LED Lenser P3BM Flashlight
A few months go I suffered a loss of my every day carry knives, the Leatherman Wave Multitool, and the Spyderco Mini Manix. Crushed from the loss after finding out the latter was well out of production, but that’s a whole other story in itself. I took advantage of a friend being able to deliver products from Canada over to me in Africa, saving on costly shipping fees ordering replacements and was quite surprised when the new Leatherman Wave Multitool came with a few extras, namely a set of bits for the screwdriver, and a little flashlight, that conveniently fit inside the included holster for the Multi Tool. I’d already been carrying a headlamp when traveling and a few key chain lights to light up the way, and if all else failed, the torch function on my cellular phone but figured – what the heck, let’s see how this extra piece of equipment works out – if I lose it, nothing is lost as it came as a freebie.
Fast forward six months later, and I found myself lost without the unit when it suffered a technical issue, not knowing what I’d do next without my everyday carry torch. Through a combination of being in the right country at the right time and responsive customer service I’m back in action with my light. I’ll get to those details later, but first lets focus on the good stuff. Check out the LED Lenser P3BM Flashlight.
Small enough to fit in your pocket or on a keychain at only 9.45cm (3.72in), this little black beauty contains an impressive array of specifications in this 42gram unit. Led Lenser has been perfecting their product line since 1994 in Solingen, Germany. Initally refused a loan from the bank to produce their first light, the two founders persisted and now see their company grown to over 1000 employees worldwide to support their 50+ products produced. This obviously caught the eyes of the Leatherman Tool group in Portland, Oregon – they flat out bought the company in the past few years, which shows where the promotional freebie came from in my recent Leatherman Wave purchase. Leatherman’s known worldwide for their variety of tools and life long warranty and I think they’ve added a great product line to keep their company relevant and generating sales. Once you buy one of their tools you hold onto it until it’s either lost or stolen.
The P3BM advertises itself as a 14 lumen throwing device for 31 metres for up to 6 hours and 30 minutes, also being advertised as IPX4 rated, essentially meaning that it can be used in rain, or handle splashes of water, but can’t be immersed. Seems reasonable enough for this little unit. Now, before we go any further, I’m not a scientist, just a regular guy who uses products to their maximum, in some petty extreme environments. You’ve likely read some of my other reviews, so this will fit right in with them. Let’s see what you get when you purchase a Led Lenser P3BM in retail:
Presented in an attractive cardboard box, you start to get to the inside after removing the small paper strap surrounding the outside, flipping the top lid away from you. A brief series of specifications greets you on the inside of the top flap, and what we’ve all come for, is the unit itself. I found this to be a fairly impressive packaging for a product of it’s price range. You can see the flashlight in the front, on the right in the rear, a small clip, which you’ll see momentarily, and a single AAA battery that is used to power the torch. Bonus points to LED Lenser for not cheaping out and giving a crap battery with the product like we see with so many manufacturers these days just to be able to flaunt that batteries are included. If you lift the compartment holding the flashlight and components, you’ll find some other goodies at the bottom of the box, alongside a product manual, a small foldable product catalogue.
You get a small lanyard to tie to the tail end of the flashlight (which I’ve reappropriated to use for my Canon Camera, as after a year and a half of heavy usage the old one snapped), and a nylon holster that can be attached in many ways to a belt, or whatever you need as it combines a detachable belt loop with Velcro and a snap. The flashlight fits snugly inside the holster and can be removed quickly when attached horizontally on the belt. LED Lenser has also includes a small removable pocket clip that would be useful in some situations. To be honest, all the accessories have also found heir own uses and homes, falling into the category of “I needed exactly something like this for (some other product)”. All are useful and well made, that don’t look like they’ll rip, break, or snap after a few weeks of usage.
Opening up the LED Lenser P3BM is simple, at first. The tail piece simply unscrews revealing a small compartment to slide the battery into. A couple turns of the tail end switch seals it back up for usage, and you are ready to go, by pressing on the rubberized switch to power the device. An audible and a haptic click lets you know that you’ve activated it, and if you use just a small amount of pressure you can temporary power up the unit to briefly without having to activate the switch to power it down again. I found my 2nd units rubberized switch to be bigger than its previous model, and a bit tougher to press, due to it being more flush to the back-end. Still, on the older unit I never showed any wear on the rubberized switch revealing any of its innards and damaging its water-resistant rating.
The top of the flashlight where the lens is located also is removable for maintenance, revealing a single LED with nothing else. It’s a simple design, for a simple product. Removing the top confused me at first as the unit can be rotated to focus and adjust light.
