Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: Olight S1R Baton EDC Flashlight

I'll admit, I've never been a big fan of Olight's S series LED flashlights. I've always loved the concept, but the first few generations of the S series came up short for me. I bought one of the first S1A models in Titanium and loved it, until I realized it turned on just from being in my pocket. My next was an S30 which had the opposite problem: The switch was inset too much and I'd have trouble finding the switch in the dark.

But Olight has been evolving the designs for the whole series: changing the reflectors, switches, and even adding a USB rechargeable tail. So I'm happy to take a look at this latest generation Olight S1R Baton they provided me for review. I noticed it also comes in copper and titanium, though they don't seem to come in the rechargeable R version.

Olight S1R Baton - Product Image

Product Description

The Olight S1R is a CR123 style flashlight which features a Cree XM-L2 LED emitter, and alectronic switch, and a built in charging base with included USB charging cable. It's extremely compact and sports 6 different modes. This is the cool white version.

Olight S1R Baton - EDC Friends

Olight S1R Baton - With H1R

Official Specs (From Olight)

Cree XM-L2 LED
-The flashlight can be charged through the magnetic contact charging port (other batteries may also be used in the S1R, but cannot be charged)
-New 750mA portable USB charging cable
-Six output modes: 900 Lumens ~ .5 Minutes, 600 Lumens ~ 55min 300 Lumens ~ 60 Minutes, 60 Lumens ~ 4.5 Hours, 12 Lumens ~ 33 Hours, .5 Lumens ~ 15 Days
-Flat magnetic tailcap that allows it to be secured to ferrous metal surfaces as a hands-free option
-Lockout mode can be activated on the side switch for accidental triggering protection, along with a low-voltage indicator underneath
-Reverse polarity protection circuits
-Timer Setting: Short (3 minutes) and long (9 minutes)
-The standby current is below 30uA


Length: 2.6in / 64mm
Bezel Diameter: 0.83in / 21mm
Body Diameter: 0.78in / 20mm
Weight: 1.27oz / 36g (excluding batteries)
POWER SOURCE: 1 x 550mAh 3.7V 5C RCR123A (1 x CR123A Optional non rechargeable)

WARRANTY : 5 Year warranty

Included Accessories: 550mAh RCR123A rechargeable Li-ion battery, Lanyard, User Manual, MCC Magnetic Charging Cable , Sheath

First Impressions

Olight S1R Baton - Product View 1

Olight S1R Baton - Product View 2

Olight S1R Baton - Product View 3

Olight S1R Baton - Product View 4

Olight S1R Baton - Product View 5

Olight S1R Baton - Product View 6

It seems like they solved most of the issues that I've always had with the S series. My biggest issue with this series has always been the switch. I love electronic switches, but they are very hard to get right on a flashlight. Especially for a model that's designed to go in your pocket.

This latest generation has a slightly inset switch but with a little rubber boot covering it, so it's much easier to find by feel in the dark. It's still not perfect, but it's as close as I've seen on a side mounted electronic switch. Feeling around for the switch in the dark, my thumb kind of sticks to the rubber boot, making it easy to know I've found the switch. I've always mounted the clip on the opposite side of the switch, which makes it even easier to find it quickly in the dark.

Which leads me to the clip. I'm not a big fan of snap-on type clips. It's the main reason I stopped carrying the S30: the clip would pop off always at the worst time, and it was usually very annoying.

So, the clip on this sample seems much tighter, which is what I was expecting after reviewing a couple of their new headlamps, which is basically this same form factor. In a perfect world I would like this type of clip better, because it's reversible. From what I can tell so far, the clip looks like a huge improvement!

The evolution of the series is apparent in most other aspects of the light. It's got the rechargeable tail cap, which I like much better now that it's just a charging cable and not a base station. The anodized blue accents are nice, too. With earlier generations it looked like they were trying to make a cheap light look higher end, but taken with the other improvements, it finally gives me that impression.

One thing I noticed right out of the box is the odd reflector and lens. I'm not even sure what to call it. Maybe a "TIR hybrid"? Flashlights with this form factor aren't made for "throw," i.e. seeing objects at at large distances. The best I can tell, this odd design is meant to squeeze every last bit out output from the light, which it seems to.

Overall, I have a very good first impression of this review sample S1R.

Build Quality

Olight S1R Baton - ReflectorOlight S1R Baton - Tail

Overall, good. Earlier generations of their S series were decent flashlights, but they always seemed a little on the cheap side for me, even the high end titanium models. And it wasn't any one thing, either. The series had a bunch of little things that all took away from the overall impression of quality.

But now here we are in 2017, and they have been making this series for several years. And now, looking at an obviously improved product, it's not any one thing that gives me the impression of quality.

Other than their thin anodizing I always pick on, I can't find much to pick on about the build quality. The plating on the contacts of the tail cap looks a little thin. I plan on recharging it using the charging cable, so it's a non-issue for me since I'll never be taking off the cap. I guess if you use CR123A cells and change them every day, it might be an issue.

