"Review": Nitefox UT20 [Tactical and Outdoor flashlight] (Night beamshot comparison with Zanflare F1)

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MascaratumB's picture
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"Review": Nitefox UT20 [Tactical and Outdoor flashlight] (Night beamshot comparison with Zanflare F1)


This is my review of the Nitefox UT20!
Some weeks ago I answered Nitefox’s ask for reviewers for this light.
The flashlight was sent to me for review, no other compensation or demand for affiliate links or whatsoever!
Thanks Nitefox, I’ll provide my critical and unbiased review on this, as I said!!

Sent on August 31th, with tracking number, it arrived today (September 13th).

These are the links of Nitefox, as provided on their thread:

Also, here’s Lexel’s review of this light: http://budgetlightforum.com/node/56235 .

NOTE: I will not provide numbers (current, lumens, lux, runtime, etc…) and Nitefox was previously informed about that.

Overall Specs: (for more information, please see the Nitefox’s links):
- Aerospace grade aluminium alloy, machined by CNC
- Dual User Interface option (‘Tactical’ = 3 modes / ‘Outdoor’ = 5 modes)
- XML2 U2-1A led /16mm plate
- AR coated lens and smooth aluminium reflector
- Uses a 1×18650 battery
- USB rechargeable through micro USB
- Constant current circuit with memory
- Waterproof IPX8
- Max Output: 1080 lumens
- Reverse polarity protection
- Smart reminding power indicator
- Warranty: 2 years after purchase

Overall appreciation
This is my first light with dual switch and dual mode operation. The closest to this I have is/was the Zanflare F1, only with dual switch.

My first impressions are very good. The flashlight is smooth to the touch, and does not get easily scratched (yeah, I tried with a knife)! Nice fit and finish, no visible imperfections.

Despite being tough in construction, it is not super heavy (specs mention 93g).

It produces a bright beam and despite I can’t measure the lumens, the expected output of 1080 lumens seems to be accurate (in comparison to other lights).

Before showing the light I think it is important to mention that this product has warranty (manufacturer, in the manual):
Two years free repair. Nitefox products provided 2 years free warranty after purchase, products defects, failure or quality problem during normal use during this period will get free repair. (One way shipping cost will be covered).

The Package:
The flashlight arrived inside of a Nitefox branded cardbox. The box is very tough and arrived with no damage. Inside, the foam is divided in compartments for the flashlight and accessories.

On the top I found a “Special Note”, that explains the operation mode (UI) and the (re)charging process!
I had to read it to understand how to change from ‘Tactical’ to ‘Outdoor’ and vice-versa. It is well explained, so, it was useful!! Thumbs Up

Besides the Special Note – and the flashlight – a User Manual (English & Chinese) can be found, along with 2 o-rings, 1 tactical ring, 1 tailcap, 1 pocket clip, 1 lanyard, 1 USB to micro USB cable, 1 micro USB port protector.

The User Interface (UI)
Before passing to the flashlight, I’ll explain he UI.
This light has 2 main mode settings: ‘Tactical’ (TA) and ‘Outdoor’ (OD)

To turn the flashlight ON or OFF, full press the tailswitch. The side switch can only be used when OD option is configured, or to change the configuration from TA to OD, when the first one (TA) is configured.

To change between option (TA < > OD), turn the light ON, press the side switch for 3 seconds until the light flashes 3 times. Then the other setting is configured.

‘Tactical’ setting (High – Strobe – Low)
From OFF: Full press = High Mode > Full press = OFF
After High, if the switch is pressed (full or half) again quickly, it will enter the next mode – Strobe -, and it this is done again, it will enter Low Mode.
A full press after Strobe or Low shuts the light OFF, and will take it to the default mode (High).

This light has Momentary ON (MoO) feature. Big Smile
So, half pressing in the TA setting allows to change modes (H>Str>L) and a full press allows to fix that setting and use the light with that mode ON.

‘Outdoor’ setting [last used mode memory] (Moonlight-Low-Medium-High + Strobe (press side switch for 2 seconds))
From OFF: Full press = Last used mode > Full press = OFF
A single click on the side switch allows to change the “regular” modes.
A 2 seconds press on the side switch enters Strobe.

While in the 2 seconds period, with the switch pressed, the strobe will initially blink in the mode it is configures. When the side switch is released, the Strobe will blink in the Highest mode.
If the +2 seconds +pressing is exceeded, the light will enter the setting change (OD > TA).

MoO also works in this configuration so half-pressing the tail switch can be used in every mode (except strobe) to get light. I find this very useful to check the mode before really turning the lights ON through a full click!

When half-pressing the tailswitch for more than 0.5 seconds, the GREEN led in the side switch turns ON and then turns OFF after 1-2seconds.

