Flashlights are important, aren’t they? Small and large, piercing the darkness like a searchlight or dimly preserving our tactical night vision, we love them all. The AR10 rechargeable flashlight is a pretty straightforward torch, at first glance, but there are hidden superpowers within.
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The AR10 is a single-LED, single-focus flashlight, powered by a single 2600mAh Lithium 18650 cell. Illumination comes from a CREE XM-L2 U2 LED. The light meets IPX8 spec, which means it is waterproof to 2 meters, as well as being impact resistant from 1 metre. The battery is easily changeable and reverse-protected (You can’t put it in wrong!), accessed through a screw-on end cap, sealed with a single O-ring below the threads. There is a single push-button switch that activates both the on/off function as well as the four levels of light the LED can emit (Turbo, High, Medium, and Low). These are 1080, 450, 150, and 10 lumens, respectively.
When it’s first turned on, the LED shines at the intensity of the previous use. If a different intensity is desired, the user only has to click a few more times and the unit cycles through them all. Turning the device off is as simple as holding down the switch for a few seconds.
Two more modes are available as well. When the light is on in any mode, a triple press will activate strobe mode at Turbo intensity. Another triple press moves it to SOS mode, which is at Medium intensity. There is also a locking feature, which prevents the unit from accidentally being activated by children or from within a pack or suitcase.
When the light is first turned on, an indicator glows slightly in the centre of the switch. This is the battery power meter. (Centre button LED power indicator is above.) It will glow green for 70-100% charge, orange for 30-70%, and red for less than 30%. If it gets down to 10% or less, it will flash red.
The unit itself is about 14cm long. The flat end cap is magnetized, so that it will stay attached in an upright or vertical position, or hang from a metal shelf or rack. This is where the AR10’s hidden superpower comes in – you can rotate the head as much as 90°! There is a 45° joint that allows about the top inch to swivel down into a right angle to the main body. The light can stay on throughout the action, and will stay at whatever angle you place it at. With the magnetic tail piece, you can direct a steady beam of light in virtually any direction.
Below the end cap joint is a nicely knurled section. At that point, there is a groove around the entire torch with a chromed metal clip attached, which can spin around fully. The clip is very tight, and may be removable. The next three inches moving up to the inset tempered glass lens is mostly smooth, with a few deep designs machined in. Opposite the rubberized push button switch is a gasket-covered port for a microUSB charging cable.
The torch can be recharged without removing the battery. A weather-protected miniUSB port opposite the power button allows you to connect to any powered USB port to grab power and refresh the battery.
At 149 grams with a battery installed it’s not going to weigh anyone’s pack or belt too much. The whole flashlight has a nice heft to it, and you don’t have to worry about damaging it if you drop it.
The AR10 is rated at a high output of 1080 lumens, with a rated runtime of “as long as” 220 hours on a full charge. While Lithium 18650 cells are not everywhere or particularly cheap, they are dependable and long-lasting and can take repeat charges for years. Since they can recharge in place, you may never find you need to replace it, but it’s nice to know it’s pretty standard if you do.