The 5 Best Flashlights for Your Money
Flashlights are one of those indispensable tools that we rarely seem to care about. They’re vital when the lights go out unexpectedly due to a storm or blackout. You depend on them when camping to be able to see where you’re going in the middle of the night, or what’s suddenly scratched at the outside of your tent. And they’re an important part of any emergency roadside assistance kit in a car.
With how important flashlights are, it’s important to spend time making sure that quality ones will shed light on any dark situation when we need them to. For that reason, we’ve taken a look across the flashlight market to find the best flashlights you can buy.
Best Overall Flashlight for Everyday Use: Olight S2R II BatonA solid everyday flashlight with lots of options.
Best Camping Flashlight: ThruNite Archer 2A V3 LED FlashlightSmall but mighty — the perfect flashlight for those who like to get outdoors.
Best Hands-Free Flashlight: Wurkkos FC11 Pocket LED FlashlightA bright and durable flashlight that can double as a hands-free light thanks to a magnet in its tail cap.
Best Pocket Flashlight: Fenix E12 FlashlightAn impressive flashlight to carry around in your pocket.
Best Two-for-One Flashlight Bundle: GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000 Two-PackA two-pack of LED flashlights with lots of perks for under an affordable price.
How to Buy a Flashlight
There are a few factors to consider when purchasing a flashlight:
- EDC or Tactical Flashlight: Generally speaking, flashlights tend to fall into two categories — EDC (every day carry) or tactical. EDC flashlights are usually cheaper, lower-powered, and good for everyday things, like having them in your home if the power goes out or helping you get around your dark basement. Tactical flashlights are usually brighter, last longer, are more durable, and are a solid pick for campers and hikers, as well as those who need a flashlight to do their work as a first responder or want a bright, dependable flashlight for home security.
- Brightness: The amount of light that a flashlight emits is measured in lumens. A higher lumens count is brighter than a lower lumens count. For example, a flashlight that emits 2300 lumens of light is brighter than one that emits 1000 lumens. Some flashlights have a set amount of lumens, and others have various modes where you can switch between different brightness.
- Battery Type: Most flashlights run on either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s really a personal preference. And some of today’s more modern flashlights use no batteries at all — instead, you charge them through a USB connector.
Test Factors We Considered When Picking the Best Flashlights
With so many flashlights out on the market today, making a choice can be rather overwhelming. Here are the main test factors we used to come up with our list of best flashlights:
- Price: There are flashlights available at many price points.
- Length: How long the flashlight is will indicate if it will fit in a pocket or not, or if it’s too long to store wherever needed.
- Diameter: How large is the flashlight’s diameter? This is important in determining how comfortably it will fit in hand.
- Weight: Lighter-weight flashlights are better for campers and backpackers, while heavier flashlights are better suited for home and general use.
- Power Source: How is the flashlight powered — batteries, USB plug-in, or something else?
- Bulb Type: What type of lightbulb does the flashlight use — incandescent? LED? Something else? LED light bulbs generally last much longer than incandescent.
- Brightness: Like we mentioned above, how much light the flashlight emits is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. The brightness amount shown in the product description is the maximum amount of lumens the flashlight emits — lower lumens may be emitted through a flashlight’s lower brightness modes.
- Beam Distance: The longest distance the flashlight’s light beam can travel is measured in meters. The beam distance is usually produced through the highest brightness level of the flashlight.
- Runtime: What’s the maximum amount of hours the flashlight can last with its batteries charged? The longest runtime is usually produced through the lowest brightness level of the flashlight.
- User Interface: How is the flashlight powered on — it is a button or something else? And can it toggle through different modes with the user interface?
- Modes: Many of today’s flashlights have different light modes, including different brightness, strobe (great for getting attention during emergency situations), and even different colors.
- Durability: Flashlights come with different durability factors including water resistance ratings through Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, and impact resistance through drop testing — how far can it can drop without breaking. For example, under the IP ratings, IPX7 is water-resistant down to one meter, while IPX8 is water-resistant down to more than one meter.
- Warranty: Does the flashlight come with a warranty?
Now without further ado, see our picks of the best flashlights you can buy this year.
Best Overall Flashlight for Everyday Use: Olight S2R II Baton
With 573 reviews and a nearly 5-star rating on Amazon, it's no surprise the Olight S2R II Baton is our pick for the best everyday use (or EDC) flashlight.
With its compact and lightweight size, this flashlight is portable making it a great option for storing in the home for everyday use or emergency situations.
