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Fenix E01 Flashlight Review

Fenix E01 LED Flashlight
Fenix E01 LED Miniature Flashlight Review
by "Mad Dog" Earle for webBikeWorld.com
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Summary

The Fenix E01 is super-small, lightweight and very well made.

It has an all-aluminum machined body and it's water resistant to IPX-8 (2 meters).

It provides good illumination with rugged build and uses a single AAA battery.

Background

I'm always on the lookout for interesting new gadgets and gizmos -- especially flashlights.

I found this Fenix EO1 LED flashlight recently and since it's such a cute and tiny little guy, I wanted to report on it as a two-fer-one with my report on the Doc Allen Versatool kit review.

It wasn't long ago when an LED flashlight was an expensive novelty, but now in 2009, LED flashlights have probably surpassed incandescent bulb flashlight sales by a big margin. In fact, there are more LED "tactical" flashlight companies then ever, producing every different style and shape you can imagine.

There are many reasons for the popularity of LEDs, which have been addressed in the various webBikeWorld reviews of LED light bulbs for motorcycles. And LEDs are perfect for flashlights, because the lights draw very little power, making the battery last much longer -- an important factor in a flashlight. LED bulbs also generate very little heat, they're resistant to vibration and they last a long time; typically 100,000 hours or more.

They do have a few drawbacks, but for flashlight use, those are minimal. Also, when the LED light and the reflector assembly are correctly designed, an LED flashlight can generate a powerful amount of light that is evenly distributed and the light is much "whiter" in color than the "yellow" light from an incandescent bulb.

Fenix E01 LED Flashlight

The Fenix E01 LED Flashlight

The benefit of the strong light output is that it doesn't take a huge, heavy flashlight to do the job. The Fenix E01 is a good example; this is a very small flashlight, about the length of a cigarette and about the thickness of a tube of lip balm (71 mm long by 14 mm in diameter). It only weighs 14 grams without the single size AAA battery that fits inside.

The Fenix E01 is open only at one end, which probably helps it meet the IP (Ingress Protection) 8 water resistance "standard". Basically, all this means is that the flashlight can be immersed in water, but it is not dive rated and there are no times or pressures associated with the immersion.

Also, the outside of the E01 is fully knurled and it has a low reflective military green style hard anodized coating.

From the motorcyclist's point of view, the bottom line is that the E01 should at least be able to withstand a rain storm, a wet pocket or an occasional drop in a puddle.

Fenix E01 LED flashlight.  Screw-in head (L) and flat base with keychain loop (R).
Fenix E01 LED flashlight. Screw-in head (L) and flat base with keychain loop (R).
Operating the Fenix E01

The E01 is turned on by screwing in the head, a feature I don't really like because 1) it takes two hands to turn it on and off and 2) I'm always worried the head will turn and the light will go on in a tank bag or pocket and wear down the battery. But, since a rubberized button would probably add weight, bulk, complexity and cost to a little guy like the Fenix E01, I can overlook it in this case.

The E01 has a high-quality, thick O-ring at the base of the threads and Fenix includes a spare O-ring in the package. What's interesting is that the LED "bulb" doesn't have a cover. It's just a bare LED which is, I guess, glued or sealed into the bottom of the reflector. The reflector is simply a bare aluminum machined cone, machined out of the head. So it does not have a separate chrome-plated or polished reflector.

This doesn't seem to affect the light output though. The Fenix E01 throws a nice, even light pattern, but remember, this is only a small, single LED powered by a single LED battery. It's perfectly acceptable for its designed use as a tiny, lightweight near-keychain sized emergency flashlight, but you won't be using it as a substitute for an H4 bulb.

The Gordon LED flashlight (L) vs. the Fenix E01.
The Gordon LED flashlight (L) vs. the Fenix E01.
Gordon LED flashlight (L) and Fenix E01 (R).
Gordon LED flashlight (L) and Fenix E01 (R).

The photo above is a rough attempt at illustrating the power of the small Fenix E01 compared to the much bigger (and only $4.99) Gordon LED flashlight (review), which was a 2007 webBikeWorld Product of the Year award winner.

