Editor's Note: In this series, we revisit tried-and-true EDC classics from over the years to see if they hold up alongside today's latest and greatest, and recommend the best gear to carry instead if they don't.
It wasn't so long ago that the best compromise for an EDC keychain flashlight was one that used an AAA battery. They were a good size to live on a keychain, inexpensive, and gave off enough light for everyday tasks. Plenty of lights fit this description (you could probably walk into any hardware store right now and still see them at the checkout counter), but one stood head and shoulders above the rest in EDC circles…
What Is It? Why Was It Popular?
That light was the Fenix E05. An update to the Fenix's original E01 AAA flashlight, the E05 featured the same familiar bombproof build and design. It was compact, yet rugged — full-body knurling felt good in the hand and worked well with its twisty interface. Its latest iteration in 2014 featured improved output, with an updated lens, three modes, and a maximum of 85 lumens from its XP-E2 LED providing a floody beam pattern useful for general tasks. No frills, no complicated UI. Just a solid light you wouldn't think twice about carrying.
Should You Still Carry It Today?
85 lumens is still plenty useful and its form factor remains barely larger than the AAA that powers it. But in terms of output and materials, there may be better choices.
Olight's popular keychain lights get better with every generation, and their latest i3E-CU EOS copper AAA flashlight improves on compact performance in every way. Like the E05, it uses a single AAA battery, a simple twist mechanism, and a lens optimized for a floody beam pattern. But for the same price, it’s even smaller than the E05 with double the output (to the tune of 120 lumens) thanks to its Philips LUXEON emitter. If you highly value the tailstand capability and multiple modes on the E05 but can get by without the floody beam, the ThruNite Ti3 is a popular upgrade option.
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Have you ever carried the Fenix E05? If so, is it still a part of your EDC? What have you replaced it with if it isn't? Let us know in the comments below!