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Published Dec 24, 2021 12:29 PM

What do prepping for the field, a camping trip, and societal collapse have in common? They all involve scrounging in desk drawers and making last-minute trips to the corner store to find batteries. We need batteries for everything from GPS units and flashlights to quartz watches and handheld radios. It would be a lot easier (and less expensive) if we didn’t have to feed our electronics a steady diet of disposable batteries. Enter the rechargeable flashlight. 

Rechargeable electronics are a huge upgrade. Not only do they save money, but you can also charge them indefinitely with a solar charger and a power bank. One of the easiest ways to upgrade your gear is switching to a rechargeable flashlight.

It doesn’t matter if you want an EDC light, something for work, or a lantern for your campsite—we have you covered. We searched the internet to find the best lights from the best brands so you can spend less time shopping and more time getting after it.

We tested the SureFire Stiletto and gave it high marks for brightness, versatility, and build quality. This Pro version is double the cost but backs up the price hike with legitimate upgrades.

The Stiletto Pro is built from aluminum rather than plastic and, as a result, is much stronger. Maximum output is increased from 650 lumens to 1,000 lumens. Three settings are included (25, 300, and 1,000 lumens) and can be programmed however you like using the mode button. A separate button on the end of the flashlight activates high mode so it’s always ready in a kinetic situation.

We could nitpick about the use of micro USB charging instead of faster USB-C, or hem and haw about whether the shape is any better than a round flashlight, but the bottom line is that this is an extremely capable flashlight––and one we’d be pumped to carry.

Product Specs
  • Output: 1,000 lumens
  • Settings: Low, medium, high
  • Length: 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Battery life: 23.5 hours (on low setting)
PROS

Three output levels at your fingertips

One-touch activation for the highest setting

Flood pattern improves situational awareness

LED battery level indicator

CONS

Spotlight pattern not available

Battery life limited to 23.5 hours

Not the most ergonomic shape

Best Value

We can’t blame you if you’re skeptical of the Coast XP11R, given its bargain basement price. It’s not on par with the premium options here, but it’s still a solid choice that can save you a lot of money.

The lowest power setting provides 75 lumens for up to 37 hours. Medium activates 330 lumens, and high offers 1,000 lumens. Turbo mode more than doubles output to 2,100 lumens, but only for a brief time to conserve energy and keep temperatures down. A strobe function is included for emergency signaling or tactical use.

The sliding focus action seems like a cost-saving measure and describing features that don’t use exhaust gasses to generate boost as “turbo” is incredibly annoying, but we can’t argue with the value of this flashlight.

Product Specs
  • Output: 2,100 lumens
  • Settings: Low, medium, high, turbo
  • Length: 6.3 inches
  • Weight: 13 ounces
  • Battery life: 37 hours (on low setting)
PROS

Quickly switch between spot and flood patterns

Temporarily access 2,100 lumens in “turbo” mode

We always appreciate USB-C over micro USB

Aluminum is a pleasant surprise at this price

CONS

Slide adjustment is less intuitive than twisting

Build quality is good but not refined

Seriously heavy compared to the competition

Editor’s Choice

Sometimes you need the best, and sometimes you just want to treat yourself. The Modlite PLHv2 head combines with the 18650 body and tail cap to create one of the most badass rechargeable flashlights out there.

This light is built to be a weapon light, so you know it’s tested to extreme standards and can handle whatever you throw at it. Modlite makes its various products compatible with one another, so you can pick up different bodies, pressure pads, and other pieces to change this light to suit the mission. The 1,350-lumen beam focuses on the center with floodlight-like scatter around the edges to maintain situational awareness.

Paying more than $300 for a flashlight is no casual matter, but the more we learn about the light and the company that makes it, the more we’re comfortable with that price.

