Mrs Muz was driving when she squashed the poor innocent badger – orphaning all of those tiny, pink, defenceless, gummy-eyed, mewling cubs. Let me make that clear from the beginning.
So there we were pelting along the narrow, twisty-turny single-lane country road in the dead of night with only the beam from the headlights carving a path through the pitch. I was leaving fingernail marks in the dashboard, trying to find enough air to unleash the scream that had been cowering in my lungs since we left the house. I could feel my heart pounding in my teeth as the colour drained from my hair. Mrs Muz, meanwhile, was singing merrily along to the radio. Oblivious.
It was like one of those nightmare scenarios where you can’t wake up and you have to play it out to the end no matter what you try to do.
Sadly, the end came rather quickly.
As we hurtled at breakneck speed around a tight, blind right-hander, out from beneath a hedge emerged Mrs Badger, lumbering gently across the road with only the thought of finding nourishment for her darling newborns on her mind.
Now badgers are no better than pheasants when it comes to road sense, so Mrs Badger received a very quick lesson courtesy of a near lightspeed Ford Focus, two of its wheels, most of the exhaust and the vast majority of the underside.
My scream found an escape route, but the incident positively ruined Mrs Muz’s song.
Luckily, like in all good GWA reviews, I just happened to have a new torch handy and when the car came to an eventual stop – some three quarters of a mile away – I fired up the Maglite XL200 and cautiously started the long wary trek back up the road to learn Mrs Badger’s fate.
The XL200 is an incredibly powerful and far-reaching torch – the brightest in the compact Maglite range. At 172 lumens it’s plenty bright enough for practically anything an average person would want to use it for, although the power is adjustable with, literally, a flick of the wrist.
Now this is where it gets weird. I remember not only when all this were fields but when torches switched on, switched off and helped you get back to your tent in between.
Nowadays they do all manner of things, stopping just short of making dinner and washing the dishes afterwards. This particular unit which, incidentally, is so much better than my old bulby Mini Maglite (which was stolen) that it doesn’t even begin to compare, has a lot of tricks up its sleeve that I don’t really ‘get’, although looking around t’internet it seems I’m the only one.
But first things first. The water resistant XL200 is just a smidge longer than an iPhone is tall. At 112g it weighs roughly the same as two Mars bars and is the circumference of, say, a ladies’ watch face. So it’s all-round (literally) nice and comfortable to carry – not too big and unwieldy yet not too small and loseable.
Three AAA batteries power a single ‘next generation’ white LED and although I have no idea what one of those is, it’s very, very bright and keeps the batteries doing their thing for a claimed 218 hours on low power. At just 2.5 hours on megabeam, though, you might want to invest in some rechargeables.
The unit is machined aluminium with grooves down half of the length, making it tough and grippy, and the rubber power button is found on the very end for thumb operation, which means the XL200 can be used entirely one-handed. Neat.
So, to the built-in cleverness.
Click the power button once and it’s, rather unsurprisingly, a torch. But if you hold the button and rotate your wrist gently you can adjust the output all the way down to just 14 lumens – which it remembers next time you switch it on.
Click twice and you get strobe mode, with a wrist-twist adjusting the rapidity from ‘instant epilepsy’ down to ‘I’ve fallen down a ditch, broken my leg and need a slowly-flashing beacon until help arrives’ (a flash every second-and-a-half or so).
Three clicks puts the XL200 in Nite Lite mode. This means it comes on at full power but if you stand it on its end like a candle or lie it on the table the output quickly dims to low, giving you a gentle glow in your tent porch. Pick it up again and it’s back to full beam.
Give it four clicks and it enters signal mode, flashing on and off as you twist your wrist.
And finally, give the torch five clicks and it signals SOS on your behalf. Handy if you’re still down that ditch and want a little variety while you wait.
When I say I don’t ‘get’ these features, what I mean is that I do but they’re more of a novelty for the ordinary user like me. If I were a seaman or regularly tumbled down ditches it could potentially be a life-saver though so I’m not knocking it.
I was thinking about all of these things as I wandered back up the road and it was only when I arrived back home, some four hours later, that I realised I hadn’t passed the steaming carcass of Mrs Badger. I’d have noticed the bits. There wasn’t even any blood so her fate is a mystery to this day.
Mrs Muz, on the other hand, still wakes up screaming at night.
SUMMARY: An excellent little torch that throws a bright white light for a good distance (claimed 138m/circa 450ft). It’s well-built, rugged and should last for a long time. The bells and whistles bump the price up to about £61 so if you don’t need those the Maglite XL50 is always worth a look.
More info: Maglite