The Solo From ICON Light

When I first saw the ICON Solo, I thought it would be a handy light for a variety of outdoor activities. The low output should be just about right for viewing something close up, or reading a map, without affecting your night vision. While it wouldn’t be my first choice for a long walk in the dark, the high setting is more than adequate for lighting your path at night.¬†Interestingly,¬† ICON lights have been described as the flashlight you give to someone that loses flashlights. This is even mentioned on their website. But that has nothing to do with them being “disposable” by any measure. After seeing them at Outdoor Retailer, and getting my hands on one for review, it makes sense. ICON’s designer, Paul Kim, challenged the conventional wisdom of flashlight design, ie: they should be round and boring, since that’s easy to make. Mr. Kim came up with flashlights that forgo the usual cylindrical shape, and instead employ a variety of of angles and surface treatments, creating a flashlight that’s as much a machined piece of art as a tool.

The reflector housing of the Solo is actually triangular, with some elongated teardrops machined into the surface. From there, it tapers suddenly to the body, which houses the two AAA batteries. A series of small, shallow holes provides visual interest as well as an excellent gripping surface. After that, there’s a contrasting silver ring boasting an exceptionally stout pocket clip, with a rubber insert for extra security. The tail cap itself has a design element milled into it that’s somewhat of a mixture of the other two, combining the shallow hole with a groove that tapers in depth as the cap’s diameter decreases, culminating in a sealed switch that cycles through low, high, and off.

Every single person I handed this light to had to turn it in their hands, running their fingers over the different surface treatments. It’s hard to resist. That’s probably why “ICONistas”, as ICON owners are called, are loathe to lose them – it’s just too stylish to think of as merely a tool.

I’m willing to bet more than a few people will see this as a bit of a fashion accessory, but still appreciate its functionality, as the Solo isn’t just a pretty face. The tiny LED puts out 5 lumens on low, and 30 on high, with a run time of about 50 hours from the included Energizer AAA batteries. Press the switch once for low, off and back on quickly for high. Quite simple. There’s even an o-ring to seal out moisture. It’s only 5.5″ long, and feels much sturdier than any 2.2oz flashlight should.

The Solo seems like it would be quite at home going from shirt pocket or purse to a backpack, and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if it shows up in a few stockings this holiday.

– Brian

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