Yes, it does seem as though we review a lot of flashlights and knives. But they’re two of the most common tools for outdoor enthusiasts, and are all-around handy to have. What we try to avoid is sharing the same item over and over again. That’s one of the reasons we’re excited to review the new Shifter 4.0 from Spotlight. To the untrained eye, it might just be another flashlight, but we’ll dig into the technical specs a bit, and explain why Spotlight is one of our favorites.
First, a bit about LED technology, which is advancing pretty rapidly. At this point, if you own an incandescent flashlight, you’re getting a fraction of the output you’d have with an LED, and your battery life is being wasted as heat. That’s one of the reasons we’ll be seeing LED lights replacing the incandescent and CFL lights in our homes soon. LED bulbs require approximately 1/10 the amount of energy as incandescent bulbs to put out the same amount of light. Incandescent bulbs emit 25 times more heat than an LED. That’s electricity you can’t see, but might feel if you’re close enough to the bulb. (If you happen to see a flashlight being used to fry an egg, that’s simply the world’s most inefficient flashlight at work) LEDs are also nearly indestructible, and usually rated for 50,000 hours of use. Whether being used on the job, or just around the house, the LED flashlight cannot be beat for price relative to performance. And Spotlight is taking that a step further.
That little bit of heat the LED bulbs put out can limit effectiveness in less expensive lights, reducing output and battery life. Spotlight addresses this in two ways. First, instead of a TIR (Total Internal Reflector) system, they use their own RLS (Reflector Lens System), which provides the Shifter 4.0 with a flood to spot ratio of 12:1, at the same time allowing the bulb to run cooler. Combined with chips that are optimized for maximum efficiency and temperature control, Spotlight LED flashlights are brighter and run longer than their low-end competitors. Once you buy an LED flashlight, the only consumable is batteries. Might as well make sure you get an efficient light.
Just over 5 inches long, the Shifter 4.0 has a solid feel, without being too heavy. Mine came pre-loaded with 4 AAA Duracell batteries, so it was ready to go. Attractive knurling in the middle of the body and grooves on either end are more than just design elements, they make it easier to handle with or without gloves. One of our contributors came up with the idea of testing the focus by twisting it while under running water. Rest assured, you’ll be able to work this light in the heaviest rainstorm. Likewise, the O-ring sealed tail cap cannot be removed easily under those conditions, preventing water from getting inside by accident. On the flood setting, the beam is nice and even all the way across. As you zoom out, the middle is slightly darker. That brightens up as you reach the spot light setting, which is very focused, with a bit of a halo. Finally, the rubber switch that cycles through the high, low, and strobe settings is recessed into the tail cap. Not only does this help avoid accidentally turning the light on (or off), but it allows you to stand it on end, and use it as an area light, or leave the strobe on as a distress signal. Expect 2.5 hours of run time on high, which gives you 255 lumens of output, enough to throw a beam 200 meters. Pretty good numbers for a quartet of AAA batteries. On low, we usually get at least a month or two of occasional use. Your results may vary.
If you’re wondering why we haven’t suggested this flashlight as a dads and grads gift, it’s only because it won’t be available until July. We just happened to score one early for our review. Check 12vspotlight.com for availability.