Fenix’s latest pocket rocket uses “tiny” as its defining characteristic in its quest to fill your EDC needs. Do they have enough of the right ingredients for success?
Meat and Potatoes
The Fenix E15 is an absolutely minuscule little powerhouse. It uses the slightly more mature technology Cree XP-E LED in a very big way with this little torch. Nestled behind a precision focusing lens, this emitter produces a creamy white beam with a beautifully smooth pattern. Once again I am reminded of how far superior the use of lenses feels in comparison to reflectors. The hotspot is well balanced between flood and throw, creating a good multipurpose light. The real beauty though is in the spill. Lensed lights almost universally have a fantastic corona/spillbeam that gradually declines to zero rather than having a well defined edge that ends up giving you tunnel vision. The E15 is no different. It has a gorgeous edgeless beam with very few artifacts mucking up your viewing experience.
Operationally speaking, Fenix has, in my opinion, taken a bold move with the E15. It is a basic 3 mode twisty that requires you to cycle the power in order to change outputs. This is not anything unusual in and of itself, however instead of the common Low-Med-High or its reverse, Fenix has opted to activate the light first in Med mode before allowing you to cycle to Low, and finally to High. That is a risky endeavor requiring a good average choice in level. Fenix wisely chose a 75 lumen balance between output and runtime. I still find it amusing to think that 75 lumens is considered budgeting your power in favor of extended battery life, considering the history of flashlights up until the very recent LED explosion, but there you have it.
As a matter of fact, the three outputs chosen for the E15 are all fairly decent. The 10 lumen low mode is quite adequate for most nighttime uses. The 140 lumen top end is a little surprising, considering many similar lights powered by 1xCR123A are generally driven at least a little harder these days. This does however reduce the difficulties in dealing with the heat inherent to LEDs at higher currents. Visually it is fairly close to the mid-level medium mode, but outdoors at night the difference is more readily apparent.
Aesthetically speaking the E15 isn’t a slouch either. Good quality knurling covers the vast majority of the body and head giving you solid grip, while a thin tailcap lug very reminiscent of the tri-wing tail of the Fenix E01 provides a lanyard or keychain attachment point as well as serving as a solid tailstanding base. The slight ring of brass threading showing through both gives a simple appealing accent while practically providing very smooth twisting action in spite of not using square cut machine threading. It has a simplistic appeal that has a very familiar look.
One of the persistent dangers of twistys is the risk for battery rattle. Unfortunately this torch is no exception. The E15 has a pretty serious persistent knock. Some lights use foam disks to combat this, others use spring contacts, but I don’t really know what the best method would be. I just know that it can be fairly annoying.
One fact that has made itself known over time though I forgot to check it at the start is that the E15 does not have a glass window covering the plastic lens. This has shown up in what I initially thought was some slight smudging on the business end of the light. I thought it was simply fingerprints from fiddling with it absentmindedly (as I am known to do), but when I attempted to wipe it clean it was apparent that this was actually light scuffing and tiny scratches on the lens itself. The long term effects of this are that the light should develop a rather nice diffuser to increase the floodyness or at least the brightness of the spill, which is not an unwelcome development, but unfortunately I don’t see it as reversible or optional.
The Fenix E15 is a very nice, purpose built EDC light. Small enough to potentially ride on a keychain, though better suited for a change pocket, it is one of the most truly useful lights I have seen. Easy to carry, and a joy to use thanks to the lensed beam.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Fenix Outfitters.