PHLster has opened pre-orders for the newest addition to the ARC Enhanced WML Switch line. The TLR version is similar to the previously available X300 version in that it comes in a multi-pack with multiple switch length options for the user to choose. These are a direct, drop-in replacement for the original rocker switch.
PHLster and Sentinel Concepts are co-developing a new product, the Rail Buddy, designed to keep spare batteries for weapon mounted lights close at hand. The rail buddy will work with several battery types including the 18650s and 18350s that are driving many of today’s modern lights.
The Rail Buddy will attach via a Velcro One-Wrap strap so that it can be mounted in a variety of locations on the handguard or elsewhere. It can also be used to help with cable management for tape switches.
The battery storage compartment is currently in the prototype stage (3D printed prototype shown).
When it comes to backcountry light sources, I like redundancy but when it comes to hiking or bagging peaks, I dislike weight. Two lights are heavier than one. You can see my dilemma. Maybe you have wrestled with it too. Fortunately, I have found an ultralight, extremely useful combination of lights that keep weight to a minimum has built-in redundancy, recharges via the USB power bank I am already carrying, and won’t break the bank. In fact, this combo weighs less than most tactical flashlights.
The combo consists of two very compact and lightweight lights: the Streamlight Microstream USB which we have already reviewed and the utterly incredible Nitecore NU25. Both of these lights together weigh in at 3 ounces and the pair will set you back only about $65.
Before I get into why these lights work so well together, I’ll share a few thoughts on the Nitecore NU25 – a lightning review of sorts. This headlamp is a darling of the ultralight community and it is easy to see why. It has well balanced beam shape and plenty of output along with long-running low modes. The separate high-CRI flood beam is great for reading maps in true color and the red output is actually well-executed enough to be useful for tasks like finding your beanie in a cold tent without overwhelming your dark adjusted vision. It even has an easy to deal with lock-out function which is great for a light that will spend most of its time bumping around in your pack. It’s an incredibly functional headlamp that weighs in at just 1 ounce and costs only $35. That is, frankly, incredible.
The Streamlight Microstream and Nitecore NU25 are even better together. I use them in two situations that cover 80% of my backcountry use case. They are my go-to lights when I am NOT PLANNING on being out past dark but want to carry lights just in case and they are ideal for warm weather overnighters/multinight trips. They could be pressed into cold weather but I would prefer lights than can take lithium primary batteries for this (see this article). I have found several reasons why they work so well together:
Common Rechargeable Functionality – They are both rechargeable via micro USB. I always carry an Anker Power Bank (see the previous review) so it is easy to keep both lights up and running. When one is charging, I can use the other. No muss, no fuss.
Extreme Redundancy – These aren’t just redundant because they are both potential light sources. They take redundancy to another level due to the fact that the Microstream can stand in as a headlamp thanks to its two-way clip that allows it to be clipped to a hat brim. They can also leverage the same power source.
Extra Functionality – The NU25 is especially useful for backcountry use. It has red output for use in dark conditions where you don’t want to wreck dark adjusted vision. It has a high color rendition output for use in reading maps after dark. It can even be powered directly from your power bank which is great if you want to use it as a tent light!
Lightweight and Compact – Both lights are also extremely lightweight and compact. Lightweight is obviously nice when your pack is already full of 40 pounds of other lightweight gear. However, compactness is an often overlooked but desirable attribute in electronics. I can fit both of these lights AND the power bank in the same pocket of my shell to keep them warm in case conditions get cold above tree line. Emergency lights aren’t useful if the cold has drained their batteries.
It would be hard to find two lights that cover more bases, provide more redundancy, are more affordable, and better quality than these. They are a worthy addition to any kit.
Where to Buy
I have never been able to find either of these lights in a brick and mortar store. However, some of you may be able to find the Streamlight without much trouble. I just purchased mine on Amazon:
Do you have a gear or concept recommendation that fits the On Foot, Off Grid series? Do you have strategies for dealing with cold weather? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.
