Last Christmas my gift haul included a white Pak-Lite. A little later I bought a turquoise version as well. After four months of use I have decided that these little lights have not gotten the credit or coverage that they deserve @ CPF. They are very simple lights, but sometimes simple is the ticket.
Physical Description: The Pak-Lite snaps onto a 9 volt rectangular battery, increasing its length by about 1/3 and adding very little weight. Power from the 9 volt battery runs through two 5mm LEDs in series – not requiring voltage stepup or stepdown as is typical for many LED flashlights. A small switch changes the circuit resistance to provide two output levels. The Pak-Lite is fairly expensive for what you get (about $25 depending on the version), but it appears to be made with quality materials and they are not a high volume operation. Custom configurations (mixed emitter colors and switching variations) are available for only a couple more dollars.
Output and Battery Life:
-- The white version on high roughly matches my 2003 Arc AAA CPF Edition. On low it puts out about as much light as my Arc4+ on its lowest setting…or maybe a bit less. The turquoise version appears to put out a lot more light and have much better throw because of the eyes’ greater sensitivity to that part of the spectrum.
-- The white version’s beam is quite smooth and typical of 5mm LEDs. The turquoise one is somewhat ringy – a condition that I understand to be typical of these emitters. I have seen a friend’s green Pak-Lite beam, and can report that it is much more smooth. The green version is probably preferable over the turquoise if long throw (with compromised spectrum) is your desire.
-- The Pak-Lite site lists battery life at 75/600 hours high/low with an alkaline battery. Those figures are stretched to 200/1200 high/low for lithium batteries. Those sound like ridiculous figures. I thought they were letting the LED spool down to total blackness at those durations. Vic @ Pak-Lite says that’s not the case. He claims that they only count the time until the light is clearly putting out less light than with a fresh battery. Rather than take his word for it, I simply started using my lithium one as a nightlight. That was three months ago – maybe 600 hours of low output and 70 hours of high output. Honestly, I can’t tell any difference in brightness. A few weeks ago I popped one of the lights onto a fresh 9 volt. Same apparent output. I then put it on a 9 volt battery that had just been declared dead by one of my smoke detectors. Same apparent output. It looks like Pak-Lite’s claims are not hyperbole. AFAIK these results are due to good quality emitters, high efficiency underdriving, and a very simple and efficient circuit.
Form and Function:
-- The Pak-Lite is small and light enough to go easily in a pocket. Its emitters really stick out, so I only carry it there when there aren’t other things in my pocket to scratch it. The switch appears fragile but should be highly durable because of its recessed mounting. Vic says that they have only heard of a couple broken switches out of several thousand lights shipped, and that the switches can still be operated with a pin.
-- The rectangular battery/flashlight shape can be handheld or set on a surface to point sideways or straight up. Pointing it upward and setting a 35mm Fuji film canister (translucent white plastic) on the shoulders of the battery converts it into a very nice nightlight.
-- The light is not waterproof and will not operate underwater. It is not, however, damaged by being underwater. Dry it off and you’re back in operation.
Summary & Recommendation: I highly recommend this light to anyone who wants a small, lightweight, reliable, and very long burning light for close work. The turquoise or green emitter versions have enough throw for use outdoors in mostly dark conditions. Its incredible runtime extends the conditions in which you would use a flashlight. Power out? Place a few around the house for orientation and don’t worry about running them continuously. The Pak-Lite is a great travel nightlight. Perfect output level and no filament to burn out. The Pak-Lite’s low output, lack of waterproofing, and exposed emitters keep it from being the perfect light, but it’s still a good addition to any flashaholic’s collection.