I recently needed to find new small LED lights that had four key characteristics – reliable, acceptable brightness, decent battery life, and small size. Let me explain the reason for them:
- Reliable – to be honest, a lot of the “miracle” lights that are advertised are total pieces of crap. Everything from poor switches, low quality soldering and, believe it or not, weak springs that break down with use and no longer make reliable contact with the battery. When I need a light, I need a light.
- Acceptable Brightness – there is a trade-off between brightness and battery life. There always has been and always will be. Now LEDs have really helped push that envelope but even they have trade offs. For most use, you’d be surprised just how bright 45-100 lumens really is and the cheap lights are misrepresenting about what they put out anyways. Americans especially seem to think that brighter is better. Well, for me, I really need to figure out the balance. I’ve found that 45-100 lumens is pretty darned good for stuff within 100 feet. No scientific studies were done – I just walked outside and shined different lights around.
- Decent battery life – I needed a light where the battery would give me at least two hours of light per battery set. This magical number is based on having easy access to replacement batteries. Out in the Styx, you may find decent priced AAA batteries but not CR123As for example.
- Small Size – I need a flashlight that fits in my pocket and does not weigh a ton.
So, armed with this, I started digging around. I have no affiliation with Streamlight so when I tell you I like their stuff, I actually like their stuff. I have been using their TLR weapons lights for a number of years now and never had one fail. Armed with that, I started looking at their small lights and decided to get both the Microstream (single AAA battery) and the Stylus Pro (two AAA batteries) to try out.
Now the specs are pretty good for both. Look at the battery life relative to Lumens:
So, I installed the supplied Duracel AAA batteries and spent some time playing with both. The switches are solid, no rattles, and the light is pretty good. This is me running the lights side by side at a fence about 30 feet away. The Microstream did surprisingly well compared to the bigger light – it seems to be a tighter beam vs. more of a flood from the Stylus Pro. The Microstream is on the left and the Stylus Pro is on the right.
Bottom line, both seem like they will meet my needs. I’m going to carry the Microstream for regular use and the Stylus Pro when more light is needed for a longer time.
2/22/2018 Update: These lights have held up great. I even accidentally put one through the clothes washer without any problem -nothing happened to the finish and no water got inside! I actually have four of the little single battery Microstreams and they are pretty much my every day carry when working in the shop, travelling, etc.
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