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The NU05 MI is Nitecore’s newest entry in their NU series. This indicator beacon can output visible green or IR light in four different modes: IR blinking, green blinking, IR constant, and green constant. All of the modes may be accessed via the power button. Run times are as long as 20 hours and it is USB rechargeable.
Like other NU05 versions, the NU05 MI can be attached to 1″ webbing via an integral clip. It also comes with a bracket that attaches to a helmet via hook and loop and provides additional retention for helmets with bungee straps.
Olight has launched their newest light, the Seeker 2 Pro. I own a predessor to this light, the Olight R50 Seeker Pro LE. It is one of my most used lights thanks to its broad, bright beam and ready availability from the charger. It sits charging on my kitchen counter where it is always ready. The new Seeker Pro 2 looks to be even better in terms of size, weight, available output modes, and more.
Powered by a single 21700 (5000 mAh) customized lithium rechargeable battery, the Seeker 2 delivers a maximum output of 3,000 lumens. Using three highly efficient OSRAM LEDs paired with a TIR optic lens help to provide a perfect medium and close-range illumination experience. The Seeker 2 features a large side switch, located near the head of the light, for comfortable thumb operation. The indicator built into the center of the switch clearly displays the remaining battery power with a green, orange or red color. The contoured grooves on the surface of the aluminum alloy body is designed to provide a comfortable non-slip grip. Compatible with most USB power sources, the magnetic charging cable is convenient to use, making the Seeker 2 a perfect illumination tool to be used at home, outdoors, or on duty.
- Paired with three highly efficient cool white LEDs, delivering a maximum output of 3,000 lumens and a beam distance of 220 meters.
- The contoured grooves on the surface of the aluminum alloy body is designed to provide a comfortable non-slip grip.
- Visual display indicator located on the center of the switch clearly displays the battery level in real time.
- Includes a high efficient portable magnetic charger with a faster 1A current charging speed.
- The provided 1.5mm lanyard is not only convenient and comfortable for use, but can last for a very long time.
These lights are on sale at introductory prices for as much as 40% off right now. The base model comes with a small magnetic charger but I highly recommend upgrading to one of the packages that come with a mountable “L” bracket charger. The ability to mount this light where it will be readily accessible really maximizes its usefulness.
You can check out the sale, technical specs, and all the available options at:
Foursevens has launched the first new lights in the Quark MKIII series since their acquisition by Prometheus Lights on Kickstarter. The 500 lumen Quark QK2A and 700 lumen QK16L take 2x AA and 1x 16650 batteries respectively.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Industry-leading LED: The MKIII features the newest Nichia 319A with 5000K color temperature and 80+ CRI. It’s meant to strike the perfect balance between crisp white beam quality and maximum output.
- Configurable interface: No one can agree on the best program setup so we offer 6 convenient program presets (configurations). Choose your favorite, at any time. The configurable user interface that is being standardized across the entire Foursevens line. No matter what light you pick up, you’ll know exactly how to use it.
- Burst mode: Using a very fast double press, burst mode (100%) output is directly accessible from any previous level, and reverts to the last saved mode. Experts agree that most flashlights are used at lower level outputs, but sometimes you need to dial it up. We’ve got you covered on both counts.
- More beef: For when gravity strikes, and it always does. The diameter of the entire light is *very* slightly larger to improve mechanical reliability and impact resistance because durability + reliability = longevity. Built for life.
- The best pocket clips on the market period: Pocket clips are my jam because I obsess about every detail, because every detail matters. Our new clip is made from thicker material, providing easier pocketing and improved grip. Most of the “grip” on a flashlight comes from the pocket clip, not the surface finish.
- Tailstand cap (if you know, you know.): All Quarks ship with the traditional forward (momentary) clicky switch that stands proud of the tail. For those who prefer a recessed button and a light that can tailstand, we also include the all new snap-on Quark Tailstand Cap.
- Hybrid Memory: A blend of memory and no-memory, the hybrid configuration saves the last mode used, but reverts to the first mode in the sequence when shifting out of a saved mode.
