slipping yet pulled out easily when required. There was a hole in the end for the lanyard, supplied, which I fitted and although I don’t use lanyards myself much I like the option. I noticed it also had a grip on the shaft to hold the clip in place which I could see being used to fasten the torch to the U bracket on a weapon. There was also a nice holster which had a hook for a carabiner and two good solid loops for a belt; one for an ordinary belt sewn solidly in place and the other using velcro which you could put on the straps of a backpack or similar. The holster had a velcro cover to secure the torch while in the holster. Well thought out for all eventualities.
The only problem I have with this torch is that the batteries are not standard. In normal use there is no real concern but in a survival situation I would have difficulty getting these batteries and even though they last an impressive 142 Hrs… they will eventually run out.
I would like to see a battery pack with a solar recharger as an optional extra for anything I’m considering for a survival situation but to be fair few items have this, so it is not specific to this torch. Battery technology is not yet at the place that we need it to be. There is a rechargable option for the torch which would be worth considering.
An excellent torch and one I can recommend. I was extremely impressed by its performance and the way it worked. A true survival torch being tough, waterproof and solid, having a multitude of uses due to its different settings and an excellent range. Well worth getting one for your personal survival kit and your car survival kit. The Fenix TK15 can be found here and similar torches here. The Fenix TK15 is not cheap but you are paying for a good solid reliable torch. One that will be there when you need it. Ordinary torches break easily and do not like being immersed in any liquid. The Fenix TK15 is built to last. I would recommend you buy a recharger as well, if available, and some spare batteries, a good quality CR123A will last over 10 years with a 1% discharge rate if not stored in a device. That means that in 10 years they will still have 90% of the charge left. I would suggest replacement every few years though because of the less than optimum storage conditions they will be kept in while you transport them around.