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Nitecore EDC33 Review: Tiny Flashlight Boasts Quarter-Mile Reach and ‘Lumen Shield’

The Nitecore EDC33 marries small size with incredible power and runtime for an EDC flashlight that may reset the performance bar.

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When I first read the specs of the Nitecore EDC33, I took a second to check myself. Did I need to get my eyes looked at?

I read it again: 4,000 lumens, a remarkable runtime of 31 hours at 70 lumens, a length of 4.55 inches, and a weight of just 4.48 ounces. “Holy cow, I need to get my hands on this thing,” I thought.

And so I did.

Now, a week later, this tiny light cannon still impresses me. That it is so small, yet has great power and a wonderful user interface makes this newcomer, at least on paper, one of the best flashlights ever made.

But how does it perform? I set out to answer that question straight away. After a few days of testing, I think there’s a lot to like about this flashlight. Its space among the competition is a little less clear, and its bombastic claims are hard to verify. But it’s for certain one heck of a little flashlight.

Nitecore EDC33
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

In short: The Nitecore EDC33 is a very bright, small flashlight. It has a simple user interface, with five power levels plus a blinding “Lumen Shield” mode that combines a spotlight with a huge floodlight. Meant for self-defense, Lumen Shield also allows users to light a large area super clearly, which could come in handy in situations beyond self-defense. The EDC33 is a standout flashlight at a very reasonable price of about $70.

Nitecore EDC33


  • Max lumens 4,000
  • Max beam distance 492 yards
  • Max runtime 63 hrs.
  • Lighting modes Five brightness levels, plus spotlight and Lumen Shield
  • Battery included 4,000mAh 18650 Li-ion battery
  • Bulb type NiteLab UHi 20 LED MAX
  • Length 4.55”, head: 1”, body: .94”
  • Weight 4.48 oz., including battery


  • Small, fits easily in pocket with deep pocket clip
  • Very bright, with useful lower-power modes
  • USB-C charging
  • Easy-to-use lock


  • Gets hot quickly in high-power use
  • Built-in battery cannot be changed

Nitecore EDC33 Review

I’ve only had the EDC33 for a week. But in my short testing, this little light has impressed the heck out of me, especially for its price range.

As noted above, the Nitecore EDC33 is a small flashlight just 4.55 inches long. That makes it small enough to easily clip into your front pocket with the included, nice, deep-carry pocket clip. In this configuration, it’s only a bit bulkier than a typical EDC pocket knife. And indeed, it easily fits in the knife pocket of my LIVSN pants that I wear, well, almost every day (they really are the best pants, but I digress).

So, as an EDC flashlight, the EDC33 has much going for it. But accomplishes its small size through a significant compromise; the battery is built-in, and not removable or exchangeable. For some flashlight aficionados, that is a deal-breaker, as it doesn’t allow for future upgrades or battery replacements.

But personally, it’s a compromise I’m willing to take for several reasons. Primarily, the built-in battery allows for great waterproofing, durability, and heat dispersion — and we’ll get to this last one in a minute; you’ll need it!

Beyond that possible downside, the EDC33 is simply remarkable. I used it over the weekend in the wintery mountains around Breckenridge, Colo. On some chilly nights, I went outside to do some stargazing and also played with a few flashlights. The EDC33 impressed me with its very simple user interface.

Rapid Lock, Lumen Shield

First, it has a “Rapid Lock” system that is basically a small switch that locks the flashlight off. Flip the switch to “lock” and the light won’t turn on in your pocket or pack and waste battery.

It’s a smart locking system. It also allows you to configure the light to use momentary-on, even with the light “locked” off. This could come in handy for security guards or others who may need instant access to light but still want to make sure the light doesn’t get turned fully on.

Once unlocked, you fully press the tail switch to turn the light on or off. A half-press will scroll through the power settings.

Nitecore EDC33 review
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

At any time (and even with the lock function on, if enabled), half-pressing and holding the tailswitch will fire the spotlight, with a crazy 450m range at 1,700 lumens. Want even more? Holding the full press will fire the “Lumen Shield” mode. This is your 4,000-lumen, self-defense, light-up-the-county capability that will blow a lot of minds.

