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Flashlights have come a long way since those plastic versions of your childhood days that required hefty batteries—today’s versions come in all shapes, sizes, and even colors and can be recharged for years of use. Whether you’re selecting one for security, camping in tents, early morning jogs in your sneaker-clad runners, night games kids can play inside or out, or just in case, we’ve found the best option for you.
Here are the best flashlights on the market.
Best Overall: Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC40 Flashlight
Power Source: Rechargeable battery | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 400 lumens | Dimensions: 5.04 x 1.3 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 4.3 ounces
If you’re familiar with Anker, you already know the company is practically synonymous with wireless charging. So, it follows that its Bolder LC40 rechargeable flashlight is tops when it comes to battery life. With a 6-hour charge, the battery can last up to 20 hours when set on medium mode; and while the battery is not replaceable, it has a 50,000-hour lifespan. And it’s not just battery life where the Anker excels; the other reasons this is our top pick are that the aluminum body flashlight is impressively durable even though it weighs in at a mere 4.3 ounces and is 5-inches long; it’s bright in each of its three levels and two modes (strobe and SOS), and the battery is well-priced. We also like that it withstands the elements, is water and dust-resistant, and works in temperatures as low as 14 degrees.
"Recommended for indoor use, emergency use, camping, and hiking, this flashlight is durable and capable. I dropped it onto my concrete garage floor, on a gravel and dirt hiking path, and onto my kitchen floor (from heights over the recommended 1.5 meters), and it survived without a dent or ding. It even survived a few rounds of my cat batting it across the floor."—Pam Wattenbarger, Product Tester
Best Budget: BYB Flashlight Pack of 4
Power Source: Three AAA batteries | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 30 lumens | Dimensions: 5.04 x 1.3 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 3.1 ounces
These mini flashlights come in a pack of four, so you can afford to stash one on your bedside table, by the front door, in the glove compartment of your car, or virtually anywhere else you can think of—at 3.1 ounces each, they won’t weigh you down. The flashlights are a compact 3.23 inches, yet with nine LED bulbs offer a max of 30 lumens that reaches a distance of 60 meters, they are surprisingly bright and efficient. The lights can be turned on and off with the push of a button and require three AAA batteries each.
Best Tactical: Anker Bolder LC130 LED Flashlight
Power Source: Rechargeable battery | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 1300 lumens | Dimensions: 7.09 x 2.36 x 2.36 | Weight: 1.05 pounds
Tactical flashlights are extra-bright and often used in hunting or for home security situations (say you need to evacuate due to a forest fire in the middle of the night). The Anker LC130 offers a powerful 1300 lumens with enough range to light up two football fields—just be careful not to shine it in your or your companion’s eyes. The rugged, waterproof flashlight can withstand drops from at least one meter and will work even after being submerged in water for 30 minutes. Even with an aluminum body, it weighs in at over one pound, but the extra weight is often considered a plus by anyone looking for a tactical flashlight that is built to be more durable. When fully charged, it has a battery life of six hours.
"[T]he LC130 is a very durable flashlight. It can be safely dropped from heights up to a meter. We dropped it from a much loftier height (a two-story staircase!), and the flashlight didn’t show any signs of damage."—Brie Dyas, Product Tester
Best EDC: Olight I3T EOS 180 Flashlight
Power Source: One AAA battery | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 180 lumens | Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.59 x 0.59 inches | Weight: 1.4 ounces
If you’re selecting an everyday carry flashlight, your top concerns are likely the size and ease of carrying—and the Olight 13T 180 scores high on both fronts. At 3.5 inches long and weighing in at 1.4 ounces, you’ll hardly notice that it’s there, so it’s helpful that this slender flashlight has a double helix body knurling so it won’t slip your grip, plus a rotating, dual-direction pocket clip. It’s effective and efficient, too. On low-mode at 2.5 lumens, it has a battery life of 16 hours, while on full blast at 180 lumens it goes down to 21 minutes. (Fortunately, most find the low mode sufficient for all their needs.)
Best Rechargeable: MagLite LED Rechargeable Flashlight System
Power Source: Rechargable battery | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 643 lumens | Dimensions: 12.59 x 2.31 x 2.31 inches | Weight: 28 ounces
When you’re heading out for a weekend camping trip, the last thing you want is for your rechargeable flashlight to run out of juice. That won’t be an issue if you invest in this Maglite RL1019 LED Rechargeable Flashlight: when fully charged, a process that takes around four hours, its runtime is a very impressive 37 hours on eco mode or 17 hours on low. The system comes with both a wall charger and a car charger that make it easy for you to never be caught in the dark. On high, its max brightness is 643 lumens, and it shines a light more than 1,300 feet long, or you can use its strobe or SOS features or its quick-focus beam to turn the spotlight into a floodlight with a quick twist of the flashlight head. The U.S.A.-manufactured flashlight is 12 inches long and weighs 1.75 pounds.
