Reviews

LAST UPDATED: November 13, 2019

Best EDC Flashlights: See Things More Clearly

Illuminate narrow passageways and small spaces with these EDC flashlights

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PUBLISHED ON November 13, 2019

An Everyday Carry, or EDC, flashlight can help you in everyday emergency situations around your home, garage, or when camping. If you drop anything under the hood of your car, drop your keys in a bush, or need to find your way in a dark room, you can whip out the flashlight and illuminate the area. If you are in the market for one, consider some of the options in our buying guide below.

  • Best Overall
    Streamlight Microstream Flashlight
    Streamlight Microstream Flashlight
    Summary
    Summary
    A 250 lumen LED flashlight with a durable aluminum build that fits comfortably in your pocket.
    Pros
    Pros
    It has a rechargeable battery. Can withstand extreme weather changes. Waterproof design. Abrasion-resistant. Features an impact-resistant glass lens. It comes with a convenient multi-directional pocket clip.
    Cons
    Cons
    It needs to be recharged after only four hours. You may receive a product with a hard switch button.
  • Best Overall
    Streamlight Microstream Flashlight
    Streamlight Microstream Flashlight
  • Best Value
    J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
    J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
    Summary
    Summary
    This is an affordable 300 lumen flashlight that can illuminate objects that are up to 600 feet away. Its light beam is zoomable so that you can focus on an object or light up an entire room.
    Pros
    Pros
    Durable tactical design that can survive drops or being submerged in water. Compact enough to fit in your pocket or purse. Backed with a one-year replacement warranty.
    Cons
    Cons
    Batteries sold separately. Can get noticeably dimmer with time. Always skips to the next mode when switched off.
  • Best Value
    J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
    J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
  • Honorable Mention
    ThruNite Ti3 V2 Keychain Flashlight
    ThruNite Ti3 V2 Keychain Flashlight
    Summary
    Summary
    A 120 lumen LED flashlight for illuminating short distances. The light uses a Cree XP-G2 R5 LED that has a lifespan of more than 20 years
    Pros
    Pros
    It’s an Ipx8 waterproof flashlight with a tough construction to withstand the pressure that may cause breakages. It has a reversed clip that makes it easy to hold in your pocket or hat.
    Cons
    Cons
    The flashlight changes modes when you leave it off. May develop an issue with the switch over time.
  • Honorable Mention
    ThruNite Ti3 V2 Keychain Flashlight
    ThruNite Ti3 V2 Keychain Flashlight

    An Everyday Carry, or EDC, flashlight can help you in everyday emergency situations around your home, garage, or when camping. If you drop anything under the hood of your car, drop your keys in a bush, or need to find your way in a dark room, you can whip out the flashlight and illuminate the area. If you are in the market for one, consider some of the options in our buying guide below.

    Best EDC Flashlights Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    Armed with an output of 250 lumens, this everyday carry flashlight is ready to light up your path up to 68 meters. The flashlight is perfect if you are looking for something small for easy portability with a wide beam distance. The light comes in two modes, which are high and low modes that will serve you for 1.5 and 3.5 hours, respectively. The keychain light also helps you carry it with ease.


    One of the advantages of this flashlight is that it is built to last. The durable, machined aluminum construction and unbreakable polycarbonate will serve you for years. If you are careful, you can add many years of service.


    The item is not entirely perfect, though. You will have occasional issues with the interchangeable modes. It may stop working suddenly before it resumes after a while. The battery run time is low, as it can only last four hours after a full charge.

    Best Value

    Illuminate objects up to 600 feet away with this craftily designed tactical flashlight that provides 300 lumens of light. The flashlight has a zoomable focus, which makes it ideal for nighttime activities such as hunting, fishing, or camping. It also features three light modes (high, low, and strobe). The strobe mode can be used as a defense strategy to disorient the attacker and give yourself enough time to run or plan an attack.


    The unit is designed to last through tough military use and has a tough aluminum alloy body that can survive a nine-foot drop or being temporarily submerged in water. It can run on a single 14500 rechargeable battery or an AA battery.


