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CC Expedition (white)



Expedition 300, retail $59.95 (http://www.ccrane.com)
Manufactured by Tektite (http://www.tek-tite.com)
BUY IT AT THELEDLIGHT.COM
Last updated 09-03-01


LED Light


When you see this guy in your flashlight drawer, you might be tempted to brush it aside and look for a better-looking light. Don't.
The Expedition, also known as the Trek-7 when sold by C.Crane, is by far the brightest LED-based flashlight in common existence, and can replace ANY light in your home, garage, or automobile. Go ahead, pick it up. You'll see.

LED Light Made of black plastic, this light uses 3 "C" cells and is heavy and stout in the hand. A transparent end cap acts as a safety ring, enabling the flashlight to be seen from the sides at night - helpful for highway emergencies or other places where you need to see as well as be seen.
When you look down the barrel of one of these, you won't find a reflector & bulb like you might expect; instead, an array of seven (7) bright white LEDs sits down in there, looking more like a futuristic starship engine than it does a light.


Size reference


Since this is yet another "loaner" light, I don't know if it comes with batteries or not. If not, put in three "C" cells (see below) and you're ready to roll.
To turn the light on, give the head a firm clockwise twist; to turn it off turn the head the other way. This is the heaviest LED light I've tried, and feels a lot like a conventional incandescent flashlight in the hand.

This light easily illuminates a large room at night, and has a good range to boot. It is comparable to any 2-D or 3-D light at medium focus, but its color is much better and it won't turn all orange when the batteries start to poop out.


This light uses three "C" cells, which are cheap and easily available anywhere. Like many other lights, you unscrew the head until it comes off, dump out the dead batteries, and drop in three new ones button-side (+) up.
This light has the LED board and a retaining ring loose inside there, so you will have to change your habits just a little. After your batteries are in, lay the LED board down in there facing LED-side up, drop in the plastic ring with the faceted side facing outwards, and screw the end cap back down. That's it.

One thing to be careful of with this light is when you unscrew the head, the circular board with the LEDs and the black retaining ring will fall out. Don't empty this light directly over the garbage, or you will become an instant dumpster diver, scrounging for those parts that you dumped out along with the batteries.
Since the battery change is a tool-free process and the loose parts fit in right only one way, you should be able to do this in the dark if need be.
Although the battery change process isn't difficult by any means, the extra loose parts might catch you off guard the first time or two around.

The batteries are rated to last approximately 40 hours at high brilliance, and hundreds of additional hours at a reduced level..
This sample didn't noticeably decrease in brightness after 30 straight hours, so I tend to believe these figures.


This light appears to be reasonably sturdy, although some of the plastic components seem more brittle than I had expected. If you screw the end cap down too tightly, there is a possibility that you might crack or even break it.
This cap or bezel is actually made from G.E. Lexan (tm), which is the strongest transparent plastic Mankind has to offer. Breakage is not very likely in any case, but you might hear some strange and scary sounds when you overtighten it.

The light also rattles quite noticably when you shake or move it; this is from the batteries fitting a little loosely inside.
Although not damaging by any means (a majority of regular flashlights also rattle this way) I wasn't quite expecting it after all of the other lights I've been testing that don't rattle.

The Expedition should survive the most common flashlight mishaps, such as being dropped, rolling off a table, falling into water (it's waterproof) and banging around the inside of a bag or toolbox.

That said, the Expedition should easily replace any light you now own. It is exceptionally bright, waterproof and weatherproof, the batteries will last a long time, and replacement batteries are cheap and commonly available when you finally do have to change them. It is by far the brightest LED light I've seen (that is, before the 1400 & 1900 models came out!), and this is its best selling point. The white LEDs allow you to see things in their natural colors at night, and can actually enhance your nighttime visibility under any conditions you may be presented with.
The transparent end cap is fully enclosed, protecting the LEDs inside the flashlight from accidental damage, dirt, dust, and water.

LED Light
Exceptionally bright beam from this 7-LED flashlight.


A light like this belongs in every house, car, and campsite. This is one light that's bright enough to do even a pretty complex engine repair with at night, plus it can be seen for miles and miles.
Need to make camp after dark? The Expedition will give you more than enough light to get the tent up and get some grub on the fire with. Even the most hated camp chore - digging the latrine - can easily be done in the Expedition's light.

