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Wuben C2 Review: EDC Flashlight
Wuben C2 specifications
|Review date||January 2022|
Wuben. Aside from being a fun name to say, before I really went down the rabbit hole into flashlight Wonderland, I wasn’t too familiar with them as a brand. However, I eventually learned that they make some pretty decent budget lights. All you need to do is ask anyone who’s owned a Wuben H1 headlamp or TO50R what they think of them, and you’ll see what I mean. Moreover, Wuben has been in business a really long time (longer than I’ve been alive!), starting as an OEM (making flashlights and parts for other brands) until eventually becoming their own corporation (Wubenlight, Inc.) based in China in 2016. They produce lights for every application to appeal to a diverse consumer base and are responsible for the brilliant tiny-thrower E6 “Small Steel Cannon,” and we can’t forget the unique Gecko E61 tactical penlight. Yep, Wuben has you covered. Today I’ll be taking a look at their newest light, the Wuben C2. The C2 joins Wuben’s C-series, which are affordable single-emitter EDC tube lights, and promises some neat features like power bank capability and a constant-current driver. I’m hoping there’s a buck driver in there, and I love versatile flashlights, so let’s see!
Wuben’s packaging features a retail-friendly package with a hang tag and bright graphics with the familiar blue and white color scheme. The package is very efficient and makes good use of the compact size. It’s good quality and appropriate for retail display as well with a picture of the light up front and feature blurbs and specs all over. The light itself is housed in a rectangular paper carrier that opens with a pull tab, and the accessories are housed in a box on top, so it’s the first thing you pull out when unboxing. There’s bog-standard accessories in here, and nothing too special:
- Wuben C2
- Wuben ABD4800 21700 battery (mounted in the light)
- 2 Spare o-rings
- USB type C charging cable
I really like that the Wuben C2 is outfitted as a ready-to-run package, with no need to buy anything extra to get up and running. It would be a great light for someone just getting into high-powered lithium-ion flashlights with the onboard charging and included (protected) battery. It’s also nice to see the okay-quality adjustable lanyard included here.
Flashlight in use
First impressions with the C2 were positive. Right away, I noticed it’s the perfect size for my hands with the 21700 size tube. It’s kind of chunky for a light of this size, but that helps it feel substantial and not cheap. The battery tube has a unique pattern milled into it, with circumferential micro groove reeding and deep channels for a positive grip. I had no trouble hanging on to the C2. The electronic side switch is positioned in a flat spot on the head surrounded by a matte finish bezel. It’s super-easy to find by feel, and the grippy (smooth) switch boot has the characteristic W (for Wuben, what else?) with an indicator LED underneath. It’s illuminated for 5 seconds when the light is switched on to show the battery state and doubles as a charge indicator. There is an option for a ‘breathing’ indicator when the light is off (if that’s your thing). The switch is a bit small for my fat fingers, but the action is nice, with good feedback and feel. It’s a bit proud, so finding it by feel was easy.
Opposite the switch is the huge charge port cover. It’s big for a reason, and that’s to cover the USB type C charge input and USB type A power bank output. It seems to create a sound seal, but I did notice the cover doesn’t move out the way enough to accommodate larger charger plugs, and that created connectivity issues when charging since the type C cable couldn’t fully seat in the socket. The cover also has a tab to help with pulling it up, but that tab doesn’t sit flush with the tube and constantly got caught on things (like the one on my Astrolux EC03) and wanted to lift up.
The tailcap has the same horizontal reeding as the tube for grip. Wuben includes a generously-sized lanyard hole that made threading the lanyard a snap (not an eternal struggle like some others). The blackened deep-carry pocket clip is really beefy and has great tension. I had no trouble with deep concealment, but you’ll need deep pockets. The clip looks removable, but it’s really on there, and I didn’t want to use a tool to pry it off. Although the tailcap is nicely textured with a pretty aggressive grip pattern, I did not like having to fight with the deep carry clip when trying to unscrew the tailcap because the clip extends out over the tailcap. Annoying. The wide flat tail is fantastic for tail standing, and it’s really stable.
