When you need a burst of bright light, what do you reach for? Most folks might say they can’t live without the flashlight function on their smartphone. While that beam is great for shining an abysmally short distance in front of you, it isn’t going to get you out of any serious jams. If you want to ensure you’re ready for any situation, be it an emergency or an earbud lost behind your headboard, you should consider investing in a quality flashlight. Don’t keep squinting in the darkness to feel your way around a room when the power’s out. Be ready for anything with a beam that cuts through the darkness and was made for that exact purpose.
Of course, there are a wide variety of flashlights to choose from. Though the best tactical flashlight on the market is a great option to keep on hand, you might decide you want to go the more traditional route. We’ve selected a variety of options worth considering for a real flashlight purchase. From durable entry-level options to powerful, long-lasting devices that can act as torches, there’s a flashlight on this list for everyone.
There’s something comforting about toting a heavy, substantial flashlight with you when navigating in the dark. The Maglite ML50L is an excellent all-around pick for anyone looking to take home a reliable flashlight. It comes with five different types of light modes: low, high, strobe, eco, and momentary on, which can easily be toggled on and off with a single switch. Its textured grip ensures you can keep hold on it even when running or dealing with inclement weather. It can shine light in a focused beam, which can cut through the darkness even if you find yourself in an area where it’s too black to make out your hand in front of you. While its traditional flashlight form factor that Maglite is known for may not be appealing to some buyers, it’s substantial in the hand and will last for some time. That does make it a bit heavy for some emergency bags, but perfect for storing in the home for when needed.
This value-priced flashlight is more than just a cheap option for anyone looking to add a new piece of tech to their inventory. The Anker Bolder is a fantastic choice for anyone in terms of power and ability as well as price. Anker has done well to make the Bolder appropriate for a variety of situations, including long-term use. Its large rechargeable battery makes it an attractive buy, even for seldom usage. Its 18650 battery is an especially smart addition. The Bolder comes five adjustable light modes for different situations, whether you simply need a bit more light to navigate or find yourself in a dire situation that necessitates additional light or a flare mode. You can toggle between each with a simple switch. If you’re looking for one of the best rechargeable flashlights you can find right now, the Anker is a budget option that stands tall above the rest.
Lightning Ever’s LED Flashlight may be small in size, but it doesn’t hold back in the power department. At just 3.4 ounces, it still maintains 140 lumens on high, and that gives you about 150 meters of illumination. All that, and it’s perfectly light and portable, which makes it great to cart around wherever you might need to take it. It also boasts an IPX4 rating to ensure it remains intact even if it falls into water, so you’re good to go during storms, floods, or even mishaps out on bodies of water. Its adjustable zoom mode makes it an excellent choice for similar situations, and with its durable aluminum exterior, you can trust it’ll be intact in every situation. The beam extends up to a whopping 492 feet, which should come in handy if needing to signal or simply searching for someone. With its included wristlet, you can keep it on your person without having to reach into your bag as well.
The Olight S2 Baton is a hardy flashlight, durable at just three ounces. It’s also jam-packed with features, like a magnetized bottom. That makes it simple to stick to metal surfaces while performing mechanic work or even while working through difficult situations. That feature alone makes it a dependable work light. Its aluminum body is surprisingly light but durable, and can survive a variety of inclement conditions, including being submerged in water and being dropped from impressive heights. It’s able to illuminate up to an impressive 950 lumens as well, which means you should never be left wanting when looking to light up even larger areas. It’s a contender for one of the best tactical flashlights thanks to its enduring body and various features.
When it comes to selecting the flashlight that works best for you, it’s not always about picking the one with the most bells and whistles. The ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Cool White is a budget-friendly option that doesn’t break the bank, but remains a great buy with many of the features that you’ve come to expect from more expensive brands. For instance, it comes packing 500 lumens thanks to its CREE XP-L V6 LED light source. It’s powered by just two AA batteries and can stay pumping steady beams of light out up to 4 days at a time on its firefly mode and 11 hours on medium, with a drop to 75 lumens that can still shine through the night. That’s plenty of time for average users, and it could even help to weather users through blackouts or other emergency situations. Given that it uses AA batteries, it’s easy to keep alive as well, as you can keep a simple stockpile of batteries for when you might need the light most.
