I like having a flashlight with me at all times.
Keychain Flashlights are conveniently small, and are carried usually on a keychain or in a pocket due to their small size.
I prefer to carry mine in my pocket so it’s always with me as opposed to putting it on my keychain where I might leave it across the house.
A Keychain flashlight is usually less than 2 inches long and either very thin or of small diameter if it’s cylindrical. They usually use either coin cell batteries (like the 2016, 2025 and 2032 cells), or the popular LR44 or LR41 button cells (like hearing aid batteries). A keychain flashlight usually puts out 7-30 lumens and run times vary between 1 and 8 hours.
While a keychain flashlight isn’t something that you’d want to replace your tactical flashlight with, it is something that is really convenient at night navigating around the house, in the attic or garage.
I often pull out the flashlight when doing my “rounds”, checking on the kids at night before going to bed or searching the boxes in the attic every now and then. The flashlights have also been used for doing emergency repairs to the car bumper at night on the way home from the grandparents house, as “pumpkin lights” during Halloween, and just in general when I’ve wished for more light in the immediate work area.
For purposes of this article, we’re restricting “keychain flashlights” to those that use common button or coin cell batteries that you can get pretty easily at a drugstore or grocery store, or have an internal rechargeable batteryPLUS it must have either a keychain clip or a place to put a keychain split loop into.
Nite Ize iNOVA MicroLight STS
This Nite Ize Inova Microlight STS has been in my pocket carry for over a year now, and was preceded by the Inova BB-W 2x 2016 cell light. It features a “swipe” on/off to toggle through three modes: high, low and strobe. It also offers a infinitely variable brightness mode. The infinite mode allows you to choose the brightness by keeping your thumb on the swipe area to raise and lower the brightness of the light.
It’s very slim size makes it perfect for your fifth pocket and since there’s no button to accidentally press, the light stays off unless you really mean to turn it on. The older BB-W light could be switched on by pressure on it, and it’d often get turned on in my pocket when I was carrying change or other things and I accidentally put pressure on it.
My only complaint is that you need to also have a very small phillips head screwdriver to unscrew two screws on the back to change the batteries. The older BB-W didn’t need any tools to change batteries. I actually preferred that one, but it took two slightly less common and more expensive 2016 coin cell batteries.
The Microlight STS has an overall 9 hours of runtime on high (16 lumens) and 64 hours on low (2 lumens). It runs on two 2032 cells (100 count pack – $29). It comes with a keychain “S” clip as well, but it’s rather flimsy, so I just took it off. It usually sits in my fifth pocket, so many times, I forget that it’s there.
- Features dual electrode capacitive sensing technology, which is officially called “Swipe-To-Shine”
- Four Functions – High Power, Variable Dim, Low Power, and Strobe
- LED Color: White
- Lumens: High – 16 | Low – 2
- Run Time: High 9 hours | Low 64 hours
- Battery Type: 2x 2032 Lithium batteries included
- 2032 Batteries are replaceable – 100ct – $29
- Thumb grip pad for non-slip control
- Temperature Operation Range: From -4 degrees F to +104 degrees F
- Versatile S-Biner Stainless Steel Double Gated Carabiner Clip
- Limited Lifetime Warranty USA
- Dimensions: 3.18″ x 1.09″ x 0.43″
- Weight: 0.53oz
The Nitecore Tube is a rechargeable keychain light offering a very nice 45 lumens in a small slim form factor like the MicroLight STS above. It’s outperforms both the MicroLight STS and BB-W in nearly every aspect other than not having replaceable batteries. I don’t generally carry this one on my person for a couple reasons:
- It has a push button on/off switch which accidentally can be turned on when something else presses against it.
- You can’t change the batteries – It has to recharge. There’s no carrying spare cells unless you carry a portable battery pack
The second reason is the bigger reason this isn’t the light I carry. I usually have an extra two coin cells on me or in the pouch so I can change the batteries and be up and running again with fresh light in moments.
