NOTE: I have purchased THREE different versions of this light, two like the one you see above, and a second Gen 2 version seen in the first picture below. The first arrived in paperweight mode and did not work at all. The second worked wonderfully but had a chinzty clip. The third fixed the clip problem but has a weaksauce tailcap spring. All have had fit and finish issues. If you are looking for Surefire consistency, go buy another light. I feel like THREE review samples gives me a good sample size (or as good as I can afford to get), but beware, this is a highly variable light.
The flashlight market is a curious place. A few years ago, all of the major innovations were found in the custom or high end part of the market—McGizmo was making perfect gems and CoolFall was blowing people’s minds. But then the market cooled off and innovation was easist to find in the midrange of the production market. oLight was bring out the S series system of lights based on a shared UI, shared body tube design, and a shared charger. Surefire was hitting 300 lumens with a 1xAAA light. And everyone and their mother was dropping a Nichia-equipped torch.
Among all of this innovation, a trend emerged. If you wanted retina-searing performance, you opted for a 1xCR123a or a 1x18650 power system. If you wanted an EDC-friendly package you opted for a 1xAAA power supply. Of course, good lights use rechargeables in the same form factor. The 1xAA light was left out in the cold. Aside from Zebralight and EagleTac, all 1xAA lights were not enthusiast grade or their were merely battery tube swaps with better lights using a different power cell. The number of lights that started out as 1xAA torches that were competitive has dwindled in the past few years to a small handle of lights.
And that is strange because there are real virtues in having a 1xAA power supply. First, AAs are probably the most widely available batteries in the Western world. Sure most places also stock AAAs, and there is a good argument that CR123as cost and lack of popularity means they will be more available in an emergency, but if a store carries only one battery size it is AA. That wide availability is a big deal. Second, I find that AAs make for a body tube that is a very good size and shape. Its not so bulky that its like carrying a grenade in your pocket (a sin of a few 1xCR123a lights) nor it is so thin that you feel like your trying to write with a toothpicket (a sin of some 1xAAA lights). In terms of rechargeables, AAs give you more power and storage than AAAs in only a slightly bigger package. I don’t prefer AA batteries but there are enough good reasons to like them that the dearth of 1xAA flashlights is a bit perplexing.
Enter the ReyLight Lan Ti. This is a light that has appeared on both Massdrop and Kickstarter (whu???). It is made overseas and available through none of the normal flashlight retailers. This is basically an Amazon only light, unless you want to brave the corners of the web occupied by Chinese versions of Amazon. Setting aside a bunch of weirdness, the reality is this is a truly superb design, a battery tube for the ages, with a now-rare format. If you want a light tailor-made for a 1xAA, this is one of your very few choices. Is it good? Let’s see.
The product page is no longer up. There are at least three versions. The polished light here is a v2 version and the blasted light is a v3 version. It costs $80. Here is a written review. Here is a video review. Here is my video overview. Here is a link where you can buy Reylight Lan Ti. And here is the review sample (which is mine, purchased with personal funds):
Twitter Review Summary: One of the best lights available, with one cavaet.
Body tubes matter more than emitters, in the same way that blade geometry matters more than blade steel. If you have a good body tube, the light is useful well past the expiration date on the emitter’s status as “bleeding edge.” After all, 90% of people get by just fine with the old MiniMag, in large part because the body tube is quite decent (the emitter and UI are SO bad...). Here the body tube for the Lan Ti is just superb—washer-style clip, tailstand, excellent clicky, good light escapes, an anti-roll feature, that magic diameter to length ratio. Add to this crisp and beautiful machining and you have a truly amazing body tube. The fact that the emitter and UI are also great is really a plus. On paper, this is an $80 light that looks and works like a $300 light. I would not have been disappointed to receive this light from Enrique or TorchLab, its that good. Of course if either of those makers would have sold it it would have come with the full complement of 10 tritium inserts already installed.
Fit and Finish: 0
Beautifully cut parts, immaculate threading, a great feel to the clicky, the Lan Ti seems amazing, but, unfortunately, I had to buy two before I got one that worked. The first arrived dead as a door nail. I sent ot back to Amazon for a refund, fearful that I wouldn’t be able to get a replacement that worked. This is a perfect example of why it pays to buy well-known companies, especially those that are located in the US. When I had a problem with my Streamlight, it was a quick phone call and things were fixed. That piece of mind is worth real money. As a gear reviewer, I am more willing two review samples to make sure I get one that works. For most people, it would be one and done.
