Is the Nitecore Tube Worth It in 2019?

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The best flashlight is the one you have on you. For a lot of EDCers that means a keychain flashlight is the way to go. They’re compact and lightweight, immensely practical and can work well in a pinch. In the past though, keychain lights tended to have poor build quality, inconvenient batteries that drained quickly, and not enough output to do serious work. But as LED flashlight technology improved, keychain lights became capable enough to replace even some larger, traditional primary flashlights. The Nitecore Tube was a revolutionary, innovative light at the time, packing impressive brightness and versatility with modern quality of life improvements in a sleek, lightweight build—all at an incredible value. But as we’ve seen how quickly flashlight technology advances, is the Nitecore Tube still worth it today? Read onto find out how it holds up and if your keyring could use a more modern upgrade.


The Nitecore Tube was special because it packed a practical and bright LED light into a compact 2.2” package that fit on your keys. And at 9.6 grams in weight thanks to its poly-carbonate construction, the Tube was also very discreet, lighter than the car alarm key fob that it looks like. Its power was impressive at the time, putting out a max 45 lumens across a wide diffuse angle of 100 degrees out the front. The wide nature of that light, and its neutral tonality, made it good for both close up work as well as lighting your path in a pinch. It also occupies a good middle ground of not being so bright that it blinds you in the dark, and interfering in your eye’s adaption to your dim surroundings.


The simplicity of using the Tube helped make it popular. It features a single button, with one press letting you switch between a low 1 lumen mode and the full 45 lumen output on high. You can opt to turn the light on momentarily by long pressing on the button in the off position. There’s also an infinitely variable output mode, letting you dial in the exact amount of light you need for the task at hand. And unlike other keychain flashlights that require exotic watch button batteries every time they die, the Tube has an integral micro USB-rechargeable battery. It’s small, but on the light’s lowest setting, it’ll last you an estimated 48 hours.

Is It Worth Buying One Today?


While there are smaller and more powerful LED lights out there today, the Nitecore Tube just can’t be beat for the price. You can have one in hand for less than 10 dollars shipped in 2019. That fact alone still makes it very worth considering over its competition in the present day. With its rich feature set, the Nitecore Tube remains a compelling piece of kit that deserves your attention when you’re searching for a new light.

I’ve personally owned a clear transparent Nitecore Tube for two years now, and I can safely say that it’s been one of my favorite purchases for everyday carry thus far. It normally sits on my keys, but it’s especially great to have when you’re traveling. For that use, I take it off my keys and put it on a necklace, and pull it out whenever I need an extra bit of light. This has proven to be a life saver, especially when searching for passports that fall in between the seats on a crowded subway train or on a plane. The long life and the ease of battery charging means it’s always ready to go, and it’s honestly faster to have the Tube in hand than to fiddle with my cell phone to get the flash to do a worse job entirely.

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Other Options to Consider

But if you decide the Tube doesn’t meet your needs, you’re in luck. There are a few other keychain lights to consider, albeit at slightly higher pricepoints:

  • Nitecore TINI: The TINI measures smaller than the Tube and features a more durable aluminum body, with a much brighter maximum 380 lumen output as well thanks to its CREE XP-G2 S3 LED module. And with a single long press on any of the buttons on the light, reaching that turbo mode is easy to accomplish. (~$30)
  • Olight i1R: This light has a more traditional cylindrical appearance, smaller than the Tube, and with a simple twist on-and-off operation. It also has a brighter 145 lumen LED module. To recharge the light, simply twist the head off completely and plug it in via the built-in micro USB port. (~$20)
  • RovyVon Aurora A3: With its IP65 water resistance, the RoyVon Aurora stands up to the elements better than the Tube. It also has a high CRI Nichia LED that puts out 350 lumens in a more pleasing, natural-looking tint. Besides the upgrade to the materials and tint, the Aurora A3 shares many keychain-worthy features and conveniences, like micro-USB recharging and multiple modes. (~$25)

Do you still EDC a Nitecore Tube? If not, did you upgrade? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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