Will the real (keychain) EDC please stand up?

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phouton
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Will the real (keychain) EDC please stand up?

Looking for a reliable attach-it-and-forget-it keychain EDC that is:

  • small and lightweight (~40mm x 14mm, ~20g or less, preferably ~10g)
  • USB rechargeable (built-in)
  • reliable build quality (head not likely to fall off, not likely to turn on by itself, slow self-discharge)
  • reasonably inexpensive (past 20USD gets painful for such a tiny device)

There are lots of options available, many of which seem to be clones of each other. But there aren’t many review and comparisons.

Here’s a list of what I’ve found so far, though I’m starting to forget which ones had what pros/cons:

  • Astrolux M01 (Nichia 219C available, but apparently flaky build quality)
  • Jetbeam MINI-1 TI (seems good build quality, but expensive since only Ti version seems available)
  • TrustFire Mini-07 (most inexpensive, small, stainless steel, seems to include small chain/clasp, but virtually no reviews)
  • TrustFire Mini2 (aluminum, also inexpensive, but reviews?)
  • CooYoo Quantum (seems good quality but really expensive)
  • Wuben G series (G337, G338, G339, G340, G344: SS, Ti, color/style variants; seems nice but reviews?)
  • Acebeam M50 (Nichia 219C CRI90+, hard to find, custom non-standard 10150 battery, reviews?)
  • Olight i1R EOS (classic, good reviews, ok price, but non-replaceable battery)
  • Lumintop EDC Pico (similar to Olight, GITD ring, non-replaceable battery, many with high self-discharge defect)
  • Manker TC02 (expensive, unclear reliability of touch control)
  • Blackwater Kite (almost impossible to find)
  • MecArmy X4S (a bit hard to find and pricey, on the larger side, nice that it seems to have a captive head)
  • Many non-branded inexpensive models that seem like copies of others (unknown quality and specs):

There are also the more rectangular types, such as the great Nitecore TUBE, but at the moment I’m not so keen on that shape/size.

The AAA lights might have better quality control, reliability, and of course runtimes (Lumintop EDC01, Olight i3E EOS, Sofirn C01S, etc), but the larger size and weight gives me pause.

Can BFL help find the perfect EDC for a picky minimalist?

Edited by: phouton on 11/07/2019 - 19:44
wstrachan
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Fitorch K3?
I like mine a lot! It’s about the size of a key fob.
https://fitorchstore.com/products/k3-lite-lightweight-key-chain-light?_p...

light addict....yeah I've got the bug.

Atrolux MF02_O2S
Imalent DT70
Emissar (All Models)
Lumintop ODL20C
Wuben A21 & T70
thrunite tn32 ut
acebeam k60
many, many others...

phouton
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Thanks for the mention. The Fitorch K3 looks nice in the rectangular / key fob category, which has the appeal of longer runtimes and more brightness but comes at the cost of larger size and weight. At the moment I’m looking at the smallest lights available.

ValuseekeR
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Well out of budget, but I always thought the DQG Hobi Plus looked interesting.

phouton
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DQG is neat but they are hard to find, and/or just the exotic materials are available at really high prices.

Nitecore TUBE’s price is really good, but I’m not quite sold on that form factor.

toddcshoe
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I like Nitecores TIP. Tube doesn’t excite me and the other one is too small for my hand. TINI? Is that right? I think so.

Here ya go, as many as you need, $17.50 a piece. In every color but blue. 5000K Nichia too. $17.50!!!!! Did you see that? $17.50!!!!!!
https://www.illumn.com/special-deals/nitecore-tip-usb-rechargeable-keych...

Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

"Everywhere I go, there I am"

Agro
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I’ve had a TINI and it was an awesome light despite bad UI. Until the switch failed and it died. I’ve heard other stories of them dying quickly but I’m not sure if that’s enough to conclude they have a problem.

Boaz
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A good keychain light takes years to figure out . I like small AAA lights ....Good luck .

