Review – Streamlight Sidewinder 14032

Originally published at Notes From The Bunker. You can comment here or there.

I was fairly taken with the compact version of the Sidewinder but after playing with it a bit, I found it good but lacking. My biggest complaint was that when clipped to a piece of gear it would be unstable and sway around, unbalanced by it’s size and weight. I liked the features, I just wasn’t a fan of the physical envelope that contained these features. So…I bit the bullet and ordered the larger, but still fairly compact, full sized version. Big difference in my satisfaction.

The larger version (Streamlight 14032 Sidewinder) arrived just before I left for Glacier last week.

My biggest complaint about the Compact was that when you clipped it to a bit of webbing or what have you, it would sway about wildly. Let me try to describe it. Imagine you take a paperback novel and affix it to your shoulder strap so that the spine of the book is against you. The rest of the book juts out there and sways unsteadily as you move. Same thing.

This larger version of the Sidewinder, because of its large battery compartment, is  far more stable. A few other features separate it from the Compact:

  • It runs on AA batts, as opposed to the CR123 used in the Compact, so my logistics are streamlined a bit.
  • Has a lanyard attachment point.
  • The metal clip that you use to clip the light to your gear is removable. This is important because it you think the clip isn’t providing enough force to keep it from sliding off whatever you clip it to, you can remove the clip, bend it as necessary, and then put it back the way was. Couldn’t really do that with the compact.
  • Battery compartment lid is captive. No losing it in the dark or when your sitting somewhere changing batteries when the cover falls between your legs and into the tall grass. Nice touch.

I’m going to go ahead and give the non-Compact version of the Sidewinder a better rating than the compact version. Price isn’t too terribly different, and although it is a bit bigger I believe you will get better use out of it than the Compact.

Note that the SIdewinder series are available in different color-combinations…you can get, for example, one that has white, green, red and blue emitters. I went with white, red, blue and IR. I don’t have anything that let’s me take advantage of the IR (at the moment) but that doesn’t mean that someday I won’t.

As I said, only real drawback is price. There’s plenty of LED lights out there for less, but the features on this thing (clip, lanyard, flash mode, adjustable brightness, swivel head, subdued color, hands-free operation, waterproof, etc, etc.) pretty much fill all the requirments I wanted in a light that could be affixed to a vest or webbing strap (also darn near perfect for clipping to a vehicle visor for use within the vehicle cab). So, yes it’s expensive but to me it seems worth the money.