All the stuff I look for is there. The machining is spot-on, even down to the square threads for the tail cap. Cheap clips are a real pet peeve of mine, and I'm happy to report that this one seems much higher quality than previous generations.

The switch has a great, solid feel. The lens / reflector setup looks well built, though it is acrylic and not glass. One pet peeve of mine is low frequency PWM. This model uses high frequency PWM on most modes, though it does run constant current on moonlight mode.

From what I can tell, Olight listened to its customers and stepped up its game.

Fit and Finish

Overall, good. The anodizing on their S series (headlamps as well) has always seemed to be a little thin. At this price point it should really pop. Same with the blue anodized accents.

The knurling is well-machined, but a little too smooth on the tail cap. You could make the argument that sharper knurling wears your pocket out, and that the tail cap doesn't need to be taken off with a rechargeable base, but I still wish the knurling was a little sharper.

Other than that, the fit and finish is basically immaculate. The look, feel and finish of the switch seems like a big step up from earlier generations. The clip is as tight as I've ever seen on a snap-on clip.The stenciling and knurling are precise, and all the anodizing is nice and uniform.

The LED is machine centered, though the reflector does seem to have a small aberration which doesn't affect the beam or output.

User Interface / Modes

The S1R has 6 modes, 3 of which are "hidden" modes: moonlight, low, medium, high, turbo, and strobe.

Normal use: Single click the switch to turn the light on and off, and hold the switch down to cycle through low, medium and high, in that order.

Moonlight mode: With the light off, press and hold the button, and the light will come on in moonlight mode.

Turbo: Double click the switch at any time and the light will come on in turbo mode, whether the light is on or off when you start. The light will stay in turbo until the circuitry decides to kick it down to high mode, based on the voltage of the battery and heat.

Strobe: Triple click the switch at any time an the light will switch to strobe mode. I'm not a huge fan of these "disco modes" but it's tucked out of the way, and it's fun to impress your friends with.

The mode spacing is pretty good on this light. I especially look for moonlight and low modes to be as low as possible, since I usually either need a small amount of light or I just triple click to turbo.


The output of this model on Turbo is fantastic. I don't use a light sphere to measure output, but I have lots of CRxxx sized lights to compare it to, and it's the reigning output champ of my collection. So, I have no reason to doubt any of the specs.


The beam on the S1R is almost pure flood, due to it's odd reflector setup. This is a light meant for closeup EDC style tasks. It has a nice, smooth beam pattern for having such a shallow reflector, due to what I can only think to call a "stippled hybrid TIR reflector" design. It's an odd design, but it works well.


Olight shipped me a cool white version because they were short on stock for the neutral white version I requested. For cool white models my pet peeve is lights that have an icky blue-ish or green-ish tinge. This sample has what I would call a true cool white tint, probably due to the high frequency PWM. It's pretty good for a cool white.

The photos below are a comparison between the cool white and neutral white versions of the H1R, but my S1R has the exact tint as the cool white H1R so these photos are a good comparison for tint.

Detachable Clip

This model uses a snap-on type clip. I seriously didn't like the clip designs on the older Olight models because the clip detached too easily when I'd carry them around in my pocket. I've noticed that the newer models have beefier clips which fit much tighter. It's still not my favorite style of clip, but it's performed well for me so far.

Electronic Switch

Anyone who knows my reviews knows that I'm a huge fan of electronic switches. I'm pretty hard on my gear, and while mechanical switches have a great feel, they just don't seem to last very long with heavy use. In fact, I think the only light I still have with a mechanical switch that I've used for any period of time and is still alive, is my trusty V11R.

The electronic switch on the S1R is well designed and well implemented. It's still not ideal finding the side switch like this by feel in the dark, but I keep the clip rotated to where the switch is on the opposite side, so I can pick it up in the dark and turn the light on without fumbling for the switch.


This model uses high frequency PWM on most of its modes except moonlight mode. While I don't really like PWM in general because it's less efficient, many manufacturers use it to improve the tint of the beam. I only use constant-current lights for survival bags, because I want every minute of run time in an emergency, but for EDC it's fine, because I can just hook it to the charger if it goes dead while looking inside a cupboard. Moonlight mode uses constant current which is good.

Built-In Charger

All the "R" series from Olight contain a built in charger in the base, with a USB connector that attaches to the flashlight with a magnet. I didn't get a chance to test the charging much with the H1R review, but I put this one through its paces, and it performs well.

For my test, I used the light until the battery was dead, then connected the charger through a USB meter, which measures the charge rate as well as the voltage. Both are where I'd expect them to be, and it actually is a little aggressive with the charge rate, which I like. Most USB chargers charge in the range of 500 mAh, so it's nice to see this one bump it up a little.

The charger cable has a little colored LED that shows red for charging and green for fully charged, which is also nice.