    Unfortunately, the batteries are sold separately, and the flashlight can get noticeably dimmer after a few hours of use. Aside from that, when you click the tail cap switch, the flashlight goes off then the next click will take it to the subsequent mode. Therefore, if you would like to use it in high mode, you would have to click the tail switch at least six times to get to it.

    Honorable Mention

    This flashlight has the longest lifespan in this category, as it can serve you for more than 20 years with proper care. The secrets behind this lifespan are the AAA batteries and shock resistance, which avoids breakage thanks to the strong aluminium body. It has three different modes: high, low, and strobe. It is so small that you will mistake it for a penlight, but this strengthens its portability.


    This flashlight is comfortable and portable. It has a lanyard that you can attach to your keyholder. Also, it has a two-way reverse clip for holding in pockets. You will also love the fact that it is 1PX8 waterproof, so you can even use it underwater.


    The only downside of this flashlight is that it’s not super-bright, so you can’t use it from a long distance. You will also have a difficult time trying to determine how the different modes work. The modes also change when you turn it off, so you will have to readjust when you open it.

    Honorable Mention

    Anker is one of the leading brands in high-quality, rechargeable flashlights, and the Bolder LC40 is a testament to the brand’s popularity. It comes packing a rechargeable 3350 mAh battery that recharges for about six hours and can run for up to 20 hours on a medium-light setting. The flashlight uses CREE LED bulbs that produce 400 lumens and have a 50,000-hour lifespan. It can operate in five settings: high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS mode. Therefore, you should keep this on your person or in your glove box at all times for emergencies.


    Its tactical aluminum body is designed for maximum durability, and can withstand a dusty environment and heavy rain. It’s also shock-resistant and works reliably even when the temperatures dip to 14 degrees. The housing is topped off with an anti-slip finish so that you can maintain a firm grip at all times. In addition, the lens reflector is made from heat-resistant aluminum and has a rubber seal at the edge to prevent water penetration.


    However, you might find the small switch button rather uncomfortable to use, especially if you have large hands. There’s a USB port right next to the switch and that’s probably why Anker had to sacrifice the size of the button. Also, you have to long-press the button for it to switch off, which can be inconvenient when you need to turn it off in a hurry.

    Honorable Mention

    Much like other Streamlight flashlights, the Protac also has a compact profile and a tactical design that makes it a convenient everyday carry tool. The flashlight uses C4 LED technology, which has a 50,000-hour runtime, and utilizes Solid State Power Regulation technology to ensure that it provides maximum illumination throughout the battery life. The battery is rated at three watts for maximum power efficiency and provides 350 lumens, which are enough to illuminate a dark room. In addition, it comes with four modes: high (1.75-hour runtime), medium (3.5-hour runtime), low, and strobe (6.75-hour runtime for both).


    The Protac flashlight is built to last with a high-temperature, anodized aluminum construction, and an impact-resistant glass lens. It can survive being submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes or a 6-foot drop. What’s impressive is that all these features are tucked away in a 4.25-inch long unit with a tactical tail switch for easy one-handed operation.


    However, we are disappointed that the beam isn’t zoomable so you only have to rely on the different modes to adjust the light. Also, there’s only one button for powering on the flashlight and selecting the modes.

    Honorable Mention

    Quality construction is a trademark of most Olight flashlights and the design of the Olight S1 is a testament to this. The unit utilizes Cree LED lights with a maximum output of 500 lumens. It also has a Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens that helps to focus the beam and enhance the beam distance by up to 360 feet. The body is made from stainless steel bezel with a PCD coating for enhanced shock and corrosion resistance. On top of that, the tail cap is fitted with a strong magnet so that you can attach it on any metal surface for hands-free operation.


    The light can be adjusted to five modes: high (500 lumens), medium (80 lumens), low (eight lumens), moonlight mode (0.5 lumens), and strobe mode (10 hertz). To prevent accidental operation while the flashlight is in your pocket, Olight includes a low-profile, side switch that glows red when the battery is low.


    The main issue with this flashlight is that the side switch can be a bit challenging to find in the dark. Also, the batteries are sold separately and can drain pretty fast when the flashlight is set to high mode.

