Different is often a bad thing in design. One of the ugliest automobiles ever made, the Pontiac Aztek was sold as different. Whitworth bolts were designed specifically to be different. The past 20 years of consumer electronics is story of failed attempts to make a music player that was different from the iPod (I had to check to see if the iPod was still being made...it is, it just looks like an iPhone and functions the same way, but can’t make calls...). In a business where were trends and human anatomy set the table, it rarely pays to be different.
But the Klarus is both very good and very different. The body tube, format, UI, switch, and the like are all normal fair, but when it comes to the optics it is starkly different. Instead of the normal optics of an EDC light—some kind of reflector or a TIR—you get an aspheric lens. This lens results in a beam with zero hotspot and zero spill—its just one unified circle of light with no brightness differentiation. It has exceedingly limited throw. Like I wrote—very different. But in role, as a true EDC worklight, the Klarus is great. It might not be what you expect, and it is probably pretty awful at walking the dog, but the Klarus’s difference makes is exceptionally good at specific tasks, something most “jack of all trades” EDC light design’s can’t say. Furthermore there are a lot of good touches that make this light an item of obvious quality. Its weird. Its different. But it is also very good.
Here is the product page. The Klarus Mi1C costs between $44.95 and $69.95. There is a black aluminum version for $44.95. There is a copper version for $54.95. There is a titanium version for $69.95. It seems that the aspheric lens is only in the aluminum version. Here is a written review. Here is a video review. Here is a link to Flashlightz.com, where you can find the Klarus Mi1C, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:
Here is my review sample:
Twitter Review Summary: Different is good.
If you have carried an oLight S-series light before this torch is very familar to you—magnetic tailcap, side switch, shrinking form factor. This is a pretty standard layout and it is a good one. I still like the good ole tailswitch, but absent some series engineering (like that seen on the Aeon, Mk III) it is hard to squeeze such a switch into a light this size.
The Mi1C distinguishes itself from the crowd with smart, tiny touches. First there is the washer style clip—it is a huge improvement over the traditional friction fit clip. Second there is the blocky tailcap that makes the light easier in the pocket and better on the hands (and a painted magnetic surface—it is less likely to scratch). Finally there is the switch which just FEELS better. In a market where there is so much the same, a product gets ahead by attending to details.
Fit and Finish: 2
Klarus has had some of the best fit and finish in the flashlight world for a while now. Its not noticeably worse than Surefire’s fit and finish, which, as you know, is a high complement. The threads are silky. The parts are pleasing to the touch. The emitter is centered. Everything just feels right. The light also has the solidity you have come to expect from good lights—there is no parts wobble between threaded joints.
One problem these ultra tiny lights have is that theya re hard to hold on to. This one is a bit better than average thanks to the deep and aggressive texturing. It also has no sharp edges which makes pulling it out of a pocket nice. The clip also adds a bit to the grip.
This light is perfect in the pocket. Except for the clip oreints the light in the wrong direction. I would prefer emitter down to guard agaist damage to the most sensitive part of the light. But for that, there is nothing I would change. Unfortunately, I think this is a big deal and sort of a no brainer. Also, you can’t switch the clip around to fix the problem. This orientation does allow for cap brim lighting, which is not something I ever use, but I guess if you do, its helpful to know the light can do this. Still, the tradeoff is not, in my mind, worth it. Emitter down please.
Despite the strange reflector, the Mi1C has plenty of lumens to throw. The high is fine, the low is fine, but it does terrible in a comparison of normal lights because of its beam type. It looks like it is 1/3-1/4 as bright as a similarly bright light like the oLight S1R. The reason is that the light is spread out over the entire beam with no focusing at all. The output is fine, but buyer beware—it doesn’t SEEM as bright.
Compared to other similarly priced lights, the runtime is just fine. I would imagine there is a lot of shared parts and circuit layouts for lights in this price range. If you liked the S1, this will do. If you want something more, well, buy a Muyshondt. Above average, but not elite.
Beam Type: 2
Okay, here we go.
This is the first aspheric non-zoomy I have used and when I initially got it I was baffled. Why would anyone do this? The beam type kills the perceived lumens, or so I thought. It just seemed like it was different to be different.
Then our oven stopped working. Dead. Wouldn’t turn on, door wouldn’t open. Dead.