Olight S1R Baton - Charge Test 1
The numbers are right on

Olight S1R Baton - Charge Test 2
The included rechargeable battery is a nice touch


Olight S1R Baton - Magnetic Base
I keep mine on attached to the range hood above my stove

Olight S1R Baton - In Hand
This is a very compact flashlight

I've been super busy lately, but one of the benefits of taking so long to do a review is that I have spent lots of time with this flashlight. I keep the H1R and the S1R both connected to the range hood above my stove to make them easy to grab when I need them. It's a great setup but I knock one of them off almost every day and it bounces off the metal stove, sometimes when I'm cooking.

So, durability over time, check. My S1R has several nicks from being dropped repeatedly, but nothing concerning.

One thing I noticed with the S1R over the H1R is that the S1R stays in turbo mode much longer than its cousin before it steps down to high mode, though it does get a little warm.

This S1R has been my go-to EDC light for 2 months, I still can't decide whether I like the S1R or the H1R better. The H1R has a switch that's easier to find by feel because it's on the top of the light, but the S1R has better output and a longer lasting turbo mode.


This is about as close to perfection as I've seen for an EDC flashlight. When I lived in a very rural area, these types of CR123A lights didn't have quite the run time I needed. But in a city or the suburbs this is pretty much my favorite form factor for EDC, with the 2xAAA form factor a close second. But the power-to-weight ratio I think is a little better for CR123A. Sometimes I carry my 2xAAA Lumintop IY365 just because those pen light type lights are slimmer in my jeans pocket. If I'm wearing a jacket or cargo pants, this S1R is always in my pocket, and I'm happy to recommend it to others. It's taken a couple drops where I thought "there's no way it survived" and it's held up well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: SANSI Warm White 15W Light Bulb & SANSI 30W Cool White LED Light Bulb

The early days of LED technology saw it mainly used only for advanced scientific applications and by garage-engineer hobbyists. When I was growing up in the 70s, my friend's dad was an engineer for Motorola, so my nerdy friends and I had access to drawers full of them. Most people saw them as toys back then. Back then, most of the light bulbs in any given house had GE or Philips logos on them.

Fast forward to 2017, and LED technology has fairly recently advanced to the point where it can replace traditional lighting. There's been an explosion of new LED companies, and LOFTEK is one of those companies. I had never heard of them before they sent me an outdoor multi-colored LED flood light, which still sits outside my brother's brewery, usually showing green if the bar is open, and red if it's not. LOFTEK supplied me with these two lights as well, the SANSI 15W warm white and the 30W cool white.

Modern LED light bulbs should be considered as basically just disposable flashlights, since there's nothing user-serviceable inside. They mostly use the same type of LED emitters that were perfected by flashlights, and similar circuitry as well. So it's all the same components of a flashlight.

Official Specs (30W Version)

  • Super Bright – 3000lm, E26 holder, 30W LED Bulb equivalents to 250W incandescent bulb. These gorgeous LED bulbs provide bright lighting for your dark garage, making the night as bright as day.
  • Energy Efficient – These 30-watt LED lights can help you save hundreds over the lifetime of the bulb. Comparing to traditional light bulb, under the same brightness you could save nearly 240 Kilowatts in one year with 3 hours of use each night.
  • Good Quality – SANSI LED Bulb adopts patented technology---the ceramic heat dissipation technology, by which lighting security and cooling efficiency are greatly improved.
  • Wide Applications –Great for garage, warehouse, barn, garden, office, shopping mall, supermarket, station, restaurant, hotel, workshop etc., indoor anywhere need bright light.
  • What You Get – SANSI 6500K LED Bulb, our fan-favorite 5 years warranty and friendly customer service.

Official Specs (15W Version)

  • Save up to 88% ($200) in energy savings compared to a 150W equivalent light bulb.
  • Compare our light! At 133 lumens per watt, we have the highest rated lumen/watt ratio versus all other LED light bulbs using our ceramic technology. Ceramic dissipates heat more efficiently versus older aluminum LED technology.
  • Energy Star Certified, UL Listed, Dimmable, No Flicker, Standard E26 Base, Traditional A19 sized bulb.
  • Ceramic vs. Aluminum: Our LED chips are mounted directly to the ceramic making each chip PC board and adhesive free. Aluminum requires a bigger bulb base than the A19 and produces less lumens per watt.
  • 30,000 Hours Lifetime, Omni-Directional 270° Beam Angle.

Initial Impressions

The 30W (cool white) bulb came with a built-in diffuser, just as I would expect. At that output level it could blind you in any clinical definition if you stare directly into the LED. The downside to a hermetically sealed diffuser is that I can't see the way the individual LED emitters are mounted to get a feel of its quality. But it looks pretty solid, and it's heavy like the 15W version.

The 15W (warm white) bulb really interested me, because it's something I plan on using every day, which is the best way I can test it. This is their warm white version that I specifically asked for. LED lights don't have to look like the sickly blue of decades of fluorescent lighting. The warm versions of the emitters cost a little more to produce, so most companies are pushing the cool white versions of their products, which is a shame. Taking it out of the box, it seems much heavier than I would normally expect in a light bulb. And that's actually a good sign, because LEDs put off heat, and the best way to keep something from getting too hot is to have lots of some type of insulating material. These use ceramic for their insulation.

