I am writing this a little backwards, as I already published the article about three flashlights for people who don’t want to learn about flashlights, and talked about this light there. For that article I needed an upgrade pick for the AA light (which itself I didn’t have beforehand and had to test a bit) and because of that I honed in on this light: the Quark QK2A MKIII from FourSevens.
The reason I specifically eyed this one is because I wanted to meet some specific criteria:
- Standard batteries. If I have to explain to someone what type of battery the light needs, then it was a fail for that post. AA is far more standard than AAA still, so that was my focus.
- High quality: since I already had a good-cheap-durable-light, I wanted something equally durable but with a higher quality finish and light output.
- Decent CRI: you should not look sickly if you are using my upgrade pick light.
And after a bunch of looking around, I settled on this light. It’s not very cheap, especially given what it is, but it’s simple, effective and surprisingly good.
Batteries and LED
Let’s start with the battery stuff first. Because it is a AA flashlight which takes two of them. But, there’s a couple caveats with that. The first is that the light comes with two rechargeable AA batteries, and a standard rechargeable is called “NiMH” that’s the chemical type of the battery, but best to just remember “starts with N and is AAA or AA, then it’s a standard rechargeable battery”. Those will basically work in place of disposable batteries in almost all use cases, including this light and it’s what you should always try to use in the light.
But, the light also specifies that it will work with disposable Li batteries (which are like those expensive disposable batteries that last super long), or with Alkaline. There’s a caveat to Alkaline, which is your very standard basic battery you steal from your remotes. The caveat is that it voids the warranty if the light breaks from using a disposable alkaline battery. ‘What the fuck’, you might ask. FourSevens explains it clearly: “Alkaline batteries will power QUARK lights, however they release corrosive gas during discharge, are prone to leaking, and will eventually destroy the light.”
So yes, they will work, but the more you use them, the worse it is for the light. So basically use a rechargeable battery, they are cheap and work well, and move on with your life. And if you must use Alkaline do not store those batteries in the light.
Ok, now, the LED.
This power is driving a Nichia 319A which has a color temp of 4000k and a CRI of over 90. I know you know what that all means, but just as a reminder, this means it is closer to ‘daylight’ in color (more blue, less yellow) and the color rendering ability — which is the ability of the light to show you an accurate color without giving your skin sickly undertones — is above 90. And above 90 is better than most flashlights that aren’t fancy ones, and good enough that most people really find they render color fine. Personally, I prefer stuff above a CRI of 95, but like I am stupid, so you do you.
Short version: decently simple batteries and you should switch to rechargeable if you can, and an above average LED that is very versatile in color temp and its ability to show accurate colors.
I was trying to sort this out in my head, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a 2x AA light — at least not since the 90s. I do have plenty of 2x CR123s or 2x AAAs, but AA? Nope. And that’s relevant here because I was a little shocked by how large this light is. It’s beefy, it’s big.
Here’s the thing about all of this though, like with CR123 sized lights, the diameter of these lead to a better experience when you are actually holding and using the light. So it feels fantastic in your hand. It’s the right size then, but carrying it sucks.
It’s very comfortable in your hand and very easy to have a firm grip on. All things you want in a light you are going to use, potentially in a situation where dropping the light would not be welcomed.
I am going to ignore all the configurations, I know what I like and this light gives me that: config 4, low-med-high. Simple and always starting low to keep from blinding me. So it nails the ability to easily shift to what you might want.
Next is the tail switch itself, which is good and bad. The bad is that it protrudes from the end, and has a very long click to it. And the click itself is also loud. FourSevens includes a little bit of black plastic that clips into place and allows the light to tail stand. This is great.
With tail stand cap.
The trade off is that the long click of the button is more difficult to activate with the tail stand adapter in place. It is not impossible, mind you, but you have to make sure you are hitting the button near the center, or your thumb might get blocked by the tail stand adapter. I tend to leave the adapter on, as it provides more utility to the light, but it does bother me how long the click is for that switch.
Next is how you carry this light. It as a very good pocket clip — which is something that Prometheus/FourSevens does extremely well. But it sits below the switch mechanism and that means there is about an inch and a quarter of flashlight body residing above the top of the clip. So if you clip it in your pocket, it will stick out a good bit. What’s good about that is that it is easy to grab from your pocket even with gloves on, the bad is that it really shows. This is a hard light to pocket carry, that’s all there is to it. It does work well if you are using it in a setting where you constantly pull it out for use and need to do so quickly.
That said not only is the blue color I chose outstanding looking, but I actually love using this light. When I was searching for something in our storage area I found the light extremely easy to keep a good hold of, operate, stash in my pocket for fast retrieval and all that. Usually a AAA light gets tiring because it is so small to hold and hard to dig out of my pocket. This is a good light to use, it easily slid in to place in cases where I generally would have used a larger light or a SureFire to get the job done.
Ok, overall then: a little overpriced, but has enthusiast features with consumer grade usability — all built by a company you can trust for good quality gear. And, given that, the price is a little easier to justify.
If you are a flashlight person, I think you are good to skip it, but if you want a really good gift for someone that you think could get use from a great flashlight: this is a really good gift. And that’s the reason it’s on my recommendation list as an upgrade for people who want a good flashlight without having to worry about the fussy bits of many other enthusiast flashlights. It has great light output, easy batteries, easy UI, easy to hold, durable, and IPX8 water rating. It’s a smart light for what it is.