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WildTrail WT3M review: EDC Flashlight
WildTrail WT3M specifications
|LED||3* CREE XHP50.2 3volt|
|Beam intensity||22,500 cd|
|Modes||Many! Runs Anduril|
|Blinkies||Many! Runs Anduril|
|Review date||November 2021|
After crawling out of the woodwork with the most-excellent Wildtrail WT90, long range thrower after a long hiatus a several months ago, rumor had it that WildTrail was working on some more high-performance flashlights. Well, that rumor is apparently true because WildTrail recently released two new lights, a single emitter (WT1M) and a triple emitter (WT3M) with either the Luminus SST40 or Cree XHP50.2 a-la Astrolux EC03. Unlike the WT90 which was succinctly an enthusiast collaboration effort from stem to stern, The WT3M and WT1M are designed in-house by WildTrail. However, the driver is BLF member Lexel’s design, and the UI is Anduril, so we all know who to thank for that (ToyKeeper). The WT90 impressed the heck out of me with the smashing good looks and performance, so let’s see if the WT3M can do the same. Although it checks off some important boxes to keep it relevant in late 2021, it’s coming into a pretty crowded room these days, up against the wily veteran Astrolux EC03, Wurkkos TS30, Lumintop FW21 Pro and the motley crue of TIR-based triples out there. WildTrail was nice enough to send one to test on, so let’s see how it does!
Like Convoy, we can tell where WildTrail does and does not spend money. Why waste money on a pretty package when you can use it to design and build a nice light? That said, the packaging was totally adequate, consisting of a plain cardboard box filled with dense foam padding protecting the light and not much else. Here’s what’s inside:
- Wildtrail WT3M
- Spare charging port cover
- User manual
The spare charging port cover was a very nice addition (it came in handy later on). Aside from that accouterment, do you get a charging cable? Nope. Lanyard? Nowhere to be found. Warranty card and promotional booklet? Nah. Battery? Must be invisible. Jokes aside, most people who buy this light already have batteries, lanyards, and charging cables from their other flashlights to use, so the lack of accessories isn’t the end of the world. I will say, the user manual is one of the BEST I have ever seen included with a flashlight (it even includes a temperature reference chart in the thermal calibration section). Big shoutout to Lux-Perpetua for the excellent manual.
Flashlight in use
The WT3M is a great rechargeable flashlight built around a 21700 size battery, and that helps with handling since the battery tube is just about the perfect size for a nice solid grip. Even as a small light, the balance is great, and the front electronic switch is easy to reach from all grip positions. The electronic side switch is secured by an opaque bezel with indicator lights underneath for battery and charge state. It seems lifted from the WT90, and I wasn’t crazy about that switch, but this one is a little better. The action is positive and has good feedback. It’s a little soft on the click, and the action is pretty low, but it works fine and is easy to manipulate.
Opposite the switch is the port for the built-in USB type C charging. The charge port cover is tough to dislodge since the tab to pull up on to open it is tiny, butted against the edge of the head, and hard to get a grip on. Folks with large fingers and short fingernails will find this a pain point, and before resorting to a toothpick for help, I was tempted to ask my wife to pry it up with her longer nails.
The host is lightweight (128 grams without battery vs. my EC03 at 175 grams empty), and at a hair over 100 mm long with a 39 mm head, it’s easily small enough to drop in your pocket, and would do okay for ECD, but it doesn’t include a pocket clip for retention. The tailcap does have a hole for a lanyard though, and it’s adequately sized. I wish more manufacturers were more adventurous with designs like this. The tube doesn’t have traditional knurling, but employs the similar (almost cloned from the WT90) eccentric milled pattern for grip. It looks awesome, but more importantly, works fine. No trouble gripping the tube when unscrewing the tube from the head. The tailcap isn’t knurled or textured in any way though, so it did take extra effort to remove, but the super-smooth threads helped a lot. The head has deep, thinly-spaced finning with a thick shelf for the MCPCB, which makes for a good thermal path and a lot of surface area for heat dissipation.
