GoPro has been the go-to in action cameras basically since there have been action cameras. You have one, I have one, we all have one. The company initially launched a new light attachment for its Hero line of cameras, but figured even people without cameras needed a good flashlight. So, that’s why the GoPro Zeus Mini Flashlight exists. And it’s got a ton of versatile functionality baked in. But it is pretty expensive.
This weekend I dove into the hellscape that is rebuilding the suspension of a 44-year-old air-cooled Porsche that spent its formative years in rural northern Michigan. Rusty hardware, difficult to reach places, nothing going as it should. I knew that I’d need to break out the big guns for this project, and lighting those dark underbits of the car would be necessary to achieve perfection.
(Full Disclosure: GoPro sent me its new Zeus Mini magnetic clip flashlight to test out. I’ve had it for a few weeks now.)
At first glance, this little flashlight is pretty simple. It’s just a flashlight, right? The beauty of this little device is its versatility. Most flashlights are just flashlights, much like most action cameras are just cameras. GoPro takes things up just a notch with the mounting system.
It’s a light that lives in GoPro’s mounting ecosystem. Swivel functionality and a clamp extend its potential positioning options. Pretty straightforward!
The light itself is a pretty powerful unit with ten little LED lights providing up to 200 insanely bright lumens. There are four levels of brightness, each of which can be diffused with a little opaque rubber cap. Pretty typical flashlight stuff. On a full charge, the dimmest 20-lumen level will give you six hours of light without a huge battery. Level 3, which is 125 lumens, lasts about an hour. It’s supposed to be waterproof to 10 meters.
The Zeus Mini itself has a “cold shoe” (no power running through it) mount molded in, so it could easily be added to most cameras to act as a steady light. That shoe mount clips into a traditional GoPro two-prong mount, which bolts to the other half. If you’ve used a GoPro you’ll be familiar with this mounting system. It allows a nice pivot up and down.
Therein lies the genius. There are hundreds of different mountings for GoPro cameras that this light can also attach to. I already own a number of suction cups, a tripod mount, and a headband mount for my GoPro cameras, so I broke out the headband for garage work. It was the perfect thing I needed.
The GoPro Zeus Mini comes with a magnetic swivel clip, which adds to its versatility. The clip can be attached to a backpack strap or your baseball cap bill for a hike during your next overlanding trip. In my younger days, I probably would have clipped it to a bumper on a nighttime road trip when a headlight burned out to give other motorists a dual-light focal point.
The magnet on the bottom of the clip is pretty great, too. I was able to mag it to the inner fender well of my car to point downward at the pesky suspension work I was doing. After a while, it got too hot to have the light mounted on my dome piece, so I swapped it back to its original clip.
The magnet likes a flat surface best, but even with the rough undercoating buffering the connection to the steel structure it had plenty of magnetic grip. I did bump it once with a stray pry bar and it fell off the car directly into a drain pan full of old brake fluid, but it’s hard to blame that on the magnet.
The GoPro Zeus Mini is not cheap. It retails at $69.99. Seventy bucks for a flashlight. It’s rechargeable, which if you use flashlights a lot could save you some money on batteries. It fits on any other GoPro accessories, which is only really a boon if you already have a GoPro and a bunch of other accessories.
Overall, I’m reasonably impressed with this simple device. It serves the purpose of at least three other flashlights I have in my arsenal. I’ve got a headband flashlight, a magnet flashlight, a hanging work light, a tripod work light, and a regular handheld tube flashlight. I’d guess I have at least $70 dollars up into all five of those lights, which makes the GoPro’s price seem reasonable again.
For a cheaper alternative, Jalopnik Reviews Editor Andrew Collins swears by Foxelli headlamps. “USB-rechargeable and low-weight are two critical attributes for flashlights in my opinion. I found Foxelli because it was one of the default Amazon results with those parameters, but I keep getting them because the one time I one crap out on me, it was after the warranty expired, and the company still sent me a fresh one for free to keep me as a customer.”
When it comes to working on cars, this little light goes a long way. It’s super bright and compact so it doesn’t get in the way a lot. There are lots of places in a car that are hard to get lights into, and this would be great to have. Under dash projects? Suspension projects? Bleeding brakes? Sure thing.
Considering its size, the battery life is pretty impressive, and I have found myself using this light a lot more than I expected to. Ultimately, this light can be used for a lot more than just working on cars, so I think it might be worth the extra money. There is a quality and purity of purpose built into this light, so after using it a bit I think it is worth the extra expense. I would buy one.
Please ignore my filthy fingers. But if you want to see more pictures of the Zeus Mini, or order one, check out GoPro’s site.