This is easier to use than to explain… Facepalm

The flashlight
As mentioned above, the flashlight is well built, strong and gets a bit heavier with the battery inside. Maybe it is not a thrower but it can turn into a “throwing weapon” Silly

It feels comfortable in the hand. The switch and the USB port are easy to find as they are diametrically opposed and are not recessed.

When ON, the side switch does not change modes just by a slight touch, it has to be pressed, what I like!

The side switch has a RED / GREEN indicator:
GREEN is ON when:
- a mode has been set (ex. ML, L, M, H…) and the “power levels” are above 20% (manufacturer specs).
- using the in-built USB charger and the battery is fully charged.

RED is ON when:
- a mode has been set (ex. ML, L, M, H…) and the “power levels” are between 10-20% (manufacturer specs).
- power levels are below 10% (the RED flashes).
- the in-built USB charger is being used correctly (flashes slowly every 2 second)
- the in-built USB charger is NOT being used correctly (flashes fastly)

The tail is well secured internally and seems well sealed as well. There was a plastic “coin” to avoid the battery drain and/or activation during transportation.
The tailswitch is well made and pressing it is no different from pressing other similar tailswitches!
The inner threads are square and came well lubbed!

When screwed in, there is a space between the edge of the tail and the tube, to insert the tactical ring.

Although this light has the ability to tailstand, the tailcap surface is not so friendly for that.
A lanyard or a screwed-in pocket clip can be attached to the tailcap.

This light has AR coated lens, and a smooth aluminium reflector.
It uses a XML2 U2-1A LED, with a white gasket, in a 16mm plate that is not in the “usual” shape. The LED is well centred and despite the AR coating there is no “greenish” tint on this light.
The Low and Medium modes have PWM signals, but it is very discrete.

Under the plate there is a good amount of thermal paste. The plate tends to get dislocated when (un)screwing the bezel (and reflector). There is space for a screw that can be placed to stop the plate to rotate.

I didn’t took out the driver, the side switch nor unsoldered the emitter. For more info on this, please see Lexel’s thread (link above).

The bezel was glued, but it could be easily removed. The reflector was also easily unscrewed. Inside the bezel, there is a sealing o-ring on the top the lens.

The USB port is well protected by a rubber cover that fits perfectly, leaving no visible openings.

A 18650 Nitefox branded battery arrived inside the flashlight. This is a protected 3.7 V 2600mAh battery for High Drain Devices, that seems to have gold platted top button.

The Manufacturer advises to use protected batteries on this flashlight:
Use the highest quality batteries to insure maximum performance and safety. Use Nitefox original protected battery is a better choice. Poor quality battery nor unprotected batteries are not recommended to use in this light.

Despite the side switch LED can indicate the power level (didn’t test how accurate that is, yet), there is NO mention on the manual of a Low Voltage Protection. My guess is that this advise to use of protected batteries is connected with that.
Maybe a driver expert can tell if there is LVP or not, but I’m not able to do that!

Nevertheless, I tried the Nitefox battery and a US18650VTC6 battery, just to see how they fit…

Here are some “beamshots” of this flashlights’ light. Yeah, not the greatest ones, but my cellphone is the best I can get to this!
Please, note the PWM on Low and Medium.





Comparison L to R:
Nitefox UT20 – XML2 U1-1A > Convoy S2+ XPL-HI U6-3A

Nitefox UT20 – XML2 U1-1A > Convoy S2+ XML2 T6-4C

Size Comparison:
Sony US18650VTC6 > Nitefox UT20 > Sofirn SP32 > Convoy S2+ > Sofirn SF10 (AA) > Amutorch S3 (AA)

Despite it is not throwy as the S2+, the Nitefox UT20 has a good range in terms of distance and has a flooder beam!

Convoy S2+

Nitefox UT20 – XML2 U1-1A > Convoy S2+ XPL-HI U6-3A

Convoy S2+ > Nitefox

Favourite points:
1 – The “Momentary ON” (MoO).
For me it is great to have MoO, because this is a flashlight with memory, starting in the last used mode. The MoO allows switching the light ON in the last used and memorized mode. So, through this feature, it is possible to check in which the light will turn ON and avoid eventual “blinding shots”. The MoO works with ALL the modes.
Maybe it is because this is my first light with this feature, but I definitely like the MoO.

2 – The Moonlight (ML) Mode.
Perhaps this ML is better than Zanflare F1, as it is a bit higher in luminosity, making it extremely useful for reading, or for walking inside the house at night without waking people.
Compared with other ML modes it is:
- higher than: Zanflare F1; an AA modded light with Reylight’s driver (the lowest ML I’ve ever seen…)
- lower than: Convoy S2+ (w/ biscotti), Manker E11, Sofirn SF10
- equal to: Sofirn SP32

3 – Reverse Polarity Protection.
Just because I guess this should be mandatory in any flashlight using Li-Ion cells!

