“Versatile” is a word you’ll find used pretty often on this site. And it’s not because we don’t have a thesaurus. It’s because the products we like to share are those that offer a certain amount of versatility. Whether your budget only allows you to purchase so much gear, or your backpack will only hold so much, products that can serve more than one purpose (and do them well) represent a great value. Industrial Revolution has been a great source for many of those items, and the latest review from them is the Arka, by UCO.
Squeezed into a 5.25 inch, half pound package* is a flashlight, lantern, and USB charger. No small feat there, when you consider the other numbers: A 3.7 volt, 4AH battery provides a run time of 6-8 hours on high and 50 hours on low. Its R3 XP-E CREE LED puts out a maximum of 180 lumens over five lighting modes, and an additional three red LED bulbs offer steady night vision as well as an emergency S.O.S. strobe. So you get a flashlight good for up to 250 feet, a lantern for lighting your tent or campsite, red light for reading at night, and the ability to recharge your phone or other portable device. If that’s not versatile, I don’t know what is.
With those run times, the Arka is perfect for a weekend camping trip, or your 72 hour kit. Find your way around the house or campsite in flashlight mode, then twist the feet out of the base to stand it on a flat surface, or hang it via the folding split ring on the top. In lantern mode, brightness goes from “cooking and reading” bright white to “put on a little Barry White” low red. Ok, it may be a stretch to consider the Arka as romantic as candlelight, but it’s certainly safer. The battery has enough reserve that if you do use it to charge your phone, it should still leave you with a weekend’s worth of light. For camping, I’d pair it with a solar charger during the day, and extend its usefulness over more than just a few days.
After spending some time with the Arka, it’s apparent that the designers certainly paid attention to the details. The contrasting red and black bezel on the lens providers a bit of extra grip, and is raised enough to protect the lens. On the base, those fold out feet protect the power switch, which is lightly textured to offer a bit of tactile feedback. If there is a fault with the Arka, it’s that although you can use it as a light and recharge a device at the same time, that can be a bit awkward when using it as a flashlight if you need your other hand free. Other than that, it’s already been a big hit with our contributors, who’ve taken it on several camping trips already. Each one ships with a USB cable and wall outlet adapter. To get yours, or see the other great products from UCO, visit industrialrev.com.
*The packaging indicates 7.75 ounces/213 grams. Website indicates 8.5 ounces/241 grams. My own digital scale indicated 8.2 ounces, 23 grams. Hopefully, no one is going to get terribly upset over a .5-.75 ounce difference. This can happen when there are minor changes to the product after the packaging artwork is finalized.