The flashlight produces up to 1,150 lumens through its LED bulb, with a beam distance of up to 135 meters. You can choose from five brightness levels and a strobe mode via the switch located on the side of the flashlight, and it’s powered through an included rechargeable lithium battery that can be recharged through an included USB charging cable. On one charge, the flashlight can run for up to 60 days straight on its lowest illumination level.
- Compact and lightweight for everyday use
- Five brightness levels and a strobe mode
- Rechargeable through a USB
- A bit pricey for an everyday flashlight
- Rechargeable battery means that the flashlight won’t be ready to use at a moment’s notice if it’s out of juice
Best Camping Flashlight: ThruNite Archer 2A V3 LED Flashlight
At only six inches long, less than an inch around, and 3.84 ounces, the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 LED Flashlight is one of the best camping flashlights you can buy right now.
The flashlight emits up to 500 lumens of light through its high-performance LED bulb, which can be dimmed down through four brightness modes and a strobe mode. All modes can be cycled through the flashlight's dual-action button strategically placed on the bottom end of the flashlight.
The flashlight is powered by two AA batteries, so you don't have to worry about plugging it in to recharge while on a camping trip. And the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 LED Flashlight is IPX8 water-rated down to 1.5 meters — making it a great choice for inclement weather — and impact-rated for up to one meter.
- Super lightweight and compact, making it perfect for campers and hikers
- Dual-action button makes it harder to accidentally turn on or off
- No rechargeable battery makes it faster to get charged up
- Must purchase AA batteries for it to work
- No SOS mode
Best Hands-Free Flashlight: Wurkkos FC11 Pocket LED Flashlight
Sometimes getting a job done would be easier if there wasn’t a flashlight in your hand (or held in your mouth, for that matter). The Wurkkos FC11 Pocket LED Flashlight features a powerful magnetic tail cap that allows you to attach it to anything metal — like the hood of a car or metal frame of industrial equipment you are working on — for hands-free lighting.
This flashlight boasts up to 1,300 lumens of bright light that can extend up to 144 meters in distance. The flashlight comes with five brightness modes, including a "turbo" mode for the highest luminosity and beam distance, and an "eco" mode that provides two lumens of light for up to 275 hours.
Charged via a USB-C port, the flashlight's side switch features an "active lockout" so you don't accidentally turn the flashlight on if it's in a pocket or backpack and waste its battery. And the Wurkkos FC11 Pocket LED Flashlight has a power indicator on the switch as well, so you'll know when it's time to charge it up.
- Powerful magnet in the flashlight’s tail cap allows it to be used for hands-free illumination
- Five brightness modes, including “turbo” and “eco”
- Power indicator lets you know when it’s time to plug the flashlight in for charging
- Have to wait until it's charged through its USB-C port before you can use it
- No warranty information listed
Best Pocket Flashlight: Fenix E12 Flashlight
While quite a few of the flashlights on our list you could feasibly fit in your pocket, we felt that the Fenix E12 Flashlight deserved special recognition for cramming so much power into such a small package.
Measuring 3.5 inches in length and 0.5 inches in diameter and weighing only an ounce, this flashlight packs a mighty punch with 130 lumens of light that can be thrown up to 288 feet away. Using only one AA battery, the flashlight offers three brightness modes that are easily cycled through its back-end switch. And because the flashlight is so small, it can be easily operated with just one hand, leaving your other hand free.
The Fenix E12 Flashlight is IPX8 rated, meaning it can be submerged in up to two meters of water for up to 30 minutes. And the flashlight's outer casing is treated with a special finish to help thwart corrosion and abrasions.
- Super small and lightweight, perfect for carrying in a pocket
- Up to 130 lumens thrown up to 288 feet
- Uses only one AA battery
- Requires batteries that need to be purchased separately
- No strobe or SOS modes
Best Two-for-One Flashlight Bundle: GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000 Two-Pack
The GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000 Two-Pack gives you, not one, but two LED flashlights that can operate for up to 10+ hours on three AAA batteries.
The flashlights' LED bulb produces up to 1,040 lumens of bright light that can illuminate objects up to 1,000 feet away, and each flashlight includes five operational modes and adjustable focus for the light beam, so you can widen it to a flood beam or narrow it down to a focused beam.
The flashlights included in the GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000 Two-Pack are drop-tested up to 10 feet and can be temporarily submerged underwater, making them great options for any kind of weather.
- Two LED flashlights for under $20
- Can use rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries
- Adjustable zoom allows you to widen or narrow the light beam
- Not fully IP rated for water-resistance
- Need to purchase batteries separately
Do you have a flashlight that never fails you? Tell us about it in the comments below!