Among the products featured in my 2016 camping tech gear roundup was the Goal Zero Torch 250. This is a multipurpose light — flashlight, floodlight, emergency light, and smartphone charger. With a built-in solar charger, a clip for hanging and a hand-crank, this was a light that could do it all, without needing an electrical outlet. The main downsides to the Torch 250 were its lack of water resistance and bulky size. A few months ago the company released the followup, the Goal Zero Torch 500. And it’s better than the original in just about every way.
Most of the Good Stuff From the Original
The Goal Zero Torch 250 was a unique light and it was extremely useful. Thankfully, Goal Zero kept most of the features that made the Torch 250 so popular.
The Torch 500 has the same angular shape and integrated hooks that makes it easy to stand or hang in various configurations. It keeps the integrated solar panel, so you can set it outdoors during the day to trickle charge. You can use its integrated battery and USB Type-A port to top up a smartphone battery. And it retains the flashlight/spotlight on one end and array of LEDs for a floodlight on one of the sides.
Goal Zero is known for innovating, not sitting still. And the Torch 500 doesn’t disappoint, with a series of improvements over the original.
The single biggest upgrade is gaining IP67 water resistance. This makes it impervious to rain, snow, dust and sand, and able to withstand a 30 minute dunk in three feet of water. This alone makes the Torch 500 a much better product.
However, there are a lot of other improvements. It’s physically smaller and lighter than the original, making it more comfortable to hold. It gets a more premium-feeling metal case with rubber bumpers. The battery capacity has been boosted to 5200mAh and the monocrystalline solar panels have a higher power rating (1.2W compared 0.8W). Both the spotlight and the floodlight get a boost to a maximum of 300 Lumens, making them significantly brighter than the original. Instead of a pair of integrated hooks on one end for hanging the light, the Torch 500 has two on each end.
If you want to plug in the Torch 500 to recharge it, there is now a USB-C port.
Earlier I said “most” of the original features were included — which implies some were not. Several features were sacrificed in order to slim down the Torch 500 and gain that much-needed water resistance. The integrated hand crank charger is gone. The Torch 250’s built-in USB charge cable has also been left out. The red emergency light feature on the Torch 250 failed to make the cut.
However, all things considered, I think the new Torch 500 is a much more useful light than the Torch 250.
Goal Zero Torch 500 Recommendation
The Goal Zero Torch 500 is a great flashlight to have in your home emergency kit, or for camping. With the ability to switch between flashlight and floodlight — each with varying levels of intensity — portable lighting needs are covered. With its hanging clips and angular surfaces, this is also a great task or area light. The ability to top up a smartphone battery is a very handy feature. With its solar panel, extended power outages don’t mean you’re doomed to run out of juice. And IP67 water resistance means you can use the Torch 500 in heavy rain or snow.
At $49.95 Goal Zero even managed to significantly reduce the price of the original. If you’re worried about the lack of a built-in hand crank for recharging, you can still pick up the original Torch 250.
Disclosure: Goal Zero provided a Torch 500 for evaluation but had no input into this review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn affiliate fees from qualifying purchases.