Cheap LED Torches. Winners or Binners? By Rollo Davies

CFirst of all, this was supposed to be a review of 4 cheap torches, all sourced from Amazon and all boasting an average purchaser review score of over 4 out of 5.

Unfortunately, lesson 1 proved to be: when ordering, ensure the distributor is based in the UK. Two of the four torches are apparently still in the safe, if not speedy hands of “China Post” the Chinese State postal service. Still, it has only been 5 weeks since ordering so I’m sure they will arrive any time now. (Don’t hold your breath……….. Ed!)

The 2 torches that are still AWOL however, are not causing more anxiety due to the amount I paid for them: 58p + £1.99 delivery and a whopping £1.85 + £1 delivery…. a grand total of £5.42.

Lesson 2: Not all reviews left by buyers of stuff on Amazon are actually, well, reviews by buyers of stuff on Amazon. Things to look for are reviews using terms and speech that don’t sound like they are written by a native English speaker. Amazon has recognised the huge ‘fake review’ problem to some extent, and now labels reviews from people that have genuinely bought the item from them as being from a “Verified Purchaser”. So regardless of how great the bulk of reviews are, look at the bad reviews as a better guide to the item concerned. If bad reviews only highlight minor issues then the item is probably not too bad a bet.

Anyway, I digress.

I have been left with 2 LED torches to review.

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I bought them at the same time, so qualified for the free delivery.

Why did I pay “so much” for the Ledeak T6 kit? Well, it comes with the basic torch with wrist strap fitted, but also: a black nylon belt pouch; a half decent 18650 rechargeable battery with plastic sleeve, allowing a snug fit in the torch; USB battery charger; adapter enabling you to use 3 x AAA batteries; and a plastic bracket allowing ‘tactical’ mounting of the torch on a rifle, or more likely, your bike handlebars. All this in a military looking green plastic case!

None of this is what you would call high quality, but everything worked, and so far, nothing has broken.

The H&S Super Bright comes with a AAA triple battery adapter, 3 x AAA batteries and a sleeve to allow use of a 18650 rechargeable cell, but none of the other gubbins of the Ledeak.

Both torches are made of black painted metal with a sliding front lens housing allowing tightly focussed or widely spread, flood lighting. Both torches are operated by a single large button on the end cap. Both torches offer 3 light power settings, a strobe function and an S.O.S. setting, so they could not be more evenly matched.

Both feel well made and the sliding lens bodies are smooth in operation. The on / off button on the base of both units also controls the function by pressing the button numerous times until the desired setting operates. The buttons are positive to use with a reassuringly loud click.

The Ledeak unit is strangely slightly longer and less compact than the H&S offering, and slightly heavier but both torches are pocket size, making the belt pouch of the Ledeak somewhat redundant. The design and construction of the H&S seem to give it a more high quality feel.

With both torches on the maximum power setting there wasn’t much to separate the two, however the Ledeak had a slightly clearer and less diffused light when both were on the tightest focus position.

That being said, I tested both units using identical good quality 18650 batteries, and the maximum brightness setting will reduce operating time massively. Use the low or medium power settings on these and you would expect at least 2-4 hours mixed duty use.

The H&S and Ledeak both survived my normal 5 night shift week, before I had to recharge the batteries, but I rarely need to have a torch burning for more than 30 minutes per shift and this will be hugely dependant on the quality of battery you use so these findings are highly subjective.

Both of these torches were described as “waterproof” and I operated both in heavy rain without incident. Both survived drops on to concrete from 4ft but with scratching and paint loss.

I did not try out the “Explosion Proof” claim of the Ledeak, for obvious reasons.

Summary: If you don’t own a 18650 battery and decent charger then the extra money is still good value so go for the Ledeak T6 kit. Personally, I have a couple of good batteries and a charger already so the slightly better quality and more compact H&S Super Bright would be my choice.

Both of these offer high specs for not too much dosh so there is no loser…… My regular duty torch is American made, no bigger than these, no more powerful, ok I can charge the battery while it is still in the torch, but at nearly £70 I have to consider if I’m just a brand sucker?

Sometimes you get more than you pay for, which seems to be the case here.

Just be very careful when choosing your online bargain.

Overall Scores out of 10:

Ledeak. 7 (Lots of kit for the money and good performance from the torch, but the extras, other than the battery, really are cheap as chips quality.)

H&S. 8 (Feels like it should cost twice as much. Make sure you use a good quality 18650 battery and this should prove a decent duty torch.)

Rollo Davies

Rollo Davies