REVIEW: Olight I1R EOS Key Ring Torch
A small keyring LED torch with USB charging – a great backup light?
Cheap, stupidly-bright Chinese LED torches have been around for several years now and there are many to choose from. I’ve used several over the years with varying degrees of success – and to be perfectly honest my hopes weren’t THAT high for this tiny keyring torch from Olight when it was offered as a review item. But it turns out to not be that bad – in fact, to be quite good. With a few important caveats that I will come to later…
First, a run down on the specifications:
Torch Specifications and features
Like many of these torches it promises a lot on the website and on the box itself – high-performance Philips LUXEON TX LED and a TIR optic lens, rechargeable via micro-USB and two power modes. It’s also very light at just 0.42 oz/12g. It’s waterproof (IPX8) and is house in a tube 41mm long and 14mm in diameter.
In the box you get the torch itself, a short micro-USB charging cable and some instructions. It ships with a small insulating ring that needs to be removed before use – and that’s about it. As expected it arrived part-charged, and charging takes just over an hour from a ‘normal’ 1A USB. The USB port on the torch is found by unscrewing the cap, and a red light glows under the white plastic whilst charging (green when charged)
The two power modes are activated by turning the base (which has a small nubbin to secure a tiny steel keyring) clockwise. The first mode is a low-power 5 lumen output (7h run time) and the second a much higher power 130 lumen mode (20 minutes). There is no strobe/SOS mode.
I’ve had this torch for just over two weeks so I can’t say that much about long-term use (although I have suspicions – see below). I’ve used it ‘for real’ on three separate occasions – on a (after sunset) wildlife survey, on a mountain wild camping trip and on a tracking course for a private client.
The first impression is that of dimunitive size and weight – it’s tiny. I have a habit of holding a torch between my lips or teeth when I need to use both hands for a task (e.g. getting something from a rucksack or tightening a guyline) and I nearly swallowed this damned thing a couple of times. It’s about the same length as a AAA battery and a little wider (nearly the same diameter as a AA) but it somehow feels smaller. It’s also very light (12g) and definitely small enough to be included with your kit as a backup (I used it as my backup light for the mountain trip).
The two power modes are both usable – the 5 lumen output is perfect for small and fiddly tasks or for casting some light on a track/print to provide some contrast and the 130 lumen mode is probably bright enough to use for mountain biking! The run time of 20 minutes at the high power mode means it is probably best left for short bursts and emergencies though.
It charges well enough, although I am always wary of LiPo batteries from manufacturers previously unknown to me so it was charged in the dedicated charging box I have bolted to the wall OUTSIDE the office. As other reviewers have pointed out – there is no low-voltage protection on this torch and the battery cannot be replaced. This isn’t necessarily a problem on its own, but you will need to take care to ensure that the battery is not fully discharged at any point as there may be difficulties with recharging potentially damaged cells.
I haven’t had much of an opportunity to try it out in wet conditions, but it functioned well in a test-dunk in a bucket of water – I probably won’t use it for snorkeling but would be happy to keep it exposed to the Welsh and Scottish mountain weather without being concerned about it drowning.
I have been making a slow move towards rechargeable batteries in my electronic kit wherever possible. It’s less expensive, especially in winter when I will be using an LED head torch almost every evening, and it’s better for the environment. I also have a dozen or so micro-USB cables lying around and anything that can be recharged using one of those is definitely going to attract my attention. The Olight I1r EOS key ring torch nearly fulfils my criteria as a backup/EDC torch – it’s small and light enough to not be noticed but powerful and rugged enough to actually be of some use in the outdoors.
There are certainly some drawbacks – unsophisticated charging/battery protection and limited run time at 130 lumens – but I can live with those drawbacks for a backup torch, and at this price it isn’t too much to worry about. This is probably going to end up living on a micro-carabiner and be clipped to zip-pulls on rucksacks or on my keys and – for now – I have confidence in it performing well as an EDC torch.