An odd part of this job is when we take a look at absolutely new brands. Not because we don’t like to see new things, but because of the responsibility that comes with it. If you send me a piece of junk, I am going to tell you your baby is ugly. And I’m going to tell all of our subscribers your baby is ugly. And that is never fun. But for this week’s introduction to some new toys, I had no hesitation at all. Because BlackFire is a subsidiary of Klein Tool, which they have decided to say publicly instead of keeping the relationship hidden, and Klein Tool makes absolutely top-shelf products.
Hey gun monkey, how do you know Klein Tool is so high-end? You side-gigging as an apprentice to Bob Villa? No, not exactly. I suck at construction, and I avoid it whenever possible. But I was also an 18 Echo, which means that in addition to blowing in doors and shooting people in the face, I had to repair radios and wire up the firebase when the 18 Charlie was busy with his playdough. One thing I learned over my time keeping remote communications systems running so we didn’t die was the value of quality tools. And pretty much everything I preferred was made by Klein.
So I was very happy to hear they had expanded into the outdoor space with the new BlackFire brand. BlackFire is expanding rapidly, but we grabbed a couple of things for a quick overview of where they are headed. As more stuff becomes available, we will be showcasing more goodies.
Now just because a brand is owned by a company I already respect doesn’t mean we give them a free pass. The new guy is still the new guy, no matter who vouched for him. With that in mind, I have given our 3 test samples a longer, more thorough beating than is normal. And I am happy to report it still came up all aces.
Tactical Twist Light- I was actually prepared to hate this one, based on looks alone. Because in the wrapper it looks like the Army/USMC issue angle head flashlight, standard issue to this day, which anyone with any sense has ditched by the second week after boot camp. But, I was very wrong. The BlackFire model is very bright at 250 Lumens, and features low, strobe, green, and red LED bulbs, all at the press of a button. The twist feature means it can throw light at 90 degrees or straight out, with a very well-designed twisting head. By far the best part of this light is the magnetic base. I didn’t know I needed that until I had it, and now it is my go-to light. The magnetic base means I can stick it to anything metal under the hood of the truck, or on the fridge in a power outage situation or a million other handy locations. The light is all aluminum, no cheap plastic here, and nicely textured to stay in your hand.
The Twist Light runs on 3 AAA batteries, and will go a surprisingly long time thanks to its LED bulbs. The only un-handy thing about the light is that my kids can’t stop playing with it, which means I can’t always find it when I need it. At an MSRP of $24.99, this is one of the best deals I have found.
Wireless Speaker- Do you know what is really handy to have in the garage while you are tinkering? Some tasty jams. Do you know what is really unhandy to have playing those tasty jams? Anything expensive, fragile, and scared of water. I am not going to BS you that BlackFire is going to compete with Bose for sound quality. But the little wireless speaker they make more than compensates with weather resistance and drop protection. 2 Meter to be exact, which I promise you Sony can’t match. The BlackFire was made for the outdoors and features weather resistance and splash protection like you won’t find anywhere else. The electronics are good, with a pretty solid wireless connectivity and a reasonable 33-foot range. It even has a built-in microphone so you can take calls. And it is once again magnetic. I love having mine for range days when the weather is less than ideal. I leave my $1000 phone in the safety of the truck, and slap this bad boy right on the door. At an MSRP of $39.99, I wouldn’t even be that upset if I forgot it and it bounced off on the highway. This one is worth a look if you prefer your adventures to have a soundtrack.
HD Multitool- This one was the biggie and the make or break from our test batch. I am a pretty harsh judge on multi-tools. As a user since the advent of them back in the late ’90s, I found one thing to be universally true. A multi-tool either said Leatherman or Gerber on the side, or it was a piece of trash. Well, time to add one more to the podium. It should come as no surprise that the same guys famous for pliers can make a solid multi-tool. The first thing you notice about the BlackFire is that it is heavy. Which for a tool, is no insult. The jaws on this bad johnson have some heft, even more apparent when you realize the handles are made of aluminum. They handle and cut like real pliers, not a convenient but lesser substitute. Coupled with the built-in bit driver, this one is sure to be your new favorite.
It isn’t often we see a new brand straight up bully its way into some market share, but BlackFire is poised to do just that. In just a few months since their introduction, we are already seeing line expansion that is unbelievable. Over the course of the fall and winter we will be taking a look at some of the other options, such as portable power stations and rechargeable fans. Stay tuned, BlackFire is here to stay.