Gypsy EDC, an excellent knife and sheath maker based out of Idaho, recently posted a tip that makes removing DCC clip equipped items like sheaths and holsters from your clothing much easier. This tip makes use of a credit card to shim the clip, allowing it to slide off your clothing almost effortlessly. This may be especially useful for shorter DCC clips or those with limited grip strength.
You’ve probably spent a fair amount of time wondering what Kit Badger smells like. Well… good news. Now, you not only don’t have to wonder anymore, but you can also smell just like him thanks to Lox and Company Badger Balm.
Seriously though, this stuff smells good and can be used a TON of different ways in the outdoors… or just day-to-day.
Pretty much any flashlight can be useful and some are more useful than others. Nitecore makes its fair share of those more useful lights but their Tiny Monster series, the TM12K specifically, reminds us that flashlights can be useful AND FUN… like giggle-inducing, retina-burning, show-it-off-to-your-friends fun.
The TM12K is one of the brighter lights in Nitecore’s Tiny Monster series. This USB-C rechargeable Li-ion light boasts up to 12,000 lumens of floody output from its 6 Cree XHP50 LEDs. It has 4 levels of output in addition to it’s Turbo mode (a total of 5). The 4th level is user programmable which is a task that is made very easy by the included OLED display!
The light has an internal 21700 battery with 4800 mAh capacity for some very impressive runtimes. It can charge at 18W in just 1.5 hours from empty.
You can see details outputs and runtimes in the image below.
Observations from Use
The TM12K feels like a light aimed at flashlight enthusiasts like much of the Tiny Monster line. I think that is where a lot of the fun (and the price) comes in. Most lights don’t need an eye-searing 12,000-lumen wall-of-light output mode that makes the flashlight body so screaming hot that the light has its own LED display with a visible countdown timer and temperature monitoring to prevent the light from melting itself down into an aluminum puddle… but that’s fun.
OLED displays and 12,000 lumens available at the touch of a dedicated button are fun… but Nitecore also managed to make this light very useful. When you aren’t using the turbo mode to turn night into day, that OLED display gives useful information like which level you are on currently, voltage, temperature, battery level, and even estimated remaining runtime! The latter two information points are extremely useful and makes me wish every light had an OLED display.
I have found the levels/modes on the TM12K to be very practical. Level 1 is an ultralow 6 lumens that runs for more than 200 hours and is great for power outages. Level 2 and 3 offer 100 and 300 lumens for respectable runtimes and I use these levels a lot when using the TM12K as a sort of work light which it excels at. For instance, level 3 was all the light I needed to change the sheer bolt on a snow plow in the dark breezeway of a barn recently. Level 4 is programmable from 400 to 2000 lumens in 100-lumen steps but it defaults to 1000. Programming this level is very easy and fast thanks to the two-button interface and display.
The form-factor of this light is somewhat unique. It has a very good pocket clip that actually works but, realistically, you won’t carry it in your pocket. It is boxy but not uncomfortable to hold and some thoughtful machining provides plenty of grip. I love the shape of this light for how I use it. I can set it down or tail-stand it to aim light anywhere without fear of it rolling away. This is very useful for a light that I mostly use as a work light or during power outages.
There are a few things I might change if I had my druthers. The lens, over the 6 LEDs and their reflectors, is understandably large. It might be nice to see a more protective aluminum bezel to protect that large lens. Also, this light features two lockout modes which are necessary considering this will be carried in a bag most of the time. The lockouts are so necessary that it would have been nice to have them directly accessible via a physical switch. I also wouldn’t mind seeing a more water-resistant cover for the charging port but I have used this light in damp, snowy conditions without issue.
The Nitecore TM12K reminds me that useful gear can be fun too. It’s an excellent, floody light with long runtimes that make it suitable for power outages and illuminating work areas. However, it also has “12,000 LUMENS!!”, literally engraved on the side so you know it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This light feels a little like a showcase for what Nitecore can do.
The original Icon holster from Harry’s Holsters is one of my all-time favorite revolver holsters (see the review HERE). It combines a compact design, excellent comfort, clever concealability features, and a DCC clip into one easy-to-live-with package. However, it was only available for the J-Frame which left other revolvers in the cold.
Harry’s Holsters has long promised a new version, the Icon 2.0, with support for many other revolvers… That day has come.
The new Icon 2.0 is now available. It features several new design elements including a compact wing for concealment and the more stable DCC Monoblock clip. Best of all, it is finally available for the Ruger LCR.
I have a long history with the NU series of headlamps from Nitecore. I have used a number of them, carry one daily in the winter, and have written about them on these pages before. When I was given the chance to check out one of the newer lights in the series, the NU33, I jumped at the chance.