As I said above, before the last review, I had never heard of this company. The product they linked me looked cool but a little cheap in the photos, so we were all surprised to see how solid it was, and how well it's held up to being outside for months. It rains a LOT here in Portland, Oregon, and it's held up even to a little snow.

So, I wasn't that surprised that both these bulbs give me a good initial impression. Holding them in my hands, looking at the construction, plugging them in, and turning them on: Just what I would expect from a decent quality light bulb, and it seems like it's just a little better constructed than a Philips warm white LED bulb. I had two, but one crapped out after about a year's worth of use, so I'm always happy to run competing products side by side.

Build Quality

15W Warm White Light Bulb

Good, overall. The LEDs on the 15W bulb look to be well mounted and of generic Chinese manufacture. These types of generic emitters aren't as good as Cree, but at a fraction of the price, they can be good values if you get decent ones. These days that's kind of roll of the dice.

Flashlights that put out a similar amount of light as these bulbs tend to be on the heavy side, just like these two bulbs. More weight means more ceramic in this case, which means more "thermal mass," which means more effective cooling. But excess heat is a bigger problem than with bulbs made from fewer emitters, so anything with this many emitters is going to need to be on the heavy side if it's decent quality.

I would have liked to see a diffuser on this model, but it's not a huge issue because of the way it's mounted now, and also because I can see the way the emitters are mounted.

30W Cool White Flood Light Bulb

It's overly heavy just like its cousins, as it should be for a 200+ watt equivalent bulb. I like that it has a plastic ring so you can unscrew the bulb when it's hot. Nice touch. It seems solid just like its 15W cousin.


I've tested both of these bulbs extensively and I like them. The 15W warm white bulb has a good tint (3000K), and it's probably turned on 8-12 hours a day. It's a tad heavy for the clip on lamp I have it in, so I had to re-position the clip a little, and it's been fine ever since.


These seem like good products, but for a light bulb it's hard to know the quality without having them turned on for long periods of time, which I've tried to do for this review. The LED floodlight they sent me has been powered on outside my brother's bar for about 6 months, so I feel pretty comfortable recommending their products.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Review: MiBoxer C2-3000 2 Port Battery Charger

Back in the 1960s, my dad worked for Westinghouse, and they gave him a van load of rechargeable batteries. He put them in all of our devices, so I knew a childhood where everything was rechargeable decades before everyone else did.

But people still buy disposable batteries, which makes me sad, because the technology has been around for too long to waste your money on something you only get one use out of, instead of modern cells that can be recharged 1,000 times or more. Why buy 1,000 batteries when you can recharge just one?

Part of the problem now is that there's so many different types battery chemistry and formats to worry about. So I've been happy to see the slew of smart chargers that have popped up over the last few years. These types of chargers can pretty much charge anything rechargeable that fits in the charging slot. I can give a family member a mixture of lithium-ion and AA rechargeable flashlights without worrying about them burning their house down!

This 2 slot MiBoxer C2-3000 Smart Charger supplied by MiBoxer claims to be just that. I had never heard of MiBoxer so I did a little research and their chargers seem to get good reviews. I didn't see this model on Amazon, but I do see their 4 slot version.

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product View

Product Description

Price: 20 bucks online?

The C2-3000 is a 2 slot, analyzing charger that uses a USB charging interface, with its included cable. It claims to charge pretty much any lithium-ion, NiMh or NiCd cell that fits in the charging slot. It's informational display tracks capacity, voltage, internal resistance, charge rate and estimated remaining time.

Official Specs (From MiBoxer)

Initial Impressions

Overall, good. Out of the box, it almost looks like a re-branded Nitecore charger or one from the big brands. The Chinese don't put the same focus on brand recognition as other countries, so it's always a good guessing game figuring out where something is made, and who made it.

MiBoxer chose an interesting power configuration. The unit comes with a DC plug on one end of the supplied cable, but the other end is a standard USB cable end. I would've preferred a standard mini or micro USB on the other end, but it's not a huge deal unless you lose the cable. Don't lose the cable!

The included 12 V car adapter is a nice touch. That's really the good thing about USB smart chargers: you can charge your batteries anywhere. I have a couple large USB power packs I built myself, which makes it handy to charge flashlight cells from a portable pack.

The informational display is impressive. Extra points for showing the internal resistance and estimated time remaining.

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 1

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 2

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 3

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 4

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 5

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 6

Build Quality

Overall, good. My review sample seems to be well built. The plastic housing is as thick as I think it should be and the spring loaded contacts look durable enough. The back lit display is a nice touch and well mounted. The charge cable is thicker than most of my USB cables and definitely appreciated, though it is a non-standard cable.

All things considered this unit seems well built for a budget charger, which I assume is selling in the 20 dollar range.

