Nitecore EC4GTS Review (XHP35 HD)

Preface

The Nitecore EC4GTS is the upgraded version of the Nitecore EC4GT model (not the Limited Edition version) from the Explorer Series.

In fact, the body shape & styling for this new EC4GTS model, appears to look fairly similar to the prior EC4 models range (e.g. EC4, EC4SW, EC4S, EC4GT).

Packaging & First Impressions

This is what the light will come with as shown below.

  • The threads and o-rings were slightly lubricated. Threads were rather smooth and clean (no gritty feeling at all).
  • The tailcap will only fit in one direction. Hence, there will be no issue with a wrongly-placed tailcap.
  • The side electronic switches require a rather firm and deliberate press to activate and helps in preventing any unwanted activation of the light.
  • There is a tripod connector on the tailcap, useful for directional lighting when attached to an appropriate tripod.
  • Anodizing of the light is uniform without any missing specs.
  • There is no clip available for this light.
  • The provided lanyard is able to support the full weight of the light and should hold up to the test of time.
  • Holster provided is of decent quality and should withstand day-to-day abuse without issue.
  • Battery compartment is able to take a KeepPower 18650 3400mAh battery with barely much room to take a slightly thicker battery width. Fatter protected 18650 3500mAh batteries should be able to fit without issue as well.
  • Due diligence must be made when inserting the batteries into the battery tube (there are visual instruction on both sides of the battery tube).
  • Scanning the QR code with your phone/tablet on the box’s back would bring up the Nitecore EC4GTS’s product page.

Note:

  • Before using the flashlight for the first time, remove the desiccant from the battery tube.

Front:

Back:

Sides:

Top:

Bottom:

Contents:

Removing Desiccant from Battery Tube:

Inserting Batteries into Battery Tube:

Note: Batteries seen in above picture is not included with this flashlight.

Quick Overview (Manufacturer Specifications)

  • Body Material: Black HAIII Aluminium
  • LED: XHP35 HD
  • Battery Format: 2 x 18650 ONLY
  • Output & Runtime (with 18650 3.7V 3500mAh battery):
    • Ultra-Low (1 lumen / 380h)
    • Low (50 lumens / 58h)
    • Mid (240 lumens / 12h)
    • High (800 lumens / 3h 15min)
    • Turbo (1800 lumens / 1h) – there is a temperature-based output step down.
    • Strobe (1800 lumens)
    • Beacon (1800 lumens)
    • SOS (1800 lumens)
  • Max Beam Distance: 396m
  • Beam intensity: 39,220cd
  • Waterproofness: IPX-8 (2m)
  • Impact Resistance: 1m
  • Dimension: 155mm (length) x 40mm (head diameter) x 29mm (body / tail diameter)
  • Weight: 171g (excluding batteries)
  • Battery reverse polarity protection
  • Accessories Included:
    • 1*Lanyard
    • 1*Holster
  • MSRP: ~$90

UI (User Interface)

UI for this light is suitable for a Bug-Out Bag (BOB) or walking/hiking light/search & rescue light as it is relatively straightforward to use.

Switching ON and OFF is done by the side electronic switches on the light, so no momentary activation is possible.

There are 2 electronic switches on the side of the flashlight – MODE button (closer to the head) & POWER button (further from the head).

Normal Operation

From OFF:

  • 1 Click (POWER) – Light will switch ON to last used Mode (last mode memory).
  • HOLD (POWER) [~1 sec]  – Direct access to ULTRA-LOW.
  • HOLD (MODE) [~1 sec]  – Direct access to HIGH.
  • 2 Click (MODE) – Direct access to STROBE; 1 Click (MODE) activate BEACON & 1 Click (MODE) again to activate SOS (cycles STROBE-BEACON-SOS -> STROBE-BEACON-SOS), 1 Click (POWER) again to switch OFF.

From ON:

  • 1 Click (POWER) – Light will switch OFF.
  • 1 Click (MODE)  – Mode change (light cycles through ULTRA-LOW, LOW, MID, HIGH & TURBO -> ULTRA-LOW, LOW, HIGH & TURBO).
  • HOLD (MODE) – Direct access to MOMENTARY TURBO, releasing switch will revert back to last used mode.
  • HOLD (POWER) – The POWER Switch Location Indicator will be activated & light will switch OFF. 1 Click (POWER) to deactivate Location Indicator and switch ON to last used Mode.

Power Indicator

There is only 1 type of Power Indicator for this flashlight.

  1. When the batteries are replaced OR From OFF: 1 Click (MODE) – Battery Capacity Indicator is activated (POWER Switch LED will flash BLUE in the following sequence).
    • 3 Flashes – Power is >50%.
    • 2 Flashes – Power is <50%.
    • 1 Flash – Power is almost depleted, do recharge or replace the batteries.

Electronic Lockout

From ON:

  • HOLD (POWER & MODE) till light flash 1 time – Electronic Lockout is activated.
  • HOLD (POWER & MODE) – Lockout is disabled and light will switch ON in last used Mode.

Form Factor

For flashlights that are intended to use for a BOB or walking/hiking usages and for possibly an extended period of time, form factor is extremely important.

It is nice to see Nitecore sticking with a similar styling as the previous generations of “EC4” models. The side-by-side 2 x 18650 form factor makes better use of space required for the 2 batteries and provide for a larger & more comfortable grip area as well.

