On The Road U16 Flashlight Review

Preface

I’m on a streak of testing lights with on-board charging lately.  I’ve liked On The Road before, and this looked like a fun little light.  I asked GearBest for it, and they obliged.  So here’s my review of the On The Road U16.


Official Specs and Features

Sorry!  No official spec page for this light, since I can’t find it on the otrlight.com official page!

Versions

There are two options here.  One “white” and one “warm white.”  The unit seen here is “warm white.”

MSRP

The price at GearBest is $32.80, which I’ll take to be MSRP (thought actual quoted MSRP is probably higher).  Who’s to say, with no mfg page. 🙂


Short Review

I expected this to be a fine light (“passable” might be a better term) but I like it quite a bit.  The warm white is very very warm (they say 3500-4000K but there’s just no way).  I like the charging (a little high for 16340) and I like the UI well enough (it’s simple!).  This is a nice light in my opinion.

Long Review

What’s Included

  • On The Road (OTR from here on out!) U16
  • OTR ORB1607 700mAh 16340
  • Lanyard
  • Charging cable
  • Padded pouch
  • Manual
  • Spare o-rings (2)

20170626-IMG_2468

Pictures

Here’s the full album, the beamshots, the runtime, and the chargetime.

Package and Manual

The U16 ships in one of my favorite packages: simple cardboard with not a lot of printing.  GearBest puts their own inventory sticker on the side of the box.  There’s a couple of QR codes, too.  One links to the OTR homepage (which again, doesn’t seem to contain information about this light) and the other is to OTR’s WeChat.  Neither very useful for us, I think.

The manual is simple but does explain things.  I find that the explanation of the indicating side switch could be much more thorough.  And the UI is not complex but the diagram could be simpler, too.

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 1.43.52 PM.png

Build Quality and Disassembly

This is a very solid little light. The head in particular – not that most heads are have a ‘loose’ feeling – but this one feels so sturdy and chunky.

The threads are anodized, making for smooth screwing.  The clip actually sits in a clip-specific recess in the head.  Which is neat and oddly specific.  But it adds a nice bit of specificity to the button and charging cover.

The head comes completely off the body tube, and the bezel unscrews easily.  The lens comes out, and has an o-ring, then the reflector.  The reflector comes right out too.  The mcpcb rests on a little shelf.  The whole interior of this area is anodized.

20170626-IMG_2478.jpg

Both the head and the tail have springs

Size

Regardless of the specifics, the head on the U16 has quite a bit of mass.

I measure 31.05mm x 71.2mm.  Definitely not the smallest 16340 light (that’s probably the Olight S Mini), but it’s very pocketable.

20170626-IMG_2469.jpg

Above is the Astrolux S42.  Below, the H1 Nova and TorchLAB BOSS.

20170626-IMG_2487.jpg

Retention

The U16 has a pre-installed clip, which as I said above, resides in a very specific recess on the head.  The clip is very tight but I was able to get it off.  It’s reversible, too.   Small lights often flip out of my pocket – that wasn’t an issue with this light.  Something about the weight or the balance… I’m not sure.  But this one stayed put.

A lanyard is provided, and would attach through a hole in the tailcap (seen below).

20170626-IMG_2477

Here you can see the recess in the head – that’s the only spot the clip will alight and rest properly (this isn’t a problem at all).

20170626-IMG_2482.jpg

The pouch is a thick padded type pouch with a drawstring.  Holds the light well, and is roomy inside.

There’s also a magnet, which is plenty strong to hold this small light in many orientations.  Removing the tailspring will allow removal of the magnet.

Power

A single 16340 cell powers this light. OTR kindly provides a 700mAh cell, too.  It is an ORB1607, as seen here.  I am not sure if this cell has protection or not, but I will guess that it does not.  CR123’s will work.  18350 cells will positively not work – the cell tube is very narrow, with just enough room to get the 16340 cell in and out easily.  With a head this big and beefy, I’d really love to see this as an 18350 light, if for no other reason than to match the head size a little better.  Furthermore, I’m sure this light will be (is?) released in the 18650 format, so why not just have one tube diameter?  (And I do think this light would be good in 18650 format).

