The best keychain flashlights for your everyday carry

Enhance your EDC pack and light the way with these keychain flashlights.

Best Overall

SureFire Sidekick

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Best Budget

Fenix E03R

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Best for Brightness

Nitecore T4K

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Whether you’re someone who regularly loses items in the seemingly endless nooks and crannies in the car, or you’re someone who looks for the toughest, most reliable gear for their EDC pack, a keychain flashlight should be in your toolkit. While there are lots of high-quality, heavy-duty tactical flashlights on the market for every situation, most of them are just too powerful for use in everyday situations. The last thing you want to do is end up blinding the person in your passenger seat while you rummage around the center console looking for your house keys. 

We also reviewed the best EDC flashlights on the market, but most of these are still too large to be carried with you everywhere — I mean everywhere. That’s where keychain flashlights come in. As the name implies, keychain flashlights easily attach to your key ring, or something similar, allowing you to take a high-quality flashlight with you everywhere you go. Keep reading to learn more about the best keychain flashlights for each major category and price point. 

Best Overall

SureFire Sidekick

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Best Budget

Fenix E03R

See It

Best for Brightness

Nitecore T4K

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Best Battery Life

Nitecore TINI

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Best Micro-Sized

TEC Accessories Pixel Keychain Microlight

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What to consider before buying a keychain flashlight 

Battery type

Keychain flashlights come with either disposable or rechargeable batteries. One isn’t necessarily better than the other in terms of performance. However, they both have advantages and disadvantages.

Disposable batteries

Flashlights that use disposable batteries tend to be smaller, cost less, and you can “recharge” them just by replacing a dead battery. The main drawback is the ongoing cost of batteries. 

Rechargeable batteries

As the name suggests, you can recharge a rechargeable flashlight when you’re not using it, so you save money on batteries and reduce overall waste. Also, they tend to have higher lumen ratings and have longer light throws because they have a higher power capacity. The drawback is they tend to cost more up front. 

Brightness 

When it comes to measuring the brightness of a flashlight, the most common term you’ll hear is lumens. This refers to the amount of light you get from a bulb, so you can quantify the brightness. 

Another measurement to consider is candelas. Unlike lumens, it measures the intensity of the light thrown. The measurement increases when a beam of light is narrow and decreases as it gets wider. 

High-quality keychain torches tend to be rated between 30 and 250 lumens. Don’t be fooled by cheap flashlights promising high lumen ratings; make sure the rating is up to the PLATO Standard

Bulb type 

There are two main bulb types in terms of micro flashlights, keychain or otherwise: incandescent and LED. In short, incandescent bulbs are worse than LED bulbs in almost every aspect. They don’t have as long a lifespan as their LED counterparts, nor are they as bright or energy-efficient. However, they tend to be cheaper. But you end up paying more for low-quality incandescent bulbs in the long run because of constant replacements. Unless you are in a situation where saving on upfront cost is more important than anything else, go for an LED keychain flashlight. 

Materials 

Keep your eyes peeled for keychain flashlights with reputable waterproof and shockproof ratings that are made from durable materials such as titanium, aluminum, or thick polymer. Flashlights with an IP (ingress protection) rating of four are weather-resistant, while those with a rating of IPx7 or higher are fully waterproof when submerged. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) developed and currently certifies these standards. Flashlights with a rating of IPx6 or higher are also completely dustproof. IK ratings, which are also overseen by IEC, operate on a scale of one to 10 and measure impact resistance. Keychain lights with a higher IK rating will be more impact-resistant. 

FAQs about keychain flashlights

Q: Is 6,000 lumens too bright for a keychain?

A: A 6,000-lumen flashlight is quite bright, although not necessarily too bright. Determining whether a flashlight is too bright or not bright enough is largely dependent on what you’re trying to accomplish with a keychain light. Keep in mind that higher-lumen bulbs will require more recharging or battery replacements than lower-lumen bulbs. 

Q: What is the brightest keychain flashlight? 

A: The brightest keychain flashlight from a reputable brand is the Nitecore T4K EDC. It’s rated at 4,000 lumens. 

Q: What is the smallest keychain flashlight? 

A: Keychain flashlights come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and determining the overall size of them entails finding their volume, which isn’t so easy. Nonetheless, there are almost countless options on the market that promise to impress in terms of their minimal footprint. For instance, the Nitefox e1 is an astounding 1.3 inches and 15 lumens, while the Aurora A1x manages to pump out 650 lumens despite being only 2.4 inches. 

Q: How much should I expect to spend on a keychain flashlight? 

A: Expect to spend between $20 and $50 for an affordable, high-quality keychain flashlight. Expect keychain mini flashlights to be on the lower end of the spectrum and keychain torch lights to be towards the top. If you want, you can spend upwards of $100 for a keychain light that comes with a lot of accessories. 

Q: What is the best EDC keychain flashlight? 

A: We believe that the best overall keychain flashlight, the SureFire Sidekick, is the best EDC flashlight because it strikes a great balance between brightness, battery life, and size without compromising on build quality. 

Final thoughts 

The SureFire Sidekick Ultra-Compact Triple-Output Keychain Flashlight is the best option for all everyday needs as well as a host of specialized uses, as well. This light is small but capable of casting both wide, floodlight-type beams as well as intense narrow beams, both of which serve different purposes. Not only is it bright, with a lumen rating of 300, but the LED emitter and reflectors are also specifically designed to throw light that’s easily acceptable to the human eye, which minimizes glow-glare while in use. All in all, this keychain light is well-designed and critically well-built, yet it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, which is why it’s at the top of our list. 

Methodology 

We conducted an in-depth investigation into a wide range of keychain flashlights at a variety of price points to ensure that our selections provided excellent performance, especially in relation to their cost. We took everything from specification sheets provided by manufacturers to verified customer reviews into account when carrying out our research. We also relied on our extensive hands-on experience testing flashlights of all types

When narrowing down our final recommendations, we focused on the brightness, build quality, versatility, overall value, and how well each pick would fare in certain situations. We paid special attention to independently certified measures of quality, such as IP and IK ratings, as well as controlled performance testing. Each of our selections has been vetted and is ready to be reliably put to work in a variety of situations. 

For more information on our process, check out the Task & Purpose review guidelines