The replacement I bought some months later as, over the year I have owned it, worked beautifully. It is still flawlessly made, but now it has a working emitter, which, last I checked, is important on a flashlight. The second replacement has a weird gushy clicky thanks to a flimsy spring, but it too has worked fine. This is a light with a high degree of variance, so be aware that you could get a paperweight with beautiful machining or an actual functioning light or anywhere in between. That degree of unpredictability results in a zero, but two of my three versions of this light have been excellent.
With a longish battery tube and an excellent but unobtrusive bit of a machining, the Lan Ti is quite good in the hand. Thanks to a nice tailcap design, this is a light that kills it in the hand—sure grip and easily manipulated and activated.
The first two versions of the Lan Ti had terrible, flimsy clips with the spring tension and rigidity of a extra small paper clip. This is the clip shown above. The third version has a much better clip that both stays put and has a good deal of spring tension.
Again, the variability in the units I received means that the score is averaged down to a one. The better clip is one of the best on the market—washer-style, unobtrusive, and durable. The rest of the light is easy to carry, though a bit bigger than most lights I EDC because of the battery.
With a lithium primary, this light is plenty bright, 390 lumens for the v2 version and 420 lumens for the v3, but that is almost a truism these days. The more important output, for me, at least, is the low. Here Lan Ti gets it just right. The .2 lumen low does just barely enough to light up your surroundings, but not so much as to rid you of your night vision. It is also worth pointing out that the medium is a nice compromise of the two. Very solid outputs, evenly spaced, with nothing stupid or outrageous. That works for me.
If done well, good outputs lead to good runtimes and here we have just that. The Lan Ti lacks the insane runtimes of a Muyshondt or a Zebralight, but on moonlight low you get useful light days, 30 to be exact. On high with lithiums you get 40 minutes, which is not bad. Faced with the design choice of “reduce to puddle of aluminum” high with 10 minutes of runtime or “bright but not firestarter hot” high of 390 lumens with a substantial runtime, I think Reylight made the right choice here.
Beam Type: 2
Thanks to a good, old fashioned reflector Lan Ti coaxes some decent throw out of a shallow-ish head. Its not going to hang with something like my Eagletac TX25c2, but it is clearly better than the squashed beam of the oLight Baton series. This is a very good compromise between flood and throw, on par with a good Surefire.
Beam Quality: 2
Again, a well done reflector does a lot to smooth out the splotchy beam, making it clean with a good balance between hotspot and spill. For a production light you will have to go to a high end Surefire to find something better.
Like with so many things on the Lan Ti, the UI is simple and effective. This is a clicky with a moonlight->low->medium->high cycle and it is easy to access thank to a good clicky design and as-expected debounce times. I would like to see mode memory, but that is a nice plus and not a core feature. The overall simplicity here coupled with the excellent tailcap makes this a very good though not great UI. If the scale allowed I would give it something like a 1.75.
Hands Free: 2
Joy of joys, this light can be used in a number of different ways, all hands-free. It doesn’t roll away, it is as solid as granite standing on its tail, and if pressed, you can hold it using your mouth and not your teeth (which, by the way, is never recommended though I imagine this something everyone has done at one point in time or another).
Fidget Factor: Medium
Its a clicky, so it is always a bit fun to play with, but here, the detailed, refined machining is a reward for the hand. This isn’t the masterpiece that the Haiku is, which simply begs to be picked up, but it is a nice hunk of metal to fiddle with in the car while stuck in traffic. Just don’t blind yourself.
Fett Effect: High
On the polished version, the light picks up scratches and wear wonderfully, giving you a living in look fast. In the opposite way, the blasted version starts to polishing up relatively quickly given that the light is made of Ti. This is a light, like a Haliburton briefcase, that will look better worn.
Value: Very High
With the Ti body, exceptional machining, and the ability to install 10 tritium inserts, this light has all the markings of a small batch run from CPF, but it is available on Amazon right now (v.2 only) for under $100. That is a good buy, provided of course, that you get one that works.
Overall Score: 17 out of 20
Make no mistake, this is an amazing light. The score is not great because of the wildly variable fit and finish, but this is a superb torch if you get a good one. Its machining is outstanding, its materials are great, the outputs are just right, and the tailcap is wonderful. The best version of this light, my third copy, is easily one of the best lights on the market, regardless of battery format.