Nitecore’s NU series of lights are all defined by a number of features and design elements. They feature integral USB rechargeable batteries. The lights are generally compact and lightweight while also featuring multiple outputs and, often, multiple types of outputs like white, high CRI, red, etc. They also tend to feature well-thought-out user interfaces. The NU33 checks all these boxes.
The NU33 weighs in at just 3.38 ounces on my scale. This weight includes its aluminum outer construction and integral 2000 mAh lithium battery. It is USB-C rechargeable which is a VERY welcomed change over previous headlamps in the NU series with Micro USB charging. It features three different lighting options: a central white LED, auxiliary high CRI white flood light, and red LED light. Outputs and runtimes are included in the image below.
Observations from Use
I’m not going to share charts, graphs, and pictures of light spots on white walls. Those things can be valuable but I don’t think they will tell the story of just how practical this light is. This light is not flashy in terms of lumen stats but it is exceedingly useful. The care that Nitecore put into making this light easy to live with is impressive.
First of all, check out those runtimes. Nitecore was somewhat conservative with outputs in favor of runtime. As someone who uses a headlamp daily in the winter, I appreciate that. The main white light, in low mode, will provide 60 regulated lumens for a staggering 37 hours dwindling to about 38 hours according to the runtime graphs provided in the manual. To put that in perspective, it wasn’t that long ago that most headlamps topped out at 60 lumens and we were thrilled with that. It is very useful amount of light for a very long time.
Those lumens are made even more useful by the design of the lens/diffuser that Nitecore uses. It provides a perfectly smooth hotspot that throws well while illuminating a large area. Cleverly, the entire face of the light acts like a diffuser so that you have a light cast over a very wide area as well. This means that even with the light angled high to look as far ahead as possible, there is still light being cast at your feet. I have never seen another headlamp pull off this combination of hotspot for distance and diffused light for area lighting so well.
The auxiliary light modes, high CRI and red, are both useful. That usefulness is maximized by the fact that they are both directly accessible when the light is off meaning there is no need to cycle through the brighter modes, which is a truly great feature of a great UI.
The high CRI light is a feature that I grew to love on my NU25. It’s floody, with no hotspot, very easy on dark-adjusted eyes, and it renders colors faithfully which is handy for tasks like map reading. Best of all, it comes on at a nice, easy-on-the-eyes 6 lumens but can be bumped up to 50 lumens. I can tell you from experience that the low mode is more than enough to walk a dark trail or navigate a dark room and you can do this for 147 hours!
The red light could stand to be a little dimmer to be truly useful but it is available directly from “off” which is great. The red LED also offers a flashing mode which could be useful for those who intend to use this for early morning runs where you might be using this headlamp to be visible to drivers more than to see where you are going.
Switching back to discussing the main white light, the spacing on the 60, 200, and 700 lumen modes is excellent with each offering a large step up in brightness and also balancing run times. The 200 lumen setting is perfect for most uses with a generous 9 hour runtime. The 700 lumen mode has enough punch to really look a long way up the trail while still offering 4 hours of runtime which is noteworthy in a world where most lights offer a high output mode that runs for only about an hour. This sort of well-balanced separation between modes is easy to get wrong but Nitecore nailed it.
The front portion of the NU33’s case is made from anodized aluminum. This is nice for both durability and conducting heat away from the light. The body of the light is fairly compact considering the size of the battery that it houses which makes this light easy to carry and easy to wear. I also think Nitecore has improved the bracket design versus previous lights in the NU series like the NU20 and NU25 which have somewhat fragile brackets.
Previous offerings in the NU series of lights had battery meters but they weren’t as easy to use as the improved meter found on the NU33. Now, instead of having to count dim flashes, the battery level displays on a simple four level LED readout. It is far more foolproof.
I am gushing so far but there are improvements that could be made. For instance, many of the NU series headlamps have a clever silicone rubber bead applied to the inside of the head strap. This prevents sweat from dripping down and helps the strap really lock in place. This feature is curiously missing from the NU33 and I miss it. In addition to my gripes with the red light being too bright, I find it annoying that the light flashes brightly when locking the buttons to prevent accidental activation though I do appreciate that Nitecore provides an option to lock the switches to prevent accidental activation in a pocket or pack.
I was already a fan of the NU series of headlamps and this NU33 has solidified my love of these lights. It takes everything that was great with the previous NU series lights and makes improvements to the UI, charging interface, and construction. It also offers excellent, useful modes that are well-spaced and easily accessible. Best of all, it goes hard on useful outputs with useful runtimes rather than chasing impressive lumen claims to print on the box.
This is a truly excellent headlamp that retails under $50!