The Hoku is the first light I remember seeing from Laulima, with many people encouraging me to buy one. When you look at that light on the website — you aren’t sure the scale, then you see it next to other lights and you are amazed at how tiny it is. I almost pulled the trigger so many times I cannot count, but it is a twisty light and I generally do not like a twisty.
Then, I heard Laulima was making a Hoku Clicky, similar in size, just a touch longer. I knew I was buying it, but I knew it would sell fast and I was going to be fast asleep in Italy when it launched. Thankfully, a friend came through and snagged it for me.
And I am glad he did, it’s a truly amazing light. It has some flaws, but the good outweighs the bad here and creates a light that gives everything else in my collection a run for it’s money.
Power & Emitter
The Hoku clicky uses the ‘Hoku Engine’ which is a FET driver with guppydrv Rev.1 and provides the user with 24 user selectable programming groups (inclusive of memory and non-memory options). This is one of those lights where the programming groups will either be absolutely perfect for you, or annoyingly slightly off from perfect for you. It is unlikely to be a complete miss, so that’s nice.
By default Laulima ships this light with the excellent Nichia 519A 4500k emitter which is a solid all around performing emitter. Reach out to them if you want something different, not saying they will, but they might.
But, with a small size you get to small annoyances. The first is the power, which comes from a single 10440 Flat or Button Top cell. This is a AAA sized battery, but not AAA (to be clear), which has a capacity for most offerings around 350mAh — or basically nothing. The light is activated via a tail switch which is unfortunately both small in diameter (because the light is small) and a reverse clicky switch (the lesser of the clicky switch options).
The emitter is great, the driver is great, the power source is not great — but understandable — this switch is a miss. Let’s move on.
When you pick this light up, you’ll first notice that the 7075 Aluminum is finished exceptionally well. Then you will wonder how it is possible that it weighs this little. Then you’ll click it on and find the switch a little more recessed that you thought, a little smaller than ideal, and it takes some movement to get the reverse click to engage. And then you’ll be amazed by how bright the output is, and how ideal the beam shape.
After all of that, you’ll get called to do something more productive than playing with yet another flashlight and drop it into your pocket. About 10 minutes later you are going to have a mild panic attack, because you’ll think you lost it. Until you stick your hand back in your pocket and realize it is somehow still there. Because it’s so small and so lightweight, it disappears in your pocket at all times. One time, I thought I forgot to grab a light for the day, and tossed another light in my pocket, only to realize the Hoku Clicky was already in my pocket — and thus I was now carrying two lights (happy accident!).
That’s the thing with this light, it is everything you could ever need in a light. As long as your needs for a light are very short lived. At 350mAh, you cannot count on run time with this light, you can only count on it being great while it is on. And sure, carrying an extra 10440 cell (or three) in a bag is easy stuff, but you still have to carry at least 3 total to equal the capacity of the 14500 cells — insane to think about.
So the 10440 cell choice bothers me on an intellectual level, but in practice it has yet to be an issue. I don’t tend to choose this light when I know I need to use a light a lot. And likewise, I don’t choose it when I travel. That mitigates most of the range anxiety you get with low capacity cells like this. This light is strictly a day time carry for me, but for that it’s quite good, with one exception.
That exception is the tail switch being a reverse clicky. It’s a good switch for sure. But given the deeper recess, the small diameter, and the reverse clicky it can require a little more dexterity to activate. Especially given how small the light body is overall. The upside of this, though, is that I would be shocked if this light ever activated accidentally, which is good given the low capacity battery.
Ok, but the good far outweighs the bad here:
- Machining is best in industry
- Output is stellar
- Stupidly lightweight
- Carries incredibly well
- Amazing pocket clip
- Outstanding customer care
- Looks incredible
The truth about this is: this light is really everything you need in a light, but it would be overly hard for this to be your only light, given the low capacity batteries. I would kill for this to be a dual driver which could run off a standard AAA NiMH battery cell.
I would also love for the light to be fully programmable — a small quibble not a major one. Hell, change the switch to a forward clicky and I’ll quickly forget any of the other issues with this light. It’s tremendous.
I love this light, I want to be clear about that — this light is fucking amazing and I love it. It might end up being my most used light of the year, just given how great it is to carry.
I think this light could be ideal as part of a two light setup with something that can get more capacity as your second light. Either way, hard to regret owning this light, and I doubt I’ll regret getting a second one down the road. Actually, two of these lights in your pocket might be a pretty solid setup for all conditions…
To buy, start here.