From department store aisles to free giveaways, cheap keychain lights are ubiquitous. But who says cheap has to be bad? Certainly not the folks at Streamlight, who’ve been kind enough to send me an example of their popular Nano Keychain Flashlight. So far, its brightness and budget friendly nature have outshined all expectations.
With a length just under 1.5-inches, the Streamlight Nano represents the ideal size in keychain flashlights – Large enough to grip but small enough to disappear into the pocket. At the head of the light lies its 5-milimeter LED, set back within the flared portion of its 0.5-inch girth. Though this deeply recessed setting should protect the bulb from the jagged edges of our keys, we would have liked to see a small cover or guard of some sort.
The Nano is otherwise excellently constructed, despite its diminutive size. The 0.36-ounce chassis is composed of machined aircraft aluminum with an anodized finish and clear branding along the tail. The included clip features a strong spring with solid closure.
Streamlight appears to have put significant thought into the Nano’s ergonomics. The elongated bell design is easy to find with fingers alone, allowing users to locate and activate the device even in complete darkness. The textured notches cut into the activator portion are another welcome detail.
4.5 stars out of 5
It doesn’t get much simpler than the Nano. Twist the activator, and you’ve got 10 lumens of LED light flowing from your keychain. Deactivation is as easy as a turn in the opposite direction. No strobe, no multiple modes, just a helpful amount of light that can clip to whatever you happen to be carrying. Battery life is advertised at eight hours, with “declining usable output.” We assume this means the light gets dimmer as the four included IEC-LR41 coin cells deplete.
The most popular complaint about the Nano seems to lie in the cap. Several Amazon reviewers mention that it has a tendency to fall off at inopportune times, spilling its four batteries all over the ground. We didn’t find this to be an issue. The Nano takes approximately five full turns to go from completely tight (and activated) to detached. If you leave the head mostly unscrewed, we can see how it might pop out of place. But so long as users leave the forward portion a twist or two from activation (And why wouldn’t you?), the rugged threads should keep the batteries where they belong.
5 stars out of 5
The Streamlight Nano has become one of the most utilized tools in my EDC setup. While the ThruNite Ti3 remains my primary flashlight, the Nano’s presence on my keychain has proven invaluable. This utility really shines in those early morning and late night bathroom breaks for the family dog. While using the Ti3 for these occasions, I’ve accidentally left my keys behind and locked myself outside. Since acquiring the Nano, I’ve switched to simply grabbing my keychain instead. This has saved time, embarrassment, and locksmith fees more times than I’d care to admit.
It should also be noted that Streamlight offers a limited lifetime warranty on the Nano. That’s a pretty big vote of confidence for a product costing less than $10.
4.5 stars out of 5
Speaking of cost, here’s where things start to get weird. The Nano itself is cheap, usually around $8 online or $10 in retail shops. Sounds great, right? Take a look at replacement batteries, though. As of this writing, four IEC-LR41 coin cells literally cost more than the flashlight itself.
So, as great of a deal as the Nano represents, the cost of upkeep represents a bit of a sticking point. Still, our fondness for its simple design and quality construction will likely result in us shelling out the extra cash.
3 stars out of 5
Where to Buy
Amazon (Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars over 2,975 user reviews as of 3/2/17)