REVIEW: Nitecore UT05 Running/Waist Light

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bdm82
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REVIEW: Nitecore UT05 Running/Waist Light

The Nitecore UT05 "ultra lightweight outdoor waist light" is a uniquely designed light primarily aimed at runners – but that can be used in a variety of other ways by homeowners, mechanics, or anyone who needs up to 400 lumens of widely-diffused light in a thin and lightweight package. 

 

The UT05 includes no battery or power source; rather, it draws power via a USB-A power source of the user's choice – giving it a runtime as long as the power source can provide the needed energy.

 

Skip to the commentary section at bottom to read my subjective notes on the Nitecore UT05.

 

Disclaimer: This light was provided free of charge by Nitecore Store, shipping direct from their Texas location. I received the UT05 on June 13, 2022 and prepared this review over about 6 weeks of testing and real-world use. (I do regret that this review did take much longer to get prepared and published than I committed to.) The light can be purchased through Nitecore Store (U.S.) for $35.95 at time of this review.

 

 

 

Unboxing

 

The UT05 in retail box arrived via a padded shipping mailer. The front of the retail box features the 400 lumen max output rating, an image of a runner, and of course, the UT05 itself.

 

 

The left side shows the specifications while the right side advertises that it is best used with Nitecore's running belt and power bank.

 

 

 

The rear of the box lists the full gamut of features offered by the UT05.

 

 

In the box Nitecore includes the UT05, a USB cable fastener designed specifically for use with the NB10000 power bank, 4 hook and loop straps, an instruction sheet in 11 languages, and a registration card.

 

 

The user manual is also available online here:

https://flashlight.nitecore.com/Uploads/FLASHLIGHTS/download/ut05.pdf

 

Nitecore backs the UT05 with a 5 year warranty – the same as it offers with regular flashlights.

 

 

 

Design

 

There are few lights advertised as "running lights" that aren't either headlamps or safety armbands. The UT05's lightweight design with two COB lights on one USB cable, designed to be attached to a belt, is thus like none other.

 

Nitecore lists the length at 29.5 inches long (for the entire UT05 assembly), 0.71" wide, and 0.33" high. I measured it at 29.5" long (or 30.0" including the full USB-A connector), 0.70" wide, and 0.39" high (including the hook-and-loop hook surface on the rear of the lights). The UT05 is a very compact package.

 

The two light modules are of different sizes as the one farthest from the USB connector is slightly larger to accommodate the power button. The sections measure 2.87" long without button and 3.45" with button. There is approximately 4.6" of wire between the two light sections.

 

Nitecore specifies that the UT05 weighs 40.4g (1.43oz). I measured 41g (1.5oz), right in line with specifications.

 

The two light modules have HA III hard-anodized aluminum bodies with sculpted sides. There are extensions on each that provide a surface for mounting, whether with straps to a belt or a hook on a wall. The branding and model number are on the side of the first light module while the serial number is on the other.

 

 

By having two sections of illumination instead of just one, it allows the light to conform to the wearer's body comfortably when worn on a belt or waistband and provide extra wide-angle coverage.

 

 

As seen with most COB lights, the illumination surface is yellow and flat. (Note: the UT05 ships with protective film installed; be sure to remove this before use!) The single switch is a flat button located on the front of the light farthest from the USB connector. It is easy to find and has a solid click when pressed.

 

 

When on, a 2x8 array can faintly be seen. (Note: the camera is able to capture this much better than the human eye.)

 

 

On the back side, opposite the COB lights, are hook-and-loop fasteners. Specifically, this is the hook side of hook-and-loop (think "Velcro"), so the UT05 can be attached to belts, packs, or other items with the loop style fastener (or a generally "fuzzy" surface).

 

 

Accessories

 

USB Cable Fastener

While the UT05 can be used with any USB source rated at 1A or higher, Nitecore designed the UT05 to use the Nitecore NB10000 power bank – so a custom-fitting cable strap designed for the NB10000 is included. This strap has a plastic piece that locks onto the UT05's USB connector and a rubber band that securely wraps around the NB10000 – thus keeping the USB cable from being pulled out by accident. This was a smart thing to include, giving piece of mind that the cable won't come loose accidentally while bouncing around during a run.

