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77096LTR: Gerber Bear Grylls Intense Torch - Kerri Larkin

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  • Kerri Larkin
    Nov 2, 2013
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      Hi Jamie,

      Please find following the text for my LTR.  The html can be found HERE, or at: http://tinyurl.com/mmqdql2

      Thanks in advance for your edits!

      Kind regards,

      Kerri

      LONG TERM REPORT

      FIELD LOCATIONS
      Since its arrival, the Bear Grylls Gerber Intense Torch has pretty much lived in my grab-n-go box in the back of my Jeep. Its been thumped over some very rough four-wheel drive tracks and banged around in the box with no obvious ill effects.

      I've also taken it on fifteen nights of camping in total. The first was to Yuragir National Park on the New South Wales Mid-north coast. I stayed at Boorkoom Camping area, a delightful ocean-front area perched on the cliffs above the sea. I did two day walks of approximately seven kilometres each but returned to my base camp at night. Conditions for this camp were very cool with lows of 1C (34 F) and highs of 18 C (64 F). The days were sunny but there were storms in the area which, thankfully, missed me.

      Photo caption: Storm at sea, Red Cliffs campsite, Yuragir National Park

      The second overnight camp I did was in the Wedding Bells State Forest. This is a beautiful region with areas of rainforest down low and dry eucalyptus forests up on the ridges. The elevation is only about 470 m (1540 ft) at it's highest point but there are some spectacular escarpment views and some great walks to be had in this area. Weather this time was a chilly -2 C (28 F) overnight, to about 12 C (54 F) during the day with some strong winds causing it to feel a lot colder. I used my Blackbird hammock on both occasions and traveled as light as possible given the need for extra hammock insulation.

      Photo Caption: View from Waihou lookout, Wedding Bells State Forest

      My third camp was a Jeep Camp at Nana Glen on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. This was for seven nights from October 2 to October 9. The elevation was at about 100 metres (330 feet) and this camp was in a large open paddock with a group of around 200 Jeeps. Temperatures varied from daytime highs of 32 C (90 F) to lows around 2 C (36 F) overnight. It was very, very windy and with choking smoke from a nearby bushfire it wasn't the most pleasant camp I've ever experienced! The driving was pretty spectacular, however, and more than made up for the up for the unpleasant weather. The torch was used each night to navigate to the toilets, find my camp in the dark, and generally wander around the camping area. It was also used to provide an intense light for some minor first aid during the day.

      My fourth camp was an overnighter to a 400 ha (1000 acre) Nature Reserve at Kungala, again on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. The elevation was also around the 100 metre (330 foot) mark, with highs of 36 C (97 F) during the day and a low of 19 C (66 F) over night. Again, strong winds and smoke made camping less than enjoyable. This camp provided the opportunity to do some spotlighting at night and I dazzled a couple of possums and an owl.

      Finally, I took the torch on a road trip to Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island, about four hours driving time north of Brisbane, Queensland. Our first night was at Amamoor State Forest with an elevation of 200 metres (660 feet). Daytime temperatures of around 28 C (82 F) and an overnight low of 18 C (64 F) made for a very pleasant camp. We then drove to Fraser Island and spent four nights using Central Station as a base camp. The elevation here was around 50 metres (160 feet) and temperatures were fairly similar to those of our first night. I did quite a bit of spotlighting here trying to find the native mice which insisted on playing soccer in the leaf litter under my hammock. We also spotted a brush-tailed possum with a baby, a beautiful squirrel glider and a few native bush rats.

      Photo Caption: Camping at Central Station, Fraser Island, Queensland

      PERFORMANCE
      This is actually a fun torch to use! I must confess when I first saw it I wondered if this design was just change for the sake of change: after all, torches have been round since they were first made. Why mess with that? Well, actually, the triangular design works really well. To me, this has been a small revolution and I hope more torch makers will follow suit.

      So let me explain why I love this design so much. Initially, I thought the triangular design would be awkward to hold, but I've discovered it's actually very comfortable. However, it does require an adjustment of grip. Normally, I hold my torch in a low grip, (i.e. with the arm held by the side and the torch facing forward), and although the torch is comfortable there, it feels better in a high grip (i.e. held with the elbow bent up) position. While I'm used to the feel of a circular torch body in my hands, the triangular body feels very comfortable too, and in some ways more natural for a folded hand to hold, especially in the high grip position which allows the thumb to operate the end-cap power button.

      Photo Captions: Left: traditional grip / Right: preferred grip

      The rubber grip is perfectly positioned for holding the torch with a sure, non-slip, grip. I have to say, though, the rubber grip is a little short for use in cold weather where my hands came into contact with the cold metal. It would be no issue if wearing gloves, but feels very cold without them. That said, it doesn't take long for the metal to be warmed by body heat.

      I guess it's a matter of personal preference, but I'd prefer the torch to come on in low power mode first, rather than high power and have to cycle through the modes. I can see arguments for and against high power first, but I'd rather be less blinded by the torch starting gently rather than fully dazzled by its intensity. It seems like it would also save battery power by not having that fully intense light to begin with and having to cycle. For me, the low power mode has been plenty bright enough for most campsite chores and is generally the mode I've used. A great reason for having high power mode selected first is the ability to have a sudden, intense, light thrown on those night time sounds in the bush. It's very easy to see wildlife with such a powerful torch! The critters are usually far too dazzled to move for a while too.