Fit & Finish

Overall, good. The single button on the unit looks a little cheap, but reasonable for a charger in this price range, and just like my other chargers. It'd be nice to see something more durable like the rubber coated switches with the anodized rings on some of my flashlights.

There's not really much to pick on: The information on the  backlit display is extremely crisp, though the back light seems a little on the bright side. The cells fit well into the charging slots. The sliding, spring-loaded contacts slide well.

The charging cable has a secure fit, which is good because it's a non-standard USB cable. As far as fit & finish goes, this could easily pass for one of the bigger brands.


The C2-3000 is a two slot charger that can charge pretty much any rechargeable cell that fits in one of its slots. With a USB interface, it can charge cells from a wall charger, included car charger, laptop, desktop, or power pack--basically anything with a USB port that puts out 5 volts.

There's a button on the charger that switches the display between slot #1 and slot #2, and the display shows lots of information:

  • Estimated time remaining
  • Measured capacity
  • Internal Resistance
  • Current Voltage
  • Charge Rate

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Animation 1
Above I'm charging two Samsung 18650 (3,000 mAh) lithium-ion cells
There's no special test modes, which seem to be on their 4 slot model.

Charge Rate

The achilles' heel of any USB charger is that they tend to be really conservative on charge rate, which makes sense because the charger doesn't know the quality of the USB power source it's being plugged into.

Because of the lower charge rate, it can take 8 (or more) hours to charge some of the higher capacity lithium-ion cells like the 18650 or 25650. So anyone looking at a USB charger to charge lithium-ion cells should take this knowledge into account.

When I first plugged this charger in and put in a Panasonic 18650 3400 mAh cell, it started out at 100 mAh, which is extremely low.

But luckily the charger is just really cautious and will gradually bump the charge rate up. I did a little video and it was still at 200 mAh, but I checked an hour later and it was up to 550 mAh, which is about as high as most USB chargers go.


This is a fun charger, and the only one I have which measures internal resistance. It seems to charge a little faster than other USB chargers I've owned. Maybe even given its 550 mAh charge output, which leads me to suspect it might be charging a little higher than its reported output.

The estimated time remaining is also nice. I'm a busy guy, and we're all used to our other devices giving us an estimate, even if we know it's just an estimate.

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Charging 2 Panasonic 18650 Cells
Wait, 9 hours?
MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Animation 2
Doesn't seem to have any problems mixing battery chemistries on the same charge


If you use high capacity lithium-ion cells on a daily basis, you probably want a 2 amp wall charger. But if you use these cells every day, you probably already know this.

If you use lots of different cells once in a while like most people, then USB chargers like this are nice because they give you lots of options for charging, with a sacrifice in charging rate. And this seems like a good USB charger, even if I've never heard of the brand. This one shows how smart these budget chargers are getting, and I really like the internal resistance display, which gives you an idea of how much life the cell has left in it.

It's still a good option for me as a 2nd charger, because I like to build my own USB power packs, and it's very appealing being able to charge all my cells from a power pack or my truck in a pinch. I always throw a USB charger like this one in the truck for camping and long road trips.

For this reason, I think these types of chargers are good for survival bags and living off the grid. Combined with a power pack and USB solar panel like the one I have, I can charge AA and AAA cells indefinitely in an emergency, as well as all my lithium-ion cells. Chargers like this one plug straight into the solar panel!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Resistance Bands Changed My Life

A couple years ago I injured my neck. And after a couple months, I couldn't lift a 10 pound weight with my left arm. The doctor told me not to lift anything, but sent me to physical therapy who showed me that while strength training wouldn't cure me, having extra muscle mass would help with the pain at the very least, as well as overall fitness and well-being.

So, I bought some barbells and weights. Those worked well, but when I worked up to larger weights, I would constantly injure my elbows and wrists. It got to the point where I had to stop working with weights, and the therapist recommended I use resistance bands instead.

Some people turn their nose up using the bands versus real weights, but your body doesn't know the difference. You build muscle mass just the same if not better with the bands. It's probably not as manly as large men lifting giant iron things, but I think overall the bands are superior to weights in every way.

After a couple months with the bands, I could take the elbow braces off, concentrate on strengthening the elbows, and started using Escrima Sticks to strengthen my wrists.

It didn't start out too serious. I kinda played around with the bands and sticks and it made me feel better, so I kept doing it.

But then I noticed that I kinda looked like Popeye, with huge forearms but tiny arms, and huge shoulders. So I started to get serious, watching YouTube videos showing how to use the bands for different muscle groups.

The bands don't do much for cardio, and riding a stationary bike is mind-numbingly boring, so doing the martial arts for aerobics has complimented the resistance bands nicely. I look at my watch every minute on the bike, but I twirl the sticks until I'm out of breath and can't move my arms, wishing I could keep going.

So, the $30 I spent on resistance bands is probably the best money I've ever spent. I'd have to put the $20 for the foam Escrima sticks a close second.

