My wife says I have a problem. So what if I have more flashlights than I do hands to hold them? Almost half the time we spend on this little blue and green marble we call Earth is nighttime – and I ain’t content with being left in the dark. Flashlights or some other illumination apparatus are always within a couple steps pretty much anywhere in my house or vehicles. Yes, I even keep a serious flashlight in my wife’s car. When she found it, she treated me like I was an alcoholic hiding booze. “Do we need to have an intervention?”
Even though I may have enough flashlights to adequately equip Atilla and ALL his Huns on an extended foray across Asia, when Olight contacted me and asked if I wanted to write a review on a new unreleased product, I jumped at the chance. I’ve been more than happy with previous Olight offerings I own – quality has been excellent and innovation always seems to take a front seat with the products Olight brings to the table.
The package that arrived was deceptively small – I was expecting maybe a new big 30,000 lumen beast of a flashlight or a new camping lantern – but what Olight sent me excited me even more. You see, the freshly-released Olight Warrior Mini turns out to be an almost-perfect Every Day Carry (EDC) flashlight. Let’s dig into the specs to see how they pulled this feat off.
ENTER THE WARRIOR….MINI
The Olight Warrior Mini is, as far as I can tell, the smallest one could probably make a flashlight and still accept the high-capacity 18650-sized battery cell. A very scant 4.19 inches in length and just under an inch in width, the Warrior Mini’s small exterior dimensions and 3.7 ounce weight mean that this little beast of a light can offer serious output and long battery life in a light that slips into your pocket or purse with minimal hassle.
The Warrior Mini’s included 3,500 mAh rechargeable lithium-Ion battery packs enough capacity to throw a ton of light out of the diminutive machined, knurled aluminum body of the flashlight. The maximum “Mode 1” output screams out a hot 1,500 lumens/9,025 candela of stark white LED love until the Warrior Mini automatically dials back the power output a few minutes later to cut back heat production. Mode 2 puts out 500 lumens, Mode 3 120 lumens, Mode 4 15 lumens, and Mode 5 is a power-sipping 1 lumen. The battery will last about 4 hours on max output, or if you can live with 1 lumen of light, the battery will last a jaw-dropping 45 days of continuous-on. The middle of the road Mode 3 will have you enjoying a very useful 120 lumens of light for 18 hours between charges. Beam throw is listed at 190 meters with the 1,500 lumen Model 1 setting. The light is manufactured to the IPX8 standard to withstand 2 meters of water immersion and a 1.5 meter drop onto a solid surface with no ill effects.
We’ll get to how the controls operate shortly, but the Warrior Mini’s control suite includes a metal tail cap button that doubles as a wireless charger, and a small side switch button with a green light that glows when the light is on; this lighting feature helps you find the side switch in the dark to change power output levels. The light in the side switch also helps indicate the battery’s power level; a green light showing means you have over 60% of juice left in the 18650; an orange light calls out between 60% and 10% of battery life, and a red light means you better find a charger post haste.
Included in the packaging with the light are a slick proprietary Olight magnetic charging cord, a two-way pocket clip that allows you to drop the light in a pocket or even mount the light on the brim of a baseball cap for use as an ad hoc headlamp. A lanyard is provided as well, and the required user manual finishes off the box contents.
USING THE OLIGHT WARRIOR MINI EDC
As soon as I pulled the light out of the package and performed the obligatory pre-use charge (as per the directions), the Olight Warrior Mini got dropped right in my pocket and started getting carried during my daily routine. The small size is a refreshing change from my older Fenix PD35TAC, which is far larger than the Warrior Mini. My standard rechargeable bedside light, a Fenix TK20R, absolutely dwarfs the Olight Warrior Mini – and both Fenix lights I use offer 500 lumens less total output than the Olight! It’s crazy, this unstoppable onward march of illumination progress – but I digress.
The first thing I noticed about the light was that the Warrior Mini sits in my pocket with the lens facing UP; most lights with pocket clips orient the body of the flashlight with the lens facing DOWN. A couple times I had the controls unintentionally activated while the light was in my pocket and I was rewarded a 500 lumen blast of light directly in my face. At nighttime, an accident like this would ruin your night vision, or signal your location to anyone or anything that could see the light – so keep that in mind.
The included pocket clip has its own located groove machined in the body of the flashlight, so it doesn’t spin around on you; its location is locked in directly opposite the side switch button, a feature I approve of immensely. On other lights, the clip is free to rotate around the barrel of the flashlight body, which is zero help for use indexing on the side switch. With the Warrior Mini, you KNOW that the side switch is always on the other side of the clip – easy to find in the dark, even with gloves on. Now, if only Olight could machine another groove to relocate the clip so the Warrior Mini sits lens-down in my pocket, I’d be positively ecstatic!
Bringing the light into action from a clipped pocket location is easy with practice, though the knurling on the body of the Warrior Mini definitely seems to enjoy digging into clothes. This is, of course, the reason the knurling exists – traction on surrounding objects so that the light stays in place, whether in hand or in pocket. However, I’m sure repeated quick-draws may affect the pocket lining of your favorite pair of jorts negatively.