Build Quality, and Warranty
Here’s where the rubber meets the road for budget lights and we find out if it’s worth the money, and in Wuben’s case, I’d say so. Retail for the C2 is around $50 US, and that’s a good deal for a kit like this. The light seems to be good quality and pretty utilitarian, which I like a lot. Constructed from 6061-T6 aluminum, the build quality justifies the asking price. It’s not sporting the pristine quality like Fenix, Acebeam, or Olight’s products, but I didn’t see any anomalous gaps or misaligned parts. The charge ports all line up with the input sockets on the driver, but there was a bit of a gap between the battery tube and head though. Despite that, I suspect the light is gooped up tight since I couldn’t unscrew anything, even with some force.
The machining is nicely done with no blemishes or tool marks, and it’s nice to see the edges chamfered and smoothed on a light in this price range. The finish is nothing to write home about, and was more matte than gloss type III HA anodizing which I like. However, it was blemished out of the box, with bare areas around the edges of the pocket clip groove and heat sink fins.
Although it looks like the massive pocket clip (this looks like the same one on the TO50R) can be removed, I gave up trying to get it off without resorting to tools, and I’m not too thrilled with the finish on the pocket clip either. The edges look unfinished and a bit cheap. The rear of the battery tube is sealed with a single decently-sized o-ring. The rear threads are well-lubed and a bit on the thin side, but rectangular cut and adequate for smooth removal and replacement of the tailcap. The o-ring seemed un-lubed since it made a squealing noise and removing/tightening the tailcap was pretty difficult, so some lube would help here (I used some SuperLube). The driver has a small gold-plated spring and the tailcap has a larger spring that’s friction fit without any retaining ring. For a 2000-lumen advertised light, the springs seem a bit thin.
Wuben’s warranty is excellent and they have a lot to say about that, so I’ll let them break it down: 30 days money back guarantee: Within 30 days from the date of purchase, if the product has quality problems, customers can request full refund. 30 days replacement: Within 30 days from the date of purchase, if the product has quality problems, customers can request free replacement. 1-year warranty: Within 1 year from the date of purchase, if the product has quality problems, WUBEN will offer free repair. Battery warranty: WUBEN offers a 1-year warranty for the rechargeable batteries but other included accessories are not covered by the warranty. 5 Years product warranty: Within 5 years from the date of purchase, if the product(for battery-removable flashlights, accessories excluded) has quality problems, WUBEN will offer free repair for WUBEN registered customers(Support-Product registration). Lifetime maintenance: From the date of purchase, if the product has a problem after 1 year, WUBEN will offer paid repair for WUBEN registered customers.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
With everyone else fitting their new lights with SFT40s, XHP50.2s, and LH351Ds, Wuben stuck with the old reliable Luminus SST40. For being almost 5 years old, the SST40 has aged very well. It’s an efficient emitter with low Vf, and is capable of very high output if properly cooled. In a smaller light, it can make a lot of light even if conservatively driven. In a large reflector, it can also throw very well, and properly focused in a small reflector can produce a nice, clean beam. It’s available in NW 5000K and CW 6500K, and Wuben ships the C2 with any tint you want as long as it’s 6500K. It’s well-known that the SST family has a tendency to be green at lower currents, and I really like the 5000K tint SST40, but alas…Lumens sell, not tint. The Opple Lightmaster 3 shows the CCT around 6200 and CRI about 66 with duv of 0.0092, so a bit above the BBL and, yep, pretty cool.
The C2’s reflector is a very nicely-finished somewhat-shallow SMO unit, with the SST40 perfectly centered with a black centering ring. It’s topped with an AR coated mineral glass lens, and the blacked-out bezel has micro crenulations to allow light through if placed bezel-down. The lens is recessed about 2.5 mm, and seems adequately protected. The beam is pretty floody with less throw that I expected from this size reflector. The cool tint is fine for general purpose use, but a warmer tint would have been nicer (5000K, hint, hint Wuben). It’s typical SMO-stuff, with a well-defined artifact-free large hotspot with a lot of side illumination, which makes for a very useful beam for general purpose tasks.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 12.86 cm / 5.06 inches
- Head diameter: 2.9 cm / 1.14 inches
- Body diameter: 2.9 cm / 1.14 inches
- Without cells: 83.8 grams / 2.93 oz.
- With cells: 132.1 grams / 4.65 oz.
I compared the C2 to some other 21700-size tube lights I have. It’s comparable in size to the Fenix PD36 Tac.