Build Quality, and Warranty
Let’s put some things into perspective for a moment. WildTrail has been selling the WT3M for about $40, and that’s an incredible value for the dollar-to-Lumen ratio. The light is made from an unspecified aluminum alloy, but it’s very sturdy and the battery tube walls are thick. The machining is all nicely-done. My sample came in the gorgeous bare aluminum with clear coating to prevent oxidation. Now, being a bare light, there were some obvious machining marks left behind, but nothing major. Like with the WT90, I was kind of expecting them because these are usually covered up by anodizing or mitigated by media blasting during prep for anodizing. Every edge is nicely beveled and chamfered for comfort, and the parts all fit together fine, with the exception of a roughly 0.8 mm gap between the head and battery tube, but this joint (like the rear and bezel) is well sealed by a large o-ring.
I did have some connection issues with intermittent flickers on Turbo, ramping (stepped and smooth), and after initially connecting the battery tube or tailcap. It wasn’t until I used my go-go Gadget grip and tightened the tailcap down very tight that I got consistent operation. Per WildTrail, this is a known issue with the bare lights (the anodized versions don’t have this issue) and is caused by errant clear-coat on the connection points. To fix this, grab some emery cloth, 1000 grit sandpaper, or a scalpel/utility knife, and scrape the end of the battery tube and the mating surface on the tailcap. It worked for me, but WildTrail would gladly send you a new tube also, so don’t be afraid to ask.
The front and rear threads of the battery tube are large precisely square cut deals. While the front threads were nicely lubed, the rear threads for the tailcap were not, so they kind of made a screeching sound when unscrewing the tailcap for the first time. Some SuperLube cleared that up nicely and both sets of threads were exceptionally smooth. The threads are not identical though, and the tube isn’t reversible. The charging port is sealed with a generously-thick rubber plug, and combined with the o-rings is good enough for a generic IPX8 rating. However, I found out that the cover is a weak spot. There’s a plastic nubb that secures the cover to the body of the light to keep from falling off, but that had dislodged itself the first time I opened the plug. The plug isn’t secured very well to the body either, and broke off after only a few charge cycles, leaving part of it stuck in the light that I had to fish out with a pick. WildTrail did include a spare, but I ended up super gluing the broken one back on and it works fine.
Once again, the target audience for this light is crystal-clear. This is an enthusiast light through and through, and you can take it completely apart. The bezel unscrews easily, and the triple reflector comes out along with the lens. WildTrail uses plenty of gray thermal compound, and the MCPCB isn’t screwed down and is easy to remove. The driver is secured with a brass retaining ring, and removing the driver is also easy, but I had a heck of a time getting it back in place and aligning the charging plug since the driver cavity is pretty cramped. Like the WT90, WildTrail is using thick BeCu springs for the driver and tailcap for max current flow.
Warranty? WildTrail doesn’t implicitly imply a warranty, so you’d probably be at the mercy of the AliExpress or Banggood merchant’s customer service for warranty issues. Luckily, this light is easy to repair, so unless you nuke the driver or use it as a hammer, or drive over it with your M1A Abrams tank, it should give good service.
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
The light-emitting hardware of the WT3M is pretty conventional, consisting of a triple OP reflector with your choice of Luminus SST40 or Cree XHP50.2 3 volt emitters in either neutral white (for the SST40’s only) or cool white. Pretty standard stuff these days. The sales literature even lists the chromaticity bins for these LEDs: DC for the SST40’s, and 1D for the XHP’s. My light sample light came with the XHP50.2 LEDs, listed as 6000K and 68-70 CRI. The Opple Lightmaster showed about 5700K, so this is pretty spot-on and I think I won the tint lottery. These LEDs are great for high output and efficiency, but bad for angular tint shift and a uniform beam (but we all know that by now, right?). The bezel is aluminum with a smooth edge (no crenulations).
