Tag Archives | Streamlight

On Foot, Off Grid: Ultralight Lighting Combo

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.

Nitecore NU25 shown with a legacy headlamp. We’ve come a long way.

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:

Nitecore NU25 Headlamp on Amazon

Streamlight Microstream USB 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.

The above URLs may be affiliate links.

Review: Streamlight Microstream USB

I’ll spoil this review right up front. I really, really like my Streamlight Microstream USB.

Overview

The Microstream USB is an extremely compact LED light. It features a tail switch, a two way pocket clip (that is removable and replaceable), and two output settings (250 lumens for 1.5 hours and 50 lumens for 3.5 hours). This light is USB rechargable via a USB-C cord (included). It is less than 4″ long, barely wider than a AAA battery, and weighs a little more than 1 ounce.

The Microstream USB is available in a number of anodized colors but I recommend the FDE version because it is the only one that gives you the high output mode on the first click. The other colors (Black, Blue, Red) activate the 50 lumen mode on the first click.

Observations from Use

I normally prefer single output lights for EDC but the Microstream USB gets a pass. Streamlight designed it so that you could only access the 50 lumen low mode with a very fast double click. You can execute typical low light techniques without ever dropping into the 50 lumen mode. The user interface is dead simple and well designed.

The power to weight ratio on this light is incredible. It is so small and so lightweight that you will never leave it at home. It still has large light features like 250 lumen output and a tail switch in spite of that small size.

I typically carry a USB backup battery both at the office and on the trail. That makes it easy to keep this light up and running no matter where I am.

The light is recharged by sliding the bezel up to reveal the USB-C port and a small charge indicating LED (red for charging, green for charged). This sliding collar is o-ring sealed and it seams to do a good job given that my light has been through the wash with no ill effects. Still, this is the source of my major criticism of the light. I wish that this was sliding collar was threaded so that it had to be screwed down over the o-ring. This would make it even less likely to have water ingress. As it stands now, the user will have to keep a sharp eye on the o-ring to ensure that it is in good shape.

Wrap Up

This light is a tiny power house. I have larger lights with more output that I can can carry but this light is so small, lightweight, useful, and cheap to operate that I often carry it as a backup or even my primary light. It’s affordable too (less than $30)!

Have I said that I really, really like this light?

I had trouble finding the FDE anodized version when I bought mine last year. Now they are much easier to find. I purchased mine at Amazon who happened to be one the only places that had them in stock at the time: Streamlight Microstream USB on Amazon

Review: Streamlight TLR-7

Streamlight’s TLR-7 is their first entry into the compact, EDC weapon light market that has come about recently. Most of the lights in this space are giving up something in terms of output, runtime, and ergonomics to their full size counterparts. The best lights try to balance all of these factors. How well does the TLR-7 balance all of these considerations? Let’s dig in.

Specs:

  • Weight: 2.41 ounces
  • Length: 2.1″
  • Width: 1.2″
  • Output: 500 lumens
  • Runtime: 1.5 hours
  • Battery: 1x CR123A

Observations from Use

I will say up front that I really like this light with one caveat. Unfortunately, that caveat may be a big one for some shooters.The TLR-7 is the right kind of compact. It is built around a single CR123A battery and closely matches the width of many popular modern handguns. It isn’t just easy to carry. It’s very comfortable to carry. By matching the width of most handguns, Streamlight has made a light that can actually make your handgun MORE comfortable to carry. The holsters for this light, with something like a Glock, are often very flat and slab-like which seems to reduce hot spots… for me at least.

The output (500 lumens) and runtime (1.5 hours) are great and Streamlight nailed the beam shape. Some compact weapon lights have beams that are obviously very slanted toward illuminating objects at close range. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but Streamlight has developed a very balanced beam pattern for the TLR-7 that offers a broad and bright hotspot with a generous spill beam. It is a great compromise between an “across the room” beam and an “across the parking garage” beam.

The TLR-7’s mounting system is solid, low profile, and adaptable. It comes with a variety of cross bars to accommodate just about any handgun. The locking disk can be turned with a flat blade screwdriver or an improvised item like a coin.

I especially like the lockout bezel feature on the TLR-7. Most light makers just tell you to back the bezel off the light in order to prevent accidental activation during storage or transport. Streamlight actually installed a tactile detent on the TLR-7 so you can feel when you hit the lock out point and the bezel is then less likely to back itself off any further during transport.

