The Fenix PD25 is no doubt an impressive light for its size, but if you’re willing to upgrade to a slightly larger and more expensive mode, the Fenix UC35 is an even more powerful option. Twice the length, it also boasts nearly twice the strength: 1000 lumens, opposed to the PD25’s 550. Newly redesigned for 2018, the V2.0 is a trustworthy companion for both EDC and tactical carry, with some major improvements over the original UC35 and a maximum throw distance of 873 feet.
Read on to take an in-depth look at this sturdy flashlight.
A Quick View: The UC35 In Person
Open the UC35 and take it outs of its sturdy (and attractive packaging), and the UC35 feels sturdy yet-compact at the same time. It’s 5.5” long, 1” in diameter, and weighs a mere 5.2 ounces loaded with batteries. That’s small and light enough to fit in your pants pocket, while still feeling substantial in your hand and inspiring confidence – a good thing to have, especially in tactical situations.
It’s crafted from an anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum body, jet black with large knurling on the grip and on the end cap. The body is rated to IPX68, which means it’s impact-resistant for drops of up to 1 meter and rated to withstand being submersed in water down to 6.6 feet deep.
We felt totally comfortable holding the UC35 and dropping it onto the ground, without fear of damaging it. The bezel is a bit small, offering a little less protection for the reinforced glass lens than we might wish for – but we’ve yet to crack it or see others complain of that happening. We believe it can handle grass, sand or dirt without reservation, but concrete or rock could potentially pose some problems. The finish will also scratch, though this is merely an aesthetic problem and not one worth griping over.
The pocket clip be easily rotated 360 degrees on the flashlight body, while also being removable. It comes in lens-down carry and is strong enough to keep the light firmly attached to your pocket or belt.
Overall, the UC35 is built like a tank and feels that way when being handled.
Functions: How It Works
If there is anything the UC35 lacks, it isn’t a variety of light modes and brightnesses. You can choose from Turbo, High, Mid, Low and Moonlight modes, which range from as little as 1 lumen to as many as 1000 for high mode. There is also strobe, which flashes at 1000 lumens.
To turn it on, you simply toggle the rubberized button on the end cap – pretty standard stuff for a flashlight. But switching light modes is a little different; instead of continually toggling the end cap, you simply press the small, round, copper-colored button the side of the flashlight, which toggles through the modes sequentially, from Moonlight to High. To access Strobe, simply hold down the selector button.
Using two buttons to switch between light modes has both advantages and disadvantages. The selector button is easier to access when holding the flashlight during more conventional everyday tasks, such as lighting up a room or the trail. But it’s much harder to reach when holding it in tactical positions, such as the traditional “Harries” method – though you’ll be able to hit the on/off button easily. Holding in the Chapman technique, however, will place your thumb directly near the selector switch.
One advantage, however, is being able to quickly access the last brightness setting after turning the light off, without having to toggle through them all using a single button. This is achieved using an intelligent memory circuit, which remembers the last brightness level you were on before turning it off.
Batteries and Power
The UC35 runs off the standard CR123 batteries found in most Fenix lights (and most other flashlights, for that matter), as well as rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion batteries. You can recharge it via a small Micro USB port, which is found under a small rubber flap opposite the selector switch. It needs only one 18650 or two CR123’s. Bear in mind that CR123’s cannot be recharged, as 18650’s can.
On a fully charged or fresh battery, runtime is roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes on Turbo, 4 hours and 10 minutes on High, 10 hours and 40 minutes on Medium, 28 hours on Low, and over 800 hours on Moonlight. Impressive all around. We hope you’ll never need to run it for 800 hours on a single battery, but it’s nice to know you can.
Charging via micro USB is convenient enough in between uses, but if you’re going to be in the field for a long time, you may want to bring spares – or at least some kind of spare charging pack, such as used to charge your cell phone when traveling. Being able to plug it into your car or battery pack is a welcome and convenient feature.
One cool, and very handy, feature that Fenix has built into the UC35 is a battery life indicator light on the selector switch. When you turn on the light, you’ll see one of four colors –
- Solid Green, indicating a full charge,
- Flashing Green, indicating mostly charged
- Solid Red, when the battery is beginning to get lower
- Flashing Red, when the battery is close to empty (light will automatically work only in Moonlight mode, at this point).
Using the UC35 In the Field
As you can expect from a 1000 lumen flashlight, this thing is bright. Like most of Fenix’s other flashlights, it uses a Cree XP-L HI V3 LED, rated to a lifetime of 50,000 hours. Using it in the field is as expected: bright and clear. The beam is bright and dense in the center – like a spotlight – and is then surrounded by more of a floodlight. On the brightest level, it has a maximum distance of over 820 feet.
It’s generally too bright for general use around the house but lights up the trail incredibly well. And if you need to illuminate an entire room, simply pointing it at the ceiling is enough to fill the whole room with a floodlight.
Compared to the PD25, it’s obviously larger and capable of throwing much more light. It feels essentially the same to operate, and the larger body and grip makes it more applicable in situations where grip and confidence in your hand matter. The PD25, on the other hand, feels more appropriate for everyday EDC use, handyman work, etc, as it can fit in your pocket and the palm of your hand.
All in all, another excellent flashlight from Fenix. The UC35 is tough and durable and inspires confidence when you use it. 1000 lumens is extremely bright, and the light works fantastically for both outdoor and tactical situations. It’s also reasonably priced, too – generally available online for under $90-$100.
– 1000 Lumens
– 5 brightness levels – Turbo, High, Med, Low, Moonlight – plus Strobe
– Works with rechargeable batteries
– Durable, IPX68 rated aluminum body. Waterproof and impact-proof.
– A little pricey but you get what you pay for. Fenix lights have a 5-year warranty so that tells you the quality of the lights. So $89.95 price is probably worth it.