You know those cheapo gadgets you pick up at the dime store or from the racks by supermarket checkouts? That’s the kind of throwaway gadget you think you’ve got when you pick up the Clamplight MINI from Blackfire. Which is a shame, because it’s actually pretty good.
I spent the weekend either on my bike, in a tent or sitting in a lake to avoid mosquitoes, and I tossed the tiny Clamplight MINI into my panniers to test it out. It’s a little flashlight with a clamp on one end and a hinged lamp on the other. The two halves are joined together with a twisting waist. This lets you clamp the light to anything, and have it point in any direction.
The Clamplight MINI weighs just 37 grams (1.3 ounces) with the batteries (3xLR44) inside, and runs for up to 55 hours. The LED light is bright and focused, yet broad enough that you can clip it into the apex of your tent to use as a ceiling lamp.
The downside is the switch mechanism, which feels so cheap that it casts the rest of the lamp in a bad light. It feels like the rattly kind of crap you’d find on a 99-cent kids’ toy. I also had trouble with the lens assembly twisting loose, which in turn made the actual switch inside lose contact with the outer switch.
You can fix this somewhat by bending the internal metal strip/switch to put more pressure on the outer switch, but that strip is soldered directly to a circuit board, so it’s not ideal.
That said, the unit is super-useful. You can position it anywhere and because of its ultralight weigh, you can even use it as a makeshift headlamp. If you wear a trucker cap, you could clip it up there. The peak of my cycling cap was a little to bendy to support it, but I could clamp it to the arm of my spectacles and forget about it.
Apart from the switch, then, the Clamplight MINI is a fantastic gadget, and as it can be had on Amazon for as little as $4.19, it’s probably worth it. In the future, I’ll probably go with a proper headlamp, but you can’t beat the Clamplight MINI for versatility and weight.
Clamplight MINI by Blackfire ($8 list)
The good: absurdly lightweight, versatile, bright, long-lasting.
The bad: Crappy switching mechanism left me in the dark more than once.
The verdict: Cheap enough that you can overlook the annoying switch.
Buy from Blackfire