Monday, 21 November 2011

Search Torches - An unscientific review.

It’s late November and it’s getting dark a bit early now, but only another month and the nights will be drawing out ready for summer. A mega busy summer hopefully for Swanage, what with the Olympics just down the road in Weymouth.

Anyway at this time of the year all rescue officers always carry a torch, you can be on a job at 14:00 and before long it’s dark, so always best to have one just in case.

We use a range of torches, so I thought i'd do a bit of a review. The line up……..Nite Tracker, Light Hawk, Maglite, Lenser P7, Lenser P14.

Does Size Matter?
Their power is measured in candlepower or lumens ..“Lumens are brightness, candlepower is beam shape.” Or something like that...I just call it 'shineability'

Here’s the standard issue ‘Search Lantern- Nite Tracker’, big and orange and always on a trickle charge, lasts ages but is rather heavy when you’re walking miles across the cliffs in the dark. A filament bulb knocking out 150,00 candle power. Yours for £118, we have 8; not particularly bright.

Nite Tracker Search Lantern

The new standard issue is a Bright Star ‘Light Hawk LED’ – this baby is small and yellow – I’m good at these reviews J - Again this stays on trickle charge. The beauty of this is it uses a LED chip which produces 120,00 candle power in a smaller, lighter torch. Cost about £280.00… yup £280.00 hence we have one for a 12 man team. Oh, it does a flashing strobe if you really want to wind the helicopter pilots up. We have this attached to a wall, securely, very securely  as Brian found out.

Light Hawk LED

The ubiquitous– ‘Maglite’ – an old search favourite with one issued to each member of the team. Relatively heavy but you could use it as a truncheon if attacked by wolves, which is unlikely at Durlston. These use a filament bulb and used to be considered pretty bright. 13,500 candle power on the C-Cell Battery version. About £25 ish. It pains me to say it, but they may have had their day.

Maglite C Cell

And now the new boys. Yes those pesky clever Germans have made an uber-torch. The first one is a Lenser LED P7 – This one is about the size of a Mars Bar (The ones we had as kids not today’s fun size Mars Bars! - Don't get me started on that) The torches are aluminum with a ‘Cree’ LED chip – these knock out 200 Lumens (I don’t know what that is in candlepower). They come with batteries, lanyard, carabineer and pouch for around £32.00 from that online book store starting with an ‘A’ and ending in 'mazon'

Lenser LED PF with Wand

And it’s bigger brother the Lenser LED P14 this one is 210 Lumens and provides a longer life. About £40.00.
Lenser LED P14

Interchangeable coloured lenses, or an orange wand come as £5 extras. Great if you want to direct planes or traffic or generally dance around like Luke Skywalker.

Sadly these two torches are not standard issue. A couple of us have bought them ourselves as personal kit to supplement the standard kit.

Unbelievably bright! No, really they are stupidly bright. It says don't look into the beam which as far as i'm concerned is an invitation. To be fair i shouldn't have looked into the beam, they were right!

It’s a white natural day light and the quick focus system allows you to go from a spot to a flood beam immediately. Easy to carry and ideal for searches. I know a lot of the Mountain Rescue teams use the P14 as the main search torch with a backup P7 in their pockets. They knock spots off the other torches. 

The three LED torches provide an intense white light for search.

So does size matter? ...well in this case the small hand held Lensers win!

Well it's not very scientific, but its pretty evident which torches are the brightest! 

Other torches are available....

Lenser also do an X21 – with seven cree chips !!! and 1020 lumens. £220 and brighter than the sun; it would stun a squirrel out of a tree at 400 paces. Not that we shine torches at squirrels.

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