      I've tested the torch in a couple of mountain streams and found it to be waterproof, as described. It operates well under water and although the nylon wrist strap gets wet, it dries very quickly. It's really great to have a torch I'm not afraid to leave on the camp table overnight, or have to protect from rain, dew and other dampness.

      Photo Caption: The Intense Torch works well under water

      Perhaps one drawback of the triangular shape is that it doesn't feel as comfortable to hold in the mouth. When not using a head torch, I tend to stick my torch in my mouth when I need both hands free. That's the only advantage I've found for a traditional torch shape over this torch's shape. It does sit well in the crook of my neck, though, if I use my head and neck to hold it like a telephone.

      One of the selling points for this torch is that it stays where it's put: no rolling away to fall down a crevice like a normal circular-bodied torch. I'm pleased to say, it's true. I've never had to overly worry about where I put this torch as I know it's unlikely to roll off of most surfaces. That feature alone makes it worth having. It's surprising how much easier it makes life. I still find myself checking any surface I want to put the torch on to see how to place it so it won't roll, but then I realise I can just plonk it down without worrying. Funny how hard it can be to break those years of round-torch conditioning!

      Power consumption is quite low thanks to the LED bulb, and I estimate I've used the torch for around ten hours in a combination of modes - short stabs of high power and longer applications of low power - and haven't needed to change batteries yet. When I saw the literature stating the torch could only be expected to provide around 90 minutes on high power I was concerned this torch would be very battery intensive. That's not proven to be the case, and by using a mix of power modes, the batteries have provided all the light I've needed for these camping trips. Admittedly, I don't use the torch for sitting around camp as a lantern, or for extensive reading at night, but for general tasks it has been outstanding.

      One weird effect I wasn't expecting was that the torch can cause a vertical venetian blind-like effect when pointed directly at a camera. It would be advisable to check this if using the torch as a light source for either still or video camera work.

      Photo Caption: A weird LED effect with cameras

      I'm also pleased to report that after being tossed in my grab-n-go box and banging around in the Jeep for the last few months, there is no sign of scratching or wear on that bright orange metal.

      This torch is easy to find in a bag because of its shape, it provides a strong and brilliant light, and as advertised, it doesn't roll away. Since the weather has become warmer, I've not had the problem with cold metal against my skin that I had during winter. So far, I haven't changed the batteries although the last couple of times I've used the torch I've noticed it started as usual but then seemed to cut it's power a little, which may indicate the batteries are due for a change soon. Really, with the amount of use this torch has had, I think that's pretty good economy.

      I've found for most camp tasks, and walking around at night, the lowest power mode is more than bright enough. The biggest drawback I've found is having to cycle through the power modes to get to low power. I've taken to cupping my hand over the bulb while flicking through the modes so as not to dazzle myself. It's no big deal but does require me to think about what I'm doing before I push the power button. Conversely, having the torch come straight to full power has been fantastic for spotlighting wildlife at night. I dazzled one possum so badly at Kungala, he proceeded to swear at me for the next thirty minutes!

      Photo Captions: The Intense Torch is ideal for spotlighting, even in camp! This possum brought her baby back the next night. The poor photo quality is due to the phone camera, not the torch / Fraser Island is renowned for encounters with wild dingoes - Australian native dogs. They seem unconcerned by humans, but never feed them as they can become aggressive

      To me, this torch is best used for distance work rather than close camp work. Although it works very nicely in low power mode, it seems easier to use a head torch around camp when preparing food or getting settled in a hammock: things that often require both hands. I've almost never used the medium power mode as low power seems bright enough for most things. High power mode is where this torch really shines (sorry, couldn't resist that one!) as it is probably bright enough to drive by. Although the beam is fairly focused, there is enough spread to light up the surrounds as well as the target.

      Photo caption: Although dirt sticks to the rubber it is easily brushed off

      I dropped the torch in the sand once and found the sand sticks to the rubber coating of the grip. It was fairly easy to brush off, though, and doesn't mark the rubber. The torch worked just fine after I dropped it, but I haven't dropped it on to a hard surface.

      The white painted Gerber logo is starting to show a few minor signs of wear but otherwise the torch is as good as new.

      SUMMARY
      I love this torch: it's as simple as that! It does exactly what it claims to do. Although I'm no Bear Grylls survival expert, I do feel I could trust this torch enough to include it in my regular camping kit. It's strong, solid, has a fantastic beam, works very well on low power, and can be placed on most surfaces without rolling away. The Bear Grylls Intense Torch has coped with everything I've thrown at it: submersion, sand, cold, heat and more. It still looks almost as good as new and functions perfectly. This is a quality piece of gear which seems like it will last for ever.

      So, will I keep using the Intense Torch? You betcha! This torch now lives in my handbag and will continue to stay there. Its combination of power, functional shape, ease of use and 'coolness' means it has earned a place in my kit.


      Liked:

          * Robust construction
          * Multiple power modes
          * Shape - it's easy to carry, easy to put down
          * Colour - although not a major survival requirement, this torch looks so cool
          * Easy to operate power switch, even with gloves on
          * Wrist lanyard
          * Power - this torch is so bright!

      Less Liked:

          * Mouth usage - it feels a little big and triangular in the mouth
          * Cold metal - in cold weather the rubber grip seems marginally short.

      That concludes my Long Term Report on the Bear Grylls Intense Torch and I'd like to thank both Gerber Gear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this item.