LAST UPDATED: October 31, 2019
Best 18650 Flashlights: Powerful Lights for Camping, Home, and Safety
Never be lost in the dark again with these bright 18650 flashlights
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON October 31, 2019
A flashlight is one of the most useful tools you can have around the house, workplace, or car. You never know when the power is going to go out or you need to search the dark for something.
One of the best and brightest types of flashlights are 18650 models. Their large size and robust batteries keep them powered up for hours. If you need a strong light to shine the way, consider one of these 18650 flashlights to keep nearby.
A 900-lumen flashlight with a Cree LED, 1000-foot range, and adjustable settings.
- IPX rated, pocket-sized flashlight with an aluminum non-slip design.
- Five settings, including strobe and SOS.
- Comes with an 18-month warranty.
- May not be as bright as other 18650 flashlights
- Possible issues with switches
- Some users report leaky batteries
The flashlight can function with 18650 batteries and 26650 ones. It’s powerful and provides a consistent and strong beam of light.
- Light’s ergonomic shape makes it fit more securely into a hand
- Has multiple lighting modes and zoom features
- Water-resistant and rugged
- Lens isn’t the most durable and can be scratched if handled too roughly
- Battery may last around an hour on the highest setting
A premium 18650 flashlight that features a comfortable rubber grip and easy-to-carry shape.
- Flashlight is fully rechargeable with a USB cable
- Has around 2,500 lumens
- Features three settings
- Includes an anti-roll cap
- Light is one of the most expensive on our list
- May not last all that long in terms of battery power.
Benefits of 18650 Flashlights
- Increased run time. While it’s difficult for a standard battery to reach the same power output, flashlights with 18650 lithium-ion (or li-ion) batteries have longer runtimes than standard AA or AAA battery flashlights running at the same power output.
- Battery life cycle. The life of a lithium-ion battery can be expected to last considerably longer than standard batteries. These 18650 li-ion batteries can be recharged up to 500 times, which can be up to twice that of a standard rechargeable battery.
- Safety. Lithium-ion batteries are becoming more highly regulated, and as such, 18650 batteries available to consumers in products like flashlights are required to meet the most stringent of standards. This keeps these batteries safe from explosion or fire.
Types of 18650 Flashlights
Tactical flashlights are the most common style of 18650-powered lights. These full-size flashlights usually have a tail switch for an on-off button and may have a side switch as well. They have multiple light modes, which may include tactical mode, strobe mode, and varying output settings. Tactical flashlights often contain multiple 18650 batteries arranged in a battery pack for extended life. Many of these flashlights are waterproof and built of high-quality, aircraft-grade aluminum to meet the needs of first responders.
EDC, or everyday carry, flashlights are best described as tactical lights on a smaller scale. Picture an 18650 flashlight with most of the same capabilities as a tactical light that isn’t much bigger than the 18650 battery itself. They usually contain one 18650 battery, so expected battery life is reduced from the full-size version. Because these are ideal for pocket carry and are often super bright, they can be a good choice for self-defense.
These 18650 lithium-ion flashlights are better suited for general use. They’re often not as heavy-duty or water-resistant, but some have additional features like an LED panel in the handle meant to be used as a lantern in a tight space. These are ideal for the home setting, as they are powerful and long-lasting and can be charged quickly before being stored in a drawer.
The Streamlight brand has been around since the 1970s and is a leader in the rechargeable flashlight industry. The Eagleville, Penn.-based company offers several 18650 li-ion flashlights, including this Streamlight PolyTac X Series flashlight, ideal for pocket carry and EDC needs.
GearLight is among the best-selling LED manufacturers around. The company is based in southern California and has other plants around the globe. Some of its most popular products are tactical flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns, many of which are built for biking and hiking. As for its best 18650 flashlight, consider the GearLight High-Powered LED Flashlight.
18650 Flashlights Pricing
- Under $50: Flashlights on this end of the scale tend to be smaller, EDC-style flashlights. While they will generally have one battery and limited functions, they can work well for general use.
- $50 to $100: Here you’ll find some lights with battery-packs for longer life. They’ll feature multiple modes as well. EDC-style lights in this category will be well-built with multiple functions. Beam distances will also increase.
- $100 and up: These are purpose-built flashlights intended for serious users. Many of these flashlights are marketed towards first responders and are heavy-duty and well-built. Flashlights in this range also come with longer warranties.
Many 18650 flashlights feature programmable switches that will activate different modes. One click is usually full-power, while holding the tail switch or tail cap will cycle through multiple power ranges. Taking advantage of these modes helps optimize battery life. A double-click of the tail switch will often produce a strobe mode meant to disorient a threat in a self-defense scenario.
