I know. I am beginning to sound like a broken record when I talk about one of the latest products from Streamlight and say things like, “It is amazing how much lighting technology has advanced in just a few short years.” Let me apologize in advance for saying these kinds of things again.

The new Streamlight Microstream USB Pocket Light is a tiny, multi-purpose utility light that has the power of both the older generations of full-sized tactical lights and many current tactical lights.

Those of us who carry hand-held tactical lights every day or keep them close at hand in the bedroom have to ask how often we actually use a hand-held tactical light for a tactical purpose. That is, how often do we actually do a house clearing or building search with a hand-held tactical light and handgun in hand? How often have we confronted someone at gunpoint in concert with a hand-held tactical light? And I don’t mean in practice situations. I mean in a moment when you have an elevated heartbeat and think that someone is in your house. For me, it has been only once — and that was about 11 years ago. It turned out to be a false alarm, but I was set for the real deal.

The truth is that most off-duty cops and civilians end up using that hand-held tactical flashlight with 800 to 1,000 lumens as a utility light no matter whether it is carried on the person or stashed beside the bed. I am not saying that one should not have one or more true, high-quality hand-held tactical lights available. I am saying that we usually use these lights for mundane things such as walking the dog, searching for lost items or providing light when the power goes out. There is nothing wrong with using tactical flashlights for these things.

About 25 years ago, I was working in my office on the fourth floor of our newest building at my college campus. We seemed then as well as now to have more than our fair share of power outages. One summer afternoon, we had another one — but this one was different.

It seems that the person responsible for checking the emergency generators did not check our new building. He must have assumed that, since it was a new building, the new generator did not need checking. Guess what happens when the power goes off and there is no backup generator available? You got it. No emergency lighting, no exit signs and no elevators. Until that moment, I had not faced a power outage anywhere without lit exit signs.

The only way out of our building was by four flights of stairs in a windowless stairwell. Since it was July and there was no air conditioning, people wanted to get out. Being the public servant that I am, I felt the need to assist them. Without any sort of flashlight, I felt my way down those four flights, propping open the door on each level so people could see enough to leave. There were no windows facing the stairwell doors, so it was still relatively dark. I cannot say that I liked the experience much. To make sure nothing like this happened to me again, I began carrying a Maglite Mini-Mag flashlight in my pocket every day — just in case.

The Microstream USB is a just-in-case light that can be carried in just about any position. It weighs a feathery 1.2 ounces and is only 3.87 inches long. The body diameter is 0.61 inches. As the name indicates, the flashlight can be recharged by plugging the USB cable into a vehicle, an electrical outlet or a computer. The battery can be recharged up to 300 times.

A short USB cable is included, but a wall adaptor is not. The charging port is located on the light itself and is accessed by pulling up the sleeve that houses the LED module. When the sleeve is pulled up, a tiny LED is revealed near the port. The LED lights up red when the Microstream is charging and changes to green when the light is fully charged. It takes four hours to charge the light when the power has drained down to zero.

The Microstream USB puts out a whopping 250 lumens of light on the high setting with a 68-meter beam. On low, it puts out 50 lumens with a 31-meter beam. Run-time is 1.5 hours on high and 3.5 hours on low.

The Microstream is so bright that it passed my large-front-yard illumination test. There is more than enough juice to meet any utility or emergency need.

Control is accessed with the push-button tail switch, which delivers momentary- and constant-on operation. Pushing the tail switch once activates the low-power, 50-lumen setting; pushing to the click locks it in place. A double-tap activates the 250-lumen setting.

The Microstream has an IPX4 rating due to the sliding charging port access sleeve, which protects against water splashing from any direction. However, it may not survive long-term immersion in a washing machine, so check your pockets.

The Microstream is available with coyote, blue, red or black anodizing on the machined aluminum case. A pocket clip is included on the light.

I have been carrying the Streamlight Microstream USB quite regularly for a couple of months now. I have found it handy to have around, and it does not weigh me down unnecessarily. These days, I enjoy traveling light (no pun intended). The Microstream has a limited lifetime warranty. You can get it on Amazon for $34.

More info at: www.streamlight.com