(Review) Nitefox UT20

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(Review) Nitefox UT20

Nitefox graciously sent me the UT20 for evaluation purposes. I’d like to take this time to thank Nitefox for the opportunity.

Nitefox Website

Nitefox Amazon store

At $36.95 (complete with everything needed) the Nitefox UT20 is a product that (once people become more aware of it) will have broad appeal to the largest group of flashlight users – everyday, ordinary, people who just want a flashlight that will work when needed, at a cost that won’t break the bank.

We’re talking about homeowners who just want a flashlight that fits easily in some side drawer; to be used when the power goes out, or when Fido decides a restroom break is needed, and then decides to play hide n seek on some dark stormy night. They need a light that can last for hours while the power company restores their electricity, and they want that light to work every time it is needed – with little care in between times.

We’re talking about people who want a flashlight that stays in their vehicle; useful for everything from reading maps to changing a flat tire on some dark stretch in the middle of nowhere. Or those of us who like to walk at night, but want something that aids our ability to see while also warning traffic that we’re out and about.

From ladies who want a flashlight that can fit in their purse, to tradesmen who are working in some dark crawl-space (or attic), to homeowners and hikers who just want to chase the darkness away – the one thing they all have in common is their need for an economical flashlight that works as it should, when it is needed.

The UT20 fills that bill beautifully. It comes in a nice cardboard box (padded inside) that contains everything that is needed.

UT20 Flashlight
18650 battery (2600 mAh)(Nitefox branded)
Holster
Lanyard
Spare O-rings
Spare tail-switch cover
Spare USB port cover
Tactical Ring
Clip
USB cord (Micro)
Owner’s manual

The UT20 is very well made and anodized in a semi-gloss black for protection against scratches and general wear. It has a solid feel to it, with no sharp edges and no sign of imperfection. The body is mostly covered in a diamond shaped pattern, with the same diamond pattern found on the side of the tail-cap. The flashlight provides a good grip (even when wet) and fits very comfortably in my hand.

The tail-cap is removable and features a stout spring on the inside of the cap. On the end of the tail-cap is the tail-switch; covered with a rubber cap. The tail-switch has a good feel to it and provides good feedback when pressed and released. It does have an audible click, but it isn’t loud. There are two U-shaped cutouts (access for your thumb) with one side having two small holes for the lanyard. The UT20 can tail-stand, but just barely.

The head is removable as well – leaving just a tube when the tail-cap is also removed. There are a series of relatively deep cooling grooves cut into the head (they also provide grip). The side-switch (and USB port) are located on an octagonal section which consists of alternating flat sides and grooved sides. The two (side-switch and USB port) sit opposite of each other. The side-switch is convex and appears to be made of metal (stainless steel is my guess). It has a very good feel to it and is easy to find just by feeling for it.

On both ends [of the tube] the threads are square cut, anodized, and well lubricated (as received). There are no indications of obstructions and both ends screw ON/OFF smoothly.

I typically don’t spend much time talking about USB ports or covers, but the UT20 has a very solid cover that fits quite snugly. It impressed me to the point that I thought it was well worth mentioning.

The bezel is the same semi-gloss black and smooth. It does not appear to be removable (probably glued). The reflector is smooth (aluminum) and fairly deep for the size of the flashlight. The lens is coated and tempered.

The holster is quite nice and can fit a belt up to 3 inches in width. The flap is secured by Velcro and appears to be made out of nylon. The sides are elastic and the UT20 can be stored top-up or top-down.

The clip is stout – very stout. Enough so that it is highly unlikely that it will come off by accident. The spring section is of a similar stoutness – actually a bit too stout for my preference.

Recharging the battery is easy: simply plug the micro USB into the input (on the UT20) and plug the other end of the USB cord (included) into a power source. Make sure to press/release the tail-switch to allow charging. The led indicator (center of side-switch) will flash red every 2 seconds if charging. If there is an issue (bad connection, or failed to press/release tail-switch) the led (center of side-switch) will flash red rapidly. Once fully charged, the led (side-switch) will flash green. (I did not time how long it takes to charge the battery. My guess is 3 hours.)