I stopped recognizing myself in the mirror about a month ago, but I feel like I'm still at the beginning of my journey. Strength training will never make me not-disabled, and I still risk paralysis if I practiced martial arts in a dojo with a real partner. But I can do what I can do.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

More spam from,,, and

The last few months has seen a real uptick in people spamming the comment section of my articles from what started out as just, and has turned into that one plus,, and

I know lots of people who are masters at hiking, backpacking and wilderness survival, and none of them need to spam other blogs to get recognition; they get recognition from being awesome.

So, my thought is that the people who spam their domains are only masters of being opportunistic jerks. If you've achieved mastery of anything, I would expect you would promote your web sites in a way that's also awesome.

Most of the "names" people use are non-descript sounding like Sarah Parton, Jane Smith, Julie Smith, James Terrier and Tessa Wildfire. I can look in my email history and see dozens of these.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: Olight H1 Nova and H1R Nova LED Head Lamps

I was never a huge fan of headlamps until I went to live in a cabin in the woods off the grid for about a year. My sister, the survival expert, told me to take at least one headlamp with me. I said "why do I need a headlamp when I have 100 flashlights?" and she said "because none of them are hands free, and you'll need that to work in the dark."

And boy, was she right. From doing dishes in the outdoor kitchen at night, to bringing in groceries in the dark, it was something I used every day. Sure, I had a few small flashlights with reversible clips to clip onto a ball cap, but those don't really have the output or run times. Good for a last resort but not day-to-day.

So, when Olight provided these two headlamps for review, I already had a good idea of what I like in a headlamp, and things to look for. This review is for the Olight H1 Nova and H1R Nova rechargeable headlamps. They are essentially the same light, with the H1R having a different tail cap with a built-in charger. They also come with slightly different accessories. The H1R I received is the NW (neutral white) version, and the H1 has a CW (cool white) emitter.

Olight H1 and H1-R Nova Headlamps - In Box

Product Description

Price: About $55 online for H1 and $65 for H1R

These are both pretty much the same light. Both the H1 and its cousin the H1R are CR123A sized headlamps that feature a Cree XM-L2 LED emitter, compact size, TIR lenses, included headban, electronic switch and optional tail clip.

Both these models can use either CR123A lithium primary cells, or rechargeable RCR123A or 16340 lithium-ion cells. The H1R comes with an Olight branded RCR123A.

Whether using an included reversible clip or headband, both these models seem to be good output for their size. Both these models also use a TIR (total internal reflection) type lens with a built in diffuser, and thus they are designed for closeup work, versus seeing things at a distance.

I believe the H1R is just an upgraded version of the H1, because I don't see the H1 on their web site.

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp 1
Olight H1 and H1-R Nova Headlamps - Side By Side

Official Specs (H1R)

  •  Rechargeable through the USB port on the magnetic tailcap
  • Powered by a customized 650mAh rechargeable RCR123A battery with a maximum output up to 600 lumens
  • Olight USB magnetic charging cable included (compatible with S1R/S2R/S10RIII/S30RIII)
  • Compact and handy with multiple use options: headlamp, pocket light, clip to a bag, etc.
  • Utilizes CREE XM-L2 LED (NW/CW) paired with bead TIR optic lens, giving a perfect close-range illumination experience
  • Gradual brightness changes. When turned on/off on medium, high and turbo modes, it will light up or fade gradually to protect eyes from the stimulation caused by sudden brightness changes
  • 180 degrees smooth vertical rotation for the light on the silicone mount
  • SOS mode available for emergency uses
  • Head Strap with Silicone Mount
  • Customized 3.7V 650mAh RCR123A • Stainless Steel Pocket Clip
  • Magnetic Charging Cable
  • Pouch
Olight H1R and H1 Nova Headlamps With Nitecore HC50 and Crelant CH10 Headlamps
Olight H1R and H1 Nova Headlamps With Nitecore HC50 and Crelant CH10 Headlamps

Olight H1R Nova Headlamp With Leatherman Wave and Spyderco Native S110V
Olight H1R Nova Headlamp With Leatherman Wave and Spyderco Native S110V

Initial Impressions

The H1 Nova arrived first, with the H1R about a month behind it. I've been super busy lately so I opened them up both at the same time, and have been working with them side-by-side even though the H1R is the upgraded version, and I assume the H1 is discontinued.

The H1 Nova comes with a nice little zippered case, which I wish they would've included with the H1R, which only came with a nylon pouch. Both have an included headband and reversible clip, which I like a lot.

My first impressions of these lights were, wow, they seem to have everything I look for. I'm a huge fan of electronic switches since they are so much more durable than a mechanical switch. This type of switch is also more compact, which I'm sure plays a part with these lamps being so compact. So, electronic switch, check.

The unit itself isn't much bigger than the battery, due to a combination of the side-mounted reflector and the switch I already mentioned. The only concern with something this powerful and compact is heat. There's no way something this compact can put out 600 lumens for any length of time without melting, and both these models have an automatic step-down from turbo. So, compact without melting, check.

