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When we first laid hands on Stanley’s MaxLife Mini-TriPod, we thought that it was more show than go.  Common shop wisdom (read: old stereotypical views) state that if flashlights aren’t big enough to bludgeon a live cougar to death or aren’t forged from unobtainium, they aren’t going to last very long in the shop.

The “dollar store” vibe exuded by the Mini-Tripod’s clear plastic box doesn’t help, either.  But once we freed it from the packaging and actually beat the living crap out of it in the shop, we’re telling a different story altogether.  Read on past the jump to find out why.

Unboxing

We’ve already mentioned how fond we are of the box.  Let’s just say this: at least it’s not sealed in a cut-your-hands-off-to-get-it-out clamshell.  The box is really easy to open — and even easier to throw away.

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When the MaxLife’s in the closed position, it’s comfortable to hold and feels reasonably solid.   It feels pretty much like a normal hand-held flashlight, though It’s very lightweight. 

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The head of the light is encased in high-impact heavy plastic and houses three super-bright LED bulbs in a triangle formation.  The three-stage on/off button is located on top of the head near the rear and switches on one bulb per push in sequence.  (Push it once, you get one LED.  Twice, you get two, and so on.)

Just South of the on/off along the light’s backbone there’s a second button that releases its “tripod” legs — the ones from which the unit takes its name. It’s a slick little mechanism: the release button mechanically pushes two disc-shaped magnets, located on a rod in the center of the leg structure, away from similar magnets on each leg.  This releases the legs, which are spring-loaded to jump out and form the tripod stand.

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Pushing the legs together returns the light to regular flashlight mode with a pleasing but hardy “click.”  Seriously, this action doesn’t get old, even after 100 “test openings.”

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The MaxLife’s head also flops over 90-degrees so that in “tripod-mode” it shines sideways.  In “flashlight” mode, it swings back up.

Perhaps it was just Friday night — or perhaps the Texas heat was getting to us in the shop — but when we looked at the 3 AAA batteries and the Mini-Tripod we experienced a moment of caveman-like excitement as we unscrewed the caps on the legs and inserted the batteries.  The batteries in the legs accomplish two tasks: they power the bulbs and they also add a nice balanced weight to the back end of the light.

Read on to page two to read about our experiences with the MaxLife in use.

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7 Responses to Hands On: Stanley’s Maxlife Mini-Tripod Flashlight

  1. Dave R says:

    I bought one of these as an impulse buy just before my trip to Americade this year. My father was with me and laughed at me and made fun of the MaxLife flashlight. Well wouldn’t you know it, we had some problems on our trip and this little thing came to the rescue over and over again. We used it for hooking up our tow trailer, in our cabin, in the car, you name it. My father admitted that it was a great buy before the end of the week. I did manage to pay considerably less for mine at BJs. It only cost $12.99. Over all this is a great flashlight to keep in your car or get a mini version for your motorcycle. $4.99 at BJs.

  2. Captoe says:

    It looks like they’ve been updated since I bought mine, but my two-year-old torn one of the legs off of mine inside of 20 seconds. Maybe he’s gifted with superhuman strength, but more probably he’s not. Something, anything, with the Stanley logo on should not come apart in the hands of a toddler.

    And “bipod flashlight” just doesn’t have that same cool vibe.

  3. Fong says:

    I bought 2 of the standard sized ones (9 AA batteries) and had similar mixed results. The first one’s leg tore off just by playing with it. With Captoe’s comment, this sounds like a quality problem.

    The second one has lasted me camping trips, under the desk, under the hood, and under the sink for about a year now with no problems. My only complaint is that both the magnetic latch on the legs and the swivel head are too loose for my tastes.

  4. Fritz says:

    I work on HVAC equipment all day and the tripod and swiveling head were great. I also found the light to be plenty bright. Unfortunately, about a month in to use, the legs somehow shifted downward so the tripod would not latch anymore, and two weeks later, one leg completely broke off.

    I intend to return the light for a replacement, and try out another. If that fails, then i’ll probably just go back to the trusty maglite.

    Great ideas, but work on quality!

  5. Ray Stanis says:

    Ive had the stanly tripod flashlight for about 2 months. Paid 50.00 for it and as far as im concerned its not worth all the batteries you have to purchase for it. It looks good but thats it. It will not take any serious tradesman handling. Its already giving me trouble. It just sits there cause you never know when its going to lite, depending on how and were you have to tap it to light. Big 50 dollar mistake on my part. Thanks

  6. Randy says:

    Got it for Christmas. Now it’s February and this thing started dimming and flashing a red light in front of the on/off switch, so I figured I’d change the batteries. 2 slid out. One didn’t. And after repeatedly shaking, hitting against the garage floor, poking with needle nose pliers; it still won’t come out. Now I’ll drill out the battery. First time I ever had to do something like this for a flashlight.

  7. Adam R. says:

    Wally World had this plus the big brother 9 battery light in a combo pack on clearance for $11. Much better than the $25 listed for just the small.

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