There’s a funny thing about flashlights around my house. My house is the darkest house on earth, so I often need a flashlight to see well enough to do things. If I can find one when I need it, its batteries are dead or it’s too big for me to both hold it and do the job I needed it for. I was pleased when Julie recently sent me the Joby Gorillatorch Flare that Joby had given The Gadgeteer for review. This little guy uses LEDs, so the batteries should last longer, and he has legs, so he can hold himself while I do the work!
You’ve probably seen products from Joby before. They make a range of flexible little tripods that hold small point-and-shoot cameras, SLR cameras, small hand-held electronics like iPod touches, and they even have flashlights on tripods. The appearance of the tripod legs remind me of Tinkertoys or those molecule building kits I used in science classes.
The Joby Gorillatorch Flare is made of black ABS plastic (flashlight housing and legs). There are grip rings made of TPE to make the flashlight easier to hold on to and to help it grip onto surfaces. Each leg ends in a strong neodymnium magnet. The feet and some of the grip rings are a bright red. If you have a Flare and some of the original Gorillatorch flashlights, you’ll be able to distinguish the Flare by color alone.
The Joby Gorillatorch is about 7” tall. The flashlight body is about 3” wide by about 2.5” deep. The shape of the flashlight made it difficult for me to measure, so the dimensions may be a little off. The flashlight head is about 2” in diameter, including the red grip ring. Joby says the Gorillatorch Flare weighs 6.5 ounces with the batteries installed. (Joby includes the 3 AA batteries in the USA, but regulations prevent them from including batteries in units sold internationally.)
Joby says the Gorillatorch Flare is drop-resistant and has been tested to sustain drops of up to 6 feet. I’m only five feet tall, but I held the Gorillatorch as high above my head as I could reach (approximately 6’) and dropped it to my hardwood floor. The flashlight was fine. I did this a couple of times, and the flashlight looked fine (didn’t even see a scratch) and worked fine. Joby also says it’s water-resistant, too. I dumped a couple of hands-full of water over the flashlight head then pressed the on-button while the water was still running off the Joby. It came on immediately without even a flicker, and it’s still working.
Each leg on the Gorillatorch Flare has nine ball-and-socket joints, so they are extremely flexible. Each joint is bendable and can rotate 360 degrees, so you can bend the legs into most any shape necessary to have it stand steadily on relatively flat surfaces.
If there are no flat surfaces nearby, you can wrap the legs around most anything to hold it in place.
The magnetic feet allow you to attach the Joby Gorillatorch to the body of your car to help you see to change a flat in the dark or to use as an emergency beacon.
The original Joby Gorillatorch had only a single LED, but the Joby Gorillatorch Flare has four. The center LED is an ultra-bright white CREE LED with a maximum brightness of 100 lumens. There are three red LEDs (no brightness level given) placed in a triangular pattern around the center LED. Joby says it uses “high quality reflector optics” with the LEDs. The polycarbonate lens protects the LEDs, and there are bubbles over each LED that apparently helps focus the light.
There are six lighting settings for the Gorillatorch Flare. You repeatedly push the power button to toggle through low, medium, and high levels for the white LED. The fourth setting is a strobe using the white LED. The fifth setting turns on the three red LEDs, and the sixth setting is a strobe using the red LEDs. Either strobe setting could be used as a flare to indicate your position in case you are lost or have broken down along the highway. There are no brightness levels given for the any of the settings, although I would assume the 100 lumens designation is for the maximum white setting. I found a secret about the power button. If you press and hold it until the light goes off, the light will come on at the previous brightness setting when you turn it back on. So if you prefer to always use the Gorillatorch at a particular setting, this is a shortcut to always get to that setting. Of course, once it’s on, you can switch through the settings normally. And you can return to normal mode simply by turning off the flashlight with a quick press instead of a press-and-hold.
Joby says you can expect up to 80 hours of battery life with the white LED and up to 240 hours with the red LED strobe. Specifically you get:
|Light mode||White LED||Red LEDs|
|Maximum brightness||20 hours||60 hours|
|Optimum brightness (med)||50 hours||(not applicable)|
|Economy brightness (low)||80 hours||(not applicable)|
|Strobe||80 hours||240 hours|
I took a series of pictures indoors with the Joby Gorillatorch Flare shining against the white paper background I use for my photos so you could get an idea of the relative intensities of the four non-strobe light modes. To do this, I put the flashlight at the highest white setting and took a photo in automatic mode using no camera flash. I then used those camera settings to set up the camera to operate manually and took a picture of all four modes – I repeated the maximum white mode using the camera in manual mode to make everything equal. All of the above pictures can be clicked to see an enlarged version.
The next series of pictures were taken outdoors to illustrate the “lighting ability” of the four non-strobe settings. (Click any of the above for enlargement.) Again, I used the maximum lighting level to establish the settings for the camera’s manual mode and took pictures of all four light levels with the camera in manual mode. The Gorillatorch Flare was about six feet away from my car, and it was shining into the car interior.
The Joby Gorillatorch Flare is a great little flashlight. It’s small enough to fit in your car’s glove compartment or a toolbox or kitchen drawer. The flexible legs allow you to stand it or hang it, and the magnetic feet allow you to stick it to your car or other metal structure. You can adjust the brightness to the level you need, and you can use it as an emergency flare if needed. The LEDs don’t drain the battery as quickly as standard flashlight bulbs, so the batteries last longer. And the batteries are standard AA batteries that you can pick up anywhere. This little guy will make a great addition to your toolbox or emergency supplies.