NiteCore Explorer EC1 Review
Pros:Bright and well-focused beam. Secondary red LED provides useful notification functions and extremely low output illumination option.
Cons:Slight dark region within hotspot. Pocket clip a little too long in the case of the EC1.
The NiteCore Explorer series are a range of dual LED flashlights with a primary high powered XP-G LED, and a low power red SMD LED. The initial offerings in the Explorer product comprises of four models, the one reviewed here is the single CR123 powered Explorer EC1. Up the front it has what initially looks [...]
The NiteCore Explorer series are a range of dual LED flashlights with a primary high powered XP-G LED, and a low power red SMD LED. The initial offerings in the Explorer product comprises of four models, the one reviewed here is the single CR123 powered Explorer EC1. Up the front it has what initially looks like a smooth bezel, which actually has three wide and shallow crenelations. These raise the bezel just slightly, enough to light shine through when the EC1 is left switched on and left placed head-down. Inset within the bezel and just in front of the lens is a stainless steel ring. This serves as a design element mostly since the three crenelations protrude out further than this stainless steel ring. The lens in the EC1 is made from toughened ultra-clear glass with anti-reflective coating on both sides. A smooth and deep reflector is housed within the head which does a great job of focusing light, totally smooth and very well-polished with no noticeable flaws. The LED sits perfectly centered at the bottom of the reflector cup. Externally, the head has a series of shallow cooling fins, clip attachment point, and the dual switches which control output and mode selection along with the red SMD LED. The switch are of the toggle push button variety and have extremely short travel and totally silent with no click or tactile feedback when pressed. The head is adhered to the battery tube and is not meant to be unscrewed.
The battery tube is almost totally covered in knurling, though this is not the common diamond-textured knurling commonly seen on most flashlights. It has a slightly slanted diagonal pattern and is not very aggressive, but still provides decent grip. All the models in the NiteCore Explorer series come with a head-mounted pocket clip which unfortunately doesn’t have a tight a grip and some of the earlier NiteCore models. In the case of the EC1′s short body, the clip isn’t very ergonomic because is stretches past the battery tube and partially overlaps the tail cap, it makes battery changes a little bit uncomfortable but not a deal breaker. The threads between the battery tube and tail cap area quite different on the EC1. They are really thick and widely spaced which greatly reduced the occurrence of cross-threading. They came well-lubricated and are anodized as well which allows the EC1 to be locked out by slightly loosening the tail cap. A yellow rubber o-ring sits just behind the threads to serve as a moisture seal. Following along the lines of the battery tube, the tail cap is mostly covered in knurling as well, with a totally flat rear end which allows the EC1 to easily tail stand. There are no slots for lanyard attachments. As per the instruction manual, the EC1 is rated to be impact resistant from drops up to 1.5 meters and waterproof from being submerged down to 2 meters.
The main high power LED has 5 output levels in total, plus strobe and S.O.S modes. After switching On, each press of the Mode button cycles the EC1 though the following constant output levels:
Micro > Low > Mid > High
While on any of the above levels, holding down the Mode button for about 1 second switches to Turbo mode which is the brightest output level offered. However, the light only runs continuously for 5 minutes before reverting back to the previously selected level to protect the flashlight from overheating. The EC1 incorporates a memory feature which remembers the last output level used when the light is switched Off.
To enter Strobe mode, simply hold the On/Off button for 1 second while the light is Off. While to enter S.O.S. mode, hold the Mode button for 1 second while the light is Off.
The secondary red SMD LED serves both as an extremely low-power illumination option and also as a status indicator and locator beacon. When the light is Off, the red SMD LED blinks once every 3 seconds in a locator beacon fashion. While the light is Off, pressing the Mode button once turns the red SMD LED on for constant illumination. This is great for night-adapted vision. Side note, just remember not to accidentally face it directly towards you while pressing the Mode button with your thumb. The red SMD LED can be totally switched Off by putting the EC1 in Lockout Mode by holding down the On/Off button while the light is switched On. This requires the On/Off switch to be pressed for 1 second to be switched back on again. Also, the red SMD LED is completely disabled and doesn’t blink as a locator beacon.
Finally, the red SMD LED also acts as a battery level indicator. While operating on the main high power LED, the red SMD LED blinks once every 6 seconds when battery level has reached 50%, and then three blinks every 3 seconds when the battery is “almost depleted”. The battery voltage is also reported automatically whenever the light is put in Lockout Mode. For example, when battery voltage is at 4.2V, the red SMD LED will blink 4 times, followed by a 1 second pause, and then another 2 blinks when entering Lockout Mode.
The beam profile throws a very tight spot which is mostly clean, though it does have a slightly darker region in the middle of the hotspot. The spill beam is wide and should provide ample peripheral illumination. Beam color temperature is noticeably cool when compared to sunlight white. Regulation is held constantly for most of the battery life before trailing off towards the end.
: 214 Lumens, 4330 Lux (Spot), 214 Lux (Spill)
: 102 Lumens, 2056 Lux (Spot), 48 Lux (Spill)
: 47 Lumens, 941 Lux (Spot), 22 Lux (Spill)
: 12 Lumens, 250 Lux (Spot), 6 Lux (Spill)
: 38 Minutes to 50%
: 2 Hours 37 Minutes to 50%
: ~12 Hours
: ~70 Hours
Cree XP-G (R5) LED
Maximum output of up to 280 lumens
High efficiency constant current circuit enables maximum run time of up to 70 hours
5 brightness levels
Momentary push-on strobe and SOS modes
Dual electronic switches ensure very user interface
Secondary red light mode (0.2 lumen)
Power indicator light also serves as a battery voltage indicator (accurate to 0.1V)
Power indicator light serves as a standby indicator light when powered down
Broad voltage circuit accepts both rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium batteries
Toughened ultra-clear mineral glass with dual-side anti-reflective coating
Elaborate allow reflector is purpose-designed for exceptionally long throw
Constructed from aero grade aluminum alloy
HAIII military grade hard-anodized
Stainless steel bezel retaining ring protects core components from damage
Detachable two-way anti-rolling clip
Waterproof in accordance with IPX-8 (2 meters submersible)
Tail stand function
Head Diameter: 25.4mm
Tail Diameter: 22mm
Weight: 42.5g (without battery)
Quality holster, lanyard, spare o-ring