What We Like
Easy to hold
Well-designed button placement
Impact and water-resistant
What We Don't Like
Highest setting drains batteries fast
Significant drop in quality of light from high to medium
Compact “tactical-style” flashlights resemble something you’d see in a spy or cop movie—a far cry from the bulky flashlights you might remember your dad carrying around (so many D batteries!). While these new kinds of flashlights certainly look cool—they can fit in the palm of your hand and are made of lightweight metals—they sometimes present a “style over substance” situation. We tested the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Flashlight to see if its small size, rugged style, and satisfying weight added up to a durable do-it-all tool. Would the beam provide enough light, or would packing a lot of power into a tiny package have a negative impact on usability?
Performance: Very bright but with concerns
Right out of the box, it is easy to start using the ThruNite Archer. It is powered by two AA batteries, which go inside the flashlight via the bottom tail cap. Simply unscrew and remove the cap to load. To maintain its waterproof seal, there is an O-ring that sits inside this cap. Recognizing that you’ll probably lose the small O-ring at some point (especially if you’re changing the batteries in the middle of the night), ThruNite included an extra in the package. The company also included a lanyard to secure the flashlight around your wrist and a clip to keep it in your pocket, a definite stylistic choice but one that proves handy if you’re camping or working on a project. Turning the flashlight on is very easy, though the on/off button isn’t where you’d normally expect it to be. Instead of the side, it’s located at the bottom of the tail cap. A firm press turns the light on and off.
We gave it our own impact test by dropping the flashlight down a two-story stairwell. It worked perfectly without even a scratch or ding.
The ThruNite is powered by an LED bulb. Near the “light” side of the flashlight, you’ll find another button. This small, silver button allows you to control the light settings. By pressing this button, we were able to easily and progressively brighten the output (low, medium, and high).
This sounds obvious, but it bears a warning: Do not look at the bulb itself. The high mode is very bright, with an output of 500 lumens to the medium’s 75 lumens (which we thought was a pretty drastic drop in quality) and the low setting’s 17 lumens. By pressing and holding that same button, you can also switch to a strobe light mode that matches the lighting output of the highest setting. At the maximum setting, it can be seen from 108 meters away.
Battery Life: Concerning
While the high setting is very bright, we would caution anyone from using it for an extended period of time. When we left the flashlight on at that setting, it would run for about an hour and a half before the batteries would die. That didn’t feel like a decent amount of time. But more alarming is the warning in the flashlight’s instruction pamphlet, which strongly recommends not using the flashlight at the high setting for more than 10 minutes. Apparently, this could damage not only the batteries but also the driver circuit and the LED bulb itself.
Design: Well-designed for everyday use
Although we have some concerns about the ThruNite Archer’s operation, it redeems itself in the design. It looks like a much larger tactical flashlight, but it is scaled down so to easily fit in any size of hands. Coming at 6 inches long and less than an inch wide, it is extremely portable. If you’re preparing for a hike where every bit of weight in your pack counts, the ThruNite Archer’s tidy 2 ounces will be much appreciated. Even if you’re not hiking, you could fit the flashlight in your purse, backpack, or pocket and probably not even notice it. The location of the two buttons that control the flashlight’s settings are well placed; when using it, we never accidentally shut it off or changed the mode.
You could fit the flashlight in your purse, backpack, or pocket and probably not even notice it.
The ThruNite Archer is made out of aluminum, which contributes to its durability—at least when it comes to its exterior. You don’t have to worry about dropping it; the manufacturer labels it as being impact-resistant from being dropped from heights up to a meter. We gave it our own impact test by dropping the flashlight down a two-story stairwell. It worked perfectly without even a scratch or ding. It also has a waterproof rating of IPX8, which means that it can be submerged in 2 feet of water and still work. We dunked the flashlight into 2 feet of water and found that it did not impact functionality.
Price: A little more expensive than we’d like
The ThruNite Archer retails for $36.95, which seems a little high for a flashlight. You might be able to justify the price, as it is made out of aluminum and is both extremely lightweight and very durable. But at the same time, for a flashlight that costs this much, you would expect that you could use it at the highest setting for more than 10 minutes at a time. That said, ThruNite does offer a solid warranty for the flashlight. The fine print of the two-year warranty offers free replacement and a lifetime limited maintenance for repairs.
For a flashlight that costs this much, you would expect that you could use it at the highest setting for more than 10 minutes at a time.
Competition: Some strong contenders
This flashlight’s primary competitor is the J5 Tactical V1 Pro Super Bright Flashlight, which we also tested and would recommend over the Archer. The J5 Tactical model might not be as bright, but you don’t have to worry about damaging the flashlight when using it at its highest setting. It also has a much longer battery life and is slightly less expensive. The only reason we could see someone preferring the ThruNite Archer is if they wanted a lightweight flashlight to keep in a purse or backpack—and only if they don’t plan on using it for longer than a few minutes at a time.
If you compare this flashlight to a pricier product like the Anker LC130 Ultra Bright Tactical Flashlight, another we reviewed, we would purchase the Anker. Even though it is significantly more expensive, you are buying a flashlight that lives up to its specifications without having to worry that you would wind up damaging the product during use.
It’s decent, but not our favorite.
After trying out the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Flashlight, we have a hard time recommending it. It does have some good features: We appreciated the design, petite size and weight, the light settings, and the impact- and water-resistance. However, we have a hard time wrapping our heads around the warning about not using it at high power. So while the ThruNite Archer can hold up to a range of situations without a scratch, that only means that its exterior outlasts its functionality.
- Product Name Archer 2A V3 Flashlight
- Product Brand ThruNite
- SKU 9U-VXQR-YZ14
- Price $36.95
- Weight 1.69 oz.
- Product Dimensions 6.1 x 0.86 x 0.86 in.
- What’s Included Flashlight, pocket clip, spare O-ring, lanyard
- Battery Life 96 minutes
- Warranty 2 years
- Max Output 500 lumens