Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mule Light V2 Review

Erin has mentioned UV Paqlite in the past, and with good reason: they make innovative, durable, quality lights for a variety of needs. Most recently, they introduced a new version of their Mule Light. I backed its Kickstarter earlier this year and received mine last week; production models appear to be shipping this week from their web store.

The Mule is an amalgam of lighting types packed into one handy tube: it has a white spotlight with high/low/strobe settings and a red lens filter, a white 6 LED work light, a 6 LED blacklight, and an innovative glow stick insert. It's not able to do everything, but it's able to do a whole lot of things.

First, let's look at how it eats. The Mule ships with two battery cartridges: one contains a lithium ion battery pack with a built-in micro-USB recharging port; the other comes with 3 rechargeable AAA batteries and swaps them out easily. The lithium ion pack provides better run times, but the ability to swap fresh AAA batteries in is a very nice bit of utility.

The single white LED spotlight is rated at 300 lumens. I don't have a meter to get hard numbers, but I'll attest that it is very bright on high and still manages a comfortable working light on low.

Full 300 lumens

Low power mode

I tend to find the utility of a strobe light to be limited, but they do have two big uses in my mind; impromptu dance parties and signalling for help at night. The human eye is drawn to motion, and a strobe light is one of the best ways to draw that attention. It's the same reason emergency and utility vehicles use them.

The spotlight also has a red lens filter that stores in the battery cap. Red light is far less harsh than white light. This preserves night vision while still allowing good visibility. Swapping the lens in and out is quick and easy, and both ends hold it securely.

Full power with red filter

The work light and black light both operate in either continuous or "hybrid" mode. Continuous mode is a standard all-on mode; hybrid mode is used with the glow stick insert, and I'll go into that shortly.

White work light. Blacklight did not photograph well.

While the white light is great as a work light, the UV blacklight does a few other tricks. If you've watched CSI, you know that it can find urine, blood, and other stains, which can be cool. Of more utility to desert dwellers is the fact that a great many scorpions glow under black light. Being able to see a scorpion before you step on it is a powerful thing.

Hybrid Mode
The glow stick insert is a clear plastic piece that contains strontium aluminate crystals that kind of resemble the glowing stars I had on my ceiling as a kid. It is charged by either the work light or the blacklight, and sits directly in front of them. This is where hybrid mode comes into play.

Charging the glow stick with the normal lights works just fine, but it burns batteries. By holding either of the work light buttons for a couple seconds, the light enters a mode where the selected light is turns on for 3 seconds every three minutes. This is enough to keep the glow stick charged, while extending battery life 60x. Yes, sixty times, which is a massive life increase in a battery. The glow stick puts out about as much light as a chemical stick -- enough to use the restroom, navigate a tent, and similar tasks.

The glow stick
Now, with all the praise for the Mule has been laid out, there are some cons. The lanyard is in an awkward place in relation to the switches. I don't use lanyards on my lights, so I simply removed it. Someone who uses lanyards might find it to be a problem though. (Editor's note: I like lanyards. The problem with this one isn't so much the placement as that the string attaching it to the flashlight isn't long enough. A different lanyard with a longer lead would probably work quite well.)

The overall size of the light is the real limiting factor for me, though. It's great as a work light, but it's too long to fit into any pocket I could try and put it into and too large in diameter to fit most belt holsters. Mine came with a nice carrying case with a belt clip, but the whole assembly takes up far too much real estate for me to carry it on my belt. It's a great form factor for shining light on things; just not one that's particularly easy to carry around on my person. (Editor's note: I also have this flashlight. It's too long to be convenient for on-body EDC. However, if you carry a purse or other EDC bag, it will fit well in that. Alternately, keep it in your GHB or BOB.)

The price point ($75) may also be an issue for some folks. It's not cheap, but it's right in line with comparable quality lights from other makers.

With all those points in consideration, I'm very impressed with the Mule Light V2. It is quickly becoming my go-to light for tasks around the house, and I'm looking at ways to incorporate it into my EDC bag.


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