Armytek Elf C2 Headlamp Review

Preface

Before receiving this Armytek Elf C2, I’d literally never laid my hands on an Armytek light.  I was always curious about them but for this reason or that, just never had one.  Well Marshall over at Going Gear was kind enough to oblige my request for the Elf C2, and here’s my chance to see what they’re all about!!

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Official Specs and Features

Versions

There is just one body available in this model, but that body has two tints available:  White, and Warm.  What I’m viewing here is the White version.

There is of course also the Elf C1, which is an 18350 version of this light.  I would expect that the lights perform similarly.

MSRP

These lights are going for about $55 currently.  These are new, so don’t expect to find one for much less than that.


Short Review

Armytek lights are everything everyone says they are.  The finish is excellent and a joy to hold, and the interface and operation of the light is great too.

Long Review

What’s Included

  • Armytek Elf C2
  • Armytek 18650 (3200mAh)
  • Lanyard
  • Headband (with awesome clicky connector)
  • Spare o-rings (2)
  • Manual
  • Pocket clip

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Package and Manual

The package of the Elf C2 is a display-ready hanging package, with a window that shows off the light.  The box, like the light, is highly printed with specs and what not.  The light and goodies rest in a plastic tray.

The manual of the Elf C2 is the new standard by which manuals shall be measured.  Armytek kindly links it on their website (pdf, direct link) but you may see it below as well, in jpg form.

Not only does this manual give all the necessary information, it does so with a very good design, and well laid out format.  There is only one language available, and that’s English.  The UI is laid out very clearly and there are even some nifty illustrations of thumbs.

Build Quality and Disassembly

Build quality is something Armytek is known for.  And I can corroborate all those stories.  This light really seems sturdy.  The clip is among the thickest I’ve seen.  The threads are well lubed and are also Acme cut, which I prefer.  The tailcap has double o-rings, which should help with waterproofing.

Now about the finish.  I always looked at these and though: “Man, I bet that feels just like a chalkboard.”  When I got this light that’s the first thing I wanted to check.  And yes, this light does in fact have the feel of a chalkboard.  But unlike a lot of matte anodization, this seems quite tough.  The area where the clip attaches has not been scratched through at all during my use of the clip.  This is a bit of a surprise, and somewhat unusual.

Also note the very beefy fins just under the head of the light.

Below note the double o-ring and the square threads.  I was not successful in removing the head of this light but it’s clearly possible with the right amount of motivation between the head and the body.  I believe the bezel is press fit.  The magnet is contained in it’s own screw on compartment which adds quite a bit of length to the light.  When unscrewed and removed from the body, the threads remain and are quite pronounced.  This adds around 4-5mm to the light’s length!

And of course, the body of this Armytek is highly branded.  The head gets branded with the light specifics, and the tailcap gets branded with the brand specifics.  The body of the light has the model name and info.

Size

Officially: 112mm x 29mm, and 65g.  I’d say this light is quite long, but that’s just my perception.  I haven’t looked up any other lights to compare sizes.  That said, it’s a very feature-rich device, so the length is understandable.

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The Elf C2 is a good bit longer than the Skilhunt H03, but of course adds on-board charging.

Retention

All the major suspects are available for this light.  First, the aforementioned magnet in the tailcap, in it’s own separate tailcap.  I’d love for this to have been integrated in a different, better way, but this does work.  It makes the magnet removable by just unscrewing this micro-tailcap. The magnet is actually glued in, however.  Even with this micro-tailcap off, the receiving end remains, and sticks off the main tailcap by about 4mm.

Also seen in the photo below is the very thick steel pocket clip.  This is a very nice clip.  It’s reversible.  It has a big mouth.  It’s very smooth and slides in and out of the pocket easily.  And the interface around the friction-clip-to-body has a nice slope that helps the clip slide on pockets so well.  The clip doesn’t allow super deep carry – leaving about 1cm out of the pocket.

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Next is the lanyard, which is unusual.  The lanyard comes on a metal hook, on a metal ring.  This metal ring is installed under the magnet tailcap.  That means it’s extremely secure – inasmuch as you can trust the strength of the paracord, essentially.  The pocket clip does not have a means to connect the lanyard, as many do.

And of course, this is an actual headlamp, so there’s the headband and clip.  This too is a novel clipping mechanism.  As you can see below (and have probably seen photos of already, since it’s been lauded lately), the light snaps into the headband connector.  This is an absolutely wonderful mechanism, since the light can be removed and installed at will, on the fly, with ease and even with one hand.  This is the new standard!!

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The headband has an around-the-head and also an over-the-head strap.  It doesn’t seem to have any reflective bits.

Power

Armytek is kind enough to provide a 3200mAh 18650 with the light.  It’s an unprotected flat top.  The tailcap has a long and fairly beefy spring; the head end has a button.  I can see no reason why this light wouldn’t work with any type cell (pro/unpro, flat/button).

Note that the manual does not state 2×18350 compatibility.  I have almost no doubt that the driver is versatile enough for that, and I’m sure the cells will fit, but Armytek does not make that claim, so I won’t say they’ll work either.