Group 2 left to right: Thorfire C8, Astrolux EA01, WildTrail WT3M, Wuben C2
Group 3 left to right: Thrunite BSS v4, Wuben C2, Fireflies E07 2021 version, Sofirn SC31T
Driver & User Interface:
Wuben doesn’t say what kind of driver the C2 is sporting, and I can’t open the light, but they do say it has an “intelligent circuit” and “constant current,” so that could be anything from an FET driver with a 7135 channel, resistor bank, or (I hope) a buck driver, since those do offer constant current and linear output.
The UI is simple and incorporates some clever features. It’s 5 modes, with mode memory, Turbo, and 2 blinkies (a variable Strobe and SOS). It’s easy to operate as well, with one click on, one click off, with press and hold for mode switching. it’s pretty simplistic without sacrificing utility or usability, and I like the mode spacing and intuitive shortcuts to the blinkies and ultra low mode. Wuben also includes an electronic lockout and a clever ‘breathing’ switch LED to easily locate the switch in the dark.
- Available modes: Eco, Low, Medium, High, Turbo
- Blinky modes: Strobe, SOS.
- Press and hold: Eco. Continuing to hold for 2 seconds will default to standard mode switching
- Single click: Turns on in last mode
- Double click: Strobe. Double click again for SOS
- Triple click: Activates or deactivates the breathing switch indicator
- Quad click: Electronic lockout
- Single click: Turns off
- Press and hold: Switches modes Eco-L-M-H-Eco
- Double click: Turbo. Double click again for Strobe, double click again for SOS
- Triple click:N/A
- Quad click: N/A
- Yes, recalls last used mode for all modes except Strobe, SOS and Turbo
- Double clicking from off activates Strobe. Press and hold from off activates Eco. Double clicking from on activates Turbo.
Low voltage warning:
- The switch indicator shows battery status, but nothing is mentioned about a visual LVP notification. Solid blue indicator >90%, blinking blue 90% to 40%, solid red 40% to 15%, blinking red 15% or less.
- Single variable strobe, accessed by pressing and holding the e-switch for 0.5 seconds in any mode.
- Clicking 4 times from off activates the lockout, confirmed by 3 blinks. The switch indicator will blink 3 times when pressed if locked. Repeat to unlock, and the light turns on in Eco mode. The light can also be locked out by unscrewing the the tailcap 1/8th turn
Additional info on the UI: Well color me impressed! This is a very well-thought-out UI, and one I’m accustomed to seeing on higher-end lights like Fenix and Acebeam. It’s definitely not Anduril, but that’s totally fine with me since I appreciate nice, simple UI’s. There’s no PWM either, which is also uncharacteristic on a budget light like this. The mode spacing is really good. There’s not a huge jump even from High to Turbo either. Even though it’s a bit busy, with 2 strobes, Turbo, and Eco accessible from the main UI and from off, I still got the hang of it pretty quickly, and I think anyone could pick it up quickly. It’s a bit superfluous to be able to access the main UI modes from off with a press and hold, but it’s implemented well. Having two ways to lockout is also useful, and I like that you can turn on or off the breathing switch LED function. There’s no mention of temperature regulation in the literature, so we’ll see how it handles that. An SST40 at 2000 Lumens gets mighty hot.
Batteries & Charging
The C2 is designed around a 21700 lithium-ion cell, but Wuben says it will take an 18650, and it will…sort of. because standard flat top and button top 18650s will not fit. You need a cell that’s 68 mm or larger, and even then they flop around in the tube with aplomb. If you must run an 18650, wrap it up in paper or foam or something to keep it secure in the tube. Compatibility with 21700s was much better. Samsung 30Ts fit fine, as did standard button top Samsung 50Gs. The C2 includes Wuben’s ABD4800 21700. This 4800 mAh 21700 cell is included with their other 21700 size lights like the TO50R. It’s a protected cell coming in about 75 mm long, and as an added bonus, it’s not proprietary so you can charge it in a regular charger and swap it around between your other lights. Kudos to Wuben for keeping the C2 enthusiast friendly.
