Armytek Elf C1

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Armytek Elf C1 Review: Headlamp

Armytek Elf C1 specifications

Brand/modelArmytek Elf C1
LEDLH351D
Lumens930 lm (warm) / 1000 lm (white)
Beam intensity2601 cd (102m)
Battery config.1*18350
MaterialAluminum
Modes6
BlinkiesNone
ReflectorTIR optics with honeycomb lens
WaterproofIP68 10m waterproof
Review dateSeptember 2021

Introduction:

Armytek is well known for making durable flashlights with good drivers. Their tactical lights have been around for over a decade and I’m sure they last that long too. Armytek hasn’t released many new lights in a while and unlike most other manufacturers they don’t seem to be chasing lumens that only last a few seconds. Instead they’ve been gradually refining their series.

Armytek has a few right angle flashlights, including the Elf, Tiara and Wizard series lights. Marco reviewed the bigger and higher spec Wizard C2 Pro recently, which has magnetic USB charging. The Elf C1 comes with a standard micro-USB port instead. These are all multi-use lights that can be used as headlamps, bike lights, powered by USB or as EDC lights.

Armytek has an Elf C1 (this one) and Armytek Elf C2: the C1 fits a 18350 cell and C2 fits a 18650 cell. Many of them also come in “white” and “warm” too. I picked the warm version, sacrificing just a few lumens for a subjectively nicer beam quality.

The two Elves are my first Armytek lights and I was interested to see if the cheaper Elf range still met my expectations of Armytek’s almost legendary build quality.

Package quality.

Armytek supplies the Elf C1 in a printed cardboard box, which includes all the specs. In fact, the box has some information that isn’t in the manual.

Included is:

  • Armytek Elf C1
  • Clip
  • Head mount
  • 18350 cell
  • 2 spare O-rings
  • Micro USB cable
  • Manual

Armytek also sells an optional bike mount and hard hat mount for the Elf C1.

Flashlight in use

The Elf C1 is smaller than I thought it’d be. In fact it’s almost as small as my AA Zebralight. Despite the size it has a reasonable weight to it and is easy to grip.

Unlike some manufacturers, Armytek has put the e-switch on the side of the light instead of the top. This seems to work better when used as a headlight or held in the hand but can take a moment to get the right orientation when it’s in your pocket.

The steel pocket clip attaches to the middle and can go on either way up. This lets the Elf C1 clip to a pocket very nicely and also makes it easier to find the switch. By itself the Elf C1 rolls a bit on a table but with the clip you can aim it in any direction. The clip goes on fairly easily but is a challenge to remove!

The tailcap includes a lanyard attachment but there’s no lanyard provided. The tailcap includes a magnet that easily holds the weight of the flashlight in any direction. The magnet doesn’t look easy to take out.
The headband supplied with the Elf C1 forms a single adjustable loop without an over-the-top band. The light clips onto the band with a plastic clip. The light won’t come out when running or similar but if I was taking this caving then I’d loop an elastic band around it in case it got knocked out. When in the clip on the headband, the light can be angled up or down easily. You can’t really use the pocket clip and headband at the same time.

Build Quality, and Warranty

There’s no knurling on the Elf but I don’t think it needs it due to its shape. It also has matte anodisation which is nice and grippy. As Marco noticed with the Wizard C2 Pro, the anodisation attracts minor scuff marks. This seems purely cosmetic and as a tool I’m not bothered about it. If you like your lights to look pristine then avoid the clip.

The tail cap takes 4 turns to unscrew, revealing lubricated anodised threads. These have a fairly tight fit. With the tail cap removed you can see that Armytek have used 2 O-rings. The only other lights I have with 2 O-rings are diving lights, so this is a welcome addition. This helps give the light its IP68 and 10m waterproof rating.

The head doesn’t detach from the body from what I can tell. This probably results in a stronger build but means that you can’t swap between a short and long tube.

The bezel doesn’t easily remove either. Armytek really doesn’t want you (or water or dirt) getting into the flashlight. Armytek states that the Elf can survive drops from 10m. 

Armytek have an impressive 10-year warranty for the light, though the batteries, chargers, switches, and connectors have a 2-year warranty.

LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector

This Elf C1 came with a warm white LED. Previous versions of the Elf range came with a CREE XP-L emitter but Armytek have switched to using a Samsung LH351D. This gives a few more lumens and likely a higher CRI.

I picked the warm white version, which I’m pretty sure is 4000K based on my other flashlights and very close to the 4000K XP-L HI in my D4V2. There’s also a “white” version which is more or a cool white at somewhere between 6000K and 6500K.

You can’t actually see the LED, as it’s behind the honeycomb TIR. This gives a very smooth and floody beam pattern with no artifacts at all. The flood is great for a headlamp but even on turbo this definitely doesn’t throw far in to the distance.

The stainless steel bezel sits over the TIR and lens. You can see that the lens is recessed further down than in most lights, giving extra protection.

Dimensions and size comparison

  • Length: 7.60 cm / 2.99 inches
  • Head diameter: 3.02 cm / 1.18 inches at widest
  • Body diameter: 2.03 cm / 0.80 inches

Weight: 

  • Without cells: 55g / 1.9oz
  • With cells: 76g / 2.7oz

The headband adds an extra 34g / 1.2oz

Headlamp comparison

From left to right: 

  • Zebralight H53c
  • Armytek Elf C1
  • Armytek Elf C2
  • Wurkkos HD20

Driver & User Interface:

Click on, click off, hold to change modes. That’s always a good start in my opinion, though there’s a couple of things that make Armytek’s UI a bit different to what you may be used to.

From off there’s no double / triple / quad click. All that does is keep turning the light on then back off again.