The Nightcore Tube sits in my EDC pouch as a secondary backup, however, and I do like it a lot. It’s just that having to wait for the light to recharge, especially if you’re in the dark would really suck, and for me, I’m not willing to make that my first personal light source.
The tube has four modes: Low (2 lumens – 48hrs), High (45 lumens – 1 hour), Momentary on @ 45 lumens, infinitely variable brightness.
Like the STS above, you just hold the power button down to adjust the brightness up and down to where you want.
Personally speaking, between the two, the Nite-Ize MicroLight STS outperforms the Nitecore Tube:
- No accidental turn-ons that can drain the batteries
- replaceable batteries as opposed to waiting for a recharge
- Longer low light runtime
The one thing that the Nitecore Tube does have is a lot more light. I really enjoyed using the Tube for that reason. Too bad it only lasts an hour as opposed to the 9 hours the STS lasts.
- High performance LED produces 45 lumens on high
- Built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery provides a runtime of up to 48 hours on low
- Integrated intelligent Li-ion battery charging circuit (micro USB charging port)
- Single multi-stage switch offers access to all functions via one-handed control
- Features 2 brightness levels and infinitely variable output modes
- Features extremely wide 100 degrees flawless beam to light up peripheral vision
- Constructed from durable Polycarbonate materials
- Dual metal key ring connector withstands up to 35 kg
- Impact resistant to 1.5 meters
- Extremely lightweight, compact and portable
- Size (L x W x H): 2.2 x 0.83 x 0.31 inches
- Weight: 0.35oz
The MecArmy SGN3 could be summed up as a Nitecore Tube on steroids. While it also is a rechargeable light, the SGN3 produces a surprising 160 lumens. There are three main modes to the light. When you first turn it on, it goes into medium mode, which is about 50 lumens (3hrs). Click the button a second time and it goes into low power mode, some where around 5 lumens (13hrs), and a third press will give you the maximum 160 lumens (1hr).
It gets better. If you hold down the power button, it first switches to the UV LED, then if you hold it down again, it switches to a red led which won’t hurt the night vision.
Finally, the red LED has a strobe mode which I think is pretty much useless as it’s a low power LED. I’d prefer to see the strobe mode work on the main LED flashing at the 160 lumen level.
The light is powered by a single non-removable rechargeable 280mAh lithium cell that recharges by a standard USB to mini USB cable (included). It takes roughly 60 minutes to charge from a fully dead battery, and 45 minutes from one that just dimmed out.
The body is a die cast alloy, unlike the tube’s plastic housing, and rather than just being water resistant like the Tube, the SGN3 is fully water proof down to 1 meter for 60 minutes (provided the seals are intact). also, unlike the Tube, it has a real CREE XP-G2 LED capable of higher outputs.
The only big drawback when comparing to the Nitecore Tube is the price. Where the tube comes in at $10, the MecArmy SGN3 is priced around $45.
- Unique USB shaped keychain mini light for you to take on the go
- Recharges in any USB output devices such as PCs or USB adapters
- Utilizes CREE XP-G2 LED with 160Lm strong output
- Five output modes: High | Medium | Low (White light) – UV – On | Strobe (red light)
- Small but powerful, designed for everyday carry
- Black, brown, grey and green four colors available
- Luminous Flux: 160Lm
- Product size (L x W x H): 2.323 x 0.906 x 0.394 inches
- Weight: 1.38oz
The Streamlight Keymate is another favorite of mine. It runs on four LR41 button cells (100 count LR41 cells – $5) and is a very compact cylindrical flashlight that fits just about anywhere. The Keymate offers 10 lumens for 8 hours or 1 lumen for about 75 hours runtime. I have one of these in each of my EDC pouches/bags, in the car and in the desk at work. I almost never carry these in my pocket, but wouldn’t hesitate to use them if needed.
The light is pretty water resistant, and features an O-ring to help with keeping the water out. These are the lights I originally picked up to put in the pumpkins for Halloween due to their long runtimes. There is also a pocket / hat clip on this tiny light, making it perfect for “look mom, no hands” use.