The Expedition comes with a built-in hanging loop on the butt, and two wide slit-type openings near the front to accomodate larger straps or webbing for affixing it to a body part or to a backpack. These front pieces also help prevent the light from rolling off a rock, car trunk or other flat surface. The entire body of the flashlight is also ribbed, helping you keep a grip on things.

One thing I didn't like about the Expedition is that it is exceptionally difficult to turn on and off, and to change the batteries in. This is because the head is extremely tight, and takes an almost Hurculean effort to turn it. I don't know if this is a defect, or if they're all this way.
The usual remedy for a tight light (light oil applied to the threads & O-rings) helped a little, but not nearly enough.
The head is still very difficult to turn. If I didn't know any better, I might call it a childproof flashlight! Strictly a guess here, but I'd estimate that you need to apply about 50 ft. lbs of torque on the head just to turn it on and off.
Arthritis? Forget about it.

If this overly-tight head is not part of its intended design, I'd like to hear about it. A ratings change would probably be in order, as this is the only thing that held this light from getting a full 5-LED (best) rating!

UPDATE 05-31-00 and 02-26-01: After hearing back from the manufacturer about the overly-tight head, turns out this particular sample is probably their diving light. The normal Expedition model uses slightly smaller "O" rings and is supposedly considerably easier to turn on & off. The manufacturer, Tektite, recommends the O-rings be lubricated with clear SILICONE lube (Dow 111, Parker Super O-Lube).

UPDATE 01-05-01 and 02-26-01: Another sample of this light has been loaned for testing until late February. The purpose is to validate reports that the LED board is wearing through from repeated grinding by the (-) battery contact strip.
Testing with a sample of recent manufacture proved this NOT to be the case. The wear to the board in this sample was very minimal, and I don't believe it will become an issue with most owners.

UPDATE 05-01-01: Yet another sample of the CC Expedition has been made available - this one is for good. All of the products in the Expedition line (including C.Crane's versions) are being upgraded with potted PCBs to keep the LEDs aligned and stop all the loose parts from flying around during battery changes. Apparently, the most severe cases of PCB wear have been limited only to early production units - anything you can buy at this time should no longer have this fault.

UPDATE 06-03-01:
Tektite has been busy. They have finally finished a number of upgrades to their product line, and this is one of them.

As you can see, they have affixed the LED board to the reflector, and potted the LEDs in place with a hard white epoxy compound. This will help keep the LEDs in alignment, and prevent the board from turning & having the LEDs knocked over by the catalyst pellet holder on the inside of the reflector. It appears the white epoxy may even brighten up the overall light just a bit.

Another benefit is fewer loose parts to deal with when changing batteries: now you only have the flashlight body, the bezel, and the new & improved "one piece" LED assembly. Nice 'n' easy.


UPDATE 09-04-01:

A cheap & easy way to stop battery rattle.


TEST NOTES:
Light oil on threads & O-rings didn't remedy the head problem. Subsequently cleaned it off. (NOTE: Use Dow 111 or Parker Super O-Lube, not machine oil)
As this is a loaner, I can't severely punish or tub-test this particular sample.
(As an update, a permanent test sample is now in my custody, and this one will get the crap beat out of it).


PROS:
Extremely bright, cheap common batteries, multiple hanging loops, waterproof, reasonably durable, illuminated safety ring, large enough to not be easily lost. And did I mention BRIGHT?

CONS:
Exceptionally difficult to turn on and off (See above, as this has been fixed since the first sample was tested)


          MANUFACTURER: Tek-Tite
          PRODUCT TYPE: Handheld Flashlight
          LAMP TYPE: LED, White, 5mm
          No. OF LAMPS: 7
          BEAM TYPE: Narrow flood with soft fall-off
          SWITCH TYPE: Twist-on bezel
          BEZEL: Clear lexan with ribbed outer wall
          BATTERY: 3 C cells
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown
          WATER RESISTANT: Yes
          SUBMERSIBLE: To 300 or 1000 feet (depending on O-ring config)
          ACCESSORIES: Energizer batteries, generous padded wrist lanyard
          WARRANTY: Lifetime



                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: 10
                BRIGHTNESS: 10
                USEABILITY: 7
                BATTERY LIFE: 9
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 10

                OVERALL SCORE: 46



Expedition 300 LED Light * WWW.CCRANE.COM



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