- Solid Copper (Direct Thermal) MCPCB: The LED is mounted to a solid copper PCB to provide superior thermal performance and maximum output — a first for the Quark.
You can dive deep into specs, backer rewards, and the history of the Quark line of lights on Kickstarter.
Valhalla Tactical’s Baldr System is a series of modular weapon light bodies and mounting plates with VERY broad compatibility across many of the current best weapon lights on the market.
They offer Baldr light bodies that can mate with Surefire M600 and M300 heads, Nitecore P10GT heads, and Streamlight HL-X heads. The light bodies accept either a single, protected 18350 in the case of heads that would normally be run on 6V (two cells) or a single CR123A for lights like the M300 that normally runs on a single CR123A. The advantage to these battery configurations is that the light bodies can be made extremely compact and be made to sit very near the rail while still using a battery capable of providing full output and usable runtime. All of the light bodies are designed to accept Surefire E-series/Scout series tailcaps.
There are a variety of mounts available based on the specific needs and any potential clearances that the end-user may need to accommodate. Each mount has built-in adjustability so the user can fine-tune the fit to their setup. Valhalla Tactical describes the mount options:
- Type-0: Puts the light body closest to your rail. In most cases you must place your light head in FRONT of the rail for it to clear. Good solution when rail space is limited and barrel protrudes reasonably ahead of your rail. Not optimal if muzzle is also at the end of rail – may cause interference especially with suppressor use.
- Type-1: Provides a ~10° tilt so that smaller LED heads (Surefire Scout, Nitecore P10, etc) can recess behind the end of rail. Good for ensuring unfeathered access for suppressor mounting / dismounting.
- Type-2: Same with Type-1 except provides ~15° tilt for slightly bigger LED heads such as Modlite.
- Type-4: Same with Type-1 except provides ~30° of tilt for more extreme configurations, for example recessing Streamlite HL-X heads or using Scouts with PEQ-15.
The Baldr System components are in production and available for preorder now.
PHLster released their ARC Enhanced WML Switches for the Surefire X300U series lights earlier this summer. The enhanced switches are a direct, drop-in replacement for the original switches and they provide a slight extension that makes the light easier to operate. Now they are teasing the next product in the ARC line, Enhanced WML Switches for the Streamlight TLR-1 series of lights. The TLR-1 switches are expected to be released sometime this summer.
Nightstick NS-WM1 Wire Management Clamps attach to any standard Picatinny rail and allow the user to route pressure switch cables in a variety of ways. Each side of the NS-WM1 Clamps has 2 ports that, when used together, make it possible to run wires straight through, turned back on itself 180 degrees, turn corners, and more.
These are made from glass-filled nylon and have a steel cross bolt. They come in a package of 2 clamps.
The Nitecore P18 is one of Nitecore’s newest lights in their P Series (Precise Series). It is aimed at the “tactical” market and manages to shoe-horn 1800 lumens into a surprisingly compact package. It also packs a number of interesting ideas that made me jump at the chance to review it.
The P18 is just over 4″ long and weighs in at 3.7 ounces. It utilizes a CREE XHP35 HD LED to pump out up to 1800 lumens and is powered by a single 18650 rechargeable battery (included). It comes packaged with a manual, sheath, extra o-ring, and lanyard.
This light boasts a completely silent “tactical switch” and die-cast aluminum construction, both of which really piqued my interest.
Observations from Use
I consider this light to be very ambitious with a number of forward-thinking ideas and concepts. It is VERY different in construction and operation than any light I have ever used so it should come as no surprise that some of the ideas in this light really connect and some could probably be improved.
Beam – The P18’s beam is balanced with an emphasis on flood. It has a relatively wide, defined hotspot with an ever-so-slightly donut-like hole in the middle. This “hole” is slightly noticeable on a white wall but it is so slight that you do not see it outdoors. The spill portion of the beam is wide and bright. The engineers at Nitecore appear to have successfully balanced both throw and spill. I find it excellent for all-around use.