20170626-IMG_2483

The U16 does have on-board charging. 20170626-IMG_2484

Performance on the provided cell is adequate.  100% output doesn’t last long – it drop to 95% output by 30 seconds, 90% by 0.9m and the sharp downward slope at 83% happens at 2.5m.  Temperature remains fairly comfortable throughout.

runtime.png

Here you can see the charging graph, which was started after the runtime above (at 3.2V).  You can also see one reason I’m suspicious that there’s an 18650 version: The charging “force” is (in my opinion) a little high for the small 16340 cell.  Granted it falls off pretty quickly so maybe not TOO fast charging for the cell, but it’d be much more suited to charging an 18650.  The light was slightly warm during charging, too.  Also note that the “700mAh” cell provided didn’t accept quite 700mAh, BUT the runtime also didn’t discharge the cell “fully” (only down to 3.2V, that is).  So the cell is probably labeled pretty accurately.

chargetime.png

User Interface and Operation

There is one switch on this light; an indicating side electronic switch.  The switch indicates blue and red, and is a very nicely clicky button.  One thing that often frustrates me about lights with a rubber boot over the charge port is confusion when finding the switch by feel.  I don’t really have that problem with this light for a couple of reasons.  First, that boot and the switch are different enough in shape for easy differentiation.  Secondly, the clip is specifically located – remember that groove in the head for the clip?  Well that groove means it’s easy to learn exactly where the switch is, by the location of the clip.  Handy!

Here’s the UI table.

State Action Result
Off Click No Action
Off  Hold On (Mode Memory)
Any  Double Click Turbo
On Click Mode cycle (L>M>H) (Turbo/strobes excluded)
Off Triple Click Strobe
 Strobe Group Click Strobe cycle (Strobe>Beacon?SOS)
On Hold Off

20170702-IMG_2722.jpg

Modes

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Mode Measured Lux* Estimated Output (lm) Tailcap Amps
UltraLow 2 140h 144 0.019
Low 150  2h30m 2430 50 0.290
Mid 360  1h 5590 400 0.708
High 720  35m 10610 650 1.498
Turbo 1020 13900 1000 2.28

* This category basically meaningless since I don’t have a calibrated sphere.  I’m still recording these values, and working on calibration.  They are useful in the sense that they give actual mode spacing information.

Note that “Turbo” isn’t a FL1 rated mode, and has no official runtime.

The U16 does not have Low Voltage Protection, but the light does step down when the cell is depleted.  However, it will stay on at it’s lowest state until the cell is completely empty.

LED and Beam

The emitter contained herein is a Cree XP-L HD, rated at 3500-4000K (or 6500-7000K).  I have the warm white version, and let me tell you, it is warm.  Warm warm.  I can only think of one light (DQG Tiny 26650) which might have been warmer than this Warm White light.  If warm is your thing, then the U16 is your light.  The beam profile is good too.  The reflector is shallow (ok, very shallow), and just almost smooth, but just a little bit of orange peel.  This makes a beam with a medium sized but well defined spot, and little spill.

20170626-IMG_2474.jpg

Tint vs BLF-348

20170702-IMG_2721.jpg

So warm.

Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements

On The Road U16
Emitter Cree XM-L2
Emitter Notes White and Warm
Cell 16340
Runtime 16340
Chargetime 16340
Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k] 16340
LVP? Soft
Claimed Lumens (lm) 720
Lux (Measured) 312
At (m) 3.994
Candela (Calculated) in cd 4977.04
Throw (Calculated) (m) 141.10
Throw (Claimed) (m)

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

There’s one pretty glaring bit of competition for this U16:  The JETBeam EC-R16.  Even has a similar name….  I think it pans out to be practically the same light – if the brand name is worth the extra $15 or so that the JETBeam will cost you, then go for that one.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Size is good
  • It carries well, and is good in hand.
  • I kind of like the extremely warm tint, particularly for getting around the house at bedtime.
  • A great ‘full package’ light kit.

What I don’t like

  • No 18350 option.
  • UI: Single click from off doesn’t do anything.

Up Next

I have a JETBeam to review next: the E10R.  Also have a big fun light up after that, one I’m pretty excited to test.

Notes

  • This light was provided by GearBest.com for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.wordpress.com.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons.
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