There are several 18650-powered flashlights that are dual-fuel capable. This means that instead of only being able to use a lithium-ion 18650 battery to power your light, you may be able to use two CR123a batteries or even AA batteries. This is a nice feature when your light dies in a pinch and you can’t get to your charger.
Increased Run Times
While throttling your power output with the tail switch to lengthen your battery life is useful, you should be aware that 18650 lithium batteries have a considerably longer runtime in a flashlight than standard AA or C batteries might. Even towards the end of their charge, your flashlight’s performance will hardly suffer up until the moment it stops working.
- Shelf Life. If your goal is to purchase a flashlight to throw in a drawer and forget about until you need it, one powered by an 18650 battery might be a good choice. The lithium batteries in these flashlights can store a charge for much longer than standard batteries. This means that the light will be ready when you need it to be.
- Cold Weather Performance. While all batteries suffer some performance loss during cold temperatures, lithium batteries are less affected by extreme temperatures than a lead-acid battery. This makes an 18650 powered flashlight ideal for first responders, plow and tow truck operators, and anyone else who might have to brave the cold and need a reliable flashlight.
- Safety. No batteries are 100-percent leakproof, but the odds of a lithium battery leaking are dramatically reduced. Flashlights powered by 18650 batteries are not only more reliable, they’re also safer to the user. Leaks are far less common, and these batteries are safety-checked to prevent fires and explosions. There are even well-known companies that guarantee their products against leaks.
Best 18650 Flashlights Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Our pick for Best 18650 Flashlight Value is the Anker Bolder LC90 Rechargeable Flashlight. At this price point, you get a capable flashlight with a 1,000-yard beam distance. It operates on one 18650 lithium-ion battery. It has an aluminum body with a slip-resistant design and five adjustable settings. The Bolder comes with an 18-month warranty and is rated for wet weather, so it was built for some tough conditions. We like the small design, capable of fitting in the user’s pocket. We also like the adjustable beam, which goes from a wide-angle to a narrow focus. Our favorite feature is the IP65 water resistance rating. It also has an SOS feature, so if you should ever find yourself in a tough spot, you’ll be prepared.
There are a few things to consider with the Anker Bolder LC90. For one, there have been user reports that the batteries will stop working after a few seconds, and others have stated the flashlight isn’t as bright as it used to be. This is more likely a switch issue than a battery issue, but it is something to keep an eye out for. There was also a report of a leaky battery, so don’t lose your proof of purchase in case you have to take advantage of the 18-month warranty.
The GearLight High-Powered LED Flashlight is versatile in that it works with both 18650 batteries and 26650 as well. It’s one of the best budget 18650 flashlights, too. It’s large, built out of a sturdy housing, and fits firmly and securely in your hand. It’s also rather bright for a lower-priced flashlight, and features a wide white beam that allows you to see further and more clearly. One of the best features is its multiple lighting modes and zoom capabilities. The light can be adjusted so it can be focused on an object that is hundreds of feet away. It’s also weather-resistant and can be used in rain and snow. Not to mention, the flashlight is also durable. It includes a durable body that can withstand drops of up to 10 feet.
While the flashlight may be sturdy and reliable, it isn’t scratch-resistant. There have been numerous reports about the lens being scratched or scraped if dropped or handled roughly. It may also drain the battery quite quickly, which can lead to it not lasting all that long. You may have to replace the batteries more often than you would think.
When it comes to powerful light at your fingertips, the Streamlight Protac Tactical Flashlight is mighty and bright. As a premium 18650 flashlight, it features a comfortable rubberized grip that allows your hand to grasp it more firmly. It also includes a more ergonomic shape which is easier to hold and carry around. But, by far, the flashlight's best feature is its ability to be recharged with a USB port. The light includes three operating modes and at its highest setting, pumps out around 2,500 lumens. It also has a medium and low setting that helps it conserve battery power so it lasts longer. Another great aspect of the light is it’s waterproof for up to 30 minutes and features an anti-roll face cap, so it stays in place if you put it down.
But as mentioned earlier, the flashlight is a premium model, therefore making it quite expensive. At its highest setting, it will last around an hour and a half which isn’t all that long. Plus, the rubber grip can interfere with flashlight holsters and can also make it difficult to get in and out of pockets.
The ThruNite High Lumens Ultra-Bright Flashlight is a compact and easy-to-use pocket flashlight. It’s versatile and lightweight enough to fit in a small handbag or pocket for easy access. Plus, its 18650 cells can be recharged through a USB cable for increased convenience. It also includes multiple modes that are each meant for different scenarios. The flashlight handle includes ridges that help improve its grip. It also includes a built-in belt clip so it can easily attach to a pair of pants or belt. It’s one of the best travel flashlights as well due to its size. It can easily be stored in a glove box so it can be retrieved quickly. Also, for its compact size, the flashlight has 2,300 lumens, which is surprisingly high for a light of its stature.
