Pelican L1, retail $10.00
Manufactured by Pelican Products Inc. (
Last updated 05-21-09

LED Light

The Pelican L1 is a small and very bright "keychain style" LED flashlight. They come in a sturdy polycarbonate plastic body, and have rubber "O" rings under the head to seal out the weather. The tailcap-mounted switch button is also rubberized, and is pressed into the body in such a way that it too acts like a seal.

The flashlight comes in three LED colors: white, turquoise, and a distinctly reddish orange. All are powered by four LR-44 button cells.

Size reference

The L1 is ready to use right out of the package. It comes with a lanyard attachment that fits in a hole in the flashlight by means of a small metal ring. A clip is also built into the body of the flashlight to allow you to clip it to your clothing.

In order to use the lanyard, you must first attach the metal ring to the flashlight - which I found rather difficult. (See update below - as of summer 2001, the L1 now comes with this ring already installed). I had to use a screwdriver and a pair of pliers to get it on. But once on, it stays put. A break-away safety clip on the lanyard attaches to this ring, and can be removed and reattached at will.

To turn the L1 on, press the button on the tailcap until it clicks. Press it again until it clicks to turn the light off. The light will come on well before the click, so it may be used to signal via morse code or other blinking pattern you wish to create.

The L1 is powered by four LR-44 button cells, mounted in a row inside a tray inside.
Changing batteries in this light is easier than in most other lights using these batteries. To do so, unscrew the head of the light until it comes off. Then apply pressure to the tailcap switch until the "guts" of the flashlight come loose (don't worry if the light turns on during this step); they will simply slide out at this point.

Remove the old batteries, and lay in four new ones, following the polarity markings on the bottom of the tray. Drop the guts back into the body, and screw the head back on. If you're reasonably careful, you should be able to accomplish this even in the dark.

The batteries are rated to last approximately 100 hours, but I have been having some problems getting the test samples to burn brightly for more than an hour.

With new batteries, the LED draws 118 milliamps and burns very brightly. After an hour, this was down to just 7 or 8 milliamps. The fault did not appear to be with the lights themselves, but each unit had three good batteries and one pissy battery installed. The weak cell quickly discharged, and then began to reverse-charge from the remaining good batteries!

I have been in touch with the manufacturer of the L1 and the battery problem has been brought to their attention. As I understand things, this is Pelican's very first experience with any product using button style batteries, so consider this a shake-down voyage for the good ship L1.

Expect continuous reports as additional testing is performed and information becomes available.

The Pelican L1 seems to be about as tough as any flashight can be made. They take drops and throws with utter impunity. The lens is recessed into the head, giving vital protection for what is the most vulnerable part. This means you can set the light onto a surface face-down with no worries about scratching or breaking the lens.

The only possible weak point may be the clothing clip itself, however you would have to make a very serious and purposeful effort in order to break it off. Even if it somehow does break, this will not in any way affect the electrical or optical function of the flashlight.

One feature I find handy in many flashlights is the ability to stand it on its tail and use it to illuminate a small room. This feature is lacking, primarily because the switch is located on the tailcap.
For a keychain style flashlight though, this is a very minor point, and probably will not figure in the final rating. This capability is most often desired in larger flashlights, not these super compact models.

The L1 has two finger pads on the sides. When holding the light, your thumb and forefinger "automatically" fall into place in these indentations. As a result, this light should be slightly more comfortable to use for longer durations than other keychain lights.

The L1 is "water resistant", but it is NOT waterproof.
After five minutes in a styrofoam cup full of water, the flashlight had a considerable amount of water inside. A few drops were found behind the reflector, and the bottom of the battery tray was substantially soaked. None was found around the switch actuator; the rubber dome protected it enough. However, if the light were left immersed for a longer period and/or fell into deeper water, I'm willing to guess that water would be found more widespread inside the light.
Take it out in the rain - it will work just fine. But try to keep it off the pond bottom, and for heaven's sake, please don't repeat my tests in any test location that flushes.

A light of this type and size is ideal for use inside the car or tent, inside the airplane cockpit, and looking for dropped or misplaced articles in the home. Their tough construction gives them added protection if you decide to keep one in the toolbox or glovebox.