The reflector is topped by a piece of dual AR-coated toughened mineral glass lens for maximum light transmission. WildTrail’s AR coating is nice and unobtrusive. The triple reflector is shallow and looks similar to the one used in the Lumintop FW21 Pro, but this one has three slots for tritium vials or glow rods, which is a nice touch. The beam was a huge surprise. The OP texture helps with the Cree tint-shift a lot, to the point it was still visible, but really nicely blended into the spill. The beam is mostly flood consisting of very diffused hotspot surrounded by lots and lots of spill. This is typical shallow-cup triple-OP reflector stuff with useable throw and a very versatile beam.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 10.3 cm / 4 inches
- Head Diameter: 3.9 cm / 1.53 inches
- Tube Diameter: 2.85 cm / 1.10 inches
- Tailcap Diameter: 2.9 cm / 1.14 inches
- Without battery: 128 grams / 4.5 oz.
- With Epoch 5000 mAh (Samsung 50G) 21700 battery: 197.6 grams / 6.97 oz.
EDC Flashlight comparison
Size compared to other EDC flashlights
I compared the WT3M to some similar lights.
Group 2: WildTrail WT90, WildTrail WT3M.
Group 3: Lumintop FWAA, WildTrail WT3M.
Group 4: Generic naked C8 and WT3M.
Driver & User Interface:
The driver was adapted from BLF member Lexel’s design. Unlike the WT90, the WT3M features a Lexel-designed FET+5+1 driver, so there’s 6, 7135 regulators plus an FET for direct drive. This means you get regulated output up to 2.1 to 2.2 amps (depending on the mA rating on the AMC7153s), and FET controlled by PWM thereafter. This is a bit of a compromise from a fully regulated boost, buck or boost/buck driver, but still better than all-out FET for regulating lower modes.
The UI is of course Anduril, and it’s right at home on this light, and I feel like it’s a good fit thanks to the fully adjustable thermal controls and regulation. This is a pocket-rocket, after all and we all know how they benefit from that. Speaking of thermal control, the manual says it’s factory calibrated. Hmmmm. I checked and although it was a little low (13 C vs about 20 C actual ambient), it’s not as bad as some others that were wildly off, so I left it alone.
Check out the full Anduril UI manual here.
- Single-click: ON
- Double click: High
- 3 clicks: Battery check
- 4 clicks: Lock Out
- 5 clicks: Momentary On
- 6 clicks: Muggle mode
- 7 clicks: Aux configuration mode
Enter Special/Fun modes from OFF:
- 2 clicks + hold: Strobe modes (Click, Click, Click and hold)
- 4 clicks: Lock Out mode (momentary on: dim)
- 5 clicks: momentary mode (Bright) ( you can only deactivate by breaking electrical contact between the batteries and the driver by unscrewing the body from the head.
- 6 clicks: Muggle mode
- Single-click: Off
- Double click: Turbo
- 3 clicks: change ramping mode. Instead of a smooth increase, it has 6 little steps between Low and Max.
- 4 clicks: ramping configuration mode (Problematic if you make some changes here by accident)
- Press and hold: brightness ramps up.. release and press and hold again to ramp down.
SPECIAL AND FUN MODES:
Read the full manual on how to access and customize these modes. Also, see the firmware picture.
- Blinky Utility mode:
- Battery check
- Sunset Mode
- Beacon mode
- Temperature check
- Strobe / Mood modes:
- Bike flasher
- Party strobe
- Tactical Strobe
- Lightning mode
- Lockout mode (can’t use the light) (activate by 4 clicks)
- Momentary mode (signaling/morse coding)
- Muggle mode: (safer for children)
- Configuration mode
- Ramp config mode
LOCK OUT FEATURE:
- From OFF: 4 clicks. To deactivate click another 4 times.
Additional info: Even though I like simple UI’s, I think Anduril is a good choice for the WT3M. This is an enthusiast light so having the added customizability and feature set Anduril gives will appeal to a lot of users. It just works great and has a lot of features. Some like that, some don’t, but the consensus is enthusiasts generally do. Although it was nice to see a (somewhat) properly calibrated light out of the box, you’ll still want to double-check the calibration and thermal limit. Luckily, the manual does an absolutely amazing job of explaining the process.
