A while back we reviewed the Gerber Omnivore flashlight. (The review can be found here). We had used it for a couple of months and where more than satisfied. Long term use (if you can call 12 months long term), however, proved the Omnivore to be less than satisfactory. In this vein, we decided to provide you with a "Flashlight Shootout".
Contender #1 - Gerber Omnivore
- Price: $27.00
- Construction: Machined aircraft grade aluminum, waterproof - sealed with O rings
- Batteries: Capable of using AAA, AA and CR123 batteries (a huge selling point)
- Specifications: Ultra-bright LED lamp
Contender #2 - Thrift Store child's flashlight
- Price: $.25 (Yes, that is 25 cents!)
- Construction: Plastic (glows in the dark if you hold it up to the light!)
- Batteries: 3 AAA battery pack (can use rechargeable)
- Specifications: Old-school multiple LED technology
How we conducted the test:
The Gerber Omnivore was used for multiple mundane lighting tasks. It lived indoors, on a hutch with our radio gear and our rechargeable battery equipment. It was used only by adults (with the occasional teenager using it to light the way to the generator) and never was exposed to moisture.
The thrift store child's light was owned by a three year old. It spent most of its life living under piles of toys, under beds and sitting in spilled hot cocoa. It also survived several trips down the stair case, landing on the concrete floor. It disappeared for approximately three months and was discovered hibernating in a snow bank. It was used as a gun, a club and occasionally a flying projectile.
Flash Light Comparison:
How did our contenders fair? The Gerber Omnivore's off/on switch failed completely, rendering the flashlight little more than a very expensive piece of aluminum. We have been completely unable to contact Gerber (their website won't load using Safari) and have been unable to resolve the Omnivore's issues. Even after disassembling the switch, Sir Knight was unable to resolve the problem. It appears to be in a section of the switch that is sealed.
The $.25 thrift store flashlight is still working well. No matter how many times it bounces down the stairs, off siblings heads and off rocks in the front yard, it still performs flawlessly. The on/off switch always works and the glow-in-the-dark feature is a popular feature with 3 and 4 year old flashlight owners. The fact that Dad regularly asks to use his flashlight is also rather exciting.
The good, the bad and the ugly? The expensive flashlight left much to be desired, namely, illumination. Ultimately, if a flashlight no longer lights up it has become worthless. We really wanted to love the Omnivore. The fact that it could accept multiple batteries only added to its usefulness, however, it is only useful as long as it works. We would rather purchase tons of cheap flashlights than spend a lot of money on one or two expensive ones that don't hold up. It appears that the adage "you get what you pay for" is not true in this instance. The thrift store flashlight was by far a better deal than the Gerber.
Once again, I would encourage everyone to use what they have. If you don't use it now, you won't know what to expect when you really need it.
We will continue our search for a worthwhile emergency flashlight, meanwhile, we hope that you "use it, use it, use it"!