    Honorable Mention

    Gearlight didn’t cut corners when designing the S1000 flashlight, and this is evident from its high-strength, aircraft-grade aluminum alloy housing. The case can survive a 10-foot drop, being submerged in water, and extreme weather conditions, including a heavy downpour and snow. Also, the head of the flashlight has an anti-roll design while the rest of the body has an embossed finish to provide maximum grip.


    Its illuminating power is unparalleled since it can provide a steady beam over a distance of 1,000 feet. Therefore, it’s a great option for nighttime fishing, hunting, or hiking. Besides that, there are five modes to choose from, including high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS mode. The functions can be adjusted from the tail cap switch with just one hand. In addition, the package comes with two flashlights, rechargeable AAA batteries, and a holster, so it does offer great value for the money. 


    However, being one of the cheapest EDC flashlights on the market, it may not hold up to heavy-duty use. It might also go dimmer after a few months of use and this condition may not improve even if you replace the batteries.

    Honorable Mention

    This Maglite flashlight has a surprisingly durable build for a budget-friendly option. The design features weather-resistant seals to prevent water penetration and an anodized aluminum casing that’s resistant to corrosion. The flashlight can survive accidental drops, and since it’s IPX4-rated for water resistance, you won’t regret using it in a wet environment.


    The LED lights will offer about 50,000 hours of usage, and you will get at least six hours of continuous illumination from the battery. The power switch is located at the side, and you can adjust the beam from a spot to a huge floodlight simply by rotating the cap.


    However, it has a slightly bulkier profile than the other EDC flashlights on our list, but this could work to the advantage of anyone with large hands who doesn’t want to strain using a small flashlight. 

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    Benefits of EDC Flashlights

    • Visibility in darkness: Whether you are looking for something under the car, bed, or sofa, the power went out at night unexpectedly, or you want to hike at night, tactical flashlights are ready to tackle any occasion. They produce powerful beams to fight the evils that lie in the dark.
    • Brilliant conservation: Sometimes getting your phone to use the flashlight app is hectic. Imagine you are in denim jeans with those small pockets. It’s a battle trying to reach your pocket, take out your phone, scroll through the applications, and switch on the flashlight. The battle continues when returning the phone. Plus, it sucks when you remember that you have to use the phone again to check on something. What do you do with an EDC light? You just pick it up, turn it on, and enjoy the powerful light output.
    • Ready weapon: The flashlight produces a super-bright beam that hurts the eyes so bad that the intruder will just walk away. Also, it has a rugged aluminum construction that you can use if the attacker does not back down.
    • It’s law-abiding: All the states in the U.S. have legalized the use of flashlights for your safety. This is good news, since not all the states allow everyone to carry weapons for self-defense. If you can’t carry a gun or knife, this can be a replacement.

    Types of EDC Flashlights

    18650 Flashlights

    These are some of the most reliable everyday carry flashlights on the market today. The name is derived from the length of the battery, which is 18 millimeters by 65 millimeters. The flashlights in this category use the latest LED technology to produce lights that can go up to 100,000 hours of service. The beam’s area of coverage is spectacular, and the battery can give you numerous modes of lighting.

    Rechargeable Flashlights

    Technology is slowly shifting us away from flashlights that you can only use again with a new set of batteries. USB rechargeable flashlights are the future. Armed with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, they can last more than a year with 1000+ cycles. The only downside with these batteries is that they take longer to fully—charge between 8-10 hours—but you can charge them at night before you use them.

    AAA Flashlights

    These tactical flashlights are smaller than AA flashlights. They are durable, sturdy, and produce enough light output for all your lighting needs. The greatest advantage of these flashlights is that they are easy to find. They are widely available all over the world, which makes them cheap and easy to carry.

    AA Flashlights

    These are the number one competitor of AAA flashlights. In terms of capacity, service duration, and brightness, AA flashlights top the competition. However, they are a bit bigger and bulkier than AAA flashlights. A big advantage of AA flashlights is that they are widely available and easy to find.

    Top Brands

    COAST

    The company believes that real people work, real work to help those with real needs. Since 1919, it has managed to produce items that are on par with their motto. These include the COAST CUTLERY 20484 Flashlight and COAST G45 385 Lumen LED Flashlight.