Batteries & Charging
The WT3M was designed around a 21700 size lithium-ion cell for a great mix of current handling and capacity. I tried a mix of flat top (Samsung 30T, Molicel P42A) and button top (Epoch/Samsung 50G, Febix 5000 mAh button tops), and an Acebeam protected 21700 with USB charging. Despite WildTrail’s warning about fitment issues with the P42A, I had no issues getting mine to fit, even a rewrapped one. The button top cells fit fine, but the protected, 77 mm long Acebeam cell did not. You’re better off using unprotected cells anyways since you will be tripping protection circuits if using higher modes.
The onboard USB type C charging is a nice addition. It’s good up to 2 amps per WildTrail, and I got 1.7 amps on a partially-drained Samsung 30T cell using the type C to C cable, but the A to type C cable only hit 1.4 amps. The charging indicator turns red/green when charging, and is a solid green when finished. The 30T I charged showed 4.15 volts fresh off the charging. This will ensure your batteries stay happy and last a long time. The light will work with no battery installed when connected to the charger, and I was able to get pretty good output this way (when connected to a 2.4 amp charger).
I was actually pretty excited to test the WT3M. Like all Anduril lights I test, I set the thermal limit to 70 C (maxxed out) to test the upper limit of performance and sustainability.
I conducted the runtime test using the 30-centimeter integrating sphere with the Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging lux meter. I used the fully charged Epoch brand (rewrapped Samsung 50G) 5000 mAh 21700 battery and tested stepped modes 5-7 and Turbo.
Turbo started at 5548 Lumens, down from the advertised of 6800 (but expected due to the lower-current cell). The light didn’t heat as fast as I was expecting for a small host. From 23 C ambient to 32 C took 10 seconds and up to 46 C by 30 seconds, and 50 C by 60 seconds. Even 1 minute, it was easily safe to hold in a bare hand. The light held 5000+ Lumens for almost a minute, and didn’t start decreasing until the 50 second mark. The output ramped to 3800 Lumens by 3 minutes 15 seconds, but ramped down to around 800 Lumens as the host became heat saturated. By the 10 minute mark it was back up to about 1000 Lumens. The output stayed consistent between 900 to 1000 Lumens (not enough to tell by the naked eye) until 1 hour 38 minutes when it dropped to under 500 Lumens. 3 minutes later, it was under 200, then down to 73 by 1 hour 47 minutes. I ended the test a minute later when LVP kicked in and the output dropped off the lux meter scale. The light was hand-holdable for about 2 minutes, but you’d need gloves after 3 minutes since the tube was over 50 C and the head was 68 C. The battery was 2.92 volts after the test.
Level 7 started at 3723 Lumens, but held around 3500 Lumens for over 3 minutes. Very impressive for a small light! Yah, it heated up quick though, and by 60 sec it was 57 C at the head. By 4 minutes 30 seconds the output was down to under 700 Lumens, but stepped back up to about 1000 by 5 minutes. It was down to 800 by 27 minutes until the thing must have had a second wind because at 1 hour 35 minutes it’s up to almost 1400 Lumens, but LVP pulled the output down to 146 Lumens, then down to 73, and finally off the scale by 1 hour 52 minutes when I ended the test.
Level 6 started at 1248 Lumens and was much more consistent, but the temperatures were nearly the same as L7, it just heated up slower. The output remained consistently over 1000 Lumens for almost 13 minutes, and over 1200 Lumens for 11 minutes. The output was very consistent at around 950 Lumens for 1 hour 25 minutes, only dropping under 400 Lumens at the 1 hour 45 minute mark, then down to 51 Lumens as LVP kicked in at around 2 hours in. I let the test keep running for another 5 minutes until 2 hours 8 minutes when the lux meter read 0, but the LEDs were still illuminated at a freakishly low brightness.
