The Lumintop FWAA with SST-20 4000K might be the best value, and best small EDC flashlight on the market right now. It’s that good, and one of my favorite purchases this year. This could be the entire review.
It is offered in a few variants. Three body types: Aluminum, Copper, and Titanium (with multiple finishes to this). And many LED options.
LED & Power
There are several LED options that this light comes with, briefly:
- CREE XP-G3 in 6500k: this is a very blue/white LED. You select this because you care most about output, everything else be damned.
- Nichia 219C in 3000k/4500k/5000k: I love the Nichia 219b, but that’s not what is on offer here. I’ve heard that the CRI values of the 219C are more in dispute generally as they have a wider range of CRI and a tint people don’t like as much. In my opinion there’s no reason to select the Nichia here unless you are going for the 3000k temp, then it is your only factory option.
- Luminus SST20 in 4000k/6500k: here the 6500k (for me) doesn’t offer enough over the CREE to select it. But the SST20 4000k is awesome. It’s 95+ CRI and a really pleasant color. It’s ideal for this light and what I purchased. Get the 4000k SST20 if you don’t know what you want, because you can’t go wrong with it.
Ok, so the SST20 in 4000K is an LED output/temp/CRI (CRI = Color Rendering Index, or how accurate colors show) that I love and this is one of my favorite LEDs. I normally love everything warm, but it’s nice to have something that you carry during the daylight hours in a cooler/daylight temp so that it adds to the existing light instead of tinting what you are seeing with a warm flood of goodness.
For those of you not deep into this world, the SST20 4000k LED renders colors really accurately, it’s not too warm, but it’s not too cool either — it will feel very normal to almost everyone. It’s probably the best all around LED you can get for an EDC, at least until you develop a taste for the warmer LEDs.
I only hope/wish that Lumintop tosses out some special editions with warmer tints in them.
Stonewashed Titanium, it’s a nice package.
This light puts outs an insane amount of light for how small it is, and on top of that it really gets warm fast on turbo. This is made possible by unprotected 14500 lithium ion batteries. I know, what are these right? Basically they are the high power AA sized battery. It’s not a direct comp, so don’t go around tossing these in anything with AAs or assume that a 14500 light can run off an AA — but some can. It’s not confusing at all.
Anyways, these power cells are great. A really solid battery life with a ton of power drain potential — this means the light can run a good long while on low, or really crank out the lumens. The CREE LED is listed at 1400 lumen output, from this tiny little light — that’s crazy. The SST20 itself heats up the light within seconds of the light running at max output — be careful.
Generally this is a great power setup on this light, and I am happy to have something slimmer in profile, which can still really drive power when needed.
Use and UI
This light runs Anduril which is amazing and anyone who doesn’t like Anduril — well it’s a litmus test for whether someone is boring or not. But, this light ships in a simple mode so if you want basic operation you got it. But my recommendation is to go ahead and move to advanced mode and really get the features out there (and switch the light to smooth ramping, way better).
This light is controlled by a switch on the tail of the light. I am mostly going to gloss over the interface itself as it is similar/same to almost every other Anduril, I believe it is Anduril2 with the simple mode as the more custom side of it. Anduril is great, open up the guide the light comes with or snag the PDF from the product page and play around with it. There’s a lot of new stuff in there.
Instead I want to focus on carrying this light in your pocket and using it throughout the day. The trick with many lights is being comfortable carrying it in your pocket — and really I mean being confident the light is not going to turn on and burn your leg. Which is a real issue with some lights. Happily, with this light you can simply click the switch four times and the light moves to an electronic lock out (simple or advanced mode).
This then puts your light in a momentary low mode. Clicking and holding the button turns on the light to low level, enough to be useable for most things in the dark, not enough to burn your leg. You can step that up with a quick double click which visually seems to double the light output. Both of these modes only stay on while the button is pressed. So your are pretty much good to go carrying this light in your pocket once locked out.
And, this setup is also one of my favorite ways to use this light. As you are only ever four clicks away from going back to constant on, and ramping modes to dial in the power right where you want and need it.
It sounds complicated, I know, but in practice this is decently intuitive and quick to learn. I am a huge fan of this setup on the FWAA.
And the light beam itself is fantastic. It is what is referred to as a TIR optic, which means that it has a hot spot with flood around it. More specifically I would call this one of the more common flashlight setups and it is a good all around optic setup. Personally, I would love for more options here, but this is really good and doesn’t leave much for wanting.
Overall, using this light is fantastic. It all fits together very nicely.
Carry & In Hand
One of the hardest things for me is that some of my favorite lights are fairly difficult to carry. That’s not the case here. The FWAA ships with a pocket clip that can be used to carry the light in either direction, though I think most will find the optic up carry option to be less than ideal. But the clip itself is good enough.
Then there’s the weight. The Aluminum option weighs nothing, while the Ti option doesn’t weigh too much more to complain about. I have no experience with copper, but generally that will weigh a decent amount more. Overall: this is a lightweight option to carry with a clip that is strong enough to keep it in place.
Where things really win out is the dimensions, as it’s thick enough to be comfortable in hand, but not so thick to cause issues for carrying it in pocket — with the entire package being short in length. This is a pretty ideal setup — it won’t compete with AAA lights in your pocket, but for the power, UI gains, and ease of holding you get, it’s worth the marginal size trade off. I certainly don’t feel like it is bulky in my pocket, but I also have become accustomed to carrying 1” diameter lights too.
The power to size ratio is outstanding. And it’s a great light to carry. More than that, unlike with my smaller AAA lights, I don’t find it uncomfortable if I need to hold it for long periods of time. This light also tail stands, so it keeps on winning.
JC Custom Flashlights has hyper glow gaskets you can buy for this light and they are awesome additions. All you need to do is unscrew the front bezel of the light, place the gasket onto the light and screw it back together. The end result of this is that you just added a glow in the dark bit of plastic around the LED. It’s not overly in your face when not charged, but does hold a great charge throughout the night to give you an easy way of finding it.
Buy them, drop them in, they are great.
I really love this light. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t need anymore. It’s the kind of light that is really easy to get sucked into, because it has a ton of crazy features, but can also run in a really simple and protected mode.
All of that in a small package that packs a huge punch. With LED options that are great. And all that at a killer price. I love this light, not as much as the HDS Rotary I recently reviewed, but for most people this will be a better and more enjoyable light to own. It certainly is right up there with the Rotary among my favorite lights.