Product Specs
  • Output: 1,350 lumens
  • Settings: On/off only
  • Length: 5.3 inches
  • Weight: 5.9 ounces
  • Battery life: Not specified
PROS

Durability and build quality are unparallelled

Tough enough to use as a SCAR weapon light

Anodizing available in black or flat dark earth

Modular design allows customization

CONS

Only one power setting

Seriously expensive compared to other flashlights

More information from the Modlite website would be nice

Best Solar-Powered Flashlight

There are a whole lot of rechargeable flashlights out there, but not many of them use the sun to power up. That’s probably because the amount of surface area on a flashlight just isn’t enough for the amount of exposure the batteries need to charge. Rather than recommend one of those, we’d prefer to lean into what solar charging does best.

This Luci Base lantern from Mpowerd can be placed in the sun all day so it’s ready to be used when the sun goes down. The inflatable body creates a 360-degree glow that’s great for cooking or setting up your campsite. It stores enough electricity to run for 50 hours on the low setting, but can also be used to charge other devices.

The size and max output of 360 lumens will limit the number of ways you can use this light, but it’s a viable option.

Product Specs
  • Output: 360 lumens
  • Settings: Low, medium, high
  • Length: 6 inches
  • Weight: 10.1 ounces
  • Battery life: 50 hours (on low setting)
PROS

Powered by the sun

Charges in 28 hours and lasts 50 hours

Waterproof and impact-resistant enough for camping

Can be used to charge other devices

CONS

Not a handheld flashlight

Shines like a lantern rather than with a focused beam

Strong bonfire and ukulele vibes

Best Rechargeable Spotlight

When you have access to a vehicle or tool box, there’s no reason to limit yourself to a compact flashlight. This Fatmax spotlight from Stanley is the powerhouse you need to get work done around the house or job site.

This rechargeable spotlight has a low setting that lasts up to seven hours, but it will be hard to resist jumping straight to the dazzling 2,200-lumen high setting. Instead of a normal power button, this light uses a trigger that can be locked in the depressed position so you can relax your grip or set it down without the light going out. Adapters for wall and car outlets are included.

Size is a factor for this heavyweight, but if you have room and need big-time output, it’s a no-brainer.

Product Specs
  • Output: 2,200 lumens
  • Settings: Low, high
  • Length: 11 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Battery life: 7 hours (on low setting)
PROS

Cranks out 2,200 lumens on the high setting

Lasts 7 hours on the low setting

Built to be as durable as other Stanley tools

Can charge other devices via USB

CONS

Two pounds and almost a foot long

Only two output settings

Charging cord is short

Best Rechargeable EDC Flashlight

Fenix has made a name for itself by providing big value at a small price. The third generation E35 accomplishes that in a compact package that’s perfect for everyday carry.

Fenix boasts an output of 3,000 lumens for the E35 V3.0. Manufacturers don’t all measure brightness the same way, so take that number with a grain of salt. The take-home message is that it’s definitely bright enough for most tasks. Five power settings let you dial that back to find the right amount of light. The aluminum body is waterproof and even comes with a spare O-ring in case you damage or lose the first one.

We love EDC items that are compact, effective, and wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to replace. This Fenix checks all three boxes.

Product Specs
  • Output: 3,000 lumens
  • Settings: Eco, low, medium, high, turbo, strobe
  • Length: 4.6 inches
  • Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Battery life: 50 hours (on eco setting)
PROS

Surprisingly powerful for its size

Uses a quick-charging USB-C

Includes five brightness settings

Waterproof to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes

CONS

We’re skeptical about the 3,000 lumen rating

A more competitive warranty would be appreciated

Some users prefer an end-mounted power button

Best Rechargeable Headlamp

The BioLite HeadLamp 750 earned a spot on our roundup of the best headlamps, so it’s only fitting to include it here. Put on this rechargeable headlamp to go hands-free.

The HeadLamp 750 offers more features than most of the competition. Its eight modes include spot and flood patterns, three power settings, and red light. BioLite made this headlamp feel almost weightless by using a super smooth headband and placing the battery pack in the back.

In addition to making awesome gear, BioLite works to bring clean energy to people in developing countries. So far, they’ve provided nearly 500,000 products to people in 23 countries.