The output of this little EDC flashlight is positively unreal. 1500 lumens is just a ridiculous amount of light, and the LED bulb and lens combine to throw the projected beam in such a manner that picking out targets at over 100 yards is easy. However, the heat generated by the light at this maximum level is borderline scalding after a couple minutes; the warmth is enough to be quite uncomfortable after not much time, so keep that in mind. As stated before, the light does dial back the power output after just a few minutes to avoid cooking itself (and you!) to death. Honestly, in reality, I found myself with the light’s memory set to the 500 or usually the 120 lumen output level, which was absolutely adequate for nighttime chores outside like walking the dog or working on a car in the dark – higher levels or light could be almost blinding in close-quarters use, but the higher output levels are available instantaneously through the controls if needed.
The Warrior Mini has the welcome ability to tail-stand; that is, standing on its base and projecting upwards to use as an area light. There are three small bumps stationed around the tailcap switch that allow the light to stand on its own on a flat, level surface; they also help a little to prevent accidentally triggering the light via the tailcap switch.
The “strike bezel” (designed probably for light-duty offensive operations in a pinch) offers very slight notches, which allow a small amount of light to show through around the bezel when the light is placed lens-down on a flat surface, allowing you to see at a quick glance if you accidentally left your light on.
CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
One of the most brilliantly useful features of the Olight Warrior Mini is its recharging capability. The included magnetic charging cable plugs into any USB port to obtain its power, and the blue business end snaps positively onto the metal tailcap of the Warrior Mini to charge the battery, a la an Apple Watch. This system is far and away superior to most other light’s systems that use micro USB ports with a silly rubber plug cap for several reasons. One, the charging cable doesn’t care about orientation; get it close and the magnet snaps the cable to the light instantly. Two, there are no charging ports to get dusty, dirty, or leaky. Three, the charging cable has a light built into it to indicate the charging status at a glance; red means the unit is charging, green means it’s full. Wicked easy. And the charging indicator light is visible night or day, making the whole system very easy on the end user. Also, it makes finding the light very easy in the dark in a half-awake stupor.
The Olight Warrior Mini does not work with CR123A batteries, just a heads up. Circuit protected rechargeable 18650 only!
The Olight Warrior Mini’s gloriousness and simultaneous downfall is its insane suite of innovative features. Reading the instructions will leave you scratching your head somewhat. The possible combinations of output levels, lockout features, strobes, memory, and programmable features is dizzying, and, in my opinion, needlessly complicated. The availability of all these features from a 4.1 inch long flashlight is absolutely incredible, but I find myself in a bit of an option paralysis when I go to use the light and it’s not in the output level I require. Do I push the side button and hold, or half push on the tailcap? Or maybe I set the memory to the wrong level? Do I double click the side button or go with a long hold? It’s a head-scratcher for sure, and I’ll admit I haven’t mastered the process after a week of using the light. The light offers programmable modes; I would really enjoy a light that just offers three modes through one butting: low (5 lumens) medium (120 or 500 lumens) and then the beast mode high output. Sometimes, simpler is better – especially in high-stress operations.
I won’t go into the full operation of the light options, but in a quick nutshell, the tailcap can be used for on/off purposes, but also, depending on the programmed mode and how hard you push the tailcap switch, it cycles between Medium, strobe, and turbo Mode 1. The side button can be used for on/off as well, and holding the button down has the light automatically switch between the 5 lumen, 120 lumen, and 500 lumen modes in a repeating cycle. It can also activate the turbo mode with a double-click, or the side switch can activate the 1 lumen “Moonlight” mode by holding it for one second. Holding the side button for two seconds or longer locks the light, and triple-clicking the side switch kicks the strobe on. You got all that?
I’m sure with prolonged use and lots of practice, the modes become more second nature, but at this point, I’ll admit it’s needlessly confusing. Great options to have, just lots of them accessed via multiple controls.
WRAPPING IT UP
Man, I’m not going to lie, I really, REALLY love this light. It’s small enough to carry in a side pants pocket without being obtrusive, yet the Olight Warrior Pro walks a fine line in dimensions by being just barely large enough to contain and harness the incredible juice-carrying capacity offered by a 18650 battery. The whole package is very attractive, offered in multiple colors (camo and black, as well as the desert tan my light is in). The simplicity and benefits offered by the innovative charging system are brilliant and top-notch, and the versatility means the Olight Warrior Mini can perform a job that, just a few years previously, couldn’t be fulfilled by a light that slips in a pocket.
If the Olight Warrior Mini could have another groove to offer multiple pocket clip locations to switch up the carrying orientation of the light, and if it had a standard “tactical” mode that had just three output settings for simplicity’s sake in high-stress environments, Olight would have an absolute winner on their hands. As it is, the Olight Warrior Mini is as close to anything I’ve used to being the perfect EDC light. Without hyperbole, you really need to grab one and see for yourself. Even if your wife gets mad at you for having “too many” flashlights.