Best keychain light for Every Day Carry

surefire vs nitecore key lights

The problem – I need a keychain light?


Actually, when I say “keychain light”, I mean a flashlight that is designed for and fits on a key ring.

It has to be small, and it would be nice if the light was stronger than my smartphone.

Also, I don’t want to deal with tiny hard to find batteries that also work in hearing aids – please.


Not too long ago, a keychain light was just strong enough to see the keyhole in a doorknob, or the palm of my hand from 2 feet away.

Still today, there are tons of small lights with equally small lumen output. Weak. Sorry, but that won’t do.


I need a keychain light, not only to light my way in the dark but act as a backup defensive light.

And I know that my wife and kids won’t carry a regular tactical light, so I need a light for them in case of trouble. Something attached to their keychains.

Somewhere north of 250 lumens would be great.

Any candidates?


Here are 3 keychains lights that meet the requirements –


SureFire Sidekick





Surefire is an American company that is constantly developing quality products. They don’t always go for super lumen lights but they’re always quality and their stated lumens are accurate, and if anything understated.

The SureFire Sidekick is such a product and has the following specs:

  • High, medium and low light levels
    • 300 lumens with 1 hr and 15 min runtime
    • 60 lumens for 4 hrs, and
    • 5 lumens for 45 hrs
  • One button control that cycles through low, medium and high (and in that order).
  • A micro-USB charging port with an internal Li-ion battery and included USB cable.
  • Small (2 1/2 inches) and light Polymer body available in black, white and pink.
  • Amazon’s carries these for $45.50 to $57.15 depending on color.


These lights are solid and well made. They’re lightweight and easily attach to any keychain. 300 lumens is plenty of light and they can easily be operated with one hand. There’s a lot to light. My only complaint is that you have to cycle through the light levels and start with low. Typically, in an emergency, you would like immediate access to the high light level with one push. If, however, your primary use is to see a restaurant menu in the dark, starting with a low light level would probably be preferable. So, your choice.


NiteCore Tip






NiteCore is made in China but produces quality and innovative products. The Tip is such an example.


The NiteCore Tip has the following specs:

  • Turbo, high, medium and low light levels
    • 360 lumens with 30 min runtime,
    • 150 lumens for 1 1/2 hrs,
    • 35 lumens for 6 1/2 hrs, and
    • 1 lumens for 46 hrs
  • Two buttons control the light and levels and can be programmed (by holding down both buttons simultaneously) to select daytime mode (which automatically turns the light off after 30 seconds).
  • Pressing the mode switch, over .6 second,  gives immediate access to the turbo light.
  • Pressing and releasing the mode switch will activate the power indication – 3 flashes > 50%; 2 flashes < 50% and 1 flash < 10%.
  • A micro-USB charging port with an internal 46-hour Li-ion battery and micro-USB cable.
  • The removable clip allows either keychain or clip-on carrying.
  • Although the same length as the SureFire, the unit is thinner and narrower and comes in multiple color aluminum or stainless steel bodies.
  • Amazon’s carries these for $30 in aluminum and $35 in stainless steel.


There is a lot to like about the tip. Although there are numerous features including two program modes, four light levels, and even a battery indicator, normal operation is simple and straightforward – one button turns on and off and remembers the last light level which is accessed via the second button. An immediate turbo mode, which I believe is critical for defensive uses, is accessible by an extended pressing of the mode button.  The construction feels more solid then even the SureFire and the price is even better. The additional lumens wouldn’t necessarily be noticeable but that’s a plus also. All in all, one great unit.


SureFire Titan Plus



Another SureFire? Well, the Titan Plus is along the lines of a typical flashlight but allows for twisting to control the power and levels. This is one solid light but priced accordingly.




The Titan plus is the second generation Titan from SureFire and the quality is impeccable.


The SureFire Titan plus has the following specs:

  • High, medium and low light levels
    • 300 lumens with 1-hour runtime,
    • 75 lumens for 2 hrs, and
    • 15 lumens for 7 hrs
  • The light is activated by twisting the front of the flashlight. Additionally, the three levels are accessed by twisting and untwisting and are in a sequence of low, medium and high.
  • The last light used, however, allows for the next light when next twisted. Thus to quickly activate high, you would twist turn on low and medium then turn off. The next time you twisted, the light would be high.
  • It uses one standard AAA alkaline or rechargeable battery and is constructed of nickel plated brass.
  • The Titan appears brighter than it’s 300-lumen rating.
  • Finally, the Amazon price for this beauty is $81 currently. Definitely a keeper.




For such a beautiful light, the Titan has a lot of positives, it will, however, be difficult to overcome its price point. Additionally, the twist on/off control can be hard to operate with one hand. The immediate access to high basically has to be preset to work correctly and if not, you’re doing multiple twists. The construction and weight are really solid and the reflector cone looks like it’s handmade. It’s heavy enough to use as a striking tool and can be carried on a keychain or clipped to a pocket. Finally, the clip is also removable.


Final Recommendation


No longer are you limited to keychain flashlights the are weak light sources suitable only for hunting socks that fall behind the dryer.

The above three recommendations sport a legitimate 300 to 360 lumens and are really bright and long-lasting.


If I had to pick one light for my family, I believe I would go with the NiteCore. It has a great price point, is rechargeable, small, solid and comes in multiple colors as well as two stainless steel versions. Most importantly, it has direct access to a bright light which I cannot overemphasize. In fact, you might want to check out my post on using a tactical light as a defensive tool here.

If I wanted a light that was a bit larger and maybe more useful as a striking tool, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with the Titan Plus – price be damned. Of course, I value my protection and my family’s above tactical gear price points.


Hope you enjoyed this review.


Always be prepared. Be well.


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