The Lumen Shield setting is essentially a 4,000-lumen floodlight. While it has a slightly lower range than the spotlight mode’s 450 m, the Lumen Shield is stunning. And to me, it’s a wonderful upgrade compared with most tactical flashlights’ strobe feature. Sure, you can use it like a strobe to blind an attacker. But better, you can just light up a massive area for a short time.

And by “short time,” I mean a few seconds. Both the Lumen Shield and spotlight modes are not meant for long runtimes, and they will make the diminutive flashlight super hot, super fast. But to me, that’s fine. The lighting modes should serve their purpose within a few seconds, at which time the standard high beam with 1,200 lumens and 2-hour, 31-minute runtime should suffice.

Nitecore EDC33 LEDs and orange peel reflector
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

Using the flashlight outdoors at night, I found that even the high was more than I would normally want for proximity lighting. The 70-lumen “low” setting with a 31-hour runtime is how I would use this light most of the time for outdoor lighting around campsites or hiking through the woods.

Nitecore EDC33 Versus the Competition

If there’s one flashlight that I trust more than any other, it’s the Fenix PD36R Pro. Having used this light for more than a year now in all kinds of circumstances, it’s proven to be the ideal flashlight for most outdoor uses.

But the PD36R Pro has one big drawback: it costs about $120. Could the Nitecore EDC33, at just $70, offer similar performance in a much smaller package?

I took the two lights on a walk around my neighborhood park to try them side by side. Using both lights in identical circumstances, the Nitecore EDC33 did seem to edge out the Fenix PD36R in terms of absolute brightness, but just barely. That said, Nitecore claims much higher lumens and range than Fenix, so I feel the Nitecore numbers could be slightly inflated.

Check out the photo below for a comparison of both lights on their most powerful setting.

I couldn’t verify Nitecore’s claim of a 490m throw. It’s certainly bright and lights things up well at around 250 yards. I noticed illumination on trees that I measured at 325 yards. But in my short test, I didn’t have a dark enough large space to verify. I’ll update this review once I do.

Comparing these two lights was interesting, as they both have wonderful, albeit quite different, user interfaces. While a little larger, I think I prefer the Fenix PD36R slightly over the Nitecore EDC33. However, given the price difference of at least $50, Nitecore makes a very strong case!

Nitecore EDC 33 versus Fenix PD36R field testing
The Fenix PD36R, shining to the left, and Nitecore EDC33, shining to the right, offer comparable brightness, with the Nitecore possibly edging out the Fenix in its Lumen Shield mode; (photo/Sean McCoy)

The main point to me is that the Nitecore EDC33 performs right up there with the best EDC flashlights you can buy. And it does so at a very reasonable price.

Is the Nitecore EDC33 Really That Good?

The Nitecore EDC33 reviewed here brings to mind the “Noisy Cricket” of Men In Black. And if you don’t remember, the Noisy Cricket is “a small, palm-sized firearm of astonishing power. Despite its size, the Noisy Cricket launches a giant orb of energy,” according to Fandom.

That’s exactly how the EDC33 feels in the hand. It’s small. It’s light. But then you push the button and WOW WHERE DID ALL THIS LIGHT COME FROM?!

Whether you need that much light, well, I can’t answer that question. But speaking for myself, resoundingly yes, I do!

The ability to light up a large space at night is something few flashlights of this size can accomplish. And in exchanging the mostly annoying strobe feature for a wildly bright floodlight, Nitecore gave me both a self-defense tool and a searchlight. It seems like a great trade to me.

Beyond the obvious performance features, the Nitecore EDC33 reviews with a good user interface, is waterproof to 2 m with an IP68 rating, and is impact-rated to 2 m. I’m not going to drop test this just yet, as I want to get some more time in the field with it, and drop testing over 6 feet often does end the life of a flashlight.

It also ticks a bunch of must-haves for me: long runtime on lower settings, USB-C rechargeable battery, and a bonus in its ability to tail stand.

This review is short, I know, but I’ll come back and flesh it out with some more testing once I’ve had the light for longer. In the short term, I’d say this is one of the more compelling new flashlights to come out in 2023. For those in the market for a good EDC light, the $70 price tag makes this one a no-brainer. Buy one and be dazzled! Or check out our guide to the Best Flashlights to see more thoroughly vetted options.

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