LED Lenser tacks a BM suffix to the end of the model name, standing for Blue Moon. They state that due to their special manufacturing process of prismatic structure, they separate parts of the blue spectrum from the white spectrum. The blue components are thus projected to the edge of the light cone and the result is an excellent, clean white light to read by with a mellow blue circle to frame the reading area. Their claim is that Blue Moon optics make reading and general viewing easy on the eyes for less eye fatigue. don’t know otherwise, but prefer to have no blue, but all white. Regardless, this little unit packs a powerful light even during the day, useful in many situations. The light itself is focusable, with a light pressing of the top of the rotating lens unit, either or out. Check out if you can see the elusive moon.
I find myself pulling out my P3BM multiple times throughout the day to get a closer look at components, to read small lettering, to guide the way for people walking in the dark in what is turning out to be a rainy Nairobi, and late night ventures to the washroom when inside a hosts house not wanting to trip over something and wake the household up. I’ve even used it as a bicycle light. As I mentioned, LED Lenser claims a 6hr 30 minute operating time. In my non scientifical way I’m unable to back up their claims, yet only speak of the real world usage of a few minutes a day over the course of 6 months, sometimes more and sometimes less. I noticed the light getting dim, and then one day nothing at all. I was ready to change the battery.
I couldn’t actually remember the battery application when I received my first unit, and went to go and remove the tail cap from the unit, struggling to find that it had seized. I grabbed a piece of fabric to protest the metal casing of the flashlight and used the pliers of my Leatherman Wave Multi Tool to start the counter-clockwise removal process. It came off easy enough and I was faced with yet another compartment hiding the battery, and I was looking at the other side to the rubber switch. It seems that these units can have all parts replaced in many ways, and I had opened up the access point to the switch, which is good for a couple million uses apparently. How would I get access to this new component I wondered? I tried again with the Multi Tool, careful not to strip the now exposed threads to gain access to the battery. I tried 7 or 8 times before putting the tail cap on, not wanting to destroy the unit. I also experienced the struggle with getting the front lens assembly off, which I now relate to not knowing where I should actually be unscrewing, and ended up turning the focus assembly for 30 seconds before realizing I should look at the manual, which I had conveniently pitched in the trash months earlier. I went to the LED Lenser website, and tried to navigate around the site, hoping for a manual. I couldn’t find one t the time (I found one on their US site while writing this review!) and ended up just sending customer support a message asking for help, a manual and any advice.
It wasn’t 12 hours later that I had an email waiting in my Inbox from the Eastern African rep for the LED Lenser product line, asking me to come down and see him at his office which was a mere 5 kilometres away. It seems that the support team at LED Lenser had followed my email signature that advertises this very website and found that I was in Nairobi, Kenya. Unfortunately I couldn’t head to the offices right away, so I suffered for 14 days without the usage of my LED Lenser P3. When I was able to I went tot the offices, met a friendly fellow named Glen who talked to me a bit about where and when I bought the unit, and disappeared for 3 minutes. He came back stating that he had put the unit into a vise and tried to remove the cap to the battery compartment, handing me a brand new unit. It was then I found out the units have a 2 year global warranty. He guessed that somehow water must have entered into the unit and the battery could have corroded seizing the access point, and had never seen anything like it before. I asked to look at a couple of the other products that LED Lenser offered, ranging from a big heavy duty flashlight that took big D cell batteries to a newly released rechargeable unit perhaps double the size in bulk capable of putting out over 400 lumens operating on a single rechargeable battery. I put the new unit into my Leatherman holster and rode my bicycle away, happy I didn’t have to wait for weeks sending the faulty unit back and waiting for a new one to come in the mail. I used the new light less than 30 minutes later with a grin on my face.
I never expected I’d find such a use for a small pocket flashlight on a daily basis, and now find this is an essential every day carry device when on and off the bicycle. It’s small enough to be concealed and adds little weight onto my belt not getting in the way of doing what I do. The battery life is outstanding and the body puts up with drops bumps and getting wet from sweat or rain. I’m a bit concerned about not being able to open up the rear tail cap in the future, and will report back once it’s time to change the battery on this new unit. In the meantime I’ve applied a small layer of grease to the threads to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future anyways. While I didn’t pay for my unit and it came along with another tool, I’d recommend anyone who needs, or doesn’t think they need a light to use in situations the Led Lenser P3BM flashlight. Sure, there are cheaper options, but you get what you pay for, and for me, a company that stands up to their product and goes much further than a couple of bucks saved.