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DrHook59
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Any of the small AAA Olights for me. I have the Olight i3s eos (and the i3e) and find them brilliantly simple and reliable. The i3s on my neck lanyard inside my shirt has been there three years now without a single problem. And I use it a lot out here in the countryside.

Photonica
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I spend waaay to much time at Parametrek.

Here are 50 flashlights, 50 lumens or more, weighing less than 25 grams.

If I were giving a keychain light, it would probably be AAA or AA based with NiMH or Enerloops.

Scallywag
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Missing are the Rovyvon line if that’s interesting to you, as well as the Klarus Mini One which is very similar to many other 10180 lights. Also several DQG lights, such as Hobi, Hobi+, Fairy, etc. A banggood search for “DQG” is always fun

EDC Rotation: ZL SC62 | Jaxman E2L XP-G2 5A | Purple S2+ XPL-HI U6-3A | D4 w/ Luxeon V | RRT-01 
EagTac D25C Ti | DQG Slim AA Ti | UF-T1 by CRX | Olight S1 | Klarus Mini One Ti
L6 XHP70.2 P2 4000K FET+7135 | Jaxman M8 | MF02 | Jaxman Z1 CULNM1.TG | Blue S2+ w/ ML Special
In-progress: Supfire M6 3xXHP50.2 
Others: Nitecore EC23 | Nebo Twyst | Streamlight ProTac 1AA | TerraLux LightStar 100

phouton
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Boaz wrote:
A good keychain light takes years to figure out .

What do you mean?

Quite clearly, the FOB style keychain lights are popular… but I specifically excluded them in my question. Their size and dimensions give them advantages in brightness, battery size/runtime, and maybe even durability, but I am trying to see if reliable options exist in the tiniest form factor.

As for AA/AAA lights, yes there are appealing options in that category, but do people actually put those on their keychains? Shocked The smallest AAA (i3E, EDC01) are maybe at the limit. I want something that is as imperceptible as possible, since I expect I would rarely use it anyway.

Rovyvon looks interesting, but I find it quite expensive and a bit on the larger side of the smallest lights. Klarus… well the comments in that thread make it less appealing. DQG also seems quite expensive, though the Hobi Plus with USB charging looks appealing.

In general, I find it difficult to pay more for a keychain light than a far more practical one like the SP40. To my mind, there would have to be a very special justification. And unfortunately I’m not getting the strongest impression on the reliability of these tiny lights.

Scallywag
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phouton wrote:
Quite clearly, the FOB style keychain lights are popular… but I specifically excluded them in my question. Their size and dimensions give them advantages in brightness, battery size/runtime, and maybe even durability, but I am trying to see if reliable options exist in the tiniest form factor.

As for AA/AAA lights, yes there are appealing options in that category, but do people actually put those on their keychains? Shocked The smallest AAA (i3E, EDC01) are maybe at the limit. I want something that is as imperceptible as possible, since I expect I would rarely use it anyway.

Rovyvon looks interesting, but I find it quite expensive and a bit on the larger side of the smallest lights. Klarus… well the comments in that thread make it less appealing. DQG also seems quite expensive, though the Hobi Plus with USB charging looks appealing.

In general, I find it difficult to pay more for a keychain light than a far more practical one like the SP40. To my mind, there would have to be a very special justification. And unfortunately I’m not getting the strongest impression on the reliability of these tiny lights.


Excellent points. To me, the more expensive keychain lights don’t make sense unless they are, and you’re also interested in, exotic metals.
I also don’t recommend my Klarus Mini One, or Klarus at all, but kind of meant to point out another notable copycat. The one thing it does right is having the head captive still when charging the light.

You’re also right on the reliability front. To my knowledge, all the small 10180 lights use the same “twist more to push the button” approach to give two modes, and that does not lend itself to reliability. Some execute it better than others, but there are none that I would really trust. It’s a shame because I rather like the form factor as well as the built in charging. Maybe I’ll think of a way to fix it.