"To test out the manufacturer’s claim that this flashlight is drop-resistant (in distances of up to 1 meter), I dropped it onto a gravel hiking trail, a field of grass, and my concrete driveway from this recommended distance. Each time, the flashlight incurred zero damage."—Pam Wattenbarger, Product Tester
Best Waterproof: Fenix E12 V2.0 AA Flashlight
Power Source: One AA battery | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 160 lumens | Dimensions: 3.06 x 0.75 x 0.69 inches | Weight: 1.8 ounces
Campers and fishers will appreciate that this E12 flashlight, like most of the selections from Fenix, is IP68 rated, which means it’s completely waterproof—it can withstand being submerged in water more than one meter deep for more than 30 minutes—and it’s dustproof, too. The ultra-light LED flashlight takes a single AA battery and produces 160 lumens on high, 30 lumens on medium, and 5 lumens on low. Other advantages are that the durable, aircraft-grade aluminum body has a knurled finish so it won’t slip from your grip, and it has built-in overheat protection so it won’t ever get hot to the touch.
Best LED: Husky 600 Lumen LED Virtually Unbreakable Aluminum Flashlight
Power Source: Four AA batteries | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 600 lumens | Dimensions: 8.58 x 2.05 x 2.05 | Weight: 0.72 pounds
Looking to shine a light on things? This 600 lumens flashlight with a max beam distance of 300 meters from Husky is the choice for you. It runs on four AAA batteries for three-and-and a half hours on full blast or eight hours on its low, 200 lumens setting. The durable flashlight lives up to its “Virtually Unbreakable” name and has been drop tested from 30 feet and is waterproof up to one meter; though with an ergonomically designed aluminum body that’s coated in rubber, it's not likely that you'll ever drop it in the first place. The 8.5 inch flashlight weighs 11.5 ounces, and it’s very affordable—just keep in mind you’ll be paying for new batteries after regular use.
Best Compact: Thorfire Cap Hat Light
Power Source: Battery | Light Type: LED | Brightness: 30 lumens | Dimensions: 3.15 x 3.15 x 1.18 inches | Weight: 1.13
At 1.13 ounces and 3.15 inches long, you’ll barely notice that you have this Thorfire flashlight clipped to your cap, jacket, or waistband. The five LED, 30-lumen lights brightly illuminates your immediate area, making it ideal for campers, fishers, or runners who want to light their path without disturbing their surroundings, and it won’t fully blind you should you look right at it. The uniform beam doesn’t flicker and won’t distort colors. You can rotate the head 90 degrees to be horizontal or vertical. The light runs on two CR2032 button batteries and gives up to 24 hours of working time. One negative to this affordable, compact battery is that the on/off button, located on the clip, can be difficult to find at first.
Our top pick is the Anker Bolder LC40 Flashlight, an affordable, bright, and easy-to-carry flashlight that has a rechargeable battery with an impressive lifespan. For an affordable set of flashlights to always keep handy, we recommend the BYB Flashlight Pack of 4 (view at Amazon). Compact and lightweight, each flashlight can fit in a glove compartment or purse.
What to Look for in a Flashlight
The light output of a flashlight is measured in lumens. The more lumens, the brighter the beam. How far that light reaches is referred to as “beam distance.” For a flashlight to illuminate items nearby, a compact flashlight with 100 lumens or less will get the job done. But if you want a powerful flashlight to light up your path at night or illuminate a large area, look for 500 to 1,000 lumens or more.
Note the battery life of any flashlight model you’re considering so that you don’t accidentally end up in the dark! Most flashlights run on battery power and will need to have the batteries replaced or recharged at regular intervals. Some models have adjustable light settings, and a lower brightness setting can be used to stretch battery life further. It’s typical for most flashlights to last at least a few hours before needing a battery refresh.
Some flashlights are light as a feather and weigh just a few ounces, while heftier versions can withstand more wear and tear but may weigh over a pound. If you’re looking for a flashlight that you’ll frequently carry with you while backpacking, hiking, or camping, you may want to look for a powerful yet lightweight model. If you’re looking for the most durable and long-lasting flashlight, you might have to settle for a model with heavy-duty metal housing and a powerful battery that adds a little weight but pays off in longevity.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This piece was written by Anne Fritz, who has been researching products for The Spruce for more than two years. Before writing this article, she gathered information from customer reviews, third-party articles, and brand websites' details. She’s a fan of the Thorfire Cap Hat Light, which is invaluable when walking her dogs in the dark.