Fenix E21, the Best 21st Century LED Flashlight

What do you need flashlights for? Camping, looking in small spaces, seeing in the car at night, going out in the dark, living through power blackouts – when you need them, you really need them. Or do you? Is the handy flashlight app on your phone good enough?

I say no. Power blackouts are a good example. The electricity goes off and you don’t know when it will be back on. The charge on your phone is precious; you need it to communicate and you can’t charge it anymore. The last thing you want to do is run it down using it as an emergency flashlight. Even the old-fashioned plastic flashlight with two D cells is better for that purpose. I decided I wanted something better, and flashlight technology has improved dramatically over the last few years.

I looked around and chose the Fenix (“phoenix”) E21 as the flashlight at the sweet spot of price and performance. It takes two AA batteries, and is just slightly bigger than the mini-Maglight it resembles. It is easy to use with just three settings for the Cree XP-E LED bulb: off, on, blindingly bright (150 lumens) and on, one-third as blindingly bright (48 lumens). Just a small turn of the front near the lens adjusts the brightness. Very simple.

Fenix LED Flashlight

The light throws a strong miniature sun in the middle, ranging from an inch or so close up to several feet at the limit, and a very wide spill that lights up the surrounding area well enough to see everything else just fine. So you can light up what you want to see and still notice anything in the periphery. It’s made of aircraft grade machined aluminum, so you can officially feel free to drop it from a meter and a half onto a concrete sidewalk or submerge it two meters underwater.

It’s a lot of flashlight for $35.

Luxury: 8              Affordability: 8

Available from Amazon

Want more luxury? You can pay about twice as much for a two AA battery flashlight with a much brighter Cree LED and many more settings. Take a look at the Fenix LD-22 or the ThurNite Neutron 2A to get an idea of just how much power you can hold in your hand …

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