Specs

Length – 5.47 inches
Diameter – .98 inch (head)
Weight – 3.28 ounces

LED – Cree XM-L2

Maximum Brightness – 1080 Lumens
Maximum Distance – 350 meters

Features

Smooth Aluminum alloy reflector
Tempered Optical lens with anti-reflection coating
Aerospace aluminum allow body
Type III hard anodized coating

Momentary ON

Mode Memory

Dual User Modes (Outdoor & Tactical)

High efficiency constant current circuit (constant output, longer run-times)

Reverse polarity protection

Battery strength Indication

IPX8 – waterproof to 2 meters
Impact resistant to 1.5 meters

Two year Warranty

UI/Modes

There are two user modes available on the UT20 – Outdoor mode and Tactical mode. Outdoor mode (far and away my favorite of the two user modes) features the following outputs:

Moonlight – 1 Lumen and capable of running up to 480 hours (that’s 20 full days)
Low – 60 Lumens, and capable of running up to 28 hours
Medium – 300 Lumens, and capable of running up to 6 hours
High – 1080 Lumens, and capable of running up to 1 hour
Strobe – 1080 Lumens (no run-time given)

The data is from Nitefox’s website – they used a 3400 mAh battery for their testing (the stated data is roughly 31% longer run-times than the included 2600 mAh battery will achieve). (As an example, in moonlight the included 2600 mAh battery should run up to 331 hours, or 13.8 days – if it is fully charged)

Press/release the tail-switch for ON/OFF. Half press the tail-switch for momentary ON – release to turn flashlight OFF. Momentary will come on in the last mode used (exception being Strobe). While in momentary ON, the side-switch can be pressed to change modes; fully press/release the tail-switch to enter the chosen mode.

From the ON position, press/release the side-switch to change modes. The UT20 will turn on in the last used mode. Modes run in a cycle – moonlight, low, medium, high, moonlight, etc..

Strobe mode is entered from the ON position; then press/hold the side-switch for approximately 1 second. Release switch. Press/release side-switch to change into the last used normal mode. Press/release tail-switch to shut flashlight OFF.

Changing User Modes

From the ON position, press/hold the side-switch for 3+ seconds. Flashlight will blink twice to notify you that you’re now in the tactical mode.

To change back to Outdoor mode: from the ON position, press/hold side-switch for 3+ seconds, flashlight will blink 3 times to tell you that you’re now in Outdoor mode.

It tactical mode there are only three light modes:

Low
High
Strobe

In tactical mode only the tail-switch is used to turn ON/OFF the flashlight and change the light modes.

With both user modes, the side-switch led (center of the switch) will come on (roughly 5 seconds) to inform the user of the battery status. Green means the battery has more than 20% of its power. Solid red means the battery has more than 10% of its power, but less than 20%. Flashing red means the battery is below 10% of capacity and must be recharged immediately.

Beam

I’m not sure if it’s a throwy floodlight, or a floody throw-light, but the beam is definitely a mixture of flood and throw. If pinned down I’d probably go with a throw light that has quite a bit of flood ability since the beam seems to be slightly geared more toward the throw side of things. It really is a nice mix of the two extremes; giving the user good distance lighting as well as good coverage up closer.

The light temperature is a cool white and it does a very good job of lighting things up out to a distance of 170 meters or so. Beyond that and it’s really difficult to tell (for me anyway) how much light is actually hitting the target. I can get eye shine and reflections (road signs) quite a bit beyond 200 yards, but telling what kind of animal (it is) is all but impossible beyond 170 meters or so.

There is a definite hot-spot in the center of the beam; from there light spills out to give very good coverage over a wide area. It’s certainly enough spill to easily illuminate the average yard – and quite a bit more.

Conclusion

I think the UT20 is an excellent choice for those who want a lot of flashlight for a very good price. With everything included in the package, the cost difference between the UT20 and those cheap superstore flashlights becomes moot once you consider the cost-savings that will be realized by the rechargeable battery. The added power, user options, run-times and build quality are significant improvements too. The UT20 certainly gets a big “Thumbs Up” from me.