This light feels extremely well balanced and rather compact in a medium sized hand (not head/tail-heavy). Switching between overhand and underhand holding method is easy with its form factor. With knurling on both sides of the light and the relatively less conventional shape enables the light to be sufficiently “grippy”, even with wet hands/gloves.

It fits in the holster snugly. However, it is not able to tail-stand perfectly with the lanyard attached but without the lanyard, it will tail-stand without the slightest wobble.

And yes, it fits perfectly under the arm when requiring for hands-free usage – just like most 2 x 18650 batteries flashlights would.

Note: the above 18650 size comparison picture depicts a Nitecore 18650 2300mAh battery (NL1823) next to the Nitecore EC4GTS; it does not come with the flashlight.

Beam Style/Beamshots

For this light, the spill, corona and hotspot is somewhat predictable due to the relatively deep Smooth Reflector. With the LED used, the beam is relatively “throwy” for recognising items in the near to mid-range distance.

The above beam profile is a rough interpretation of what is seen when white wall hunting.

The beam has a rather distinct hotspot with corona and a fairly narrow but usable (circular) spill. It also helps that the XHP35 HD LED is perfectly centred in this sample. There are some rings in the beam when white wall hunting but not visible in real world usage.

All of the beamshots taken below are done so with the following camera settings (ULTRA-LOW: 2 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, LOW: 1.3 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, MID: 1/2 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, HIGH: 1/4 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, and TURBO: 1/6 sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB).
Some pictures have been adjusted slightly to depict as close as to what is seen in real life. The distance of the light from the door is 4.6m.

Control shot:

ULTRA-LOW (1 lumen):

LOW (50 lumens):

MID (240 lumens):

HIGH (800 lumens):

TURBO (1800 lumens):

Mode (Output) Spacing

Mode spacing appears to be progressively brighter to the eye and the modes are well spaced enough to be able to know which mode one is currently in. With that in mind, TLR tend to view mode spacing as battery life indicators (amount of runtime left) rather than the specific output (lumens).

The ULTRA-LOW mode of 1 lumen which is what most would call a moonlight mode and is perfect for night-adjusted eyes and midnight snack runs.

On a side note, it is great seeing that Nitecore went with a High mode of 800 lumens instead of 1000 lumens to ensure a longer runtime (and a much cooler-running flashlight), as that difference in output is almost imperceptible (unless viewed side-by-side).

Tint & CRI

Nitecore did not disclose the tint (color temperature) and/or the CRI (Color Rendering Index) for the LEDs used in their light. For this light, a guesstimate would be in the 6500K and 70CRI ballpark.

There are tint shifts throughout the beam profile. The hotspot is cool white whilst the corona possess a slight yellowish tint; and the spill having a slight purple tint.
This is however, not as noticeable in real life.

This could have been avoided if a “throwier” LED like the XHP35 HI was used instead and would have made full use of the smooth reflector.

Waterproofness

The light was subjected to warm water submersion, followed by cold water submersion and left under room temperature running water tap whilst running on TURBO.

No signs of water intrusion in the head, switch or body was seen.

Lockout Capability

No mechanical lockout but electronic lockout is possible when needed, like during transportation in a bag.

See above “UI (User Interface)“, on how to activate and deactivate Electronic LOCKOUT.

Note: It is recommended to switch the light to ULTRA-LOW mode before Electronic LOCKOUT as it will resume to that mode after LOCKOUT has been disabled.

Quick Comparison to Previous Generation

DescriptionNitecore EC4GTSNitecore EC4GT
LED UsedXHP35 HDXP-L HI
TURBO Mode Output1800 Lumens1000 Lumens
Max Beam Distance396m475m
Beam Intensity39,220cd 56,500cd
Battery Format2 x 18650 ONLY2 x 18650 or 4 x CR123A ONLY

Scale Comparison (Ruler)

Summary

To sum up, we believe that the most important part of any review is if given the chance to purchase the same light for our own usage or to gift to our loved ones out from one’s pocket (wallet), would we still do it?
For this light, it is a YES, if the tint shift is not an issue for your usage.

The straightforward UI, direct access to ULTRA-LOW, TURBO & STROBE from OFF, tripod-compatible tailcap and comfortable grip afforded by the side-by-side 2 x 18650 battery format are all plus points for this flashlight.

As mentioned earlier, we look forward to the day that Nitecore uses a “throwier” LED instead to make full use of the smooth reflector and would help get rid of most of the tint shifts. This would in turn, help this flashlight keep up with its predecessor (Nitecore EC4GT), in the throw department.

Do also take note that the EC4GTS only takes 2 x 18650 batteries, 4 x CR123A batteries are not allowed to be used, unlike its predecessor – the Nitecore EC4GT.

Here is a bonus size comparison picture with other higher output Nitecore flashlights.
From Left to Right: Nitecore NL1823 18650 battery, Nitecore P12GTS, Nitecore EC4GTS, Nitecore Concept 2, Nitecore TM10K.

As with all gears, two is one and one is none.

Stay safe,
The Lite Review


Disclaimer: Light and 18650 battery was provided for by Nitecore (manufacturer) for this review. No other compensation was provided.


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