LAST UPDATED: October 12, 2019
Best Flashlights: Control Light at Night and in Your Shop
Find your way through dimly lit areas with these flashlights
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 12, 2019
A flashlight can offer a reliable light source for a dimly lit home garage or auto repair shop. You can also use them outdoors when camping, fishing, or hiking. There are numerous flashlights available, but only a limited number can fulfill your lighting needs. Our buying guide offers a rundown of some of the best flashlights on the market that can be used for any lighting job.
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Benefits of Flashlights
- Light up the area. The main benefit of owning a flashlight comes from the fact you get to light up dark areas at all times. A flashlight will help you handle night conditions when visibility is extremely low, whether it's an emergency or a regular daily situation. With it, you can find lost items, light up the road when riding a bicycle, and stay safe while waiting for roadside assistance.
- Identify potential threats. These days, flashlights are designed to provide brighter light and a longer beam. This allows you to light up greater distances and spot potential threats in time. A flashlight comes in rather handy while walking down a dark street or for your car at night when you have reduced visibility and might feel unsafe.
- Use as a self-defense tool. A flashlight transforms into a convenient self-defense tool in emergencies. You can use it to blind an attacker and gain a few precious moments to get away from danger. It takes only about 60 lumens to cause temporary blindness, which is how much most flashlights have. Additionally, newly designed flashlights have sturdy constructions that allow you to use them as a weapon and hit an attacker to gain an advantage.
- Save power on your phone. Although you can use a phone to light up an area, the light found in a regular flashlight is a lot more powerful. You can see things in the dark at a greater distance and can save the battery on your phone, which is especially important during a power outage.
Types of Flashlights
Incandescent Bulb Flashlights
These are the most common type of flashlights usually found in people's homes. They are incredibly popular due to their low price. You can find them in almost every store and buy one whenever you need it, which is quite convenient in emergencies.
Incandescent bulb flashlights are handy and run on different batteries, with all of them being inexpensive and easy to find in stores. However, they are also a little fragile and the batteries and bulbs don't last for very long.
These flashlights use light-emitting diodes that are a type of semiconductor. They waste very little energy making heat, which means they are extremely durable. Overall, LED lights are more powerful than incandescent bulbs, offer a longer lifespan, and brighter light.
The batteries in LED flashlights work for longer and the construction is sturdier than with the regular flashlights. However, LEDs are pricier and some people don't feel the light is very natural. Due to the high output, these flashlights might be unsuitable for those who need a mid-range tool for daily situations.
HID (High-Intensity Discharge) bulbs pass an electric current through an arranged ball of ionized gas. They make flashlights much more powerful than incandescent bulbs, offering brighter light as well as more durability. HID flashlights are usually rechargeable and offer high efficiency in the dark.
HID flashlights are ideal for tactical and industrial purposes. They are bulky, sturdy, and very durable. However, they are also expensive and difficult to find on the market.
Named after the man who discovered the electromagnetic principle, these are also known as Faraday flashlights. They are a unique type that allows you to use the magnets inside the flashlight to produce several hours of the LED light. All you need to do is to shake the flashlight and this causes the magnets to create light.
Shake flashlights don't use batteries, which makes them low-maintenance and very convenient for emergencies. Still, the drawback might be the fact that the light is not very bright. It's rather dim and not enough for some night situations when you need superior visibility.
Maglite was founded in 1979 by Anthony Maglica. It's a widely-known company that is based in Ontario, California. Maglite started with producing regular flashlights that were of excellent quality and low cost. Over time, the production evolved, and now the brand offers all kinds of innovative products, from everyday carry to professional tools and equipment. Maglite Mini PRO Flashlight is one of the company's most popular products.
Streamlight was founded in 1973 and is located in Eagleville, Penn. It's a company that focuses on producing high-quality flashlights for all kinds of purposes. Streamlight offers a product line with hand-held flashlights, headlamps, weapon-mounted lights, lanterns, and much more. Customers get to choose between LEDs, incandescent bulbs, and many other light types. Streamlight Stylus Pro Pen Light turns out to be one of the best-rated Streamlight products on the market.
PowerTac is a company that focuses on producing versatile lights that can be used for both home and tactical purposes. It offers a wide range of flashlights made with the help of modern electronic technology for ultimate performance and durability. PowerTac was found in 2006 and is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of the company's best-rated products is the PowerTac LED Tactical Flashlight.
- Under $20: At this price point, you can find quite handy flashlights that prove to be very useful in emergencies. They might fail to produce extremely bright light but are still efficient and reliable.
- $20-$50: For everyday carry flashlights, you might need to add a few more bucks. Pricier flashlights are made to withstand heavy daily abuse and provide more power and durability.
- $50 and up: Those who want to spend more on their new flashlights can expect to get ultra-bright and long-lasting tools. Expensive flashlights have a lot of extra features to offer, starting with impressive power and convenient and durable design.
One of the first things to consider when choosing a flashlight is how many lumens it has to offer. The number of lumens determines how bright the flashlight will be. If you need a tool for lighting up nearby items, you can go for 100 lumens or less. For illuminating large areas or paths, you might want to consider getting a flashlight that offers from 500 to 1000 lumens.