Construction – I think the die-cast aluminum body design of this light is very successful. It is a unique shape for sure but it is a shape and construction method with some strong advantages. First, it seems to handle heat very well, staying cooler on turbo mode than other lights I have with even less output. Second, the flat-ish sides allow this light to ride in the pocket VERY comfortably and easy to index which is important given the switch configuration. The overall shape and benefits of the die-cast body are some of my favorite things about this light. I was pleasantly surprised with how much of a difference it made in the overall experience with the P18 and I hope Nitecore continues to play to with this concept with future lights.
Switches – The P18 has two switches: a small round switch on the side that controls only the red LED and a larger switch that controls all of the white light options on the tail of the light. Both switches are metal so there are no rubber boots to wear out.
The tail switch is shaped roughly like a rectangle and is located directly next to the P18’s battery cap which can make pressing the switch a little awkward unless the light is oriented in your hand correctly (which is easy to do thankfully). It is what Nitecore calls a “silent tactical switch” which means it has no feedback at all – no click and no real change in resistance. This can take some getting used to since half presses are required to move through the UI (user interface) and the line between a half and full press is minimal. I would prefer that the switch offered more feedback as I think that would make the UI a little easier to deal with. As it stands, I think that one of the things holding this light back is the main switch.
User Interface – The user interface of this light is relatively easy to move through, but, as stated above, the switch can feel like it is fighting you at times. I actually like the output spacing between modes but given the complexity, I find this better suited as an outdoor light than a tactical light.
The UI offers 5 levels of white light, 3 flashing white light modes, a red light mode, and a battery charge level indication. All modes are accessed via two switches.
The side button controls the red light and allows direct access to ultralow white light.
- Press and hold to activate the red LED.
- Press and hold to deactivate the red LED.
- Press and hold the side button and tail button to access ultralow mode directly.
- Long press (3+ seconds) to view the battery level indicator flash sequence.
The rear button controls numerous white light functions.
- Press and hold the main button to enter Turbo mode directly (after a short delay). Release to turn light off.
- Press and release to enter the last used output mode. The light remains on after release.
- Half press to enter last used mode. Release to turn light off.
- Half press to switch between output modes (including Turbo).
- Half press and hold to access Turbo mode directly. Release to return to last used output mode.
- Full press and hold for 1 second to enter the special modes (strobe/beacon/SOS).
As with most flashlight UIs, they look more complicated on paper than they really are. However, this is more complicated than I would like in a tactical light but the multiple modes and all-around useful beam shape make this handy as a camping/hiking light in my opinion. In fact, I really like it in that role. It is also important to point out that this UI has two important features: direct access to turbo and direct access to ultralow.
Battery – The P18 can be powered by 2x CR123A/RCR123 or 1x 18650 battery. It comes with a flat-top 3100 mAh 18650 cell. The light is limited to cells under 67mm in length. It can operate with longer protected 18650 cells but the tail cap will not fully close rendering the light susceptible to water ingress. The use of CR123A or RCR123 cells will remove access to the turbo mode (high mode replaces turbo for all direct-access functions). The cap will fully close on 2x CR123A cells.
Build Quality – The build appears to be very good on this light. The threads and o-ring came greased from the factory. The tail cap turns smoothly with no grittiness. The LED is well centered in a flawless reflector. There is no dust under the lens. The finish is evenly applied and attractive.
Other Observations – The pocket clip on this light is excellent. It grips the pocket well and, because of the mostly flat sides of the light, it allows the light to carry very comfortably in the pocket. It is not reversible which seems like an unfortunate oversight.
Nitecore markets this light for the “tactical” market and I think that is a miss. The switch and user interface conspire to make it just a bit too complex for that market. The switch doesn’t offer enough feedback to allow the user to work within the UI effectively. However, I find this to be an excellent light for outdoor use and I applaud a UI design that offers direct access to both the brightest and dimmest white light settings.
I was surprised at what a positive functional difference the shape and unibody, die-cast construction make. I hope that Nitecore continues to innovate this unique shape and construction method.
Nitecore provided this light, free of charge, for review.