The C2 features onboard USB type C charging and power bank functionality. Although some might find it a bit gimmicky, I think this is an awesome feature since it adds a lot of functionality. There’s a standard USB type C input for charging, and a USB A output for the powerbank. Wuben says the charging input is good for 2 amps, and 2 amps for the power bank output, which is awesome (if true). For the onboard charging, I didn’t see the 2 amps specified, and Wuben has adopted the charging protocol that some other brands are using, wherein the charge indicator says “all finished”, but the battery is not fully charged and it keeps charging at a reduced current. You wouldn’t notice it unless you were monitoring it with a USB tester, but basically the full charge current drops off to around 300 mA once the cell hits roughly 3.9 volts. I pulled the cell after the light turned blue, and it read 3.92 volts, so I left it on for another hour and a half until the current was 0 mA. The cell read 4.13 volts on the multimeter, so it’s not overcharged or undercharged, but short of the 4.20 volts nominal for IMR li-ion cells. I won’t complain too much since even at 4 volts, it’s still 95% of the capacity, so assuming you get the whole 4800 mA out of it, that’s 4560 mA. Letting it charge to 4.13 increases it to 98%, which is 4704 mA. Not enough of a difference to make a difference in my opinion, and it will ensure the battery lives a good long life.
Lo and behold, the power bank output delivered a genuine 2.1 amps when charging a power bank I had, and delivered 1.5 amps to an Imalent 21700 cell with USB type C charging. Alright, alright, for all those dying to know, yes, you can charge a flashlight with a flashlight. It charged my Astrolux EA01 at 1.15 amps. I think most folks will probably connect this to their portable devices, so I plugged in my cell phone and got 1.3 amps. It’s not PD-speedy, but this is really good and is super-useful. The 4800 mAh battery should have enough capacity to fully charge a 3300 mAh cell phone battery, and for maximum capacity you could always substitute a 5000 mAh cell.
Lumens were measured using my home made 30 cm integrating sphere that’s been calibrated with several lights of known output including a Makkua-calibrated Convoy S2+. I use a Digi-Sense 20250-00 datalogging luxmeter. I used the included fully charged 4800 mAh battery for the test. Amps were measured using my Radio Shack T-RMS multimeter with 16 gauge wires inserted in the meter for currents under 8 amps.
|Mode||Amps at start||Specs||Lumens @turn on||Lumens @30 sec||Lumens @ 10 min|
|Turbo||6.22 amps||2000 lm||1776||1394 lm||623|
- (switch LED off) 2.2 µA
Wuben says there’s a constant current driver in the C2, and the runtime tests will prove or refute that. I tested the light in my 30 cm integrating sphere calibrated using several lights including a Makkua S2+ with the Digi-Sense 20250-00 datalogging luxmeter with the included 4800 mAh battery. I tested Turbo, High, and Medium modes.
Turbo started at a bit under 1800 Lumens, not surprising considering the 6 amp drive current, and under the 2000 Lumen advertised figure. It started dropping within 10 seconds to under 1700 Lumens, and by 30 seconds, it was under 1400 Lumens. By 60 seconds in, the output was way down to 639 Lumens. The output was pretty stable for the first 40 seconds at above 1000 Lumens, so more than enough usable light for most uses. Heat wasn’t an issue here whatsoever, starting at 29.9 C and only rising to 39.1 C by 60 seconds. The output was super-stable between 630 and 500 Lumens for over 2 hours 43 minutes, only dropping below 400 Lumens by 2h50min. Once the output dropped below 400 Lumens, the light shut off abruptly at 2h51min. Temperatures were very hand-friendly, peaking at 52.9 C with the tube only peaking at 47 C. Wuben specs 3h1min for the runtime, and I’m pretty close. The battery read 3.04 volts when I pulled it. The light was usable after the test, with Eco, Low, and Medium available for short periods.
High started a hair over 1260 Lumens, a little higher than advertised. Like Turbo, it lasted for about 10 seconds, then dropped to under 1000 Lumens by 30 seconds in, steadily dropping to under 600 Lumens by 50 seconds. The output settled to around 520 Lumens and stayed there for the next 3h13min until it dropped to under 500 Lumens for the first time. From there, the output drops in gradual steps, settling at 396 Lumens until an abrupt cutoff at shutdown. Total runtime was 3h28min, 5 minutes short of the 3h33min advertised. Heat was never an issue. The head only heated to 12 C above ambient the whole test, and the max temp was 43.6 C at the 30 minute mark. The light was usable after the test.
Medium was rock-solid. I think Wuben somehow stuffed the Energizer Bunny in there because it kept going, and going and going. Starting at 418 Lumens, the output stayed consistently above 400 Lumens for over 13 minutes until a gradual drop to 390 Lumens. The output didn’t drop again until the 36 minute mark to 385 Lumens, which it held for a while (over 3 hours), until a small drop to 377 Lumens at 4h10min, and another imperceptible drop 3 minutes later, then 2 more over the span of 15 minutes until a hard shutdown at 4h49min. Wuben’s runtime spec? 5h. I could access (temporarily) every mode except Turbo after the end of the test. Nice.