 

 

Hook and Loop Straps

While the UT05 has hook-and-loop style hook fasteners on the back, Nitecore expects some users will not have belts ready with mating loop surfaces. For this reason, four (4) thin hook-and-loop straps are included. These can be used to strap the UT05 to other belts or surfaces.

 

 

 

Performance

 

Beam

Being a COB-style light (chip-on-board; a type of light with multiple emitters on a single surface), there is no real "beam" to speak of in the usual sense. Rather, a wide area is illuminated as the light scatters in virtually all directions. Nitecore says this is 160 degrees, and that seems fair. As there are two separate sections to the UT05, nearly 360 degrees can be illuminated based on how the sections are arranged.

 

 

Tint & Temperature

Nitecore advertises the UT05 as 90+ CRI and 4000K color temperature. I found this to be accurate in testing. The 4000K color temperature is on the warm side of neutral, which generally is more pleasant than cooler color temperatures for most people. 

 

High Color Rendering Index (CRI) means that the true colors of objects are shown; this useful for the given purpose of the UT05 as it enables a runner to not just see the shape of what's around them but the natural colors with clarity. This could help differentiate a stick from a snake, for example!

 

To demonstrate the overall color balance, here is the UT05 surrounded by lights with emitters of various tints and temperatures. Camera W/B set to daylight.

L to R: Convoy S2+ (XML 6500K), Nitecore UT05 (COB), Lumintop Tool AAA Cu (219B 4300K), BLF348 (219B 5000k).

 

 

 

Output

Nitecore rates the UT05 at 400 lumens on High and 200 lumens on low. 

I measured 337 lumens at turn-on and 329 lumens at 30 seconds on High. The metal light bodies got as warm as 129F (54C) during testing; this is very warm to the touch but not uncomfortable to use.

I measured 189 lumens on Low; this remained stable from turn-on through the first minute measured. The metal light bodies got as warm as 96.5F (36C).

Ambient temperature was 74 F and the recommended Nitecore NB10000 power bank provided the power.

(While measured output was slightly less than specifications, it should be noted that my test rig is calibrated for typical flashlights, not COB-style lights. Therefore, my measurements should be considered approximate but imprecise.)

 

As the unit has no internal battery – and could be powered by as large or small of a power bank as desired – no runtime tests were performed. Power consumption was measured as noted below.

 

All outputs:

 

 

Amperage Draw

As measured with fully charged NB10000 power bank and an inline USB meter:

  • High: 1.2A at turn on, dropping to 1.1A after
  • Low: 0.55A at turn on, dropping to 0.51A after

 

 

Throw

I measured throw at 1.46 meters and the resulting candela on High was 326 Cd at 30 seconds - equivalent to 36 meters of throw. On Low, 182 candela or 27 meters of throw was measured.

Nitecore rates the UT05 at 185 candela and 27 meters of throw on High and 100 candela or 20 meters of throw on Low, so my throw measurements were a little higher than specifications despite lumen output measured being slightly less than specified.

 

 

PWM

Nitecore advertises the UT05 is PWM free and I was not able to detect any Pulse Width Modulation visually or using a camera's CMOS sensor. (PWM is a way of lowering total light output by briefly pulsing the power to the LED. This can make the light appear to flash particularly while in motion, so PWM is not desired.)

 

 

Parasitic Drain

Nitecore promotes the UT05 having "Advanced Power Cut-off (APC) technology for an ultra-low standby power consumption." I wasn't able to test this with a precise multimeter as I would with typical flashlights/batteries, but using a simple inline USB meter, it registered 0.00A. Thus, it is safe to say that the parasitic drain (the amount of power it draws when plugged in but not in use) is extremely low.

 

 

Low Voltage Battery Protection

Nitecore doesn't mention what happens when battery voltage is low, but I found that the UT05 simply does not turn on or will power off if the power bank is not able to provide enough power. While Nitecore states that the UT05 requires a USB power source with 5V/1A or above output, I found that the UT05 will power on (but only operate on Low) with a 5V/0.5A source.

