ABOVE LEFT : The Milwaukee M18 LED Area Light is ideal for lighting up big tents or large areas of campsite. It has eight LED lights, giving out 1100 lumens.
ABOVE RIGHT : The Milwaukee M12 LED Stick Light is designed to throw light into out-of-the-way places.
If the hubbub surrounding the Milwaukee Tool Corporation stand at the past two US SHOT Expos is any guide, Milwaukee power tools are starting to become very popular among American hunters. At the time, it was the company's cordless heated hunting jacket that was causing all the fuss.
I own a Milwaukee rechargeable torch and I'll put my hand on my heart and say that it is the best torch I have owned. That's why I was so keen to get a look at two of Milwaukee's other new lighting products, the M18 LED Area Light and the M12 LED Stick Light, both of which would be eminently suitable for camping and hunting.
The Milwaukee M18 LED Area Light As its name suggests, this is a large light that would be great for lighting up the interior of large tents or outdoor camping areas. This cordless light has a panel of eight LED lights powered by a rechargeable 18v, 4Ah REDLITHIUM battery, which comes complete with a battery charge indicator on the side.
I haven't run it flat yet, but according to the manufacturer, this should give between four and eight hours of light, depending on whether you're running it on the low or high setting.
ABOVE : The Milwaukee lights are powered by REDLITHIUM batteries in either 18v, left, or 12v. These batteries are fully interchangeable with the other electric tools in the Milwaukee M18 and M12 ranges.
I can tell you that on the high setting, this is a very bright flashlight. Milwaukee puts the light at 1100 lumens, which is claimed to be 30 per cent brighter than a 250w halogen light - and I have no reason to doubt it. The on-off switch and the dual light settings are controlled by three large, easy-to-push, rubber-coated buttons on the side of the unit.
The Milwaukee M18 LED is cleverly designed with an octagonal roll-cage, which allows the light to be used at different angles on the ground, and there are holes on either end of the roll-cage that allow the light to be hung from a 0.5" or smaller steel bar or pipe driven into the ground. There is also a keyhole hanger on the back that provides another option for hanging the light from a nail or screw. With this flexibility, there shouldn't be too many situations where you can't get the light to shine where you want it.
Other features of the M18 LED include a replaceable, impact-resistant lens, so you won't have to worry about it too much while it's stashed in your hunting kit. Make no mistake though, at a hefty 1.6kg and measuring 22x16x16cm, this is no back-packer's torch. Nevertheless, it should find favour with car-based campers and hunters looking for a bright, tough, no-nonsense light for brightening up their tent or large areas of campsite.
ABOVE : The M12 LED Stick Light is light enough to be suspended from the roof of your tent.
The Milwaukee M12 LED Stick Light is much smaller and lighter and is designed to get light into out-of-the-way places. Weighing in at 420g including the battery and measuring 22cm long, this light is perfect for hanging in a smaller tent or above your eating area. To assist with this, there is a moveable steel hook that locks into place to allow the light to be suspended in either the horizontal or vertical plane - another example of some great innovation from the design team at Milwaukee.
Light up your camping life with these new lights from the Milwaukee Tool Corporation.
With three LED lights putting out 220 lumens, powered by a 12v, 2Ah rechargeable REDLITHIUM battery, the Stick Light will light up your camping life for up to four hours at a time. Like the Area Light, it has an impact-resistant replaceable lens. It also has a battery strength indicator, grippy handle and easy-to-locate rubber off-on button. Overall, it is another reassuringly well-built and robust unit from Milwaukee, which continues to live up to its 'nothing but heavy-duty' slogan.
Something that will be of interest to hunters and campers with other power tool requirements is that the Milwaukee 12v batteries are entirely interchangeable with other products in the M12 range, as are the 18v batteries within the M18 range.
The lights that arrived for the test were accompanied by the M12-18 multi-voltage charger, which as its name suggests is capable of charging both M12 and M18 batteries. (Note that both the batteries and the chargers are sold separately.) This is extremely handy because it means no more lost or mixed up rechargers - everything can be done on one.
Incidentally, batteries are charged in the order in which they are placed in the charger - first in, first charged. One thing I have noticed about the Milwaukee flashlight battery chargers is they have a solid, positive connection with the battery when inserted. I assure you, there'll be no coming back to find the connection has come apart and the battery still flat, as can happen with cheaper products.
To varying degrees, we all need a light source or two whenever we head bush on our hunting and camping trips. These two new Milwaukee lights are tough, bright, cordless and rechargeable and I'd be surprised if they don't find a good following among American hunters. At a recommended retail price of $79 for the Stick Light and $159 for the Area Light (lights only, batteries sold separately), I reckon they are tremendous value too.