The very first thing I did was take the H1 out of its headband and snap the clip to it. I'm not a huge fan of snap-on type clips, but this one fits pretty tight. Also, it's hard to find fault with a snap-on clip when the model is being sold as a headlamp--it's just an extra benefit.

Playing around with both lamps, my first thought was that these would be great for EDC (every day carry) and not just as headlamps. And that's exactly where most of my time with these units have been spent.

H1 Nova Gallery

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp 3
Olight H1 Nova Headlamp 2

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp Case 1

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp Case 2

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp Unboxed

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp Product View 1

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp Product View 2

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp Product View 3

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp Next To RulerOlight H1 Nova Headlamp Switch

H1R Nova Gallery

Olight H1R Nova Headlamp - Product View 1
Olight H1R Nova Headlamp - Product View 2

Olight H1R Nova Headlamp - Product View 3

Olight H1R Nova Headlamp - Product View 4

Olight H1R Nova Headlamp - Cap OuterOlight H1R Nova Headlamp - Cap Inner

Olight H1R Nova Headlamp - Product View 5

Olight H1R and H1 Nova Headlamp - Switches

Build Quality

Most people think that reviewers who receive stuff free to review are more likely to say good things about the product, but that's been the opposite in my experience. The first thing I do when something is free is to try to find fault with it.

So, trying to find fault with these units, the aluminum stock on these samples seems maybe a bit thin--certainly thinner than my Nitecore HC50 which is pretty much a tank. But they could just as easily make the argument that less aluminum = less weight, so it's a minor gripe for all but the most rugged applications.

The (copper?) plating on the contacts of the tail caps seem a little thin as well. Also a minor gripe since the battery isn't changed that often, or ever for the H1R rechargeable version. If you're replacing the battery twice a day, you might want a more rugged model.

But aside from a couple minor gripes, I think both these models are well designed and well made. Everything I look for quality-wise is there: solid switch, well built reflector and lens, square threads--it even has a blue anodized ring around the switch almost like they are showing off the build quality.

So overall I would give it a thumbs up for being well built. Thumbs up, Olight.

Olight H1R Headlamp - Closeup of Threads

Fit and Finish

My only real gripe with the fit and finish is that the anodizing is a little thin. I've already put a couple nicks on both units from carrying them around in my pocket. To be fair, these are designed as headlamps and both come with a case or pouch to carry them in.

Aside from the anodizing, both my units have an excellent fit and finish. Plenty of lube on the well-machined, square threads. Good feel on the switch. The LED is machine-centered and the reflector and lens are free from any obvious defects or aberrations.

Well fitting clip, check. Precise knurling on the tail cap, check. Good machining, clean stenciled markings--it's all there. I've owned other Olight products which had some fit and finish issues, so it's nice to see Olight stepping up.

Magnetic Tail Cap

Both the H1 and H1R include a magnetic tail cap, which I think is a great feature as long as you realize that it shouldn't get too near to the credit cards in your wallet, because it can damage or erase the magnetic stripes on your cards.

I used to be against magnetic tail caps, but they've really grown on me over time. I've done my own experiments with them around electronic devices, and I can say that I was wrong. Even devices with magnetic hard disk drives are shielded well enough to where the magnetic tail cap only poses a danger in a couple rare scenarios.

Being able to stick the light to anything ferrous gives you a third option, next to the headband and pocket clip.

Olight H1R Headlamp - Magnetic Base 1

Olight H1-R Headlamp - Magnetic Base 2

USB Rechargeable

The H1R includes a USB cable that attaches to one end at the magnetic base, and the magnet holds the charger in place. This allows the H1R to recharge its battery with a standard 5 volt USB port. Some of Olight's rechargeable models come with a standing base, which I'm not a big fan of, but I like the compact cable! The charging base is also magnetic, which is something to keep in mind.

Olight H1R Headlamp - Charger Base 1

Olight H1R Headlamp - Charger Base 2

Included Batteries

My sample H1 came with an Olight-branded, non-rechargeable lithium primary CR123A cell, and the H1R came with an Olight-branded RCR123A rechargeable cell. But it should be noted that either light can take either cell, as well as lithium-ion 16340 cells. The only difference between these two lights is that the H1R has a built-in charger, which makes it about a millimeter taller than its cousin, the H1.


The H1 and H1R both have 3 brightness modes, with a special "moonlight mode" as well. To turn on the lamp, just click the power button quickly. Hold down on the power button to cycle through the 3 normal modes. To access moonlight mode, click and hold the power button when the lamp is off.

The mode order is the standard low-->medium-->high.

Mode spacing is pretty good, and right about what I would expect and hope for. Of course I wish moonlight mode was lower (which would make it a beast for run time) but that's a common gripe, and I'm just happy they added this mode at all.

Both these models feature mode memory, which I really like, but it's not as important as the ability to always select moonlight mode when the lamp is off. The people in your camp site will thank you for not blinding them when you get up to use the restroom!

