Review: Hybrid Light HL40 – Over 10 Years of Worry-Free Lighting

Most of us don’t like being stuck in the dark.  You may have a phobia, stub your toes while negotiating poorly lit areas, or just get bored.  Whatever the reason, having a flashlight you can put some faith in is always a huge comfort, no matter where you find the need to use it – finding lost keys in the lawn, late night potty break in the woods, or avoiding the slasher in a horror movie (seriously, why does no one ever have a working flashlight?).  For those situations and more, it’s important to have a flashlight that will always have juice when you need it.

The aptly named Hybrid Light brand has designed a series of lighting products that combine the long-lasting usability and planet saving efficiency of solar power with the convenience and dependability of traditional battery power.  By combining the two, Hybrid Light has given their users the best of both worlds: the ability to use their lights without having to worry about changing batteries but having a larger power source in reserve, just in case.  Collection of energy can occur both indoors and outdoors, day or night, because the photovoltaic cells in Hybrid Light products work with both natural and artificial light (of course, the sun is always the strongest and most efficient source).  While their current line is fairly small, they have three of the most important lighting categories covered: flashlights, spotlights, and lanterns.  Each is designed to be extremely tough and reliable enough to be ready when you need it for years to come.  The flashlights and spotlights actually float and are completely waterproof.

I was able to acquire one of their smallest flashlights for testing: the Hybrid Light HL40.  While it’s not the brightest out there (40 lumens), it is a good balance of size, weight, longevity, and practicality, as it is 7 inches long, 4 ounces, and will run for 8 hours on a full charge.  Added to those are the normal features built into Hybrid Lights, including charging from natural and artificial light, waterproof construction, and the ability to float.  One cool benefit that was designed into the flashlight is the fact that the balance generally makes the solar panel shift upward, whether it’s rolled across the ground or dropped into the lake or toilet (that second one isn’t really recommended).  This means that you’ll usually be charging, even if you didn’t pay attention to how you put the unit down or where it ended up.  Of course, verifying that the balance thing really was true had the added benefit of confirming that this light is built to take a beating.  In the toddler experiment (letting my son play with it for a while), the TSA/baggage handler test, and regular bumps and drops, this light came through like a champ.

Overall, I was pretty happy with this light, considering the features that it has (and the very reasonable $25 MSRP).  There are two things that keep it from being a great product (although it is still decent): low lumen output and no ability to adjust the light (with either a focus or different settings).  As is, the HL40 would be a great addition to an emergency kit or to have lying around the house when you just need that extra bit of light (or if Sandy’s cousin comes through town), but it isn’t going to be your go-to outdoor flashlight.  Hybrid Light does offer the HL120, however, that remedies one of my main concerns, by tripling the output (up to 120 lumens) while only adding a bit over an inch in length and 3.5 ounces.  Not to mention that it only costs $5 more than the HL40.  My recommendation is to spring the extra money and go for the HL120, unless size and weight are of paramount importance.  Check these and the other Hybrid Light products out on their webpage. And, don’t worry, if you want a flashlight that matches your wardrobe, you can see from first photo in this article that the Hybrid Light comes in 11 colors.

– David

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