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This car charger doubles as an emergency device

This is one of those tiny tools that you forget about -- until you need it.
Nitecore VCL10 car charger on brown background.

Nitecore VCL10 car charger.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I'm usually very good at reviewing and highlighting products that I find useful, but sometimes things fall through the gaps.

One such product is the Nitecore VCL10 car charger. I've had this for a few years, and I've overlooked it because it lives in my car, and I always forget to bring it indoors.

Also: The best wireless car chargers

"Not another car charger!" I hear you say. After all, I do like my car chargers.

But this is a car charger that I keep in my car less for charging -- although it's a decent enough charger -- but more because it's a great safety tool to have when I'm out and about.

Before I explore what's special about the Nitecore VCL10, let's look at what it offers as a USB charger. 

Nitecore VCL10 tech specs

  • Port: 1 x USB-A
  • Input:
    DC 12V 2.5A (Max)
  • Output:
    DC 5V 2.4A (Max)
    Quick Charge 3.0: DC 3.6V-12V 2.4A (Max)
    Quick Charge 2.0: DC 5V/9V/12V 2.4A (Max)
  • Color: Black
  • Dimensions: 78.5 x 24.5 x 23 mm
  • Construction: Polycarbonate
  • Weight: 44.5 g
  • Impact Resistance: 1 meter
  • Certifications: RoHS, CE, FCC and CEC
  • Safety features: Overvoltage, undervoltage, overcurrent, and short-circuit protection, and transformer loss compensation (TLC) voltage smoothing

OK, so a pretty decent single-port USB charger.

But wait, there's more!

On one end of the VCL10 are white and red LED warning lights.

Also: My 3 must-have car accessories

A single button is used to switch between the white work light and strobing red safety light.

Nitecore VCL10 car charger with red strobe light turned on.

Red strobe light in action.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Built into the VCL10 is a photodiode light detector that can sense the change in ambient lighting and alter the flash of the red warning light from 1 Hz (1 flash per second) to 10 Hz (10 flashes per second) if an approaching vehicle is detected.  

The head can be tilted by a 90° angle to allow you to aim the light where you want, and there's also a magnet to allow it to be attached to a car's bodywork.

Nitecore VCL10 car charger with LED light turned on

Handy LED light.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The white light has an output power of 25 lumens, giving it a 7-meter beam, and has a runtime of about 3 hours, while the red strobe is rated at 350 mW (which is pretty bright), and has a 20-hour run-time.

And the great thing is that because the VCL10 lives in the car's 12V accessory port, it's always charged up ready for use.

Also: The 5 brightest flashlights   

But wait, there's even more!

On the other end of the VCL10 is a tungsten steel emergency glass breaker, which could be used to fashion an escape or help rescue someone else who might be trapped in a vehicle.

Closeup of glass breaker on Nitecore VCL10 car charger

The pointy end!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Granted, this isn't something you're going to need often -- or probably at all -- but better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Closeup of the Nitecore VCL10

The Nitecore VCL10 is a great in-car safety tool.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

And because it lives in your car's 12V accessory port, it's always close to hand and unlikely to get flung around the vehicle in the event of a crash.

You can buy the Nitecore VCL10 on its own, or, you can buy it with a rechargeable LED headlamp, giving you the perfect in-car safety kit to deal with breakdowns or flat tires. 

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