Good things tend to come in small packages when it comes to everyday carry. That’s especially true of flashlights. While I would certainly call a good pocket light an EDC essential, it’s easy to feel weighed down by a bulky flashlight.
That’s not the case with the Olight i3T EOS. This trim, reliable light rests comfortably in the pocket or in the palm of your hand. And with a price tag just under $20, it’s also a budget-friendly little guy. Let’s take a deeper dive into what works—and what could be improved—about the Olight i3T EOS.
First Impressions of the Olight i3T EOS
Right out of the box, the Olight i3T EOS is a good-looking flashlight with a simple, effective design. It feels good in my hand, with just enough weight to feel substantial for its size (actual weight is 1.4 oz.). The body is made of aluminum with good quality anodizing, giving the finish a smooth feel.
The Olight measures 3.5 inches from tail button to lens, which happens to be just about exactly the width of my palm. That makes it easy to grip while operating the flashlight with one thumb. Somebody with meatier hands might find it to be a little dainty, but for me it’s right in the sweet spot for everyday carry.
The most recent generation of the Olight i3T EOS has a double helix knurling pattern along the barrel of the flashlight for grip. It’s hard to say if this really makes the Olight any “grippier” than other similar flashlights, but I haven’t experienced any issues with the flashlight slipping. I tend to palm the Olight with the pocket clip nestled in the inner crease of my knuckles, which keeps it very stable.
Features and Details
Speaking of the pocket clip, it’s good and firm without being too tight. The clip is dual-directional, so you can use it to secure the flashlight to your pocket or backpack strap, or you can clip it to the brim of your baseball cap to turn it into a head lamp. The pocket clip is also easy to snap on and off of the flashlight if you’re not the sort to use it.
One thing that really works about the Olight is its ability to get wet and keep on shining. It has IPX8-rated water resistance, which means you can fully submerge it to a depth of at least 1 meter without worry. The casing is tough too. I dropped this flashlight several times over the course of testing it out—sometimes intentional, sometimes not—with no ill effect.
The Olight i3T EOS is operated by the use of a tail switch, which makes it easy to click back and forth between the light’s two settings (more on those in a minute). The button has a nicely textured rubber surface, and extends past the end of the light, so it’s easy to turn on and off even if you’re wearing gloves. The button is very, for lack of a better word… “clicky.” You can clearly hear it and feel it, with two distinct clicks as you press and then release the switch.
The Olight i3T EOS has an LED paired with a TIR (Total Internal Reflection) optic lens, which produces a soft, balanced beam with little to no discernable tint. The light has two distinct brightness settings: Low (5 lumens) and High (180) lumens. That’s a pretty significant gap between the two modes, which is actually a great feature, especially tactical flashlight users. You don’t have to think about whether the flashlight is on High or Low when you turn it on.
The 5 lumen Low setting is actually brighter than it sounds. It’s plenty bright enough for most indoor uses, and perfect for up-close tasks like reading or looking at a map in the dark. The 180 lumen High setting produces a brilliant beam that’s good for finding your way at night. It’s bright and wide enough to illuminate a good portion of an average-sized backyard at night.
Clicking through the settings is simple enough. The tail twitch takes you through the modes in a Low-Off-High-Off cycle. The Olight i3T EOS also has a “momentary on” setting that you can activate by gently pressing the tail switch. Momentary on follows the same Low-Off-High-Off cycle. I can imagine the momentary on mode being accidentally triggered while carrying the flashlight in one’s pocket, but the button is firm enough that the idea of it being accidentally clicked fully on seems almost impossible.
Battery Life and Replacement
The Olight i3T EOS runs on a single AAA Alkaline battery, and one comes included. As with any 1xAAA flashlight, there’s a bit of a trade-off there. These batteries are lightweight and convenient, and make the flashlight’s trim profile and low price tag possible. But they’re not the longest-lasting in the world.
A single battery gives you 16 hours of continuous runtime on the low setting, or 21 minutes on the high setting. It might have been nice if the Olight i3T EOS was compatible with rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, but alas it is not. Hypothetically, these batteries could have allowed the light to run brighter and longer, but as it is, they would probably just burn out the LED prematurely.
I didn’t personally test the flashlight with rechargeable Lithium batteries, but the folks at Olight strongly advise against it. So it’s good old AAAs for me! Besides, they’re cheap and available everywhere. The tail cap screws on and off very smoothly, making battery replacement quick and simple. The threads seem to be precisely cut, and I don’t anticipate any issue with mis-threading while putting the cap back on.
Olight i3T EOS: Final Thoughts
The Olight i3T EOS is a solid, dependable pocket flashlight that’s ideal for everyday carry. It has two brightness modes that I find to be useful in almost any situation, and it’s within the not-too-big, not-too-small zone that I consider perfect for EDC.
In fairness, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about it. It doesn’t knock my socks off, and it would be a stretch to call the Olight i3T EOS my favorite EDC pocket flashlight. But there are only a handful of really good flashlights that you can own for under $20, and this is one of them. If you find yourself in a situation where you need reliable light at your fingertips, the Olight i3T EOS is a good item to have handy.
Alan Dale is an experienced backpacker and adventure sports athlete who pays the bills by writing. Married with a small brood, Alan often has his kids in tow on many of his adventures.