 

 

Impact Resistance

Nitecore rates the UT05's impact resistance at 1 meter, and the UT05 did survive my 1 meter drops unscathed. 

 

 

Interface

 

The interface is easy to use, given the single button and only two outputs.

 

From off:

Long press to turn on the light.

 

From on:

  • Long press to turn off.
  • Short press to cycle from Low to High.

 

Output mode is not memorized. The UT05 always powers on in Low mode. If the power source cannot supply adequate power for High to operate, the UT05 will power off when attempting to switch from Low to High.

 

 

Beamshots

Camera locked to settings most similarly recreating what I see with human eye. Canon SD4000IS, ¼", F2.0, Daylight WB, ISO800.

 

Control shot (looking down two levels of retaining wall with grass in foreground, landscaping rock in distance, and trees between retaining walls and landscaping rock):

 

Low:

 

High:

 

 

Control shot (Looking down on a walkway and yard with a boat in the distance at approximately 85 feet):

 

Low:

 

High:

 

Notice how clear and natural the colors appear in the photos above, thanks to the high CRI. To illustrate the color reproduction – and the many possible uses for the UT05, here's a photo taken inside my cargo trailer. Note how the orange, red, blue, black, silver, and brown shades appear natural and not washed-out.

 

 

Problems

 

No problems were experienced with the Nitecore UT05 while testing. 

 

 

Commentary

 

The UT05 is a rather innovative product. There are many COB lights on the market, but this is the first one I've seen designed anything like this. Such a design offers a few unique advantages.

First, the extremely small yet versatile design takes up little space and allows it to be used in a wide variety of ways. It can be dropped down into a tight engine bay. It can slide under a stove or washing machine. It can be hung, strapped, or screwed to about anything you'd like.

Second, the use of an external power source gives it a very long runtime – and it can be made virtually endless if power banks are swapped or plugged into either main or automotive power.

Finally, for runners, the waist light design means there's no bouncing headlamp or narrow beam to deal with; the UT05 lights up a wide area all around the runner – and with excellent color rendition and a pleasant color temperature.

 

There are some potential negatives/cons to this design; the impact of these will likely vary by user. 

First, the fact that an external power source is not included may be a letdown – especially since the NB10000 is neither particularly inexpensive or small. It would be nice if a smaller form-factor power option was available that would be more convenient to pack and run with.

Second, while I generally liked the wide area being illuminated by the UT05, I noticed that my arms would be illuminated while jogging – which my peripheral vision kept picking up. That might sound silly, but it was something to adjust to as a headlamp keeps the light focused forward and won't do this (typically).

 

Overall I think the UT05 is a very neat niche product for a relatively low price. The simple but well-built design can be used in a plethora of ways – including the intended purpose of running.

 

 

Lux Meter: Dr. Meter LX1330B

Integrating "sphere": Homebuilt tube-style device calibrated on other known lights and test results. Numbers should be considered relative to each other and my other review figures but accuracy is in no way certified or guaranteed.

Camera: Canon SD4000IS 

Micrometer: Mitutoyo CD-6ASX

All measurements and representations are in made in good faith but are not guaranteed accurate.

tenohfive
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Runner here. I’m going to speak for all runners here without any consultation with anyone else…so apologies in advance for the sweeping generalisations.

I feel like this was designed without any input from runners. It looks like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

Starting with the obvious – even a casual runner is likely to want to see more than 36m away from them.
Secondly – you don’t need to see directly beneath your feet. People don’t run staring at their toes, you scan ahead for hazards and even on the trails you let your feet sort out the path.
Thirdly – power pack. Waterproofing? Most runners anticipate at least a little weather, clearly that’s not an option here.
Fourth – infinite run time depending on battery pack…how is that any different to carrying another battery? A second 18650 battery is a hell of a lot cheaper than another battery pack. But an 18650 will last a night on medium happily.
Fifth – you can’t direct the light without turning your body. Approaching a crossing/intersection? Hip thrust left, hip thrust right, check for no-one else on the path or trail…pass.
Sixth – cables running everywhere are a faff (haven’t used this light, but I have used a power bank to recharge my watch and phone on a hundred miler…no cables thanks.)