    ThruNite

    Founded in 2009, ThruNite company has made a name in producing flashlights backed by exemplary performance over the years. The company produces all types of flashlights to meet your tactical and personal needs. It’s the maker of the widely known ThruNite Archer 1A V3 200 Lumens AA Flashlight and ThruNite Archer 2A V3, Neutral White.

    Streamlight

    The company is located in Eagleville, Penn. It started in 1973 and has created numerous brands of flashlights since. The company has invested heavily in getting the first-hand experiences of its customers using its tools. Because of these experiences, they can create items that fit the needs of firefighters, athletes, and fishermen. Some of their best flashlights are the Streamlight Mainstream Flashlight and Streamlight 25302 SL-20LP Full-Size Rechargeable LED Flashlight.

    Best EDC Flashlights Pricing

    • Below $20: Flashlights in this category have a compact size and are adjustable with exceptional value. Most of these flashlights have only two interchangeable modes between high and low but leave out strobe mode. They don’t have extremely powerful beams—just enough to keep you moving.
    • Above $20: Flashlights in this category produce powerful and brighter light to provide a long beam distance, some of which boast up to over 1,000 lumens that can cover distances of 900 feet. They are very versatile and of high quality. The more money you spend, the higher the quality you get.

    Key Features

    Battery Type 

    The battery type matters a great deal because you know the duration you’d like to use the flashlight. Keep in mind that some batteries are easy to find while others aren’t. Other types, like CR123A batteries, are good performers and will serve you for many hours. However, finding them is an uphill battle because they are rare. On the other hand, AA and AAA batteries are available almost everywhere, but their performance doesn’t match CR123A batteries.

    Waterproof Rating

    Flashlights come in handy when it’s raining, but how good is the water resistance? A good flashlight should not be affected by water, in any case. Most flashlights with good water resistance are rated using the IPX code. For instance, you can look for flashlights with codes like IPX7, IPX8, and IPX4. IPX ratings are used to describe the level of protection (provided by the design of the device) against fluids. The rating goes from zero (the lowest) to eight (the highest protection level).

    Size

    There is no need to look for a bulky flashlight that will burden you for nothing. It’s true that the smaller the flashlight, the less quality it offers. But it’s not a bad idea to sacrifice a few things like brightness and service time for comfort. Your ideal size should not be more than 4 inches long.

    Serrated Strike Bezel

    You should only consider this feature if you live in an unsafe area. The serrated bezel acts as a lethal weapon that you can use to strike your attacker. This feature is very deadly, and it will inflict a lot of pain to the attacker.

    Other Considerations

    • Type of Bulb: When the LED light was invented, most people shifted to them, leaving incandescent bulbs on the verge of extinction. LED bulbs have taken the cake in producing flashlights with greater efficiency and less battery consumption than their rivals.
    • Construction: Your flashlight will occasionally fall or get some knocks here and there. It’s important that you look for flashlights with construction that is high quality and sturdy to avoid breaking or cracking.
    • Weight: You already have enough weight to carry, and you don’t need extra. Look for a flashlight that is easy to carry. For instance, flashlights with an aluminum body are a bit lighter than flashlights made up of steel.
    • Lumens: The lumens of your ideal flashlight determine its brightness. While different flashlights come with different lumen ranges, look for the right range to fit your needs. Ideally, it should be between 100 and 1,000 lumens.

    Best EDC Flashlights Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall
    Streamlight Mainstream Flashlight

    Armed with an output of 250 lumens, this everyday carry flashlight is ready to light up your path up to 68 meters. The flashlight is perfect if you are looking for something small for easy portability with a wide beam distance. The light comes in two modes, which are high and low modes that will serve you for 1.5 and 3.5 hours, respectively. The keychain light also helps you carry it with ease.


    One of the advantages of this flashlight is that it is built to last. The durable, machined aluminum construction and unbreakable polycarbonate will serve you for years. If you are careful, you can add many years of service.


    The item is not entirely perfect, though. You will have occasional issues with the interchangeable modes. It may stop working suddenly before it resumes after a while. The battery run time is low, as it can only last four hours after a full charge.