Beam distance refers to how far the light reaches. It's a crucial feature to look for when choosing a flashlight. For home purposes, you won't need a tool with high reach. The great beam distance is necessary for professional and tactical purposes. It's also important to get a flashlight with a larger beam distance if you're planning to use the tool in emergencies and as a self-defense weapon.
To avoid ending up in the dark, it's crucial to look for flashlights with durable batteries. Although you can easily recharge or change batteries when using the tool at home, it's not the same outdoors. If you're planning to use a flashlight in emergencies or when outside, you might want to look for models that have long-lasting batteries. In this case, it's also smart to go for tools that have adjustable light settings, so you can extend the life of the batteries.
- Design. It's also important to check the overall design of each flashlight. You want to make sure it's compact or large enough to meet your purposes. For situations such as backpacking, hiking, or camping, you might want to get a model that is small and lightweight enough to fit your pocket. For tactical and other professional purposes, a tool with a sturdy and thick metal casing might be a better option.
- Durability. Depending on your needs, you might want to check the overall durability of a particular flashlight. If you're planning to use it outdoors, weather-resistance is a must. For getting a long-lasting flashlight, it's crucial to double-check the IP rating for water and impact-resistance.
- Light Modes. Not all flashlights have to offer many light modes. Most of them offer basic ranges from low to maximum mode, which is enough for basic tasks at home. However, advanced flashlights also offer strobe or SOS features that come in handy for tactical and professional situations as well as emergencies.
Best Flashlight Reviews & Recommendations 2020
PowerTac offers a rechargeable flashlight with 1180 lumens. It's a powerful tool with six light modes, so you can adjust it according to the situation and your needs. You’re able to switch between strobe, turbo, high, medium, low, and firefly mode, so you can use this tool for numerous purposes.
The flashlight is rather compact and lightweight. It's made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, which ensures a long lifespan. The casing is impact-resistant and waterproof (IPX8-rated), so you can use the flashlight in all weather conditions.
Furthermore, the flashlight features an intuitive design. It's handy and easy to use. There's a magnetic lid you can attach to metal and conveniently mount the tool. Also, a press-and-hold button allows you to automatically lock and turn off the flashlight, preventing burns and battery drains. Lastly, you'll get a lifetime warranty in case you run into any issues.
However, keep in mind that the light is not very bright. If you're looking for a powerful flashlight for professional and tactical purposes, this might not be the best option for you. Also, the flashlight might overheat if left on the high power mode for too long. When the battery is drained, you might have difficulties with turning the power back on.
If you're looking for an inexpensive LED flashlight, Maglite Mini Pro might be an excellent choice for you. It's a compact yet powerful flashlight that is incredibly easy to use. You get to switch between a spot to a floodlight mode in a breeze and adjust the light according to your daily needs.
Another great thing about this flashlight is the sturdy construction. The tool is compact and lightweight yet very durable. It features an aluminum case that is shock- and water-resistant, so you get to use the flashlight in all weather conditions. Additionally, the tool offers up to 80 hours of run time. With 272 lumens, it's ideal for all home purposes and comes in handy for tactical applications too.
However, a lot of buyers complained about the flashlight being too bright. It tends to blind the user and is not ideal for regular applications such as looking for lost items and lighting up the room. Due to high power output, the flashlight is prone to overheating as well, and the light might drain the battery rather quickly.
Anker offers a super bright flashlight with 900 lumens. It's a perfect option for those looking for a tactical and professional tool. With a beam light that reaches nearly 1,000 feet, it's one of the most powerful pocket-sized flashlights on the market.
This flashlight allows you to switch between five light settings and use a zoom or narrow beam. All of these features allow for more convenient use in all kinds of situations. Furthermore, the battery is of excellent quality and lasts for up to six hours.
Buyers also love the sturdy casing that is IPX5-rated and water- and shock-resistant. The quality construction ensures long-term use and more security during use. Additionally, the flashlight is rather compact and easy to use.
The thing that might bother you the most with this flashlight is the design of the cover. You have to remove it every time you need to recharge the unit, which can be rather time-consuming. The switch is also a little stiff and needs time to loosen up. Some buyers even reported issues with overheating.
The J5 Tactical V1-Pro Flashlight is a powerful tool that offers 300 lumens and a beam light reach of up to 600 feet. It's about 10 times brighter than regular incandescent bulb flashlights, allowing you to handle all possible situations with ease. You get to use the flashlight for daily purposes as well as emergencies when you need more reliability from your tools.
The flashlight works on an AA rechargeable battery that lasts for up to four hours. It's compact, lightweight, and has a clip for easy carrying in the pocket. The case is water- and shock-resistant, so it can withstand a lot of abuse. You'll definitely use this J5 Tactical flashlight for a while. What's even more important, the tool works on three settings (high, low, and strobe) and offers a wide-to-narrow beam zoom.
One of the main drawbacks of this product is the fact that the modes are difficult to figure out. The instructions are not very clear, and it takes time to get the handle of all the features. Another minor inconvenience regards the clip. It's not very tight and tends to loosen up even more when hanging on the pocket.