It's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but useful for illustrating the differences. The photo above was taken in a completely dark room; on the left is the Gordon LED and on the right is the single-LED Fenix E01.

The Fenix E01 is obviously much smaller than the Gordon, so when size matters (sometimes smaller is better!), the Fenix is the winner. The Gordon is still a fantastic deal and a great little flashlight, but I wouldn't want to carry it all the time in my pocket, and there's no keychain I can think of that would hold it.

If the Fenix E01 will be carried more frequently because of its size, then it's much more useful than the bigger, brighter, "perfect" flashlight that's sitting home in a drawer.

Fenix E01 LED Flashlight Close-ups
The Fenix E01 isn't much bigger than the AAA battery that powers it (L). LED is uncovered (R).

The LED used in the Fenix E01 is actually a nice quality Nichia GS LED light with a claimed 10 lumens output and 100,000 hour life. Nichia is a well-known LED manufacturer (among other products) and their LEDs are used by many of the higher quality "tactical" LED flashlight manufacturers.

Fenix claims 21 hours total burn time on the single 1.5V AAA battery. The 21 hours is divided up into 11 hours at full power, then the light goes into "Moonlight" mode, providing a limited amount of light output for another 10 hours.

The E01came with one of those cheap no-name batteries which I quickly binned and replaced with a new Duracell alkaline. The E01 can use alkaline, Ni-MH or lithium batteries.

Another nice feature of the Fenix E01 is that it can stand up straight on a flat surface (see photo above). It has a flat base with a sort of flat tripod shape.

I don't really like the small hole drilled in one of the arms though (seen in photo above); it's designed for the small round keychain clip but it's difficult to get the clip through the hole and I scratched the anodized surface doing so. I'm also afraid that the hole will wear through, as it is pretty close to the edge of the arm and eventually I'm assuming that the circular clip may wear through.

More Fenix LED Flashlights

During my research for this review, I discovered that the E01 doesn't show up in the 2009 Fenix catalog, but it is still easy to find in any of the online LED flashlight stores that sell the popular Fenix brand.

Apparently, like the E01 has been replaced by two separate flashlights, the Fenix E0 and E1. The Fenix E0 is claimed waterproof to 100 feet and has an output of 5.5 lumens and a 20-hour claimed battery life at a constant brightness.

The Fenix E1 has an aluminum body almost identical to the E01, with a 12 lumen constant output, but it's listed as water resistant only and has a claimed battery life of only 3 hours.

The Fenix E01 has to be one of the highest quality tiny flashlights I've ever laid eyes on. It's actually a Type III aircraft grade aluminum tube with only one opening -- the head that holds the LED and the little circuit board screws on to the open end of the tube and the AAA battery drops down inside.

Conclusion

The Fenix E01 is a really nice little flashlight. It's not a toy -- it's more like a miniature version of a high-quality aluminum bodied LED flashlight and it's very handy for motorcycle use. It can be carried on a keychain or stuffed into just about any pocket or small storage space.

It also works well for travel, whether camping or not. I always keep a flashlight near me when I'm sleeping in a strange/new place, and the Fenix E01 is just bright enough to illuminate the way to the rest facilities but not bright enough to shock me awake.

More wBW Flashlight Reviews

wBW Review: Fenix E01 LED Flashlight
Manufacturer: Fenix Light Ltd.
List Price (2009): $16.95 USD
Street Price: Fenix E01 Flashlight
Colors: Black or Green. Made In: China
Review Date: September 2009

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From "S.S." (9/09):  "Carrying a flashlight is a great idea, but I think there is a better solution than the handheld models. I have a Petzl Tikka Plus LED Headlamp, and it has several great features that make it ideal for carrying on a motorcycle:

  1. Very lightweight and compact
  2. Batteries last a long time
  3. Light output can be adjusted from low to med to high
  4. It also has a flashing strobe setting, which would be perfect if your bike died and you needed to push it for any distance on a dark road, as the strobe would let you alert passing cars
  5. Obviously, it can be worn on your head, freeing up both hands to work on whatever is broken
    Thanks again for a great magazine!

Editor's Note:  We reviewed some LED headlamp lights; see the right hand column above for links.

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