When the e-switch is pressed then it lights up orange. The indicator light will also flash 3 times after you turn it on or change modes. Green when the cell is nearly full and red when empty. There’s no info in the manual about this.

Available modes: Firefly1, Firefly2, Main1 (low) , Main2 (medium), Main3 (high), Turbo

From OFF:

  • Single click: last used memory (including firefly and turbo)
  • Double click: light turns on then back off again
  • Press and hold: Firefly1, then keep cycling through modes

From ON:

  • Single click: turn off
  • Press and Hold: change modes
    • If in a main mode or turbo: Main1, Main2, Main3 then back to Main1
    • If in a firefly mode: Firefly1, FIrefly2, Main1, Main2, Main3 then back to Main1
  • Double click: turbo

From Turbo:

  • Single click: off
  • Hold: change modes (Main1)

Mode memory:

  • Yes, including firefly and turbo

Shortcuts:

  • To Low: press and hold


Low voltage warning:

  • Yes, the light will step down

Strobe/blinkies

  • None

Lock-out mode: 

  • None, though you can physically lock out with a quarter turn of the tail cap

PWM

  • None detected at all

Batteries & Charging

You get the best of both worlds with Armytek here. They supply the light with a cell but you can easily swap in your own as there’s nothing proprietary going on.

Armytek supply a 18350 cell with the Elf C1. This is an unprotected cell, rated at 900mAh. My USB meter measured 910mAh going into it. 900mAh is OK for a 18350 cell but capacities of 1200mAh are now available.

The Elf can take unprotected cells. It should be fine with protected cells too based on how much the spring can compress but I don’t have any to test. It can also take 16340 size cells if needed.

The charging is done via the micro-USB port on the head. This is charged at up to 0.511A and will take a couple of hours for a 18350 cell. Charging stopped at a reasonable 4.19V.

I’d have liked to have seen USB-C here. Charging wouldn’t be much faster but the world is moving away from micro-USB.

Performance

Lumen measurements:

Lux meter: All lux and lumen measurements are from my home made integrating sphere, calibrated with a S2+ measured by Maukka. Measurements are done with a UNI-T UT383S lux meter and Adafruit TSL2591 connected to a Raspberry Pi (using RuTiTe by bmengineer). Expect them to be within +/-10%.

DMM: Current readings were taken with a Precision Gold PG10B DMM for low currents and a Mustool X1 clamp meter for high currents.

I used Armytek’s included 900mAh cell, charged to 4.19V each time.

ModeAmps at startSpecsLumens @10minLumens @30 secLumens @ start
Firefly 10.69mA0.100
Firefly 26.4mA1.911
Main 158.4mA37333333
Main 20.29A205176178178
Main 30.71A465376386388
Turbo2.87A930443902966

Parasitic drain:

  • Less than 1µA (this is so low that I checked it a few times to make sure)

Runtime graph

On turbo the Elf C1 starts off close to 1000 lumens and only gradually drops over 4 minutes to 800 lumens. Very impressive for its size. Over the next 4 minutes it drops quickly to about 300 lm, then pops back up over 400 lm. It sustains 400 lm for about 40 minutes before the low voltage protection kicks in and it drops to low, then firefly.

On high (sorry, Main3) the light starts off at 388 lm and only drops 20 lumens over an hour – very good regulation. LVP kicks in at 1 hour.

The Medium (Main2) line on the graph tells a similar story, starting at 178 lm and only dropping 4 lumens over 2 and a half hours.

I didn’t test the lower modes but based on the current draw you can see that Main1 will last a good 12 hours. The 2 firefly modes are even more impressive: Armytek states them lasting 8 days and 60 days.

Throw numbers: 

Throw was measured indoors at 5m with a UNI-T UT383S lux meter.

ModeSpecsCandela measuredMetersYards
Main185 cd1820
Main2598 cd4953
Main31366 cd7481
Turbo102m2967 cd109 m119

Beamshots

Photos were taken with a Pixel 3a, set to 1/3s shutter speed and ISO 1600, F1.8. White balance was locked on cool white.

Distance to the bench is 6m, the tree on the right is 13m, the tree on the centre right is 18m and the building behind it is 69m.

  • Armytek Elf C1
  • Armytek Elf C2
  • Wurkkos HD20
  • Zebralight H53 (modded with 219B)

The Elf C1 is significantly brighter than the Zebralight, even though it’s only slightly bigger.

Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Armytek. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.

Final Verdict

Pros

  1. Solid as a rock
  2. Firefly mode that lasts months
  3. Comes with everything you need: cell, headstrap, clip and built in charging
  4. Even, floody beam
  5. Simple UI

Cons

  1. Micro-USB instead of USB-C charging
  2. Light could get knocked out of the head strap

Explanation on star ratings:

1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues, much better options available at the same price – 3: Average: some defects or issues – 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended

Reviewer Dave
Author: Dave

4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆

In 60 years time I expect to pass on this light to my grandchildren and although they’ll have no idea what micro-USB is, I bet the little Elf C1 will still be working. As this is an update to the earlier Elf C1, along with the LED change I’d have liked to have seen a switch to USB-C. This doesn’t make much difference with a small cell, so isn’t a big deal here.

I was very impressed with the small Elf C1. The quality definitely lives up to Armytek’s reputation. The light feels like it could be used by professional cavers, as long as an extra elastic band was used with the head band.

I haven’t taken it on any extreme adventures, other than a short night hike, where the Main1 level that lasts 15 hours was easily bright enough, with the occasional jump to almost 1000 lumens on turbo to see what’s further afield.

Armytek Elf C1 For Sale

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1lumen selects and reviews products personally. We may earn affiliate commissions through our links, which help support our testing.