REVIEW: Nathan’s Zephyr Fire 100 hand Torch (that’s a flashlight to us Americans)

I’ve been collecting a lot of products lately during and in preparation for my travels to Vermont, Colorado, Race Across the West, and Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail. I’ve been testing for the past few months or so, and thought you’d like a peak at what I’ve been into and why. First on the list is:

Zephyr Fire 100 “hand torch” by Nathan.

 

The first time I heard the term “torch” used to imply “flashlight” was, I believe, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, an incredible book that celebrates curiosity, the spirit of adventure, and the power of goodness (that’s what I got out of it, anyway). I like that it’s such an archaic, almost lazy term, since really, it is┬ábasically just an electric version of what people used to burn witches, hunt down Frankenstein’s monster, and make sure they don’t fall down the stairs while walking to the bathroom at night. I’ve done all those things with this modern day fire-on-a-stick, and there are noticeable upgrades since the days of Mary Shelley. Besides not burning anything down, whether accidental or not, here are some real bright sides:

  • It’s USB-charged. Not only can you charge it by your computer, you can also use any of the newer wall chargers that have a removable chord (just like most cell phones). This is also great if you are backpacking and traveling with a BioLite Camp Stove (review of that forthcoming!).
  • The hand harness is really comfortable and easy to use even with bulky winter gloves or mittens. It’s also adjustable for left or right handed use. I additionally appreciate the hand harness because when I’m not using the flashlight, I can wear it on my wrist so my hand is free without having to put down (i.e. lose) the flashlight in the dark.
  • The rear light. It’s such a simple addition to a classic flashlight but it means the world to people out at night in an area with other people and/or cars. It’s very visible and I felt safe the whole time using it. This was obviously designed for runners, but the benefits are much more broad.
  • The combination strobe light/emergency siren. They aren’t the same button, but in my mind they serve the same purpose because I can’t imagine running with a strobe light guiding my way, especially since the battery life of these things seems to be exceptionally long. If I were to fall off a cliff while hiking or trail running, the siren would (hopefully) alert people that there’s someone in danger and the flashing light would help locate me visibly.
  • The downward angle of the flashlight. It pairs well with the hands-free nature of the hand harness, as the flashlight is automatically angled at where I’m looking, without having to keep my hand in a certain position.

There are a few negatives, however, though they certainly haven’t turned me away from this great device:

  • I wish it was a bit brighter. At 108 lumens, hiking in the woods with no moonlight still feels a bit dim. If my situation were a bit different, I may consider instead investing in the 359-lumen Zephyr 300.
  • The light and siren buttons are right on top of each other. I’ve hit the siren a few times in an effort to turn off the light, and it takes 2-3 seconds to turn anything on or off on this flashlight, so in an effort to be stealthy I made quite a ruckus.
  • The rear light, while I love it, is really bright. If there’s anyone running or hiking behind me, they are blinded by the red blinking orb bouncing three feet off the ground, which is neither safe nor enjoyable. I wish there was a way to turn off just the rear light.

All in all, I love this “torch” and it has proven useful on hikes, runs, dog walks, and even snow shoeing (though it took a bit of adjusting to figure out a good placement with the walking poles). I’m very happy with it and think it will last me a long time and many adventures.

Next on the mat is GoGo Gear’s Kevlar Leggings.

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