I’m struggling to think of a scenario where I’d take something like this out running. I run with just shorts and a headtorch, with a waist band (SpiBelt/Naked Band), with various race vests, occasionally a more fast-pack style pack and I can’t see what this would bring other than hassle. At most you might be able to treat it as a supplementary floody light, but given a) that weight and cables can get in the way and annoy, and b) that a lot of existing lights have a floody emitter already, I’m not picturing it being useful.

All the other non-running uses…honestly, I don’t really mind the speculation there. Perhaps it has it’s place. But this looks so poorly thought out as a running light.

What most runners need is – for the most part – a head torch. One that isn’t too heavy, has a reasonable mix of flood and throw, preferably on-board charging (because it’s likely to be getting used most/every day in winter) plus the option to swap out the battery for longer events.
I know some of my local run club like chest lights, but I suspect that’s because they’re cheap and readily available. Watching them struggle to work out which way round the straps go at the beginning of a run is something I’ll soon be seeing more as the nights get longer. But a properly adjusted headtorch with a half decent band shouldn’t be bouncing all over the place. And as I’ve mentioned above, the option to short tube is there for a number of lights which reduces their weight even further, and any bounce (not that I’ve experienced that in 7 years of running with 18650 & 18350 lights.)
For reference, I was running with a DW4 (519a/W1 mix) during the early hours of this morning. Even with the hotspot of a W1, a) the light wasn’t physically bouncing, and b) I could see everything I needed, and anything I wanted to look at with the hotspot stayed in that hotspot.

And at risk of making this a personal pop (which isn’t my intention) – for a light that has ‘the intended purpose of running,’ this review makes no reference to actually taking it running. Isn’t that a fairly significant omission? Please don’t take offence, and I know how these review arrangements go – sometimes you get the light you’re sent by the manufacturer. But if you’re not a runner yourself, do you know anyone that is a keen runner and could take it out for a few hours for some practical input, preferably on a mix of terrain’s?
If you were on the other side of the Atlantic I’d offer to do it, and who knows – I may end up eating my words.

runswithsnakes
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Another (trail) runner here. To echo previous post, some other things:

I like that Nitecore is doing something new, but this first iteration would need some tweaks before I could use it

  1. Main problem with this design, is how to attach it. Many runners do not run with fanny packs (things around the waist are restrictive) … we use vests or hand held hydration. Something like this could possibly work if it had clips to attach to my shorts’ elastic band, or if it had options to mount 1” and 1.5” webbing in horizontal and vertical configurations. While I don’t use hydration packs with waist belts for running, at least then it could mount to one for hikes, and the battery could go in pack’s side pocket (nalgene holder). I’m not a fan of velcro for this, or its existing mounting options.
  2. 4000K is kinda too warm for my taste, but thats just my opinion. 4500K is a nice middle ground to please most, but I prefer 5000K – 5700K outdoors.
  3. I am OK with the light going down to my feet, because sometimes I encounter snakes and want to see everything, but it would be nice if there was some tilt adjustment.
  4. it would be nice to be able to daisy chain several, maybe you use 1 or 2.
  5. I would also like to see more levels. I like it starts off lowest, and does not have memory.
  6. remote battery … maybe it would be nice if Nitecore had remote battery holder accessory without USB for replaceable 1 – 2 × 18650, or 1 – 2 × 21700 that could be used. It would be cool if it was magnetic like the charger in skilhunt H04, etc. That way, if you pull the cord you don’t damage stuff.

When I run, I use headlamp and handheld. I either:

  1. keep handheld pointing down-trail and turn my head (& headlamp) towards something else I need to see or
  2. keep head (&headlamp) down-trail but turn handheld & eyes towards something i need to see

This light doesn’t really accommodate either of those scenarios. Turning your whole body requires stopping.