Many folks these days are not interested in single-function devices whether a watch that just tells time, a phone that just makes calls, or a flashlight that just, well, flashes light. So enter Celestron, a company known for telescopes and innovation. Celestron is now exploring the market of creative tools that improve your chances of survival. Or at least make the situation more convenient and comfortable.
The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 is a newer offering that combines a 300 lumen rechargeable flashlight with a pair of 5000 milliamp-hour (totaling 10,000 mAh) USB outputs of external backup power for phones, tablets, and cameras, combined with an electric hand warmer that pumps out enough micro-BTUs to take the edge off cold fingers when it matters most.
A Pound of Light
This set of valuable features does come at a cost. Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 weighs in at 17 ounces (486 grams). That’s a handful, about the same as a fully loaded Glock 42. But given that there is a pair of USB outputs (a one amp and a two amp) this light is more than meets the eye.
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The input jack to charge up this beast requires a standard mini-USB port, not the ubiquitous micro-USB that powers almost all non-Apple cell phones and other portable electronic devices on earth. I’m not sure what’s behind the continued use of the mini-USB since I don’t see any real advantages over the micro-USB that is the global industry standard for cell phones, and properly known as the Common External Power Supply or Common EPS.
The operation of the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10, or its smaller brother, the Thermotorch 5, is pretty simple but must be memorized. The single large button on the upper side toggles through the low-medium-high flashlight settings. If depressed and held for three seconds, the hand warming capabilities are initiated. Another three seconds of constant button-down and the feature is turned off. It does take minutes before you will notice much of a temperature change in the flashlight’s shaft, and five minutes later you will be enjoying this feature.
Celestron calculates that you can charge your iPhone four times, your iPad once, and GoPro or music player about seven times. The dual 10000mAh (combined) battery power can also be routed to 48 hours of 60 lumen light (low), 30 hours of 100 lumen light (medium), and eight hours of 300 lumen light (high). However, to the human eye, there is not a dramatic difference between 100 and 300 lumens, and between 100 and 60 lumens. So for most use, the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 will be used at it’s highest or lowest flashlight setting. As a big fan of Surefire’s decision of a five lumen minimum, I think that amount is a useful low end cutoff when you really do need low light or a wildly long runtime.
An added feature under the tailcap of the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 is a four-LED battery level indicator that shows how much juice is left, or how far along the recharging is progressing. The LED indicator is activated with a push of the flashlight button and they stay lit for about 10 seconds.
Baby It’s Cold Outside
The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can also give you up to 10 hours of hand warmer heat between 103-114 degrees F. Or, if doing a little cold weather nighttime E&E, you can get about six hours of 60 lumen light while the handwarmer is chugging away. The handwarmer feature is a welcome addition to cold night use with bare hands. But I found that if it’s cold enough to need a hand warmer, it’s cold enough to use gloves. However, the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can warm up other things besides hands including batteries, electronics, and gloves and mittens. The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 does not blast out heat but it does take the sting out of your cold hands. Right now it’s about 2 degrees above zero F outside, and I suspect that using the handwarmer might actually improve internal battery life, or at least maintain it at a higher output. Just a guess, but why not test it?
Pushing the Limits
Setting the flashlight outside, I let it cool off to about 8 degrees F as measured by my infrared noncontact temperature sensor. I plugged in my USB tester that measures voltage. When cold, the USB voltmeter recorded about 4.90 volts. After 20 minutes of the handwarmer function turned on with the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 sitting in the almost-zero outdoors, it warmed itself up to about 60 degrees F. The USB voltage output was measured at a maximum of 5.02 volts. I learned three things. First, the handwarmer function will not work at the same time as the USB charging ports. Second, the ambient temperature plays a big role in how warm the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can get. And third, the heavy aluminum Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can get dangerously cold to the touch and requires either gloves or use of the hand warmer for any sustained bare hand holding. Smaller lights like the Surefire are also cold when left outside, but have a much lower overall density and thus smaller heat capacity allowing their smaller profile to warm up in the hand much faster. The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 is like holding a billet of aluminium which in a defensive situation could be a good thing. In fact it is reminiscent of the 2-D Maglite flashlight/club/boat anchor.
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I don’t see backpacking with the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10. But not because of it’s weight or size. But because I like to travel in the wilds with a supply of batteries. Unless I also carried a solar panel charger with mini-USB cable and some sunny weather, I would get one use from the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10, although that is really three uses in one.
Where the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 does shine is car travel, off roading, and base camping. Having a rock-solid light/charger/hand warmer is a good thing if you don’t have to carry it far even though it does ship with a nice belt holster with velcro closure. Considering the Celestron’s long-life light and external battery pack, this flashlight will always be on my shortlist of electronics when heading out on a domestic adventure or for camping near my truck.