I will say, the cheaper Rovyvons have served me well as gifts for muggles. Their keychain lights generally suddenly become brighter than any light they’ve ever held, unless I’ve handed them my other lights before.

EDC Rotation: ZL SC62 | Jaxman E2L XP-G2 5A | Purple S2+ XPL-HI U6-3A | D4 w/ Luxeon V | RRT-01 
EagTac D25C Ti | DQG Slim AA Ti | UF-T1 by CRX | Olight S1 | Klarus Mini One Ti
L6 XHP70.2 P2 4000K FET+7135 | Jaxman M8 | MF02 | Jaxman Z1 CULNM1.TG | Blue S2+ w/ ML Special
In-progress: Supfire M6 3xXHP50.2 
Others: Nitecore EC23 | Nebo Twyst | Streamlight ProTac 1AA | TerraLux LightStar 100

phouton
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The only reason I’d be interested in exotic metals is to avoid anodized aluminum from getting a scratched appearance. However, I am careful and take care of my stuff. Generally I’d prefer aluminum for price and its physical properties.

I think one or two others had captive heads too but can’t remember which. I’m surprised they don’t advertise it, since it’s a very relevant feature.

Many 10180 lights have the “twist for on, and keep twisting for high”, but some have the “twist on and off multiple times to change modes”. Not sure which is preferable. I’ve lost track of which lights have which design.

Interestingly, many AAA lights are cheaper than 10180 lights. I’m in no hurry, so I’ll keep looking for reviews and deals. If nothing satisfying comes up, I might try a small AAA light and see how I feel about the size/weight and lack of USB charging, but at the moment I haven’t given up just yet on the tiniest ones.

RollerBoySE
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BLF-348 doesn’t have onboard charging, but otherwise fits the bill. (It’s even high CRI.)
https://www.gearbest.com/led-flashlights/pp_227505.html

phouton
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RollerBoySE wrote:
BLF-348 doesn’t have onboard charging, but otherwise fits the bill. (It’s even high CRI.)
https://www.gearbest.com/led-flashlights/pp_227505.html

Nice light, nice price, but there’s no way an 89mm long object is going on my keychain.

I don’t know why I keep having to repeat this, but I’m looking for the SMALLEST tubular lights around 40mm long. ~60mm would be a stretch, and considered only if nothing in the smallest category is suitable in reliability and price.

RollerBoySE
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phouton wrote:
RollerBoySE wrote:
BLF-348 doesn’t have onboard charging, but otherwise fits the bill. (It’s even high CRI.)
https://www.gearbest.com/led-flashlights/pp_227505.html

Nice light, nice price, but there’s no way an 89mm long object is going on my keychain.

I don’t know why I keep having to repeat this, but I’m looking for the SMALLEST tubular lights around 40mm long. ~60mm would be a stretch, and considered only if nothing in the smallest category is suitable in reliability and price.

Of course it’s your choice, but I hope you realize that those dimensions either means low lumens or ridiculously short runtimes.

phouton
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Yes, and neither of those points really matter for the keychain use-case.

The typical (100/10 lumens, 0.5/6 hours, High/Low) specs are quite sufficient for something imperceptibly small and light on a keychain that is present at a rare moment where light is needed briefly.

raccoon city
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toddcshoe wrote:

I like Nitecores TIP.

I do, too.

I have one with the possibility of lockout.

nydude
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the Olight i3E now lives on my keys. it’s great. really small and light and so far perfectly reliable. barely feel it in a suit jacket or pants pocket with the keys. last week i tried switching it out for a nitecore tube which is just slightly lighter and rechargeable but it didn’t last a day. I’m typically using it to look for something under a table in a bar or in a staircase that doesn’t have lights or power yet and the one mode beam is great for that.

the tube is omni directional, not good for looking at things, and I think will live on a backpack or something as a backup camping or location light.

korpzgrinda
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raccoon city wrote:

toddcshoe wrote:

I like Nitecores TIP.