Olight H1 Nova Headlamp -- Cool White (CW) Modes
Olight H1 Nova Headlamp -- Cool White (CW) Modes

Olight H1R Nova Headlamp -- Neutral White (NW) Modes
Olight H1R Nova Headlamp -- Neutral White (NW) Modes

Moonlight Mode

This is a special "sub-lumen" mode where the lamp puts out a small amount of light for a long time. I look for this mode on everything I own, because you never know if you're going to have to walk all night in the dark. This mode on the H1 and H1R are accessible by holding down the power switch when the lamp is off.

These models feature current-controlled moonlight mode just as I would hope for. As an enthusiast, I like to see them go as low as they will go, but the moonlight output on the H1 and H1R are certainly acceptable, and a nice touch.


Another thing I like to see with all my lights is an efficient, current controlled circuit, without the dreaded PWM. A constant-current circuit gives you more run time when you need it, and so it is ideal for survival situations and "bugout bags" where your life could depend on the amount of run time in an emergency.

I'm happy to report that both these models feature constant-current circuitry, as tested on my cell phone camera, and thus they are well-suited for survival applications.


The output on these models on turbo is fairly incredible given their size, but you only get turbo for a very short time before the unit steps down into high mode. But the output on high is still very acceptable given that these units aren't much bigger than the batteries which go inside them.

The run times are also acceptable for the CR123A form factor. Even high mode may not give enough run time to change a tire if you're slow at it, so keep in mind that lights of this size are not meant to run at their highest output for extended times.

Having said that, you probably have all the run time you need if you run this lamp on its lower modes. The balance between output and run time is something to consider with anything that puts out light with multiple modes.


The H1 that Olight sent me has a cool white tint, and the H1R has the neutral tint. I've always said that being a "tint snob" is the final initiation for flashlight enthusiasts, and this NW tint version of the H1R doesn't disappoint.

Some people prefer a cool white tint, which normally gives a little more output, so it's nice that Olight offers people a choice on tint. For example, my brother prefers CW tinted lights because of their extra output.

The tint on both models is about what I would expect from the Cree XM-L2 emitters. The CW version isn't too bluish or greenish, and the NW version isn't too orange-ish. The CW version leans a little towards the blue end of the spectrum, and the NW leans a little tiny bit towards red, just like I would expect.

Above you can see the difference in tint between the CW and NW versions


Both these models use a TIR (total internal reflection) type of reflector usually found on higher end lights. I didn't understand how a diffuser went together with a TIR reflector at first, but it's easier to see than it is to explain.

Basically this setup gives the light a mostly "floody" beam. The TIR reflector makes the beam tight, while the diffuser makes it floody, which seem like competing features. The end result is that the floody beam is smooth as silk, with no circlets or over-spill from the main beam. It gives a nice, uniform solid flood if that makes sense. I've seen that other high end headlamp makers use this configuration, but I didn't understand it until I saw it with my own eyes.


The H1 and H1R are sold as headlamps, which they perform well at, but I think they do even better for EDC duties. As long as you don't need to run full output for any length of time, most of the time it's really nice having so much light in such a small package.

Both of my units step down from turbo after anywhere from a few seconds to a minute, This makes the value of turbo dubious, but the regulated high mode is still useful, with turbo being there mostly to impress your friends.

Day to day with the H1 and H1R is a good user experience. I have at least 100 lights I could grab when I go out into the dark, and I find myself taking the H1R most of the time, even though it's past the review evaluation period were I carry a review sample even if I don't like it.

The compact size of these units are also their downfall from a usability standpoint. A light this small kind of hides in my pocket, and it's narrowly missed going through the washing machine a couple times, as well as getting left in odd places where I have to hunt it down. That's why I usually end up back with a 2xAAA light which I feel in my pocket and know it's there. But again, it's sold as a headlamp which can be kept in its headband, making it harder to lose.

Overall though I would rate the usability as excellent for both EDC and headlamp use. The switch is easy to find in the dark just by feel, the modes are well spaced, and the output and run time are sufficient for most EDC or headlamp tasks. If you're using it 8 hours a day, than 18650 is probably a better form factor.

The head band is sufficient but nothing special. It gets the job done.

Olight H1R Headlamp On Head

Olight H1R Headlamp In Hand


The H1R is about a millimeter longer than its cousin the H1, but it's still ridiculously small. I wish it had a way to override the step-down function, but I understand that it's mostly the laws of physics which decide how much light something so small can put out for any length of time.

For a consumer model headlamp, I think Olight hit a home run with this model for the price point, given its features and build quality. For tactical or military use, it's probably not rugged enough, but there are lots of models already on the market for that. And my HC50 is way too large to recommend for someone like my mom,

Regardless of the model, I can't stress enough to people on the importance of owning a headlamp. The first time you need to change a tire on a dark country road, or deal with a burst pipe during a power outage, you'll be glad you had one. Having someone hold a flashlight for you is great but not always possible. And working on a car alone with a flashlight is hard, because you have to keep going back and re-positioning it.

And thanks to Laura at Olight for being patient for my reviews. I like to spend a lot of time with the products I review, and I usually take hundreds of photos.