With the huge leaps in LED technology in the last few decades, it's become possible to pack more and more light power into a smaller space. LED flashlights now shine brighter than ever while getting more compact. At the same time, the micro lights of today can shine just as bright as full sized flashlights of the past.
Keychain lights are super lightweight and can be attached to a lanyard or key ring or kept in your bag for ultra portability. Plus, they still contain enough power for everyday purposes. For example:
- Nurse working night shifts who needs just enough light to see down the hall and no more.
- Office or store employee who could use a little extra light unlocking their car after work.
- Commuter wanting to illuminate the way home from the bus stop every night. Plus a bit of help finding the right key once they reach the door.
- Night walker who doesn't want to carry around a large object all the time. Or someone who wants a quick backup in case their main flashlight goes out.
Whatever the situation, if you need a touch of light here and there and don't have room for a full sized flashlight, then a keychain light should be the perfect solution.
Here's a look at J2LEDFlashlight's top keychain light picks - four from Nitecore's T Series and one from Fenixlight. Being from the world's best LED flashlight brands, these are in a class above the average budget key light. However, they are built to last and guaranteed to exceed in terms of performance and lifespan. They are packed with extra features that will come in handy in a pinch. Check them out below.
1) Nitecore TIKI and Nitecore TIKI LE
First up is the smallest of the keychain lights, the Nitecore TIKI and TIKI LE. Both of these lights use a primary Osram P8 LED that can output four brightness levels from 1 up to 300 lumens, a decent power for a key light and more than enough for everyday purposes.
What makes these lights stand out though are the built-in auxiliary LEDs - each model comes with two extra LEDs plus a special mode that will serve different needs depending which you choose.
- 1 UV LED (365nm, power 500mW)
The UV wavelength LED is handy for functions such as checking for counterfeit money, looking for stains on surfaces, or even reading glow in the dark maps. (Not to be looked at directly with naked eye)
- 1 High CRI white LED (CRI ≥ 90, colour temperature 4500K, 22 lumens)
This soft light is easy on the eyes and mimics sunlight to bring out the natural colours of objects at night, ideal for night reading.
- High CRI white flash mode, used for quick signaling
- 1 Red LED
The red LED has low brightness and is useful for preserving night vision in low light scenarios.
- 1 Blue LED
- Red/Blue police flash: for use by law enforcement officers on night patrol or traffic duty.
All the functions on the TIKI lights are controlled by a single switch, making them easy to use with one hand. Despite their small size they are weather and drop resistant, made with a durable PC body and sturdy metallic head. What's more, they are fully rechargeable via a micro USB side port - no need to replace any batteries. Overall, a versatile tool in a tiny package for a variety of situations.
See the Nitecore TIKI/TIKI LE full product page.
2) Nitecore Thumb
Don't let the appearance of the Nitecore Thumb fool you. Although it may look like a typical key light, performance and durability wise it's a clear cut above the average you might find online.
The two main LEDs can output at three brightness levels up to 85 lumens, as well as flashing mode. In addition it has a red side LED with two modes that also doubles as a charging indicator. This light is also rechargeable using a micro USB port.
The unique feature of the Thumb is that the LED head is tiltable up to 120 degrees for a better position or to fit into tight areas. On the other end, the tail key ring can withstand up to a whopping 77 lbs (35 kg) of weight load.
Made of durable PC material, it is impact resistant to 1.5 meters, plus dustproof and waterproof. This makes the Thumb a hardy general purpose key light, more than capable to stand up to the stress of everyday life.
See the Nitecore Thumb full product page.
3) Fenix E03R
From Fenix is this simple but strong key light for everyday use. It has four brightness levels ranging from 5 to 260 lumens, plus a red LED with red light and red flash setting. There is a lockout function to prevent activation during carrying, and a power indicator is found on the single side switch. The E03R has a compact shape that is easy to carry and hold. And like all the other key lights, it is fully rechargeable, this time using a USB-C port.
This light's selling point is its toughness. It is more durable than most other key lights out there, as it's constructed from industrial grade aluminum alloy with a hard anodized finish. This makes it highly resistant to heat and scratches, drop resistant up to 1.5 meters, and fully dustproof and waterproof. Ideal for those who want to carry around something a little more sturdy.
See the Fenix E03R full product page.
4) Nitecore TINI 2
The TINI 2 can be described as a keychain light for those who want extra power and lighting control, and to know how their light is doing at all times.