Pelican offers an unconditional lifetime guarantee for all but the batteries. The warranty does not cover sharkbite, bear attack, or children under 5, so you might want to keep the L1 out of baby's crib and out of reach of large animals.

The switch is a "clickie" type on the tailcap. It provides an audible and tactile sensation when you click it on and off. The pressure needed to click it on and off isn't terribly high, so it can be activated with any free finger on your hand.
You can also use the flashlight for signalling or just quickly flashing at something (momentary operation) just by pressing more lightly on the button; as the light will come on well before the switch clicks.
The rubber cover gives it a better feel than just a bare switch rod would; and this cover is ribbed to help you keep a "grip" on things.

LED Light LED Light LED Light
Top left: White L1. Top right: Red L1. Bottom: Turquoise L1.
All pictures taken with the flashlight held 16" from the target.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this flashlight.

Spectrographic plot
Same as above; newer spectrometer software & settings used.
USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

These lights were very bright with brand spanking new batteries. Until I can test with known good batteries, I cannot verify with any accuracy just how long they will stay this bright.

Test samples all arrived with batteries included.
Four out of the six samples had at least one bad cell installed; this did not manifest itself until after 8-10 minutes of operation.

Battery life testing will have to be re-done in order to obtain valid results.

An infrared version (880nm) is now being offered, that version will be tested & the results + pictures posted HERE.

UPDATE 08-28-01:
A new sample set of Pelican L1 flashlights have arrived for testing. The samples have "date of manufacture" ranging from 06-22-01 to 08-02-01. The instructional material that comes with them has been re-written, and certain information regarding intended usage & battery life has been added. This information will change how I need to go about testing this particular product, and I need to think about this before I come up with a viable test method to use with the L1.

Also included in this package is an INFRARED version of the L1, intended for covert use with night vision equipment. Since I do not own or have access to a night vision scope, all tests will be done using my digital camera to oberve the radiation. It is *FAR LESS SENSITIVE* than even the cheapest 1st generation night vision equipment, but it will have to do.

Currently manufactured L1s have the ring attachment already installed, eliminating the need for the user to struggle with knives and other sharp instruments while doing it themselves.

It would appear that Pelican has addressed some of the concerns I had with the L1, and made changes to both the light itself and the instructional material enclosed with it.

UPDATE 08-28-01:
Added some text to the above review, as I neglected to mention much about the switch.

UPDATE 03-14-02:
As most of you know, testing involves more than just spending a few hours or even a week or two with a light. It is an ongoing process. Today, while using one of the blue-green L1 samples, the clip made a loud obnoxious "SNAP!" sound while I was affixing it to something, and broke off at its attachment point as you see in the photo below. While this does not affect the light electrically, it does cut its attachment options down by a third by eliminating the "clips conveniently onto clothing" option. It can still be attached to keys or carried by its lanyard.
oh oh!

UPDATE 04-13-07:
Here is a spectrographic analysis of the IR unit.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this flashlight.
Peak wavelength appears to be ~880nm.

Beams are very bright initially.
Light is small in size, can be carried about the neck or stuffed into a pocket.
Nearly instructible casing.
Dual-function switch.
Batteries are easier to change than those in any other LR-44 cell flashlight tested to date.

Doesn't stand on-end unassisted
Possibility of shorter than published battery life unless an alteration is made (See UPDATE above).
Not submersible.
Ring attachment was exceptionally difficult to install. (Again, see UPDATE above for an update on this)

        MANUFACTURER: Pelican Products
        PRODUCT TYPE: Miniature keychain torch
        LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm (IR, orange-red, blue-green, white)
        No. OF LAMPS: 1
        BEAM TYPE: Wide angle (red & blue-green) to medium spot (white)
        SWITCH TYPE: Snap action pushbutton
        BEZEL: Reflector & clear lens
        BATTERY: 4x LR44 button cells
        CURRENT CONSUMPTION: 100mA on new cells, drops quickly
        ACCESSORIES: Split ring, neck lanyard
        WARRANTY: Lifetime


Pelican L1 * Pelican Products Inc (

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