Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review Life Gear Waterproof Flashlight - Automatically On Upon Contact with Water

My friend showed me a Life Gear LED flashlight that doubles as a glow stick. It seems to be designed specifically for water sports; it is waterproof and turns itself on whenever it is immersed in water. There is a pair of contacts on the opposite side of the on/off button. When they touch water, the light automatically turns on. Here is the Life Gear waterproof flashlight on Amazon:

At first glance, it seemed like a great idea for use on a kayak for night paddles. What is there not to like? It's waterproof. It's a light. It's a glow stick. It flashes. The LED bulb sips power gingerly and lasts forever. It uses AA batteries and it's cheap. If I fall into the water, the light automatically turns itself on.

Then I actually took it on a night paddle and the reality is something a bit different. Basically, the problem are the contacts. The floor of my open deck kayak can get a bit wet from the paddle splashing. If I leave the flashlight on the floor (which is the most logical place to put it), the contacts get wet and the light turns on.

A night paddle usually starts in the late afternoon. With the sun still out, I don't want my flashlight to turn on and waste battery. Even in the dark, I may have more than one flashlight but only want to have one turned on. There are times at night that I don't want the flashlight on at all. For example, I was on a bioluminescence paddle in Tomales Bay. To see the glow of the bioluminescence, everyone had to turn off their flashlights. In this case, I would not be able to the turn off this Life Gear LED waterproof flashlight easily because the darn contacts would still be wet.

In any case, what seemed like a great ideas, wasn't. My final solution is to put a piece of scotch tape inside the flashlight on the internal contacts. This breaks the circuit and disables the auto-on feature.

There are still redeeming qualities of this Lift Gear LED waterproof flashlight:

Pros: waterproof, LED, sturdy, cheap, is a light and a glow stick, has a small dry storage compartment for keys etc, uses 4 AA batteries which allows me to use my Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries (best rechargeable batteries, by the way)

Cons: the auto-on feature upon contact with water

Life Gear has a smaller LED waterproof flashlight but without the automatic on feature. It uses button cell  batteries which is supposed to last 400 hours.

One slight issue is that it automatically turns itself off in one hour of operation, presumably to conserve battery. This may be kind of awkward for a paddle trips longer than an hour, but then you can always just turn it back on.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pathfinder kayak manufacturer still provides support

When the sole distributor of my favorite kayaks, Pathfinder, discontinued their marine product line, I thought any support for my Pathfinder kayaks are gone.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that the Pathfinder's manufacturer still supports the boat and they have a North America office located in Vancouver, Canada.

The skegs on my Pathfinders kept disappearing. A few were lost in shallow muddy waters. One was broken when I tried to install it. So lately I was worried that I may have to buy new kayaks since the Pathfinders don't track straight without the skegs.

So I found the manufacturer's website and sent them an email asking if I can buy more skegs. Got a reply the next day. Yes, they will sell me skegs at $9 each plus shipping. Problem solved.

The Pathfinder boats are remarkably sturdy, but the accessories are not. Go figure. But they are still the best boat for the money.

Here is the manufacturer's website: