+ 9/10 All around amazing gear
+ Great throw on max
+ Smooth beam
+ Durable construction
+ Good runtime
– Not easy to switch light levels
Length: 13.7 cm (5.4 inches)
Bezel diameter: 3.4 cm (1.33 inches)
Body diameter: 2.5 cm (0.98 inches)
Weight (without batteries): 119g (4.2oz)
First of all, many thanks to Vitus, an acquaintance of mine, for kindly allowing me to use this torch for a week. I have to stress that I could not subject a brand new torch belonging to someone else to very rigorous testing, but I was able to gain some useful impressions.
The torch retails at about €75 and comes with some useful accessories such as a strong holster, a lanyard, a glow in the dark cap and a couple of spare o-rings. The torch itself is made from aircraft grade aluminum, and has a clip and a tactical ring near the tail. You can remove the clip but not the grip ring. It runs on 2 x CR123A batteries or 1 x best 18650 battery rechargeable cell.
The Fenix TK12 is very compact (see dimensions above). In fact, it is a little shorter than most 2 x AA flashlights, which are considerably less powerful. The torch feels good in the hand, but I would have preferred to remove the grip ring. The TK12 has a very solid feel to it and looks like it can take a lot of punishment. It also has very smooth-fitting parts, and the o-rings are thicker than those on other torches I have. There is also a locking function to prevent the torch switching on, for example when it’s in your bag. In addition, it also comes with a temporary activation switch to provide a short burst of light. The TK12 also memorises the last light level used.
The torch is said to be waterproof to IPX-8 standard. I can only find vague statements about this online, but all of them agree that this standard has to more than fulfil the standards of IPX-7. This means it has to withstand submersion at a water depth of more than one metre for more than 30 minutes. Fenix says that is submersible to two metres.
The TK12 allegedly has the following outputs and runtime:
- Outdoor mode: 42 lumens for 20 hours and 245 lumens for 2.75 hours
- Camping mode: 8 lumens for 98 hours and 95 lumens for 9.5 hours
- Police mode: 250 lumens strobe or 245 lumens for 2.75 Std.
On maximum the light is said to light for a distance of 179 metres.
According to the Fenix website, all the above figures were achieved in the laboratory with high-quality CR123A batteries.
For my runtime test I used a fully charged 18650 2600mAh from Ultrafire. I switched the torch on max and waited until the light was no longer usable. I have no way of measuring the lumens, but can confirm that the light was extremely bright for the first two hours, after which it started to noticeably lose power. Even after 3 hours it was easily able to light more than 20 metres away. It stopped producing light worth its name after three and a half hours. This for me is a very creditable runtime.
In tests outside, I just went to completely unlit fields on a very rainy evening and switched the TK12 on max – and watched night turn into day – at least for a distance of more than 40 metres. It had a smooth wide beam, thus lighting a big area.
The throw was much longer, of course, but nowhere near the advertised 179 metres. Then again, I wasn’t in the lab with the batteries of my choosing. It certainly lit more than 100 metres, which is very good under such conditions.
I also tested medium and also found it very good for 50 metres. In fact, this is probably the most useful mode, unless you live on a country estate and are looking for your cat every night.
The most frustrating aspect of the light, both indoors and out, is switching between the different modes and light levels on offer.
To cycle through the different modes with the tk12 (there are 3 modes each with 2 different light outputs as described above) you have to quickly turn the torch on and off twice, and then twist the torch on and off to get the different light outputs. This is very long-winded. It has to be said, however, that some users would like all these different modes.
I said at the start that I can only judge this torch based on one week’s use so here are my initial impressions. With its tough body, great lighting distance and alleged waterproof capability, the TK12 is predestined for outdoor use. The fittings are also excellent and I liked the momentary activation and lock-out functions. However, I am not too keen on the difficulty in switching between modes and light levels. I also don’t like the fact that it has so many levels, but other users might see this as a strength rather than a weakness.