Product Specs
  • Output: 750 lumens
  • Settings: Low, medium, high, burst
  • Length: Not applicable
  • Weight: 5.3 ounces
  • Battery life: 150 hours (on low setting)
PROS

More features than other lights can come close to

Low setting lasts 150 hours

Can be used and charged simultaneously

Awesome gear funds an awesome cause

CONS

All those features are controlled by just a few buttons

One of the pricier rechargeable headlamps

Button design can be glitchy

Why you should trust us

We’ve gone deep into researching the best rechargeable flashlights for our readers. Whether you want something tactical, something extra bright, or just want to get the lay of the land when it comes to the kinds of general-purpose flashlights available, we’ve done the homework so you don’t have to. We’ve used all kinds of lights ourselves, from weapon lights and EDC lights to camping lanterns and work lights made for the job site. Before including anything on our gear guides, we ask ourselves if we’d want to buy it with our own money. If the answer is no, it doesn’t make the cut.

Types of rechargeable flashlights

Flashlights come in many different forms, and that doesn’t change just because the power source became reusable. The difference between different types of rechargeable flashlights starts with the intended use. When we put this list together, we made a point to represent the most popular styles of flashlight and the background information to make informed decisions about them.

EDC

Most flashlights can probably fall into the everyday carry category. This is a pretty broad term, and modern flashlights pack so much power into a small size that most of the options on this list could reasonably be carried as part of your EDC.

To qualify as an EDC item, we think a flashlight needs to be portable, reliable, and easy to use. We’re not fans of throwing money away on cheap gear that’s likely to break, so anything that’s going to recommend our endorsement for EDC duty needs to be durable and high-performing. That means build quality, lumen output, and features all get put under the microscope. 

Headlamps

There are certainly times when holding a flashlight in your hand isn’t ideal. Headlamps are a great way to get work done in the dark, whether you’re doing home repairs in the attic or pitching a tent after a long day of hiking. Rechargeable options eliminate the need to carry batteries around at work or on the trail, and they can even be charged up using a solar bank.

Generally speaking, the activities that call for a headlamp aren’t particularly gentle on gear. We prefer headlamps that can withstand drops, harsh temperatures, and at least some amount of water. If you want to really nerd out, check out our headlamp-specific gear guide.

Searchlights

Searchlights are the heavy-duty workhorse of this group. They house enough power to blast through the darkness with the kind of brightness you’d get from your car’s high beams. Considering the times you’d need to use one of these behemoths, we only considered options that are rugged enough to join into a search party during an emergency.

A byproduct of all the power is size. Searchlights are much larger and heavier than other flashlights and should be kept in your home or vehicle rather than a hiking pack or bug out bag. They’re not very practical for day-to-day use, but when you need one, you need it badly.

Key features of rechargeable flashlights 

Light output

When you shop for flashlights, you’ll see them identified by the number of lumens they produce. A lumen is a unit of measurement used to measure light output. More specifically, manufacturers are referencing luminous flux (how much light the human eye actually detects given its wavelength) rather than radiant flux (the actual output of the light). This gets pretty scientific, but you can learn more from actual scientists.

Generally speaking, less than 100 lumens is useful for things like reading. Flashlights often produce as many as 1,000 lumens, making them great for outdoor activities that involve greater distances. Go much beyond that, you’re starting to enter the world of searchlights. 

Beam settings

Different flashlights create light in different ways, including beam patterns. Floodlights scatter light in a broad spread to aid in situational awareness, but that comes at the cost of decreased overall brightness. Spotlights focus all their light in one area to achieve greater range.

Many flashlights can do both, either with multiple bulbs or an adjustable lens. Some have other features like strobes for tactical use or creating a distress signal. Unless you have a specific reason for carrying a certain type of light, it’s a good idea to carry something versatile. Luckily, we found a great selection of flashlights for whatever you’re up against.

Beam colors

The vast majority of flashlights use white light for the same reason we use white lights in our homes and cars: It produces the most natural colors. Still, there are times when other colors are useful. France favored yellow headlights for nighttime driving, and there’s a decent argument to be made for that decision.

Flashlights sometimes come with red, green, or blue lenses that are intended to preserve your night vision and maintain a low profile. Some actually use infrared light rather than visible light. This is invisible to the naked eye but works like a charm with night vision optics. 