While the flashlight may not be overly expensive, it can be considered quite pricey for a flashlight. The belt clip may not be the easiest thing to use. Another issue is the power button can be difficult to operate. It may also heat up quickly and stay hot if you leave it on for long periods.
The SureFire Fury Dual-Fuel Series 18650 flashlight is one of the most unique looking lights we’ve seen. However, its interesting styling increases its overall functionality and usefulness. It is a tactical flashlight that includes two batteries for an even brighter light and longer-lasting power. Not to mention, the light has a cool name. It’s also easy to use and highly reliable for anyone who works outside at night. The flashlight has up to 1,500 lumens thanks to its powerful LED light and a micro USB lithium-ion battery. Without the 18650 battery, the light is still plenty bright and can put out around 1,100 lumens. Another great aspect of the light is its casing. It is made out of anodized aluminum that increases its overall strength and toughness.
The flashlight is expensive when compared to other 18650 flashlights on the market. The battery life may also not last all that long due to the number of lumens it uses on its highest setting. Also, the light doesn’t have any other modes or settings like strobe.
The Olight Magnetic Rechargeable Flashlight is another budget-friendly 18650 light that is developed for comfort and grip. It’s small and easy to hold thanks to the many rubber ridges that line the ergonomic handle. The light is also shorter than its previous model, which makes it capable of fitting into pockets and bags more easily as well. It’s also a rather surprising tool as it is rated to have around 1,150 lumens. As far as features go, the light comes with three modes, and one of its better inclusions is a built-in battery monitor to let you know just how low the battery is running. It can be used in the rain, it’s durable and rugged, and can be clipped to a pocket or belt so it can be grabbed quickly.
While the amount of lumens the light has is impressive, it may not be as bright when you compare it to other lights. It’s by no means a weak light, but it could be a bit brighter. Also, the belt clip is stationary and doesn’t swivel around. It can interfere with the switch and turn it on without you knowing.
The Vont Blaze Tactical Flashlight comes as a pack of two flashlights built for camping, hiking, and any other outdoor activity. The lights include vibrant LED lights that are capable of putting out around 400 lumens with a 18650 battery. The battery is also rated to last up to nine hours once fully charged. Perhaps the best thing about these flashlights is they’re rated to last around 20,000 hours total. The lights are light—weighing around 5 ounces—and fit right at home inside of a pocket or bicycle bag. They provide a wide white beam and are rugged and durable. They are also water-resistant and feature several different settings for maximum functionality.
The flashlights are cheap when compared to other brands. They also don’t have that many lumens when stacked against competing models either. Yet, what power they do have is plenty for anything you may need to do around the house or a campsite.
The GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight is one of the highest-rated flashlights around. This is saying something, as it is a lower-priced 18650 flashlight that illuminates plenty of space with a bright light. What’s even better is that the price you pay rewards you with two GearLight LED flashlights, too. The lights are capable of illuminating a spot up to 1,000 feet away and are rated to be 10 times brighter than incandescent lights. The lights also come with five different modes and beam sizes for an easier time walking the dog or camping. They are even water-resistant and nearly indestructible. Plus, they can run up to 10 hours or more on one charge.
There have been complaints that no two lights shine the same. There are inconsistencies with the brightness of the LED between the two flashlights. The lights can also get quite hot in a short amount of time. They also do not come with any sort of belt loop.
- Don’t leave any flashlight on the highest and brightest setting for very long. It can become too hot and may eventually burn you if you are not careful.
- If you leave it in your pocket, be sure it doesn’t accidentally turn on while you’re walking. It may be best to leave it in a pocket without other accessories next to it.
- Put the flashlight in an easy-to-reach location around the house, office, or car to find it quickly in case of an emergency.
Q. What is a 18650 flashlight?
These flashlights get their name from the size of the battery that powers them. Each one measures 18mm in diameter and 65mm in length. They are robust and powerful for long-lasting light.
Q. What is a flashlight’s strobe setting used for?
The main reason for the strobe setting is to alert people of your position. It works best if you ever find yourself lost in the middle of the woods or difficult-to-reach place or if you need to signal someone else.
Q. What is the definition of a lumen?
To better understand your flashlight and its power, you need to look at how many lumens it has. A lumen is the measurement of the amount of light released per second. A flashlight with a greater amount of lumens will be brighter and more powerful. However, it will also use more battery power and may run out more quickly.
For a strong, durable, and bright 18650 flashlight, consider the ThruNite TN12 XP-L Edition 1110 Lumen Single CREE XP-L LED EDC 18650 Flashlight.
You can also check out the GearLight M10 18650 Tactical Flashlight to get two compact and bright flashlights.