This is because it is one of the only LED key lights with a built-in status display. The compact OLED screen shows brightness setting, battery voltage, or remaining runtime in real time - you'll never be caught off guard with this light dying. In addition to all this, the TINI 2 has two lockout modes, Half and Full Lockout, to prevent accidental activation while this light is packed away.
As for the light itself, dual OSRAM P8 LEDs can output up to 500 lumens, far more than the average key light. For when the extra power isn't needed, there are a total of 5 brightness levels. All the brightness settings, plus the OLED screen and modes above, can be controlled with just one hand using the two side switches. The light uses a USB-C port for recharging.
The TINI 2 shell is made of aluminum alloy with anodized finish. It is 1 meter drop resistant and dust and water resistant. Not quite as hardy as some of Nitecore's other lights, but certainly still able to handle the everyday elements. A reasonable trade-off for incorporating the LED display.
See the Nitecore TINI 2 full product page.
5) Nitecore TIP2
Standing at the top of the key lights is the Nitecore TIP2, a premium heavy-duty keychain light that's built to last. It incorporates the full degree of engineering found in Nitecore's famous LED flashlights.
This is an upgraded version of Nitecore's old TIP and adds a second LED, giving double the power of the original. The raw power is where this light stands out. If you need a burst of high illumination for a short time, it can put out a turbo of 720 lumens for up to 15 minutes, able to light up an entire room. This makes the TIP2 brighter than some full-sized LED flashlights and one of the brightest key lights currently out there.
This light features a slightly different tail design - the light itself is firmly attached to the keychain tail cap by two powerful magnets. However it can be pulled off and stuck to any magnetic surfaces, such as metal walls or bed frames, for background use. The micro USB charging port is also housed under the tail cap. Dual switches plus a power indicator are found on the side.
Durability wise, TIP2 is also on top among key lights. A dual core, aluminum alloy machined body makes this light ultra tough. It is impact resistant to 1 meter and has the highest IP rating of the lights featured - fully dustproof and waterproof, in addition to being submersible up to 1 meter. It's as tough as most top LED flashlights, able to be taken camping or to heavy work on top of any daily activity.
Overall the TIP2 is designed to be a more serious package than the bulk of key lights. It is for those who need a small but rugged light that can handle a tougher than average lifestyle, or those who want to invest in a key light that will likely never need replacing.
See the Nitecore TIP2 full product page.
Keychain Light Specs Comparison
Here is a side-by-side comparison between the key specs for each of the 5 lights. Take into account: size, how far you need to see, how much brightness you need, runtimes, extra features, and prices.
|TIKI/TIKI LE||THUMB||E03R||TINI 2||TIP2|
(L x W x H)
|55mm (L) x 14.7mm (head diameter)
2.17" (L) x 0.58" (head diameter)
|74mm x 24mm x 15.8mm
2.91" x 0.94" x 0.62"
|47mm x 24mm x 12mm
1.85" x 0.94" x 0.47"
|42.3mm x 25mm x 12.5mm
1.83" x 0.98" x 0.49"
|62.6mm x 26.9mm x 13.4mm
2.46" x 1.06" x 0.53"
|Weight||12 g / 0.42 oz (TIKI)
10.5 g / 0.37 oz (TIKI LE)
|25 g / 0.88 oz||22 g / 0.78 oz||18.8 g / 0.66 oz||38.3 g / 1.35 oz|
|Min Brightness||1 lumen||2 lumens||5 lumens||1 lumen||1 lumen|
|Max Brightness||300 lumens||85 lumens||260 lumens||500 lumens||720 lumens|
|40 h||22 h||18 h||60 h||55 h|
|30 min||45 min||45 min||15 min||~15 min|
|Extra LEDs + Modes||
High CRI white LED
+ High CRI white flash
+ Red/Blue police flash
|Main LED flash,
Red side LED
+ Red side flash
+ Red flash
|Charging||Micro USB||Micro USB||USB-C||USB-C||Micro USB|
|(Charging cable / adapter not included)|
|Extra Features||---||120 degree tiltable head||---||Built-in status display||Magnetic Tail|
|Construction||PC + Metal||PC||Aluminum Alloy, HA III hard-anodized finish|
|Durability||1m impact resistant,
IP66 (fully dustproof; waterproof)
|1.5m impact resistant,
IP65 (fully dustproof; waterproof)
|1.5m impact resistant,
IP66 (fully dustproof; waterproof)
|1m impact resistant,
IP54 (dust resistant; splash resistant)
|1m impact resistant,
IP67 (fully dustproof; waterproof + submersible 1m)