    Best Value
    J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight

    Illuminate objects up to 600 feet away with this craftily designed tactical flashlight that provides 300 lumens of light. The flashlight has a zoomable focus, which makes it ideal for nighttime activities such as hunting, fishing, or camping. It also features three light modes (high, low, and strobe). The strobe mode can be used as a defense strategy to disorient the attacker and give yourself enough time to run or plan an attack.


    The unit is designed to last through tough military use and has a tough aluminum alloy body that can survive a nine-foot drop or being temporarily submerged in water. It can run on a single 14500 rechargeable battery or an AA battery.


    Unfortunately, the batteries are sold separately, and the flashlight can get noticeably dimmer after a few hours of use. Aside from that, when you click the tail cap switch, the flashlight goes off then the next click will take it to the subsequent mode. Therefore, if you would like to use it in high mode, you would have to click the tail switch at least six times to get to it.

    Honorable Mention
    ThruNite Ti3 V2 Keychain Flashlight

    This flashlight has the longest lifespan in this category, as it can serve you for more than 20 years with proper care. The secrets behind this lifespan are the AAA batteries and shock resistance, which avoids breakage thanks to the strong aluminium body. It has three different modes: high, low, and strobe. It is so small that you will mistake it for a penlight, but this strengthens its portability.


    This flashlight is comfortable and portable. It has a lanyard that you can attach to your keyholder. Also, it has a two-way reverse clip for holding in pockets. You will also love the fact that it is 1PX8 waterproof, so you can even use it underwater.


    The only downside of this flashlight is that it’s not super-bright, so you can’t use it from a long distance. You will also have a difficult time trying to determine how the different modes work. The modes also change when you turn it off, so you will have to readjust when you open it.

    Honorable Mention
    Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC40 Flashlight

    Anker is one of the leading brands in high-quality, rechargeable flashlights, and the Bolder LC40 is a testament to the brand’s popularity. It comes packing a rechargeable 3350 mAh battery that recharges for about six hours and can run for up to 20 hours on a medium-light setting. The flashlight uses CREE LED bulbs that produce 400 lumens and have a 50,000-hour lifespan. It can operate in five settings: high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS mode. Therefore, you should keep this on your person or in your glove box at all times for emergencies.


    Its tactical aluminum body is designed for maximum durability, and can withstand a dusty environment and heavy rain. It’s also shock-resistant and works reliably even when the temperatures dip to 14 degrees. The housing is topped off with an anti-slip finish so that you can maintain a firm grip at all times. In addition, the lens reflector is made from heat-resistant aluminum and has a rubber seal at the edge to prevent water penetration.


    However, you might find the small switch button rather uncomfortable to use, especially if you have large hands. There’s a USB port right next to the switch and that’s probably why Anker had to sacrifice the size of the button. Also, you have to long-press the button for it to switch off, which can be inconvenient when you need to turn it off in a hurry.

    Honorable Mention
    Streamlight 88061 Protac Tactical Light

    Much like other Streamlight flashlights, the Protac also has a compact profile and a tactical design that makes it a convenient everyday carry tool. The flashlight uses C4 LED technology, which has a 50,000-hour runtime, and utilizes Solid State Power Regulation technology to ensure that it provides maximum illumination throughout the battery life. The battery is rated at three watts for maximum power efficiency and provides 350 lumens, which are enough to illuminate a dark room. In addition, it comes with four modes: high (1.75-hour runtime), medium (3.5-hour runtime), low, and strobe (6.75-hour runtime for both).


    The Protac flashlight is built to last with a high-temperature, anodized aluminum construction, and an impact-resistant glass lens. It can survive being submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes or a 6-foot drop. What’s impressive is that all these features are tucked away in a 4.25-inch long unit with a tactical tail switch for easy one-handed operation.


    However, we are disappointed that the beam isn’t zoomable so you only have to rely on the different modes to adjust the light. Also, there’s only one button for powering on the flashlight and selecting the modes.

    Honorable Mention
    Olight S1 EDC LED Flashlight

    Quality construction is a trademark of most Olight flashlights and the design of the Olight S1 is a testament to this. The unit utilizes Cree LED lights with a maximum output of 500 lumens. It also has a Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens that helps to focus the beam and enhance the beam distance by up to 360 feet. The body is made from stainless steel bezel with a PCD coating for enhanced shock and corrosion resistance. On top of that, the tail cap is fitted with a strong magnet so that you can attach it on any metal surface for hands-free operation.