Going over the data, although I didn’t get close to Wuben’s specified Turbo output, this is very good performance, and it looks like Wuben indeed gifted the C2 with a buck driver, and that’s awesome for a $50’ish RTR light. Unlike a light with an FET driver, the runtime graphs are nice and consistent, with flat stable outputs with only very minor fluctuations as the battery voltage drops. It’s not until the battery drops under 2.9 to 3 volts that the MCU pulls the plug for LVP. Wuben doesn’t specify a thermal ceiling, but from my testing the light never got over 53 C on Turbo, and managed 43 C on High. Moreover, it did its job seamlessly with no drama. Keep in mind, the brightness adjustments were only visible with the luxmeter, not my naked eye. Well done Wuben! I didn’t really like the abrupt shut down for LVP though, and would prefer some kind of visual notification other than a slight step down and blinking switch LED. I did appreciate the fact that the light was usable after each test, so you aren’t completely in the dark.
I measured the throw with the Uni-T UT383S luxmeter indoors at 5 meters. I used the fully charged included battery.
|Eco||80 cd||50 cd||14.14||15.46|
|Low||2080 cd||2200 cd||94||103|
|Medium||6400 cd||6475 cd||161||176|
|High||19,200 cd||20,575 cd||287||314|
|Turbo||32,000 cd||28,000 cd||335||366|
For throw, I’m within the ballpark, and these are respectable figures for a light this size, and it’s more than enough for 99% of tasks that a general purpose/EDC flashlight will be used for. If you need anything more, you’re probably going to need a throwier light (C8) with a larger head, or something like a Fenix PD35 V3 with the domeless SFT40 LED.
I compared the C2 with some lights of similar output: The Luminus SST70-equipped Fenix PD36 Tac (3000 Lumens), SFT40 equipped Acebeam P15 Defender (1750 Lumens), SFT40 equipped Fenix PD35 V3 (1750 Lumens), Sofirn SC31T (6500K SST40, 2000 Lumens), and Thrunite BSS V4 (SST70, 2500 Lumens). I threw in a C8 with 5000K SST40 as well (I measured about 2100 Lumens). For posterity, I threw in the Olight Odin WML with its 4500K domeless mystery LED (2100 Lumens).
Outdoor pictures: The fence is about 40 meters away. The C2 is pretty good for intermediate distances, and does well against the SFT40 lights, and is about dead-even with the Sofirn. You can really see the difference between the 5000K SST40 and 6500K SST40. You can really see the difference when compared to the Olight Odin!
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Wuben. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Solid build quality
- Power bank function delivers 2 amps!
- Includes every accessory to get started
- Very consistent output
- Constant current buck driver
- Doesn’t get very hot
- Non-proprietary battery
- Some finish issues
- Pocket clip gets in the way of the tailcap
- Abrupt shut down for LVP
Explanation on star ratings
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues; almost unusable – 3: Average: some defects or issues; but still usable 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆
Wuben was a relatively unknown brand to me up until several months ago, but now I know they’re the real-deal with some awesome budget-friendly lights. The addition of the C2 comes at an important juncture in the flashlight industry with the shift towards what I consider to be full-feature, midrange lights at budget prices. The Sofirn SP35 was the first successful example of this kind.
I really like the Wuben C2. It’s a light that does a lot of things well and will appeal to a lot of potential buyers looking for an affordable, full-featured light with some features found on higher-end lights. Moreover, I think it appeals to my enthusiast side as well with the near-1800 Lumen Turbo output, and non-proprietary battery compatibility. This could even stand in as a professional-grade light potentially if called upon as well. It’s sturdy, well-made, and functional. Adding power bank functionality sweetens the deal, and the fact that it works is really great. Wuben includes all the accessories needed to start making light, and with (conservative) onboard charging, you don’t need to buy a li-ion charger. It’s mild-mannered as well, and won’t get too hot. I can’t really fault it much, but the main issues are the finish blemishes, and I wasn’t thrilled with the battery being slightly undercharged (although it helps it last longer). The over-the-top pocket clip was an annoyance, and I didn’t like the abrupt LVP shut down. For the price though, I can mitigate those as minor annoyances since the light works great overall. This is a great light from Wuben that will appeal to just about everyone. 4.5 stars for the C2.