Even with today’s superior GPS displays and pinpoint-accurate radar overlays, nothing beats seeing obstacles with your own eyes. But which light is best for boaters?
How We Tested
To simulate reflective aids to navigation, we built 10 red-and-white reflective targets, 2 by 5 inches each. We positioned these 100 to 200 yards from our lights at 10-yard intervals. Every spotlight returned a reflection of all 10 markers. The more powerful lights had a brighter return, but we did not measure the difference in return brightness.
To test how well these spots would illuminate nonreflective objects, we used international orange targets — mini footballs — and arranged them at 10-yard intervals from 100 to 200 yards away. Then we lit them up and had two sharp-eyed teenagers count the visible targets.
To measure how wide the useful beam was, we set our targets out 50 yards away and spread them at five-yard intervals from left to right. We aimed the brightest point of the beam at the center target and counted how many reflective and nonreflective targets we could spot with the beam’s peripheral illumination. The widest width topped 80 yards.
West Marine Waterproof, Rechargeable LED Spotlight
Reflective ATON Distance: 200 yards
Nonreflective Targets: 180 yards
Beam Width at 50 Yards
Reflective Targets: 80 yards
Nonreflective Targets: 20 yards
The Mac Daddy of West Marine’s waterproof rechargeables offers the same functions as its sibling but with three brighter LEDs and the same long battery life. It scored high and offers rubber-armored construction.
Special Features: Its SOS feature will run 24 hours. Like the smaller version’s, its lens is shatterproof polycarbonate.
Downside: The threaded charger port is without a keeper to prevent loss.
Warranty: 1 year
Maximum Lumens: 700
Powered By: Rechargeable alkaline batteries with 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC chargers
Burn Time On High: 6 hours
Burn Time On Low: 7 hours
Water Protection: Waterproof