And now for the caveat… Streamlight designed this light to be compact and as you might expect, it’s activation paddles are also compact. Unfortunately, some users will find them too compact and difficult to reach. I lock the support hand wrist which places my thumb forward and high. Reaching the paddles and pushing them forward is not difficult for me with my medium sized hands… but it definitely isn’t as easy as a full sized weapon light. If your hands are smaller or your grip places your thumb further back on the grip, you may have difficulty operating this light.

I strongly recommend getting your hands on one these lights before you buy to ensure that it will work for you. If it does, I think you will be really pleased with it. I have just over 1200 rounds through my G19 with this light mounted with about 450 of those while actively testing the light. The light is working like second-nature to me with minimal adjustment to my grip but it is easy to for me to see how this might not ever work for some people.

Wrap Up

The TLR-7 offers a LOT of performance for a compact weapon light. The output and beam shape are excellent. The lock out feature is well executed and clever. If your grip and hand size will accommodate this light, I think it is a fine choice.

Streamlight.com

The EDC Tool Roll: Streamlight Bandit Headlamp

The EDC Tool Roll is a feature on Jerking the Trigger in which we profile various every day carry worthy tools. The tools shown aren’t multi-tools but rather real tools, that by virtue of their compact size, light weight, usefulness, or unique functionality, can find a place in any range kit, emergency kit, or every day carry bag.

Feel free to comment on the tools that you carry so we can all learn! The discussion on these posts has been very valuable so far.


I don’t know about where you live, but my official sunset time is already before 4PM and it is going to be that way for a long time. I also live in a very rural location so when the sun sets, it gets DARK. That means I put a lot of miles on flashlights, work lights, and especially head lamps. I’ve come to realize that the beam profile I need while working is different the beam profile I need when I am on the trail. When it come to work, I need a beam that is broad and bright – basically a wall of light that covers everything with light at arms length from one edge of my vision to the other. That is exactly what the Streamlight Bandit provides… and it does it with style and a great price.

The Bandit might be the ultimate pocketable work light. It is compact enough to fit in The EDC Tool Roll and light weight enough in weight to wear for hours (1.3 ounces!). It has a polycarbonate body with a removeable bracket that serves as both an attachment point for the head strap and a clip for attaching the Bandit to the brim of a cap, lip of a pocket, some helmets or even just free standing on the ground or other surface.

It is USB rechargable which is incredible for someone who uses their headlamp as much as I do. This light contains sealed 450-mAh lithium polymer battery that provides 2 hours of runtime at 180 lumens or 9+ hours at 35 lumens. There is also a blinking mode which I never use.

The user interface is simple enough. There is one button. Push it once for low and again within a couple of seconds for high, then blink. After a few seconds, the next click turns off the light. The button is pronounced enough that it can be operated with gloves on.

There are a few factors that make this the best tool light I have right now and the reason it is being included in The EDC Tool Roll series. I have already mentioned that it is very light weight and very compact. That makes it easy to carry. The simple interface makes it easy to use and the USB rechargable feature makes it easy to keep up and running. It also happens to be EXTREMELY affordable – like buy two of them, impulse buy affordable –  at less than $16 each including shipping.

But, when it comes to use as a work light, the real story here is the beam… the glorious blast radius of lumens. The Bandit uses a COB LED which is basically a broad, flat, light emitting plate. There is no lens or reflector. You have no hotspot, just smooth even light for almost 180 degrees. This means I can see every little button, knob, and gauge in the open, unlit cabin of our tractors when I am blowing snow after dark (which really tests the water and cold resistance of a light). It means I can light up an entire room or everything at my feet while walking instead of just a narrow circle. It means I work up close on equipment with the light on high without having a blinding hotspot and without having to constantly adjust the angle of the light. Of course, that broad beam comes at the cost of throw, but you can’t have it all.

So far the Bandit seems to be quite tough and, based on past experience, I am confident that Streamlight will take care of me if something goes wrong. Given their customer service and the low cost of this light, I’m not afraid to use it like a tool. In fact, the low cost has me thinking of buying a second one so I always have one to use while the other is charging.

Where to Buy:

I bought mine on Amazon because they usually have a great price on the bright yellow version of the Bandit. I think I paid a little bit more than the sub $16 price they are charging as of the time of this writing: Streamlight Bandit on Amazon

Previously Reviewed Alternatives:

Nebo Tools Work Lights


See all the reviews for previous tools: The EDC Tool Roll

Do you have a pocketable work light that you prefer or another tool recommendation that fits The EDC Tool Roll? Tell us about it in the comments below or drop us a line on the Contact page.

The above URLs may be affiliate links.

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