This is an inexpensive option ideal for those who are on a tight budget. Still, the low price doesn't come at the expense of quality design. The flashlight is quite bright and very durable, allowing for a wide range of applications. It offers 140 lumens and zoom-in and zoom-out features to meet different purposes.
You get to use this little flashlight around the house as well as when hiking, mountain biking, camping, and more. Thanks to the water-resistant casing and rugged construction, the flashlight is handy to keep within hand's reach when outdoors. The aluminum alloy ensures a non-slip grip and more durability, so you'll enjoy the effectiveness of this flashlight for quite a while. Additionally, there's a two-year warranty to cover possible issues.
However, don't forget that this is a budget-friendly flashlight. It lacks a lot of extra features found on high-end tools, starting with different light modes. If you need a flashlight that would be packed with a lot more features, this little unit might not be a perfect choice for you. Also, the focus feature is difficult to figure out and adjust. You might need to handle the tool carefully when switching between the two options.
The GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight is rated for a light output of 1040 lumens. It's a super-bright tool that illuminates large areas and proves to be much more powerful than regular incandescent lights. All you need to do is to power it up with three AAA batteries, and you're good to go.
The unit is incredibly easy to use. It's simple yet very convenient for a wide range of applications. The flashlight offers five modes (high, medium, low, strobe, SOS) and an adjustable focus. It's compact enough to fit in your pocket, backpack, or purse, allowing you to keep it within hand's reach at all times.
Buyers also love the durable construction of this flashlight. Thanks to the quality materials, the unit is water- and shock-resistant and can withstand a lot of outdoor threats. That allows you to use it when hiking, camping, and biking, as well as for emergencies.
One of the main things to keep in mind with this flashlight is the fact the lens is of low quality. It might get scratched and damaged easily, so you'll have to handle the unit carefully. Additionally, the flashlight becomes quite hot after some time of use. It's not the best option for those who need a constant light output from their tools.
Streamlight is a company that never ceases to amaze with its high-quality flashlights. This time, we have a penlight with 250 lumens and three light modes. Due to its simple and compact design, the flashlight is perfect for daily situations and outdoor purposes. You get to toss it in the backpack or carry it around in your pocket, so you always have a backup during the night.
The flashlight is made from aluminum and features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. There's even a sliding metal sleeve designed to protect the USB port. Overall, the flashlight is very sturdy and protected from outdoor threats. You can use it in all weather conditions and illuminate your way in the dark. One is certain, you'll use this little tool for quite a while.
However, some buyers complained about battery life. It's not very durable, and you might need to buy a new and more powerful battery. You'll also need to check the casing every once in a while, as it tends to get really hot after some time of use.
The PeakPlus Tactical Flashlight offers up to 600 lumens for illuminating large areas and providing excellent visibility in all kinds of situations. You get to use it as a regular daily tool as well as a self-defense weapon. With a flashlight that offers high brightness and convenient body-design, you won't run out of light ever again.
When it comes to the overall design, the flashlight features a sturdy and skid-proof casing. It's water-resistant, anti-abrasive, and ideal for outdoor purposes. You can use it for all kinds of activities, including fishing, camping, hiking, and much more. Thanks to the five light modes and a zoom feature, you'll be able to adjust it according to all of your needs. Additionally, you'll get a one-year warranty, just in case.
Still, there are a couple of things that might bother you with this unit. First, the instructions are not included in the package. Without them, it might take some time to figure out all the features. Secondly, the battery needs to be removed for charging, which is quite inconvenient. It also might take quite some time to fully recharge a drained battery.
- If you are working in an auto service shop, wear gloves to keep the flashlight free of grease.
- Use a grease-cutting cleaner or an alcohol pad to remove dirt and grease stains from the flashlight. You can also use a Q-tip or a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the charging port.
- To prevent battery leakage, replace the batteries in your flashlight at least every four months if the flashlight hasn’t been used over that period.
- If you’re shopping for a non-rechargeable flashlight, prioritize one that uses AA batteries. You won’t struggle to find a replacement since they are the most common battery type available.
- Carry an extra battery set for your flashlight on camping trips. It’s always good to have a backup set in case the batteries die.
Q: Which flashlight is best for camping?
A: Non-rechargeable batteries are best for camping. You won’t drain your car’s battery, and most can run for over 50 hours without a replacement. You can purchase a rechargeable one if you have a reliable generator at your campsite.
Q: What does lumen mean?
A: The term lumen is used to describe the unit of light or brightness emitted by the flashlight. For example, a pitch dark room has zero lumens of light. The higher the number of lumens on a flashlight, the brighter the light it will produce.
Q: Do flashlight batteries drain when not in use?
A: New detachable batteries typically don’t drain when not in use. They may discharge at the same rate as when they are removed from the battery shell. However, rechargeable batteries do self-discharge, and you may find the battery is drained if you don’t use the flashlight for about six months. Self-discharging can also shorten the life of the battery.
Our top pick is the PowerTac LED Tactical Flashlight. It’s incredibly bright and can be used for both indoor and outdoor applications. It’s also rechargeable and well made.
Our budget-friendly pick is the Maglite Mini PRO Flashlight. It’s quite affordable and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.