Ready Up Gear and Their Cool Rechargeable CR123A Batteries
Eve Flanigan 03.25.21
True confession: I geek out on flashlights, especially the tactical variety. It’s easy to get excited over lumen ratings, brightness settings, strobes, and ways to use lanyards. It’s an honest hobby, at least. Besides teaching people how to shoot defensively (when does most violent crime happen? That’s right, after dark), I have a rural property that receives night-time irrigation in the summer when snakes are out and about, and I work part time as a security guard, a job that requires a bright and reliable handheld light as well as a trusty backup for those 14-hour overnight shifts.
A flashlight is only as good as its power source. I enjoy my little collection that runs on either AA or CR123A batteries, with the latter delivering serious brightness – an asset that comes with the inherent risk of a quick battery death with little warning. Rechargeable batteries are generally associated with old-fashioned lights and batteries, and are notorious for having a short lifespan after that first good charge. For that reason, I’ve largely shunned rechargeables; however, an item in the Ready Up Gear catalog recently caught my attention, and the kind folks there agreed to allow me to test it out. The company sells a pair of USB-rechargeable CR123A batteries, a variety I’d never seen before.
These batteries are shipped two to a kit, encased in a reusable hard plastic case that’s a little less than the length and width of a deck of cards, and at least as thick. The case appears to offer good protection against any battery leaks (not likely, but if you’d have it happen, you know it’s nice to keep that stuff away from your other goods). Each battery has a charging port into a micro USB cord. Incidentally, the cord is sold separately by Ready Up Gear, in black. I substituted one of my own.
This test was initiated by charging one of the batteries in my car’s cigarette lighter-style USB adapter for 90 minutes. There’s a tiny red indicator light to show that charging is in progress. It turns blue when the battery is fully charged. At 90 minutes, the battery had not yet completed its first charge, but I installed it anyway. After all, this is a test!
On a clear-sky, moonless night at work as a security guard, I did an unscientific comparison between the normal CR123A that is in my LA Police Gear Operator EDC torch and the Ready Up Gear battery. Standing at the same vantage points, I shone the light onto the same locations and objects on my worksite, first with the normal battery and then with the rechargeable one. I photographed each. Of course, I have no idea of the age of the original battery other than it’s been in my flashlight for about three months and works fine.
Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting great results. Previous experiences with AA batteries have colored my opinion on rechargeables as less than positive, but I was pleasantly surprised. The Ready Up Gear battery created a slightly brighter beam than my traditional one which incidentally is branded by a major tactical light company.
The initial trial went well, but I was dubious about how this new, bright beam would fare over time. So far, the results have again been good. With the intent of stressing the battery a bit, I left that flashlight in the car for over a week, allowing it and the battery to be exposed to temps from near freezing to well into the 80s as the car heated up under spring sunshine.
Again, the battery exceeded expectations. It’s still powering the flashlight with brighter light than before with no flickering and no sign of the juice flagging. If you’ve used CR123As much you’re aware then there’s little warning of waning power as is the case with A/C/D cell batteries. I was expecting an early expiration for this one, but so far it hasn’t happened, and I’ve been using the light for two long nights as I walk my beat.
Time will tell how these batteries stand up to repeated charging cycles. So far, I can’t help, but recommend them. Especially for travelers, campers, or hunters they offer a way to get bright light shining again without the burden of carrying extra batteries. That USB cord weighs quite a bit less than an extra battery, and represents a lot more than one battery in terms of longevity with these neat little rechargeables.
A good tactical or survival flashlight is an essential piece of kit for anyone who goes armed or otherwise embraces intelligent risk reduction with their adventures. With the brightest flashlights on the market being powered by those mini-barrels called the CR123A which shine brightly, but fade with little warning, it’s a good idea to keep extras on hand. Ready Up Gear rechargeable batteries offer the option of “extra batteries” by virtue of easy recharging. It’s a good idea to have some. Order direct for $19.99 per pair. For what they’re worth to the empirically informed, here are the specs for Ready Up Gear (RUG) 16340 USB Rechargeable Batteries:
- Capacity: 620 mAh
- Voltage: 3.7v
- Charging Current: Standard Charge-120 mA; Rapid Charge 300 mA
- USB Charge Voltage and Current: 5.0v +/- 0.2v; 350mA +/- 30mA
- Net Weight: 0.65 ounces
- Dimensions: 6.5mm diameter; 35.5mm tall