If you find yourself trekking through the inky black darkness, the Ledlenser i18R is one light that will always have your back. Not only is it incredibly, ridiculously bright at 3,000 lumens, you can actually change the strength of the beam it projects all your own. Thanks to its Advanced Focus System, you can change how the light is projected by twisting the dial on the flashlight’s stem. This reins the light in a bit, but gives you a wider area to work within. Though the aluminum flashlight does get hot with how bright the LEDs shine, however, it doesn’t get too uncomfortably hot. Plus, you get five hours of power thanks to the flashlight’s lengthy battery life. It’s rechargeable, so it’s appropriate for a variety of situations.
The NITECORE i4000R is a heavy-duty flashlight that you should pick up if you’re serious about getting a rugged, quality light. It’s a little large at 4.76 ounces and 6.26 inches, but it will carve through the darkness without a single issue. It boasts 4,400 lumens on its highest setting, which means objects are illuminated nearly 300 yards away. You can swap between five different modes, including a low-power mode that gives you battery-powered light for nearly 400 hours — a great option for stowing this light away and bringing it out only when needed, thanks to a hefty rechargeable battery. Swapping between modes is as simple as flipping a toggle switch on the end of the light. Its additional light options mean it can be used as more than just a traditional light source, which is something many of the lights we tested have in common. Overall, it’s a great option for anyone looking for long-lasting light and a form factor that’s easy to handle.
When it comes to choosing the best EDC flashlight, you should certainly consider the solar-powered Renology E. Lumen 500 Multi-Functional Flashlight. If you’re not someone who uses this type of equipment often, you’ll find that it does the trick with solar power to spare. The built-in solar powers on the side require around 30 hours of sunlight, which is easy to store up if you live in a sunny climate or leave the light outside for when you need it. If you don’t have a lot of sun handy, you can charge via regular USB as well instead to make sure it’s juiced up for when you need it. As the name implies, it comes packing a powerful 500 lumens to ensure you can see just about anywhere you need to. But it’s more than just a flashlight. It’s a useful outdoor adventure companion, too. It comes with a glass-breaking hammer, seatbelt cutter, and magnetic attachment to make sure you’re prepared for any emergency that comes your way. It also features 7 different lighting modes, including sidelights that strobe and blink to get the attention of passersby should you ever need it.
Some flashlights are more durable than others by far, and the Coast Polysteel 600R is as rugged as they come. For anyone who uses lights like this as a regular pillar of their work, this particular product can take out just about any type of abuse you can dish out at it. It’s drop proof, crush proof, and storm proof, thanks to its Polysteel construction. When it comes to its lighting features, it comes with Coast’s Dual Power system that lets the light run on either the included lithium-ion battery pack or regular batteries. If you opt to use the rechargeable battery pack, you also get access to a special charging port to charge via USB. That means you can power any devices you might need (like a phone) from the light itself. With high, medium, and low light options, you can effortlessly swap between modes with the Twist Focus system to rotate the flashlight head to change between spot and flood beams. At its highest, it puts out a powerful 530 lumens, which is more than enough to get you through just about any situation.
The Wurkkos FC11 is a reliable, rechargeable flashlight without mentioning its additional bells and whistles. But when you get into specifics, you begin seeing exactly why it’s such a great purchase. Its magnetic component lets you stick it anywhere you can attach to metal areas, and that means you have hands-free light. You can stick it up where you need it and work with up to 1,300 lumens of illuminating light and six modes, including a strobe. It’s also simple to charge, with a rechargeable USB C port that should go along with the rest of your devices, eliminating the need for using additional charging cables. Moreover, the entirety of the flashlight is lightweight, compact, and portable, which makes it ideal for throwing in any pack and going.
Why should you trust us
I’m a freelance writer who’s covered a wide variety of tech, home goods, and camping products over the past 14 years. I most recently put together lists of the best face masks, water flossers for kids, and bidets. I’ve worked with a wide variety of high-profile publications such as CNN Underscored, Maxim, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Playboy, and NPR.
Different kinds of flashlights
Incandescent bulb flashlights
These are the most common flashlights that you’ll often find in homes across the world. They can be simple to break if you aren’t careful, but they’re cheap enough that if you do happen to break one, you can always get another one due to their low prices and reliable heavy duty nature. It’s true that some can cease working at any real random point, but their cheapness makes them a great choice for someone just starting to consider what makes a great flashlight. These are the best types of flashlights to take on trips, toss in a bag, or use when you need a reliable, sturdy tool that can handle just about any situation.
