Best Nitecore EC21 Flashlight Review

With the Nitecore EC21, you’ll find style and innovation. Nitecore has been leading the way in flashlight technology of late, and has succeeded in producing another exceptional product in their ever-growing line of LED products. Nitecore EC21 LED flashlight

I’m excited to describe this light to you, because aside from its simplistic facade, the two little buttons on the bezel perform a multitude of useful functions.


I first need to address the size of the EC21. For a light that runs on (1) 18650 or (2) CR123 batteries, it’s astonishingly small! 4.25″ to be exact. In contrast, the recently reviewed Jetbeam WL-S2, is over FIVE inches long. Although that length is more typical with Nitecore EC21 boxmanufacturers.

Officially, the batteries that work in this light are:

Body-wise, you’ll find the EC21 encased in hard-anodized military grade HA III aluminum. The scratch-resistant lens is made of toughened ultra-clear mineral glass. It’s waterproof to IPX-8 standards…and submersible up to 2 meters in depth.


Most of the lights produced these days use a CREE XM-L LED. The XM-L beam pattern is typically “floody” in nature, meaning that the center spot is quite wide. This results in slightly less throw within the beam distance. The EC21 however, features an XP-G2 (R5) LED. This is a throwback to many of the LED’s that came out several years ago. With the XP-G2, the center beam spot is much narrower, allowing the beam to throw in greater distances. Nitecore has measured this distance at up to 194 meters (636 feet.)


An added extra within this nifty light, is a secondary LED. A low-lumen red one! The photo on the left shows where the red LED is…as circled.

click each photo for a full-size image

Illuminating an area in red

Illuminating an area in red

Niotecore EC21 XP-G2 LED


The EC21's RED LED

The EC21’s RED LED

Red LED on Nitecore's EC21

The red glow on the EC21







In lumens, the EC21 tops out at 460. When comparing that figure to much of its competition within other 18650-based lights, that might seem low. But with the more focused beam, the throwing distance will be on par, or even greater in some circumstances, when compared to XM-L lights that have twice the lumen output.

The measured lumen levels as per Nitecore are as follows;

  • moonlight – 1 lumen
  • low – 20 lumens
  • medium – 100 lumens
  • high – 210 lumens
  • turbo – 460 lumens

These are very well spaced, and easy to adjust to. You also have access to three signaling modes; location beacon, SOS and strobe.


For the EC21, the tail cap is used only for changing batteries, and standing on its own. ALL power switching is accomplished by two tiny buttons on the head.

The top button is for mode changing. The bottom for on/off operation.

Top button changes modes. Bottom turns it on/off.

Top button changes modes. Bottom turns it on/off.

So here’s where the EC21 gets interesting.

The ‘power‘ switch on the bottom is used for turning the light on and off. But, here’s what else it can do:

  • Press and hold for “instant” moonlight mode
  • Press and hold while in ANY regular lighting mode, and the RED LED will flash every 2 seconds!

The ‘mode‘ switch serves a number of purposes. With the light on, each press will advance it to the next level of brightness. But, here’s what else it can do:

  • Pressing and holding while in ANY regular lighting mode will activate ‘strobe’. Press and hold a second time, to activate ‘location beacon’ (flashes white). Press and hold a third time to access SOS. One final quick press will return to the original lighting mode*.
  • * The last operation can be achieved in any flashing mode.
  • Quickly press while the light is OFF to activate the red LED. It will illuminate constantly in this mode. Pressing either button will shut it off.
  • While in red illumination mode, press and HOLD the switch, and the red LED will flash continuously…about every ¾ second.
  • Press and hold from OFF to activate ‘turbo’ mode. Note: If you switch it off from this mode, it will return to turbo the next time you switch it on. To ensure that it will come on in a lower mode, you will need to press and hold the power switch.


click each image to view it full-size

moonlight - indoors

moonlight – indoors

on low - indoors

on low – indoors

medium - indoors

medium – indoors

high mode - indoors

high mode – indoors

turbo - indoors

turbo – indoors

Medium @17 ft

Medium @17 ft

Turbo@17 ft

Turbo@17 ft

Medium @65 ft

Medium @65 ft

Turbo @65 ft

Turbo @65 ft























I was pleasantly surprised with the overall performance of the Nitecore EC21. It has enough modes to compliment any lighting situation. The red LED is more useable than on other lights I’ve seen, including a previous model from Nitecore.

The compact size makes it very pocket-able, and the supplied pocket clip is quite sturdy. As handy as the two switch buttons on the head are, in pitch dark, it’s a bit challenging to locate them in an instant. I would suggest if the clip is attached, to align it to the buttons. That would make them easier to find, and less likely for the light to activate in your pocket.

Whatever you think of the Nitecore EC21, I’d love to know in the comment section below.

For your own personal EC21, click here!

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  1. Thanks for the review. This looks like a killer flashlight for it’s small size.

  2. Hey, great review – thanks for all the detail. Looks like a great flashlight all in all.

  3. Cool product. I think it kinda looks like a lightsaber 🙂 Nice site and keep em coming

  4. Hey Ben, I like your site. I work in the mining industry so I know all about the importance of having a good reliable flash flight. I think everyone should have a good quality set of flashlights. They’ll be happy they do when the lights go out. We lost power here a few summers back for almost three days and I was happy to have mine.

  5. Hi,

    Thanks for the review and the youtube video.

    Couple of quick questions for you:

    1) Do you think you could use the buttons with gloves on?

    I’m thinking about getting this torch as it packs a lot of features for a fairly reasonable price but the buttons do look a little small.

    2) Can you go from red light straight to strobe?


    • Thanks Mike! Glad you enjoyed the video! Well, since you asked…I put on my bulky ski gloves and attempted to operate the light. I had my doubts because as you said, the buttons are small. But you know, even with the gloves on I could feel the switches, and was able to select each one without much effort. To answer your second question, no you can’t go from red to strobe.

      Thanks for asking 🙂

  6. Your review of The EC21 convinced me to purchase it .
    Awesome light for it’s size .
    Battery life is outstanding and with the rechargeable battery 18650 ,
    it will outlast me !
    Great site ,

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