I had an older Preon (P2) for years, and it was one of those lights that I never really loved, never really hated, but always found useful. I snagged the current Preon P1 mkIII in HAIII Black to check out with the goal of trying to find something which walks a fine line: small, tail switch, and nice to carry. That’s not as easy to find as you might think, but this light might have perfected it.
Emitter and Power
I have a lot of issues with smaller lights. The Reylight Pineapple Mini didn’t stick for me because it was both too tall of a light, and also had poor battery capacity. Because of that, I steer clear of the 10440 battery format — while powerful it is low on capacity. Here, the P1 wisely chose to use the AAA battery format, which is clearly stated to be NiMH (rechargeable) batteries as the strong preference. That’s what we have here, good stuff, easy stuff.
The emitter is a Nichia 219c 5000k 90CRI, which is nothing really amazing, but also nothing really poor. A warmer option would be nice, but then it visually will look a little less bright in brighter settings. As it is, this is the correct choice right now for this light. And it shows in the runtime/output specs:
- Low: 1 lumen, 45 hrs
- Medium: 15 lumens, 5 hrs
- High: 60 lumens, 1.2 hrs
- Max: 100 lumens, 1 hr-
Max throttles down to high after 30 seconds, but this is impressive runtimes on a small battery, in a small light. Even if you always need high, you are looking at a little over an hour of runtime, which is staggering for how tiny this light is. Most of my use is in the Medium range, and there you really start to get insane runtime from a AAA battery. This is a big deal, don’t gloss over the runtimes by focusing on the lower output levels.
Use and Carry
The first reason you choose something from ‘Dark Sucks’ which is the Prometheus and FourSevens brands (among others) is that they make some of the best pocket clips on the market. They are not sexy looking, but they are functionally perfect. The clip here on the Preon P1 is equally amazing.
The size is also perfect. It is just large enough that I can comfortably hold the light in multiple ways for how I need to use it, but still keeping the light small enough and lightweight enough so that it disappears in your pocket — this makes it an easy light to always have with you. With some tail switch lights, the body can get too narrow, or not long enough, such that it makes operating the switch difficult — this light sits right on the line there and pulls it off.
The tail switch is what really kicks this light into excellent categories for me. Most small lights become twisty lights, where you twist the head of the light to operate it. That’s great because it saves a ton of space, but it’s rather shitty to use when you only have one hand free and you need to turn it on/off or adjust the mode. Here you get a really nice silicone boot switch which feels like a really tiny variant of McClicky switches. It’s amazing. The switch is nicely raised so that you are not fumbling for it, and you can easily locate it even with larger fingers.
Which brings us to the modes, which is a forward clicky, so you tap through the modes and click all the way to lock it in. For this type of light, the modes are nearly perfectly spaced. The lowest is great for dark spaces and the medium and high are excellent for most general uses. Even the beam shape is nicely done.
All around, using this light is second only to how nice this is to carry. It’s not my favorite for low output, but it also doesn’t feel like a huge trade off when I carry this over an HDS or something more powerful. It’s not going to wow you with output, but I’ve used this light in enough settings now to know that it has yet to leave me absolutely needing more power. So for all of my EDC tasks with this light, it filled the void perfectly.
This is the kind of light that you are underwhelmed by at first, but find yourself using it a lot, and then you are glad you have it. The light is simple, it’s easy, but most of all it’s very useful. No one is going to be wowed by this day one, but I suspect everyone will love it over time.
I hope a mkIV comes out soon, which upgrades the LED and changes nothing else. At $45-55 this light is a great offering for those who want something really small, but really good.