Everyday Carry

Is the Nitecore Tube Worth It in 2019?

Authored by:
Jonathan Tayag
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.

What Is It? Why Was It Popular?


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!

Jonathan Tayag

Senior Contributor

About the Author
Jonathan Tayag is secretly an information technology and corporate security expert who prefers to moonlight as a creative event and commercial photographer whenever possible. His varied experience and substantial travels have led him to seek, without even thinking about it at first, the best gear for the best use at the best price available. Before the concept of EDC (everyday carry) firmly took hold, Jonathan already spent untold amounts of time optimizing for the best-in-slot pieces of gear, from cameras and lenses to pocket knives, pens, and bags and packs. In November 2015, Jonathan joined EverydayCarry.com and has since written numerous articles and guides to help impart his knowledge to the community as a whole.

Jonathan's photographic works have appeared on numerous online websites, print, video, and television outlets for over a decade. Jonathan's previous clients include Blizzard Entertainment, Red Bull, ESL, Razer, and several other endemic and non-endemic esports sponsors and brands. His work also features heavily in online competitive gaming communities, especially those of the StarCraft and Fighting Game genres. You've likely seen his work if you've spent time in a stream or in-game chat over the years.

Discussion (13 total)

Bruce Satow ·
A couple years ago when they first came out I bought a dozen for gifts. They didn't last more than a year before people were complaining that it wouldn't hold a charge anymore or they would go on in their pockets. It they had a lock on the button to prevent accidental turn ons, it would of been better.
Orwell ·
Nitecore Tube is always with me, when i go out of home. It helped me in many cases, where a lightswitch was not there in a dark room, a coin felt into the ground or a quick look a look at the cars engine. Its perfect, except that mine died after 2 Years of regular work. But it so inexpensive and practical i just bought an other one,in a new color.
Great list of lights. I am partial to a AAA light myself. I prefer to have a light that can take a readily available battery type found at any corner store, vs a light that needs a special charging wire be brought with it for when it goes dead. And AAA lights have come a long way in terms of lumens/brightness since the Solitaire. I favor the Rofis ER3A myself.
I'm agreement with the article, the Nitecore Tube is still good value for reliable light for anyone's EDC. Cheap, easy to charge and hold said charge for long time, and lightweight to keep in anyone's pocket. Now my personal experience.

I had Nitecore Tube that faithful served me well. The Tube I had was not that sturdy enough, and I had to repair it with superglue and heat shrink tubing. Add in stripped screws made it impossible for me to repair it in the future. The only operational issue i had with the light was the it being turn on in my pocket if I was busy doing something physical activity. Due to repair issue and problem with the Tube turning on in my pocket I look for replace. Anyone that is looking for Tube upgrade, Nitecore Tip is good choice with its aluminium body and improved design feature of the clip to prevent the Tip from turning on in your pocket.

In the end I chose the Fenix 15th Anniversary Limited Edition, a fancy E05.
nolan ·
Used a tube for years but passed it onto my GF when I went to an all black EDC. Replaced it with a olight i1r and I love the item but I do miss the easy one button operation. May consider the RovyVon on a sale.
Eugene Lempert ·
i used to have 1 and gave them out as gifts..but one of the giftees said his stopped working..so not sure. what is the opinion of surefire sidekick?
Andrei ·
Proud Tube owner. +1
T Shrapnel-Carruthers ·
It is a great little torch; small, lightweight and cheap enough to carry a spare. Still a perfectly valid option for EDC.

I used to have one on my car key ring, but upgraded to a Nitecore "Thumb" because the flashing red lamp and tilting head are useful in a breakdown/accident situation.

I have a Tube on my house key ring and the one from my car is now in my briefcase as a backup.
Shawn Bailey ·
Still edc a Nitecore Tube and like you said, it’s one of those things that you always have one you, mine is on my key ring. The only downside is mine doesn’t have a lockout feature and sometimes gets accidentally turned on.
Michael Brousseau ·
I have a Tube on my keychain, as I write this.
Joel ·
I bought the RovyVon Aurora Luminous Body 550 Lumens and it's absolutely awesome. Extremely bright and the GITD body is great too. It was more money than the Nitecore but after own/using it it's worth it.
John ·
The Tube is an absolutely fantastic choice if you’re looking for a very small and useful light. My Tube is my go-to light for Disney trips; hooked to my Gerber Dime (shhh, don’t tell😉) I have at my disposal all the tools I need. I’ve used it to navigate crowds during fireworks shows, illuminate signs, and once even light our way off a ride when it was being evacuated. I use it almost daily to find things in my ambulance. I also have a red one hooked to my pack for the super sneaky tactical stuff....like reading a program during a performance or play🙄
Karl Hicks ·
I wanted to buy a Nitecore Tube but ended up with a TINI from a Facebook GAW. Since I've got the TINI and a Klarus Mini One Ti, a Lumintop Tool AAA, AND an Astrolux A01, the Tube doesn't seem like a worthwhile purchase. I still have a lot of respect for it, though. For such an inexpensive piece of gear, it really is great.