> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Nano vs. Pico: Battle of the Microlights



Nano vs. Pico: Battle of the Microlights

The eGear Pico Zipper Light. The Streamlight Nano Light. Two tiny LED Microlights, perfect for keychains or pocket kits. They're almost the same size, fairly similar in build, and they run off the same kind of batteries (four IEC-LR41 button cells). Between these two competitors, there's the obvious questions. Which is better? Which to drop your hard earned cash on?

We've got the epic showdown between these two bite-sized lights, and our recommendation for you, right after the jump.

Click below to find out which microlight takes the championship. The results may surprise you!

We're looking at overall build quality/design, brightness/battery life and value for these two little lights, what we feel are the prime considerations for choosing one over the other. Also, note that I have removed the nap hook from my Nano Light previously; both lights come with a fairly similarly sized clip and are equivalent in that regard.

All right, let's get on with the showdown. Ding ding!

ROUND 1: Overall Build Quality/Design
 Both lights are of metal construction and very small, as you can see by the size comparison shot to the right. The Streamlight Nano Light is actually a little bit smaller than the Pico Light -- it is slightly shorter and thinner through the body. For a light like this, which may be taking up space in a cramped PSK, size is important and the Nano Light wins here.

Both lights are turned on by twisting the front bezel of the light. The Pico Light has fairly good knurling on the front and rear of the light, which helps with activation. However, the Pico Light's bezel is fairly narrow, at least in comparison to the Nano Light. The Nano Light has some some less aggressive texturing on the bezel, but it is much wider than on the Pico light -- you actually twist the entire front half of the light in order to turn it on. That gives you a larger surface area to grip versus the Pico light, which is especially noticeable when operating the light one-handed. The Nano Light also twists on more smoothly and easily than the Pico Light, making it easier to activate across the board.

The Pico Light uses a fairly fragile plastic battery carrier to hold the tiny LR41 cells. The Nano Light is just a metal tube inside, like most flashlights. It takes a little bit of dexterity to load batteries into the Nano Light, but it's not too bad. The Pico Light's battery carrier makes it easier to change out cells, but the carrier is also the reason why the Pico is wider all around. The Pico Light will function without the carrier, but without it, the batteries become much harder to load correctly. This isn't a light that you will be devouring batteries on regularly, so the Pico light's battery carrier is a compromise that doesn't earn it much in my book.

Overall, I prefer the Nano Light's design, hands down. It is smaller, easier to operate and has simpler internals.

ROUND 1: Judges score the round 10 - 9 for the Streamlight Nano Light 

ROUND 2: Brightness & Battery Life
Neither of these lights will replace a big Surefire, but they do put out a surprising amount of light for being so tiny. Both lights have a definite hot center, and without any kind of lens or reflector, both have a substantial amount of spill. That makes them good little lights for navigating around at night, which is exactly what you'd want.

The Nano Light's LED does have a very definite blue tint to it, while the Pico is a softer neutral white. A bluish LED doesn't bother me in a microlight like this, where it would in a bigger light. If you're picky about LED color, then it might bother you.

Both the eGear Pico and the Streamlight Nano claim 10 lumens in their marketing materials. Despite the equivalent lumen claims, the Nano appears a little bit brighter than the Pico. I was a bit surprised by this, as I've had the Nano for a while now and have used it a bit, while the Pico Light was brand spanking new. Even with a bit of time on the Nano Light's batteries, it's still noticeably brighter and more powerful than the Pico Light.

Looking at the manufacturer's battery life claims tips us off on why the Nano Light is brighter than the competition. eGear claims 15 hours for the Pico Light, versus 8 hours claimed for the Streamlight. So, you've got a tradeoff to make -- brightness or battery life. In a survival situation, you should be using a light sparingly and conserving battery power, and either light would have adequate juice for several nights of chores and navigation around camp.

I personally side on the more power, shorter battery life camp, but it's really a toss up. This round is a draw.

ROUND 2:  Judges score the round a Draw, 10 - 10.

ROUND 3: Value
The Streamlight Nano Light comes in and settles the fight in this category. The eGear Pico Light usually registers in at around $8.50 to $10 a pop -- I paid $10 at REI for mine, though with a bit of shopping I did find a "Titanium" finish light for under $7. The Streamlight Nano Light is less expensive, usually around the $6 to $7 mark.

The Streamlight Nano light costs less and with better build/design and a brightness, the battle is over.

ROUND 3: Judges score the round 10 - 9 for the Streamlight Nano Light (30 - 28)

BATTLE OF THE MICROLIGHTS WINNER: Official scoring is in, with a unanimous decision for our new champion, the Streamlight Nano Light!!!

The champion.
In my opinion, this battle was a bit of an upset. The more expensive eGear Pico Light, designed with the help of survival guru, Doug Ritter, taken out by the Streamlight Nano Light. Both lights are good products, but the Nano Light wins the head-to-head.

Buy the Streamlight Nano Light on Amazon >

Buy the eGear Pico Zipper Light on Amazon >