4 – The fit and finish and shape.
The flashlight is very well made, soft to the touch but with good grip, no visible imperfections. Being a “tube” light, it fits well in a pocket, and I’d only want a deep carry pocket clip…
Also about the clip, I guess its finish is very good, made to avoid host scratching when placing it!

5 – Hidden strobe.
Not liking to have strobes in the middle of the “regular modes”, I like that in this light we need to press the side switch for 2 seconds to activate the strobe! No confusions, no double clicks! Just press it for a while, and strooooobe!

Neutral points and suggestions:

1 – Emitter
Although the XML2 U2-1A looks good on this (for me the beam seems to be a bit similar to Convoy S2+, only with a more defined spot), I would replace it for a XPL-HI in a more Neutral tint. Having a Smooth reflector, my guess is that this light would be better on a different LED, even if its purposes are not for being a thrower.

2 – No memory and direct access/shortcut to turbo.
This is a personal preference. I’d like this light to have NO memory, always starting on ML mode, then going up on modes.
Also, a feature like the one of Zanflare F1 – double click to access turbo, and then back to the previous mode – would be awesome. It would give a “tactical side” to the ‘Outdoor’ option, and would make this an even better flashlight.

3 – The tailcap.
I would suggest to improve the shape of the tail to allow tailstanding. It is always a nice feature, especially in a light mainly made for outdoor environments.

4 – Pocket clip.
I know that this light has a tactical ring, and that it may hinder to use a deep carry pocket clip. But another clip option could be available to people that doesn’t use it in tactical mode. I don’t use the ring, so for me it would be preferable to have a clip to “hide” the flashlight in my pockets.
Other than this, the clip is very (very) strong and it’s barely likely to lost the flashlight with it on a pocket.

My favourite setting is ‘Outdoor’! Only occasionally will I use the ‘Tactical’ setting.

And “that’s all folks!”

Best regards!! Thumbs Up

DB Custom said: "Hide your billfold, cut up your credit cards... you're a perfect candidate for full blown flashaholism and will soon need dedicated flashlight cabinets. [...] Have fun! Modding is next... :P" 

Mods: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4                                       Reviews: 1 / 2

Edited by: MascaratumB on 09/19/2017 - 09:22
MascaratumB's picture
Last seen: 42 min 53 sec ago
Joined: 10/29/2016 - 12:12
Posts: 430
Location: Portugal

Last weekend I made some night comparison “shots” between the Nitefox UT20 and the Zanflare F1!
Being relatively similar lights (Dual Switch, 4 modes in the regular settings, hidden strobe, robust lights) I decided to make small comparison, using Nitefox UT20 in the “Outdoor” setting.

My thoughts are:
- The tint on the Nitefox UT20 on lower modes is better than the “greenish” of the Zanflare F1;

- The Zanflare F1 has a more Neutral White tint that is specially noticed in outside environments;

- Moonlight of the Nitefox UT20 is slightly lower than the one of Zanflare F1 (which I like, specially considering the Momentary On feature);

- Low, Medium and High modes from Nitefox UT20 are higher than on Zanflare F1;

- High mode in the Nitefox UT20 is lower than the Turbo mode of Zanflare F1;

- The distance range illumination on both lights on High is better in the Nitefox UT20, except if compared with the Zanflare F1 in Turbo mode;

- The hotspots in both lights are similar, but the spill is slightly bigger on Nitefox UT20, which is goof for night walks.

- Low and Medium modes on both lights are good for nightwalks.

As I mentioned before, I wish Nitefox UT20 had a direct access to Turbo, like the Zanflare. That would be a very nice feature, important to outdoor and tactical modes.

Here are some shots – Nitefox UT20 – HIGH vs Zanflare F1 – TURBO:
15 meters

30 meters

50 meters

+70 meters

Only in a greater distance the Turbo of Zanflare gains to the High of Nitefox. In medium distances, both are very competent and Nitefox provides a wide illumination area! Thumbs Up

DB Custom said: "Hide your billfold, cut up your credit cards... you're a perfect candidate for full blown flashaholism and will soon need dedicated flashlight cabinets. [...] Have fun! Modding is next... :P" 

Mods: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4                                       Reviews: 1 / 2

MascaratumB's picture
Last seen: 42 min 53 sec ago
Joined: 10/29/2016 - 12:12
Posts: 430
Location: Portugal

Just found out that while using Momentary ON feature (half-press on the tail switch), if the side switch is pressed the lighting modes will change.
When the light is switched ON (full press on the tail switch), it will assume the last used mode in Momentary ON.

EX: Starting Momentary ON = Moonlight > press the side switch 2 times > Momentary ON = Medium > release tail switch > OFF > Full click on Tail Switch > ON in Medium mode.

DB Custom said: "Hide your billfold, cut up your credit cards... you're a perfect candidate for full blown flashaholism and will soon need dedicated flashlight cabinets. [...] Have fun! Modding is next... :P" 

Mods: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4                                       Reviews: 1 / 2