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I did a couple of runtimes.  The first, a runtime on turbo, was approximately 1/2 cooled, with the provided cell.  Runtime was stopped because output was low.  There did not seem to be LVP.  (And according to the manual, there are only warnings about low cell voltage).

Second runtime (turbo cooled), the light never shut off but switched to moon, and I stopped it at 2.90V.  Charging test started here.

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The blue runtime was cooled for the duration.  The red runtime was only cooled starting at about 30 minutes.  Note how similar the runtimes are.  More importantly, note that the out put increased when the temperature decreased with the fan being turned on.  That’s a very good feature to see.

Onboard charging charged to 4.17V after the turbo run.  The charging is a rock solid 0.52A.  I imagine this is because the same head is [probably] used in the Elf C1 and Elf C2, and 520mA is a much more appropriate rate to charge 18350’s.  I personally like that, and would rather the cells be charged more slowly.  And note that the onboard charging does not require a proprietary cell!!

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I failed to get a good photo of the micro-usb port, but it’s easily the most well-sealed rubber boot micro-usb port I’ve ever seen on a flashlight.  It’s the tiniest little boot, and gets into the body nearly flush – it’s never going to accidentally come off!!

I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that this light can be powered off micro-usb alone.  That is, the light will cycle it’s main three modes while connected to micro-usb power, and with no cell in the light at all!

User Interface and Operation

There’s a single e-switch on the head of this light.  It’s an indicating switch, with the possibility to show red, orange, and green.  It’s a very clicky switch, but not too loud.  And unlike many switches of this variety, the rubber boot is quite thick and feels like it’s going to last and last.

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State Action Result
Off Click On (Mode Memory)
Off Hold Moonlight
Off Keep Holding Mode Cycle (L>H)
 On Click Off
 On Hold Mode Cycle (L>H)
 Off Double Click On (memory) and off*
On Double Click Turbo
 Turbo  Double Click Last used mode

* IE, Double Click does nothing special from off
* Turbo not part of the main mode group
* Firefly not part of the main mode group, once cycling has begun

The indicating side switch will try to alert the user when a cell voltage is too low, or the temperature is too high.

Voltage indications:  <25%, orange flash ever 2 seconds.  If cell voltage keeps going down, the main light output will decrease.  If the cell voltage can only provide a brightness of <25% of the intended output level, the main LED will flash twice.  If cell voltage drops more (to < 10%), the switch will flash red once a second.

The temperature indication is simpler.  When the light is hot, the side switch blinks orange 3x in 2s.  When the light is really hot it blinks red 3x in 1s, and output is reduced.  In my testing, the body of the light got into the low 50°C range.

Modes

Armytek is kind enough to specify OTF (out the front) and Led Lumens, and make the realistic claim that the OTF on Turbo is 900 lumens (with “Led Lumens” being 1050).

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime
Turbo 900 2h
Main3 340 4h
Main2 150 10.5h
Main1 30  55h
Firefly2 2.3 25d
Firefly1 0.4 200d

LED and Beam

The emitter of choice on the Elf C2 is a Cree XP-L.  This emitter is behind a dimpled optic (with the dimples on the inside – the outside is flat).  The beam is really quite floody.  Great for a headlamp!

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Tint vs BLF-348

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The Armytek (right) is really much more of a pure white than this photo shows.  In fact, in person I don’t see any green at all.

And since I know it’s an interesting comparison, here’s the Armytek (left) vs the Skilhunt H03:

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In person, the H03 looks less warm, and the “White” C2 looks downright cool (in comparison, that is).  But not green.

Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

Armytek Elf C2
Emitter Cree XP-L
Emitter Notes
Cell 18650
Glamour Shots Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k]
Runtime 18650
Chargetime 18650
LVP? Warning
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1050
Lux (Measured) 232
At (m) 4.392
Candela (Calculated) in cd 4475.2
Throw (Calculated) (m) 133.8
Throw (Claimed) (m)

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

There are quite a few single 18650 headlamps – even some very inexpensive (and well regarded) ones like the Wowtac brand lights (A2/A2S). And some more expensive similar lights, too, by Nitecore (HC60/HC90).

The Elf C2 offers something those lights don’t: A magnet.

And I’ll throw in the Skilhunt H03 as well, since it’s well regarded and inexpensive.  It also has a magnet (but lacks on-board charging).

The Elf C2 still offers more: the ability to remove and replace the light into the headstrap very easily.  For me this takes the light to the next level.  I’ve always dedicated a light to one task or the other, but now I really don’t have to.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Headband connector
  • Onboard charging is great
  • UI is intuitive.  And a click is “off!”
  • Built quality is top notch!
  • Magnet
  • Works as a lamp (off micro-usb power, with no cell installed!)

What I don’t like

  • The light body itself is just a little unweildy in hand.  There’s just a lot going on on the body.
  • Tail is not completely flat, so it rocks when tailstanding. (Headstand is fine).
  • Magnet is in it’s own little housing.

Up Next

Next I should have a knife or 5, and then a couple of Nitecore items!  (SC4, P16 TAC).

Notes

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