I do, too.
I have one with the possibility of lockout.

I concur. Although my TIP CRI is the 2018 version without lockout, I cover the buttons with the clip to avoid accidental activation. It has never turned on in my pocket.

raccoon city
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Mine was from the first batch.

I believe the second batch didn't have lockout.

I don't know what happened after that, but I wouldn't get one without lockout.

BOO5TED
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Jetbeam Mini-1 has served me well for years.

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chinooker
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My solution was a no compromise carry of a 10440 light and a similar sized knife hanging separately on a corner of my pocket.
My key-chain only has keys on it.

Agro
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The list prices from DQG are high but there are serious deals sometimes. I’ve had a Fairy for $10. Twice. I think I’ve seen Spy for like $12. Hobi? I wasn’t interested.

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I never saw the utility of a light that’s closely tethered to a noisy clump of metal. For me, “keychain light” is one of these

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000LNWVY4

to literally light up the hole the key is supposta go into.

Even my Glarees (about as lightweight of an AAA twisty as you’re gonna get) I keep separate, and not attached to a pile of keys.

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phouton
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nydude The Olight i3E is appealing as an AAA light since it’s among the smallest in that class. I do wish it had a low mode though. I agree, some directionality is useful for this type of light.

BOO5TED The Jetbeam Mini-1 is quite nice, if only they cut the price in half..

chinooker That’s a reasonable solution if it works for you. I like having just one cluster to bring with me, plus I prefer not having the knife visible since it seems to make people uncomfortable. How long is your knife? Mine is 65mm and although it’s the bulkiest and heaviest item on my keychain, it’s been so useful to have it with me all the time.

Agro Those prices are more like it! Though the lack of USB charging on several of them is still disappointing. At least the Hobi Plus has that. When/where were the deals?

Lightbringer Don’t worry, photons aren’t bothered by noise. Big Smile I think that argument would be more relevant for a knife on a keychain, and yet it’s been very useful for me. To each their own! Gotta say, for an AAA light at 70mm, the Glaree E03 seems pretty nice: moonlight/low/high and weighing 12g. Price isn’t terrible, but it’s still double the Sofirn C01S which lacks moonlight, but has high CRI

After reading some more, the RovyVon Aurora A3 upgrade seems interesting. At 57mm long and 19.5g it’s 1.5X as long and 2X as heavy as the smallest options, but it compensates with a 260mAh battery, 2lm moonlight mode, and crazy (short duration 450-650lm) brightness. Plus there’s no head to unscrew/lose and build quality looks good. So it might be something to rationalize, but the 30+ USD price plus shipping is hard to swallow.

raccoon city
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I won a RovyVon Aurora A3.

I love it.

It's amazingly small and bright (for its size.)

It is pricey, though.

Agro
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phouton wrote:

Agro Those prices are more like it! Though the lack of USB charging on several of them is still disappointing. At least the Hobi Plus has that. When/where were the deals?

In all 3 cases that was gearbest. Not any special date, just an incredibly good coupon out of the blue.
Really, I can’t recommend waiting for coupons this good. You are likely to wait for a year or more and if you’re unlucky that price won’t appear ever again. If I wanted another Fairy I would be glad enough if I managed to buy for $16. And I would seek such price only if I was really not in a hurry.
Agro
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BTW I wonder who will be the first to introduce Type C to this kind of lights.
A friend of mine could use a nice pendant but I won’t buy her something with micro USB for the simple reason that it’s an extra cable to carry around.

BOO5TED
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Agro wrote:
BTW I wonder who will be the first to introduce Type C to this kind of lights. A friend of mine could use a nice pendant but I won’t buy her something with micro USB for the simple reason that it’s an extra cable to carry around.

Micro USB to USB C Adapter

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