After some fidgeting around and checking the usual suspects we decided to buy a new oven. I wanted to save a few bucks, so I decided I would do the hook up. The new oven got delivered and I removed the old one. Slowly I coaxed the new one into place and climbed back behind the new appliance. I shymied down behind the countertop and started working. I couldn’t see all that well, even with the kitchen lights on, so I hopped out and got a spotlight from my workshop—no good, I needed light directly overhead. Then I remebered I own about a half dozen lights with magnetic tails and there was metal hood above my head. I tried the S1R—it was either too bright or not bright enough, depending on where I was working. Then I tried the oLight Nova headlamp the H1R with its diffuser lens. It was better but not great. Then I tried the Mi1C. It was perfect. The light was even and clean from edge to edge, every spot got enough light, but not too much to blind me. After about a half and hour of fumbling with a hose that tried to strangle me, I got the oven hooked up. The broad, even beam was perfect for a work light. Nothing I have used even comes close. This is the light you need if you have work to do. Mechanics, plumbers, home inspectors, anyone that needs to illuminate spaces without throw, this is your very best option.
As a side note, one I got the pipe on, checked for leaks with the Palmolive trick, and connected the eletrical, I hopped out from behing the oven and pushed it into place, only to find out that the gas line blocked it from sitting flush against the wall. All that and I still had to call the plumber. I hate plumbing. Carpentry, dry wall, painting, even eletrical, I am fine. I just hate plumbing.
Beam Quality: 2
A perfectly even, precise, and balanced beam of light with no artifacts, distortions, or holes. If you need a work light, you need the light to be clean and that is exactly what the Mi1C delivers.
Clickies are fine. I prefer rotaries like that on the HDS Rotary, but clickies can work. The problem is clickies that screw with debounce times drive me crazy. I like the oLight system because you have a pretty easy way to turn the light on and off. Switching modes should and does require longer presses. But here, off requires a long press. That is a flashlight UI no no. On and off should be the only functions that do not have altered debounce times. Otherwise, the entire UI gets thrown out of whack and that is exactly what happens here. Its not unmanageable, not in the least, but it is less than ideal. Clicky UIs are just complicated, even in the best set up, which is why I prefer rotaries.
UPDATE: In response to comments on Twitter, I am posting a bit more on this issue. The real problem here, in addition to the debounce times for off is the fact that there is no "direct to off" press. To get to off from on you have to pass through other modes and that, combined with the odd debounce time, makes the UI awkward. Thanks for those that brought up this issue.
Hands Free: 2
Magnetic tailcap, anti-roll pocket clip, small enough to go hands free by pinching between the teeth (never recommended)—the Mi1C hits all of the high points. Its great in this category.
Overall Score: 18 out of 20
I am not sure I would prefer this over the Baton series for general EDC. Its a bad walk the dog, take out the trash light as it has no hotspot and virtually no throw. If that rustling noise is more than ten feet away, good luck finding it. But, as a work light, especially indoors, there is nothing I have seen that comes close to this. Think of this is as the flashlight equivalent of the extra-long socket in your socket set—when you need it, its absolutely required. If you are network guy, fumbling in dusty, dark cable closets all day or a plumber, the Mi1C should just automatically be your EDC light. As a worklight, it is fundamentally better than anything I have used or reviewed. Between the hat-brim compatible clip, the magnetic tail cap, and the beam type, there is nothing out there that comes close and is still this pocket friendly. You’ll be stunned at how good this light is compared to a light with a traditional hotspot/spill beam pattern.
Two small dings come in the form of the wonky UI and the clip going in the wrong direction (which, given its use, might not actually be unintentional, either way I still don’t like it). But these dings really pale in comparison to just how good this light is at doing work. Like the Skeletool CX, I wouldn’t carry this everyday (though it is not terrible as an EDC), but when I am being house or yard maintenance man, this is a gimme.
If you have more than one light, you owe it to yourself to get a good worklight and this is the best I have seen so far.
Don’t let the size and side switch fool you, this is not a competitor for the Baton. Klarus wisely decided to move away from that space, which is so utterly dominated by oLight, and make a light that hangs in the workshop next to your wrenches and hammers. In that space, the lighting options are terrible—cheap junky throw ins on combo kits from Lowes on Black Friday or awful bulb and aluminum dish corded numbers. If you really need tough there is always the corded hanger light with a caged light bulb. All of these stink. All are blown away by the Klarus. My purpose built spotlight is a bit better, but can be too bright in tight spaces and is no where near as portable. The only lighting option I have seen that is close is the Festool area light, the Syslight Duo, but they run $435 and even then I would still probably choose the Klarus. Circa 2018, it is top of the heap for worklights, as far as I am concerned.