LED flashlights are lighter and often produce far less heat than incandescent bulbs. You aren’t in danger of breaking the flashlight if you drop it, as they’re very durable and long-lasting. There’s also less of a problem when it comes to the flashlight randomly no longer working. They give off a much stronger, white light than their opposite brethren as well. You’ll have to pay a bit more for LED flashlights than you would for incandescent bulbs, but the extra bit is worth it for the type of light given off and pricing.
Some flashlights are powered by the very thing that gives us life: the sun. These environmentally-friendly flashlights are a great option for anyone with environmental concerns, as solar energy can be produced cheaply and without harming the environment. Solar-powered flashlights are going to be weaker than the other types of flashlights on this list due to their diminished availability of power stockpiled, and their shorter battery life. They do, however, offer a simple and useful way to get bright light in an emergency
Features to look for in flashlights
A flashlight’s brightness is tantamount to how effective it will be in most situations. But determining how bright one light is to another is important. When it comes to determining exactly how bright a flashlight is, however, you need to consider it in terms of lumens. For the best regular and best tactical flashlights, the higher the lumen level, the brighter the beam, going anywhere from 400 to 1,000 as the average. When you go to purchase a flashlight, be sure to compare the amount of lumens with others on the market to see what kind of value you’re truly getting. You may not need the brightest flashlight available to you depending on your situation, but it’s always better to buy a brighter light than you need in the event you want it in an emergency.
When choosing a flashlight, it’s important to consider what type of batteries it uses: rechargeable or non-rechargeable. Using non-rechargeable batteries in a flashlight is a great option for anyone who will use the flashlight here and there, but those with rechargeable batteries are much better for anyone looking to use their flashlights more regularly. Rechargeable batteries are for users who are more apt to need power more often than those who relegate their flashlights to emergency use. There’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to different battery types, but it’s certainly something to consider as it’s a big part of making an informed buying decision.
Whether you’re purchasing a flashlight for regular use or as a backup for when you might need one, you should be mindful of how durable the flashlight actually is. There are a variety of certifications many flashlights will need to meet, including waterproof and impact resistance tests. If you’re using your light regularly as part of your day job or even if you’re apt to dropping your flashlight at some point, you’ll want to look into getting a flashlight that can last as long as you do on the day job.
The advantages of owning a flashlight
Owning a flashlight is an important part of keeping an emergency preparedness kit. Imagine sitting in a storm where the electricity goes out and you’re forced to rely on a radio for updates and you can’t tune to the right station. Or you need to navigate in a pitch-black room and can’t do it without light. A flashlight can save your life. Otherwise, a flashlight can help you search around in the dark for lost items or people. You can also use it for pinpointing light in a specific area when a torch or a lamp won’t reach the area you’re trying to light.
If you already find that you’re in danger and need to stave off additional threats, you could potentially use your flashlight as a strobe or even a rescue beam to point emergency teams to your location. Light can help to ensure you have at least the bare necessities when it comes to seeking the best outcome in the event you find yourself in need.
- Easily illuminate dark areas.
- Use strobe for defense purposes.
- Use bright beams to signal rescuers.
- Use as part of an emergency preparedness kit.
Pricing Ranges for Flashlights
- $20 and under: Usually smaller or “compact” models in addition to full-sized options with no options to swap between light modes. Typically made of cheaper material. Lacks durability with low battery life.
- $50 and under: Larger brands typically operate within this price range. Higher lumen count, aluminum construction, and lengthier battery life. May include separate light modes and focused light beams.
- $75 and under: Higher lumen counts, multiple light modes, focused light beams, sturdy construction, armored casing, larger battery packs, and a variety of additional bells and whistles.
- $100 and under: High-quality casing, highest lumen counts, the most light modes possible, focused light beams with zooming, additional accessories, massive battery packs, and optional augments.
How we chose our top picks
To select our top flashlight picks, we consulted numerous product reviews and ratings across a variety of merchants, such as Amazon, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Target. By examining hundreds of reviews, we were able to select the top-tier products from each portal, from budget picks to flashlights with all the extra bells and whistles buyers expect from the larger names in the space.
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