This is a Fenix E05 and E01 comparison and review. They are both AAA flashlights from Fenix and come in a range of colours.
I’m writing this post for people who don’t want to spend a lot on a flashlight, but want something of good quality. The E01 you can get for around £12, the E05 for £18.
If you’re used to the slightly cheaper (£7-£11) and much more popular Maglite solitaire, then be prepared for a whole other level of quality with Fenix.
First of all here are some points about both lights, and most other Fenix models.
Digitally Regulated. A lot of torches, especially non-LED ones, will get gradually dimmer and dimmer over the battery’s lifetime. With a digitally regulated circuit that just does not happen, they will stay at exactly the same brightness from the moment you put a new battery in to just before it runs out of juice. I see this as a huge benefit, though I do worry slightly about the fact that you get very little warning before it (eventually) dies. Carry a spare battery and you’re good.
Common batteries. You can find AAA batteries everywhere, this is useful if you think you might be somewhere relatively remote. Smaller campsite shops are more likely to have AAA and AA than CR123 or other more exotic battery types. In an ‘urban survival’ scenario you’re going to be able to get hold of these batteries. Although if people are panic-buying, the more commonly used things will get bought sooner rather than later. I recommend keeping a supply if you’re preparing for the apocalypse. Another benefit of using common batteries is reduced kit size – it’s better to carry one spare AAA which can be used for you radio or your torch than having to carry two different types of battery. You can also pilfer them from other things like shavers or remote controls if you need to.
Waterproof. To IP-X8, which means it can sit in over 1 meter of still water and still work. This is the highest level of waterproofness that the IP standard goes to.
Compact: They are both about the same circumference as a AA battery. The E01 is about 1.5 times the length of a AA, the E05 is about 1.3 times.
Misc: They both weigh next to nothing, both have keychain attachements, both come in a range of colours (which will scratch off a little but they’re hard-anodised so they’re as wear resistant as they can be). Both have knurling which makes them grippy. Neither have ‘anti-roll’ features; in the advertising it says they do but that’s a mistranslation of ‘anti-slip’. Both can stand on their end (precariously). Neither have any accessories. By the way, if you’re choosing a colour I would recommend a bright one, because when I drop my torch in a field in the dark, I know I’d rather be looking for a bright blue one than a dark green/camo/black one. Just a thought. Tacticool isn’t always Practicool.
With the similarities out of the way, let’s compare the E01 to the E05.
Here is my ‘beamshot’ comparison.
It’s not very scientific; I just pointed both torches up at the ceiling from the same distance. The E05 is the larger one on the left, E01 the bluer on the right. It’s important to note that we’re not just looking at the E05 having a larger spot, it’s a totally different type of spot. In the picture, the E01′s hotspot is about 12 inches across, whereas the E05 just gives you this evenly lit area with no clear ‘spot’ or centre. It’s much more like a small lightbulb than a spotlight. I believe the pros would say it’s ‘floody’ (as opposed to ‘throwy’). The E05 is also much less blue. I actually have two E01s and I choose the brightest and least blue of the two.
The batteries I was using were different. The E01 has an Energizer Lithium, the E05 has a GP Ultra Alkaline. So if anything this should be tilted in the E01′s favour (!).
And here’s how they both illuminate the room:
So is that the end of the story?
Is it a no-brainer to get the E05? Not necessarily! While the E05 is great for flood lighting and is certainly a lot brighter than the E01, the E01 is bright enough for light work (such as getting you from the tent to the toilets without tripping over guylines) and has significantly better battery runtime.
The E05 will run for about 3 hours, the E01 will go for 13 hours. That runtime is very important if you have survival / emergency usage in mind. I have used the E01 when camping and it works pretty well for illuminating the path in front of you, and is fine for lighting up a small tent, reading and so on. It’s also a better choice than the E05 if you’re trying to read while someone else is trying to sleep – the E01 is more directed, the E05 has more spill. I also have a suspicion that the E01 might be better at long distance illumination than the E05, but I haven’t tested that yet.
They are different lights suited to different uses. Are you buying it as a general purpose EDC light? For camping? Survival use? Emergency house torch? Signalling? Lighting up the perimeter of your land? Consider your needs!
I’d lean towards the E05 because of the tint and flood, but the E01 for the battery life. It’s down to which is more important to you; they’re both very capable lights.