Monday, June 20, 2011

Equipment Review - Gerber Omnivore

The Omnivore - and all of its food sources

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Omnivore  Latin om-ni-vore
n: An animal or person that eats food of both plant and animal origin. See omnivorous

The Gerber Omnivore lives up to its name by being capable of using AAA, AA or CR123 batteries - whatever you happen to have on hand.

After reading about the Omnivore on SurvivalBlog, I decided to order one and put it to the acid test.  We have used and abused this flashlight for about 4 months, and this is what we have found:

The Good

  1. Versatility.  The fact that it can take three different batteries renders it extremely useful.
  2. It is an LED lamp.  It has a super long run time, although it does vary with which battery you use, as does the brightness.
  3. Sturdy construction.  It appears to be aircraft grade aluminum.  The anodizing is good - it is difficult to scratch.  
  4. The switch.  The off/on switch is a push to turn on and push to turn off.  We like the fact that it is non-momentary.
  5. Size.  It is a handy size.  Not too big, not too little.  It fits easily in a pocket, purse or your hand.
  6. Tough.  Our children have been unable to break or damage the Omnivore in any way in the four months that we have owned it.  Believe me, this is saying a lot!
Empty battery slot
Eating a AA battery
Eating a AAA battery
For dessert - the CR123

The Bad
  1. The finish.  The finish is so slick that it is almost impossible to hang on to.  If your hands are dry or if it is raining, or if you have blood on your hands, you will not be able to turn it on.  As you can see by the photos, I put heavy-duty non-skid boat tape on it so that I could hold on to it.
  2. Occasionally, the switch in the back does not work and you have to hit it twice (although that has not been a problem recently - perhaps that is a break-in issue).
The boat tape improvement

The Ugly
  1. The Omnivore comes with a ballistic nylon case - super handy for carrying your flashlight on your belt.  This is completely laughable.  This is the first time in my life I have seen a piece of equipment ship with a case made of ballistic tissue paper.  
  2. You will see by the photographs that there is whole cut in the top of the ballistic tissue paper case.  This is because, when sitting down, in soft chairs, the Omnivore turns itself on and runs down your batteries (no matter which battery you have in it). I cut the whole in the top so that I could see when it was on and reach down and switch it off.  The case is useless.
The "improved" ballistic tissue paper case
The bottom line - I would buy another one.  Despite it's inconveniences, the fact that it can use so many different batteries makes this flashlight a winner.  As a permanent fix for the finish, I am going to put it in a lathe an attempt to knurl the body.  I hope it doesn't destroy the flashlight.  

Our overall rating for the flashlight is a 3 star rating.  While it does have some problems, the versatility and sturdy construction of this unit more than outweigh the negatives.

Sir Knight


  1. OMGoodness, am I ever a flashlight junkie. I have various types and sizes, but my favorites are still the Maglite (USA)in its various sizes, the Lifegear (USA) for glowsticks, and my most recent purchase was a Peak (China) spotbeam rechargable that puts out a nice, tight beam up to the treetops and that's saying something because I live in the redwoods.

    Now you've got me interested in the Omnivore. I like the idea of the interchangeable batteries. Is it considered a tactical light? I don't really know what that means, would you please explain that term? But I'm mostly interested in the boat tape. Would you mind providing more info about that? Where did you find it? No boat shops/stores around here. Thanks.

    NoCal Gal

  2. Sir Knight, thanks for the review. I am curious, have you attempted to quick tape this flashlight to any long gun for nighttime face flashing use and test fire it? I am curious if it can withstand the concussion of shotshell and still function.

    I can also see the potential negative possibility of that push button mechanism lighting up at the worse possible wrong time. Like when you lower into a squat or hit it on your thigh/leg while trying to maintain stealth positioning. Not good!

    I think Gerber would be most interested in hearing from you on making a more suitable carry case.
    Will this unit fit in a Spitfire sized belt case or a Maglite rubber slip ring over the body which has a quick disconnect carabiner type belt attachment?
    the only problem with using these type of carriers is that the more play the interconnect parts have, the more noise signature you have when moving.

    Also, will you compare the lumens of this unit with an AA LED Maglite please.
    What was the approximate cost?


  3. I don't understand why flashlight manufacturers (and camera manufacturers and …) can't grasp the benefits of a fully recessed on/off button so that the unit can't be turned on accidentally.