- Reflector optics deliver up to 400% more lighting range than traditional penlights
- Easily attaches/detaches to just about anything with convenient pocket clip or key ring
- Up to 96 hrs. run time
- Versatile powder-coated spring steel pocket clip
- Weatherproof – O-ring sealed
- Rotary head switch. Little chance you’ll accidentally turn it on
- Super-bright 100,000-hour lifetime high-intensity LED with reflector optics
- Virtually unbreakable machined aircraft aluminum
- Run time: up to 96 hours
- Lifetime warranty
- LED flashlight available in white (10 lumens), blue (.7 lumens), or green (2.6 lumens)
Streamlight 73001 Nano
Much like the Keymate, the Nano is a very small pocket or EDC Pouch flashlight. Also runs on 4x LR41 cells offering 10 lumens for about 8 hours, but does not have additional modes other than on and off. It’s even smaller than the keymate and is perfect for use in Altoid box mini survival kits. I packed one of these in each of my kid’s backpacks in case they ever would need light somewhere, like at sleepovers and school camp trips.
- 5mm white LED
- Shockproof bulb
- 100,000 hrs. bulb life
- 10 lumens
- Parabolic-shaped bulb area
- Rotating on/off head switch
- Machined aircraft aluminum housing
- Non-rotating snap hook
- 1.47″ long
- Includes batteries
- Up to 8 hrs. run time
Generic LR44 LED Keychain Flashlight
If you’re looking for something cheap that you can buy in quantity, the LR44 LED Keychain Light is the way to go. Coming in around $1.50 a peice from Gearbest, the flashlight has just an on/off mode, and keychain clasp (pretty flimsy, though). The product specs say it’s a 70 lumen light, but in reality,it’s more like a 15-20 lumen light.
It’s a cheap flashlight, so don’t get your hopes up. Fact is that the light is worth purchasing for the three LR44 batteries on their own. We bought 10 of these, and two came with dead batteries. Don’t expect to get much from the manufacturer. The light was only $1.50, so they’re really not going to care.
- Super mini size: 20g weight only and 53 x 17mm size. Perfect quick lighting on the go
- Easy to attach it to your keychain
- Utilizes super bright LED, max output up to 70 Lumens
- Powered by 3 x LR44 button battery (included)
- High strength aluminum alloy prevents the flashlight from scratches, abrasions and corrosions
- Great gadget for night walking, corridor lighting, finding things in a narrow space or EDC, outdoor sports, night riding, camping etc.
Yitee 6LED USB Light
If you carry a portable phone charger that has USB ports, then consider getting the Yitee 6LED USB Light. It’s like having six iPhone LEDs on one strip. While it doesn’t come with a lumen rating, it is comparable to a 60 or 70 lumen light. Runtime will vary with the phone charger power output. Using a 2200mAh “PocketJuice” Charger, the 6LEDs will burn at full power for about eight hours. The light has USB contacts on both sides allowing you to insert the light on either side.
The Light has a touch panel on the back that when touched and held, will vary the brightness anywhere between 2 and the estimated 60-70 lumens. Tap once to turn on, and tap again to turn off otherwise.
The USB Lights come in a 5pack, so if you have two or more ports in your charger, or multiple chargers, you can use more than one light.
Beam throw is about 20-30 feet depending on the level of ambiant light.
- Mini USB Light Keychain Pure White with 6 orginal LG LED Encapsulation
- With Smart Touch Electrodeless Dimming Switch. Double USB design,Both of Sides Can be Used as Plug
- PCB Materials : Metal, Plastic, Electronic Parts.High Quality Ultra-thin Portable USB light Reading light Keyboard LED Light
- Using liquid crystal display backlight LED lamp bead ultrathin, super light, super long does not hurt the eyes
- Package include:5pcs 6-LEDs Pure White Mini USB LED Lights.Please note that this USB light is very bright and will generate little heating after working for long time, it’s normal.Just take care when you touch it off.
- 1W 5V power, low consumption.
- Small size, easy to carry and convenient to use.
- Double-sided USB design, both of sides can be used as plug.
- Compatible with all standard USB device, power bank, mobile charger, computer or laptop.