    The light can be adjusted to five modes: high (500 lumens), medium (80 lumens), low (eight lumens), moonlight mode (0.5 lumens), and strobe mode (10 hertz). To prevent accidental operation while the flashlight is in your pocket, Olight includes a low-profile, side switch that glows red when the battery is low.


    The main issue with this flashlight is that the side switch can be a bit challenging to find in the dark. Also, the batteries are sold separately and can drain pretty fast when the flashlight is set to high mode.

    Honorable Mention
    GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000

    Gearlight didn’t cut corners when designing the S1000 flashlight, and this is evident from its high-strength, aircraft-grade aluminum alloy housing. The case can survive a 10-foot drop, being submerged in water, and extreme weather conditions, including a heavy downpour and snow. Also, the head of the flashlight has an anti-roll design while the rest of the body has an embossed finish to provide maximum grip.


    Its illuminating power is unparalleled since it can provide a steady beam over a distance of 1,000 feet. Therefore, it’s a great option for nighttime fishing, hunting, or hiking. Besides that, there are five modes to choose from, including high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS mode. The functions can be adjusted from the tail cap switch with just one hand. In addition, the package comes with two flashlights, rechargeable AAA batteries, and a holster, so it does offer great value for the money. 


    However, being one of the cheapest EDC flashlights on the market, it may not hold up to heavy-duty use. It might also go dimmer after a few months of use and this condition may not improve even if you replace the batteries.

    Honorable Mention
    Maglite LED 3-Cell D Flashlight

    This Maglite flashlight has a surprisingly durable build for a budget-friendly option. The design features weather-resistant seals to prevent water penetration and an anodized aluminum casing that’s resistant to corrosion. The flashlight can survive accidental drops, and since it’s IPX4-rated for water resistance, you won’t regret using it in a wet environment.


    The LED lights will offer about 50,000 hours of usage, and you will get at least six hours of continuous illumination from the battery. The power switch is located at the side, and you can adjust the beam from a spot to a huge floodlight simply by rotating the cap.


    However, it has a slightly bulkier profile than the other EDC flashlights on our list, but this could work to the advantage of anyone with large hands who doesn’t want to strain using a small flashlight. 

    Tips

    • If you are a frequent camper, in addition to a flashlight, consider buying a pocket-sized knife or multitool, which can be useful for outdoor activities. 
    • Pack multiple batteries for the flashlight for hiking or camping trips. If your flashlight uses AAA batteries, it’s prudent to get a variety of different brands, so that you can always have a backup. 
    • If you need a flashlight for emergency situations, it’s better to use a simple design that’s easy to switch on when you’re in a rush. 

    FAQs

    Q: Where is the best place to store an EDC flashlight?

    A: An EDC flashlight should be with you at all times since it’s easy to carry around. Attach it to your keychain or store it in the back pocket of your overalls. It will be within reach every time you need it.

    Q: How many lumens should an EDC flashlight have?

    A: Anything above 30 lumens is bright enough for any task. Also, the lower the number of lumens, the longer the unit will run. A 30-lumen flashlight can run for about 40 hours, and runtime is more important than lumen rating if you need the light for emergencies. However, you need a light with a higher lumen rating above 100 lumens if you need it for mechanical work.  

    Q: How often should I change a flashlight’s batteries?

    A: Change the batteries every four months to prevent battery leaks caused by extreme weather changes. The battery may drain faster if you store it in a hot environment, such as in a car trunk, or if you use it too frequently. 

    Q: How do I prevent battery leakage?

    A: A battery leak happens when the battery ages or discharges and excess hydrogen gas is produced. The battery eventually ruptures, and potassium hydroxide leaks out. To prevent that, store your batteries in a cool and dry place where the temperatures range from 50 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, remove the batteries from the flashlight if you aren’t using it.

    Final Thoughts

    Our top pick for the best EDC flashlight is the Streamlight Mainstream Flashlight. It has a sleek and compact design that can fit in your pocket. It also produces a super-bright beam that will help you see everything in a single glance. 

    If you are looking for a simple and affordable EDC flashlight, consider the J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight.