High Gear: Secur Products 4-in-1 light and charging station
Secur Products SP-1100
Features: LED flashlight, LED lantern, emergency blinker, USB charging station, magnetic base
Weight: 8.8 ounces
Battery type: Rechargeable lithium ion
Battery life: Up to 14 hours (8-10 hours in extreme conditions)
Recharge time: 3 hours for smartphone
The SP-1100 and all Secur Products items are only available through the company website at www.securproducts.com.
Editor’s note: High Gear features outdoor sports gear, technology and innovations useful in the High Sierra and America’s West.
These days, it’s a no-brainer to bring your cell phone on a hike or backcountry trip — or just about anything else in the great outdoors.
But why? The actual phone function of a mobile won’t do much good in the middle of nowhere, and it sure as hell doesn’t replace survival skills and plain old common sense. Still, there’s something to be said for keeping a relatively reliable lifeline at arm’s reach in the wilderness. Plus, that 15-megapixel camera is probably better than most point-and-shoots, and your Instagram/Twitter/whatever followers absolutely need to relive your journey to wherever.
There’s only one problem: Most cell phones have wildly unpredictable battery life — particularly in the frigid conditions we deal with for half the year. Aging iPhones are notorious for inexplicably dying on the slopes, even with a half or quarter charge, and I’ve forgotten to turn on airplane mode before more than a few multi-day trips.
All of this is to say that cell phones — the modern, mobile version of smoke signals or an airplane black box — aren’t 100-percent reliable in the wilderness. Duh. But, like a Swiss Army knife or book of matches, you should always toss one in your backpack, just in case.
It might be time to add the SP-1100 ($44.99) to that “don’t leave home without it” list. Made by Secur Products, the four-in-one light and charging bank is advertised as “the ultimate gadget for the avid hiker.” It’s about the size of an iPhone 6 and weighs slightly more (8.8 ounces), which means it passes the first test for backpackers: portability. The sleek, attractive flashlight body also features a magnetic base for sticking to surfaces, along with a small carabiner for hooking to ropes or straps.
The four-in-one selling point is a bit misleading. The SP-1100 comes with four functions — three lights and one base-mounted charging station — so it’s really more of a two-in-one with several variations. There’s a flashlight, red emergency blinker and pull-out lantern, all of which do exactly what they’re supposed to do. The LED bulb is a quality addition, with more than enough juice to illuminate up to 100 feet as a flashlight (or more with a bit of snow reflection). The pullout lantern uses the same bulb and is just as bright. It easily lights the inside of a three-person tent or smallish cabin.
Unlike many flashlights, the SP-1100 uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery, not a stack of AAs or D cells. The battery lasted about 14 hours when I was running the flashlight nonstop and charging a Galaxy S6. The phone went from a 20-percent charge to full in a little less than three hours. To be honest, that’s better than the cheap-o AC car charger I picked up at the gas station. The emergency signal supposedly lasts up to 34 hours, but I didn’t check that one.
The flashlight’s rechargeable battery is a major perk, especially in tricky winter conditions. It’s not exactly winter-proof — expect the battery to last about 8-10 hours when the temperature drops — but it tends to handle the cold better than other power sources.
Of course, the one major downside here is finite energy. It has no solar cells like similar products from GoalZero, and, once the rechargeable battery is sapped, there’s no replacing it with another one. Use it wisely, just like your phone battery. Maybe lay off the mountaintop Facebook posting for a day or two?
But all these features would be moot if the SP-1100 wasn’t rugged enough for back-to-back-to-back trips. And it is, with a few caveats. The flashlight body is rainproof (as in don’t submerge it in water), the charger plug-in is covered (though not quite waterproof) and it did just fine when I tossed it around on a mountain bike ride earlier this fall. When I got home, the lights worked and the charger held strong at the three-hour mark.
To be safe, I’ll call the SP-1100 a 3.5-season flashlight. It won’t handle dozens of rough-and-tumble trips deep into the backcountry come January, but, then again, neither will your cell phone. And you wouldn’t leave home without that.
This story originally ran in the Summit Daily News, serving Breckenridge, Colorado, and the surrounding area. The Summit Daily is a sister publication to Tahoe Daily Tribune.