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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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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