Level 5 featured marathon-like endurance and consistency. This particular mode is still running on the 7135 regulators (around 1.5 amps), so the linear output makes sense. The test started at about 600 Lumens, and ran…and ran…and ran for 3 hours 22 minutes at over 550 Lumens. The output dipped to 200, then 80 six minutes later, then down to 7 Lumens by 3 hours 41 minutes. I let it run for about 20 minutes before ending the test at 3 hours 58 minutes. Temps were very manageable and the light never got too hot to hold the entire runtime, peaking at 49 C at 1 hour in.
Overall this is very impressive performance from a pocketable triple under 200 grams loaded. The sustainability is surprisingly good, and once again Anduril works its magic in keeping the temps down (or up). I think with a more conservative thermal ceiling, this would be a very usable light with a stout high capacity 21700 like a P42A or Samsung 50S or 50G. Using the smooth ramping for better utilization of the regulated output would make it even better.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
For the lumen tests, I used my home made 30 cm integrating sphere calibrated with a light of known output using the Digi-Sense 20250-00 data logging lux meter. Amps were measured with my Radio Shack TRMS multimeter with short 16 gauge wires inserted in the meter for currents under 5 amps, and my FY219 clamp meter and a 12 gauge wire loop for over 5 amps. I tested stepped levels 1-7 plus Turbo and used a Samsung 30T to give a good benchmark of the light’s potential.
WildTrail doesn’t list Lumen specs other than 6800 for the XHP50.2 version. I’m down about 700 Lumens from advertised. I didn’t get a reading for the first step (too low).
|Mode||Amps at start||Specs||at start||@10min|
|1||30 mA||?||No measurement||–|
|Turbo||23 A||6800 lm||6132 lm||1022|
Throw was measured at 5 meters indoors using the Uni-t UT383S lux meter. I used a Samsung 30T 21700 battery for all tests. Readings taken at 30 seconds. There’s only a single throw figure advertised for the WT3M (Turbo?). Interestingly, I hit 22,300 cd at start or 298 meters, which is pretty bang on for the factory rating. This is adequate throw for most EDC tasks and good for general-purpose work as well.
|Turbo||22,500 cd||20,400 cd||286|
- The fence is about 40 meters away. I compared the WT3M (6800 Lumens, 3 XHP50.2 5700K), Imalent R30C (9000 Lumens, 3 SST70 6500K), Astrolux EC03 (5100 Lumens 3 SST40 5000K), and Thrunite TC20 V2 (4200 Lumens, single XHP70.2 6500K).
- Indoor shots. The door at the end of the long hallway is about 17 meters. Yep…it’s a flooder!
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by WildTrail. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Fantastic user manual
- USB type C charging
- Anduril UI
- Fully Moddable
- Great beam
- High output and good sustainability
- Compact and lightweight
- Errant clear coat causing connection issues
- No pocket clip mount
- Flimsy, cumbersome charge port cover
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
4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆
It wasn’t long after the WT90 shipped that I found out WildTrail was working on some EDC lights, and shortly thereafter, the WT3M (and WT1M) came into the fray as a bit of an underdog of sorts, coming up against the tried-and-true EC03 and FW21 Pro, but after spending a couple weeks with the WT3M, I can honestly say I’m nothing but impressed. Nothing else out there looks like the WT series lights (especially when buck naked), and for the price, it’s hard to beat the performance and features. I obviously got a very nice bin of XHP50.2’s, and the beam is fantastic with a nice balance of flood and some throw. You get an excellent driver, onboard charging, and excellent thermal performance to boot. It’s also fully moddable, so if you get tired of the 50.2’s, they can easily be swapped for either SFT or SST40s. The thermal performance is very good for a small light as well, further accentuated by Anduril’s thermal configurability.
There were some issues though. I didn’t like the flimsy charge port cover, nor the errant clear coating with resultant connection issues and flickering (although easily remedied). The lack of a pocket clip for EDC duty was also annoying, as was the unimpressive peak charge current on my sample.
Although it doesn’t do anything remarkably better than the competition, all things considered, the WildTrail WT3M is an excellent light and a great option if you’re in the market for a hotrod triple. The future seems to be very bright for WildTrail and I hope to see more like this in the future. 4.5 stars for the WT3M.