Benefits of rechargeable flashlights 

Sustainability

Here’s a dirty little secret about green energy: Batteries are seriously nasty things in terms of environmental impact. There’s a reason the Environmental Protection Agency has strict rules about how to dispose of the little biohazards. Why not put an end to the endless consumption of disposable batteries and upgrade to a rechargeable one?

Pollution aside, rechargeable flashlights can be a tremendous asset off the grid. Rather than relying on a supply of heavy disposable batteries, you can top off your flashlight with a solar charger and USB cord anywhere there’s access to sunlight. If you’re prepping for any kind of extended trip away from civilization, rechargeable electronics should be a high priority.

Cost savings

There’s a very real financial incentive to make your next flashlight purchase a rechargeable one. The cost of replacing all those dead batteries adds up over time. Even though they’re relatively cheap, they can’t come close to the fraction of a penny it costs to charge your flashlight from an outlet or a car’s cigarette lighter. Plug it into a solar bank, and it’s free.

Rechargeable flashlights are more expensive than their traditional counterparts, so it’s not all good news. That cost will be offset down the road though, and the more you use your flashlight the quicker your decision will pay itself off.

Pricing considerations of rechargeable batteries

Budget

There are several companies that build solid rechargeable flashlights. There are also a lot that use cheap components to build products that work for a short time but fall apart way too easily. Most of the time, you can tell the difference by the price tag because you get what you pay for. Shopping in the sub-$50 category takes a keen eye to land something good.

One exception that stands above the rest is our value pick, the Coast XP11R. Coast makes flashlights that punch above their weight and this one is a great way to get the features and build quality you want.  

Mid-range

Generally speaking, the best rechargeable flashlights fall in the $50 to $200 range. Between the upper and lower extremes are examples that span the spectrum of the kind of gear we like. On one end are flashlights that stretch their components to their potential and deserve serious consideration. On the other are high-end lights that use aluminum instead of plastic and break the 1,000-lumen barrier.

Battery life tends to be very good at these prices, as does build quality. There’s also a nice selection of styles here. We found EDC flashlights, tactical lights, and headlamps that are worth a look.

Premium

The most expensive rechargeable flashlights use top-shelf materials and engineering to achieve levels of performance and durability that lesser flashlights can’t compete with. Options are somewhat limited due to the small number of manufacturers that cater to this price range. We included one option that costs around $300 and saw some priced in the thousands.

Lights in this category are generally designed for use in the military and law enforcement. Many are weapon lights that need to absorb the concussion of being mounted to a barrel and perform at maximum capacity when lives are on the line. When you consider that, they’re priced pretty fairly. 

How we chose our top picks

We chose the best rechargeable flashlights for this list by focusing on products from top-tier manufacturers. That includes premium lights designed to survive combat and cost-saving options that provide more value than the price tag suggests. Not every flashlight needs to crank out more than 1,000 lumens or include multiple colored lenses, but everything on this list has some kind of selling proposition that earned our vote of confidence.

FAQs on rechargeable flashlights

You’ve got questions, Task & Purpose has answers.

Q. What is the highest lumen rechargeable flashlight?

A: We’re not sure what the record is, but Surefire makes a wicked rechargeable weapon light aptly named the Hellfighter that puts out 3,000 lumens and costs nearly $10,000.

Q. Are rechargeable flashlights any good?

A: Absolutely. There will always be variations from product to product, but the rechargeable flashlights on this list can hold their own against any traditional flashlight.

Q. How many lumens should a good flashlight have?

A: That depends on your activity. Reading a book or checking a map can be done with less than 50 lumens. Walking in the dark is better served by 750 to 1,000 lumens, and some tasks call for even more.

Q. How long can a rechargeable flashlight hold a charge?

A: Battery life can be tricky to calculate because it’s easily affected by other components and environmental factors. The flashlights you see here last several hours on a single charge, and some can go all night.

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Scott Murdock is a Task & Purpose commerce writer and Marine Corps veteran. He’s selflessly committed himself to experiencing the best gear, gadgets, stories, and alcoholic beverages in the service of you, the reader.

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