Nitecore seems to love the TIP series of lights. They’ve released a stainless steel version, and sent one out for me to review. I happen to like stainless lights, so I already kind of liked it from the start.
There are three colors of this stainless steel light. One is PVD titanium coated and one (or both of the others) is “mirror polish”. I have the PVD titanium coated version. The manual does mention a “TIP SS CRI” but I don’t see those for sale (yet?) anywhere.
MSRP is $34.95.
Another nice iteration of the TIP series. I’d love for this one to be high CRI (and a SS CRI version may be available soon – manual indicates such). But this is a solid little light, and the stainless adds some nice heft.
- Nitecore TIP SS Tropical
- Split ring
- Small ring
Package and Manual
Black and orange box but this time it has a window! And not only that, the buttons may be activated while the light is fully inside the package. For demonstration purposes, of course. The box has the usual Nitecore-level printing with specs and features.
The manual too, is all Nitecore. It’s a large fold out sheet, printed with a bunch of languages, including English. The manual does a good job of covering all the info you’d need about the light. And one thing I love about Nitecore? Their manuals are almost all available online! Here’s the Tip SS.
Build Quality and Disassembly
It could be just the extra weight of the stainless steel body, but this version of the TIP actually feels a good bit more solid than other TIPs I have. It could also be the coating, which is very glossy and smooth (and also happens to look very nice). But by and large this is just a standard Nitecore TIP.
The light will tail and headstand, surprisingly.
I did not disassemble this light. There are four screws on the body but as I recall it requires more than removing these screws to disassemble this light. Emitter swaps have been performed on these lights, though, so it can be done.
Officially: Length: 60.8 mm, Head :24.5 mm, Weight: 32 g.
It’s a small little light. Not the smallest keychain light by any means, but it’s small.
It does stack up exactly with other Tips.
Bigger than the Tube, of course.
The TIP SS ships with a plastic clip attached. This clip has multiple functions. Primarily it’s a pocket clip. Secondarily it can be oriented so that the sides cover the usb charging port. (There is no cover for this port otherwise!) The clip is fully removable.
On the tail there’s also a loop where a lanyard may be attached.
The TIP SS is powered by a non-swappable internal cell. This cell is recharged via a micro-USB port on the side of the light.
The UI of this light makes running turbo nonstop hard (if not impossible – I didn’t figure out a way). So the runtime is two sessions of turbo, which each step down to High after 30 seconds. Thus, the majority of this runtime is really on High, after two 30 seconds of turbo.
Below see the charge test of the TIP SS. The cell’s capacity looks to be around 550mAh, and takes around 2 hours to fully charge. The cell is quoted at 500mAh, so there’s some nice headroom allowed here.
The buttons turn from red to green when charging is complete.
User Interface and Operation
The TIP SS and the TIP2017 share a UI (and manual), so please forgive me for pasting the UI from the other review to this section.
There are two black square buttons, both with indicating leds (or one led between the two, more likely). One is labeled with power symbol, and the other has 4 dashes – this is the “mode” button. It’s not really possible to feel the difference (in pocket, for example) based on these symbols. Both of these buttons are very clicky, thought they interestingly have a slightly different click. It isn’t a bad click strictly speaking, but it’s in no way quiet.
There are two mode groups entirely. One is “Daily” (factory default) and one is “Constant-On” mode. To switch between these two, hold both switches until the light flashes. One flash = Daily; two flashes = Constant-On. Mode groups may be changed while the light is off, as well as on. If on, the light will still be on in the same output as before.
In Daily, the light will turn off after 30 seconds. In Constant, the light will stay on until the power switch is pressed again.
In either group, click the Mode button (three lines) to cycle L>M>H. There is mode memory in both groups, so that the light will come on in whatever state it was last in.
In either group, hold (>0.6s) the Mode button for Turbo, or the Power button for Low.
In either group,the TIP SS will stepdown from turbo after 30 seconds (and if you’re in Daily mode, the light should then shut off.)
There’s a power indicating option: Click the Mode button while the light is off, and the switches (not the main emitter) will flash according to cell charge.
3 flashes, cell is >50%
2 flashes, cell is below 50%
1 flash, cell is below 10%
Nitecore says it’ll take approximately 2 hours to charge the tip. I found that to be about right, but even a little high. It only took 100 minutes for me to charge from depleted.
There may be some further nuances to the UI, so I’d recommend checking the manual. This is by far the most advanced Tip UI, so it’s worth having a look at.
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Mode Measured Lux|
LED and Beam
This TIP SS uses a Cree XP-G2, as the other non-CRI Tips do. The outputs are largely the same, with the minor exception of an imperceptible bump at the Mid mode. The beam as you’d expect, is very floody due to the small orange peel reflector – Probably the ideal beam profile for a keychain light.
Tint vs BLF-348
Beamshots, Runtime, and Lux Measurements
|Nitecore Tip SS|
|Glamour Shots||Beamshots [0.3″, f/8, ISO 100, 5000k]|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||360|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd||1294.8|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||72.0|
|Throw (Claimed) (m)||74|
Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….
Nitecore makes some of their own competition in this category. The Tube, the Thumb, and the variations on those two lights, make this a big category. Then there is the Mecarmy SGN3, a very similar light with more leds, and a shallower reflector. It’s rated for half the lumens of the TIP, and for a much higher cost. There is a Surefire variant. (And in case you’re interested in my opinion, I like the three emitter options on the SGN3, but not at the added cost. I’d probably pick this TIP for price considerations, and the dual switch).
The Manker Lad is still a competitor in this category and it’s quite compelling. It has a more featured UI, more emitters (including red) and a sealed port for the micro-USB charging. It’s a worthy contender. I’d still love to compare these two lights in person!
What I like
- Metal body
- Two mode groups add versatility
- Quite bright for size
- Indicating switches
- Dual switches
- Nichia option
What I don’t like
- Just not in love with the clip. It’s a bit bulky. Glad it’s there, though, and I’m not sure how I could improve the design….
I have a couple of Skilhunts that will probably come out as one review, and the SkyRC MC3000 up fairly soon, too.
- This light was provided by Nitecore for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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- 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. Note I’ve upgraded that sheet so that now, you may subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!