The Best Mini Flashlights: Portable and Powerful Devices
Put a little sunshine in your pocket with these conveniently-sized flashlights
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BY Brian Smyth / LAST UPDATED ON November 2, 2020
Mini flashlights are practical and useful tools to have on hand. Small enough to go anywhere, they’re a source of bright light when you need it most. Great for camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, power outages, walking at night, or carrying in a purse, bag, or pocket for emergencies or personal safety, mini flashlights are affordable and make great gifts. Thanks to advances in technology, mini flashlights are continuously being improved in terms of size, light output, battery life, and much more. With so many options, it can be tough to know which is best for you and what you need it for. To help you narrow it down, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite mini flashlights.
This 47-lumen aluminum offering from Maglite sets the bar for all miniature flashlights. It measures under 3.25 inches long with a half-inch diameter and weighs in under a pound.
- Impact-resistant to 6 feet drops
- IPX7-rated waterproof to 3 feet
- LED bulb only uses a single AAA battery
- Small and lightweight, this flashlight is easy to lose
This little light puts out 40 lumens running off of three AAA batteries. It is available in a multitude of colors and includes a convenient lanyard.
- Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
- Glows in the dark
- Lanyard for easy carry and identification
- A bit thick for some users
This flashlight was designed for EDC and tactical applications. It has an aluminum body, removable carrying clip, and protective bezels at both ends. It also has three pre-programmed modes.
- Produces 150 lumens with AAA batteries and 350 with CR123As
- IPX7-rated waterproof to 3 feet
- A bit on the pricey side
- Might be a little long at 4.25 inches
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Benefits of Mini Flashlights
- Easy to carry. Miniature flashlights have the distinct advantage of being very conveniently sized. Most will easily slip into a pocket, purse, or gloves compartment, and some will even attach to key rings, making it incredibly easy to keep a light close at hand.
- Better battery usage. Unlike their larger counterparts, mini flashlights use smaller and fewer batteries while still producing reasonable (and beyond reasonable) beams of light. Replacing emergency flashlight batteries can be expensive with larger lights, but thanks to LED technology, using a small flashlight for emergencies has gotten less costly due to using fewer and smaller batteries.
- Bright. Gone are the days of tiny lights with tiny power. Today’s miniature flashlights can generate some impressive beams of light with the most powerful topping out at over 1,000 lumens of brightness.
Types of Mini Flashlights
These lights are the toughest of the bunch and provide reliability, portability, and blinding illumination. Tactical and EDC flashlights (everyday carry) usually feature an aluminum or titanium body to provide both strength and durability without adding extra weight. The best tactical flashlights often include high-lumen outputs (at least 100 lumens), tailcap switches, and special bezels around the crown and tailcap.
As their name implies, keyring flashlights are ideal for attaching to that convenient metal loop. These lights often use button-style cell batteries or battery packs recharged via a USB phone charger or similar cable. They usually produce low-lumen light, making them perfect for finding a lock in the dark or scouring the bottom of a purse or bag.
Penlights are an incredibly helpful flashlight design, especially for tradespeople or others who benefit from a pen-like design. This design is usually thin and somewhat long and often fits well into shirt pockets and screwdriver slots on tool bags. Often, penlights produce low-lumen outputs, although some can max out in the vicinity of 100 lumens, ideal for mechanics, plumbers, and other technicians.
After moving to Portland, Ore., Henry W. Brands first began selling salmon fillet knives to fishermen in 1919. Since then, Coast has grown, staying in the family and expanding its offerings for tradespeople, outdoorsmen, law enforcement, and military personnel. Today, it specializes in knives, multitools, and lights, such as the Coast G20 flashlight.
Maglite was founded by Tony Maglica, a Croatian American pursuing the American Dream. After almost 20 years of manufacturing precision parts for industrial, aerospace, and military applications, Maglica finally incorporated the company in 1974 and introduced the first Maglite flashlight in 1979. Today, the Ontario, Calif.-based company focuses on producing top-quality flashlights for just about any application.
Founded in 1973, Streamlight has been producing lighting solutions for workers, adventurers, first responders, and the military for over 45 years. The company is headquartered in Eagleville, Penn., and prides itself on producing high-quality lights with customer service to match. Products such as the Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA serve as excellent EDC tools for countless individuals.
The SureFire name may be the most respected flashlight name in the military and law enforcement communities. In 1979, Dr. John Matthews founded SureFire—then known as the Newport Corporation—to provide military and law enforcement professionals with laser-sighting equipment for greater tactical accuracy. Today, the company produces lasers, weapon lights, and flashlights.
Mini Flashlight Pricing
- Under $10: Finding a water-resistant flashlight in this price range is virtually impossible. Light outputs usually will be under 50 lumens.
- $10 to $25: Good quality lights in this price range usually feature higher lumen outputs. Water-resistant and shock-resistant options also start to appear in this range.
- $25 and up: Fully waterproof torches are included in this price bracket, and many lights feature programmable light modes. True tactical flashlights are also in this category.
Modern flashlights are quite bright compared to their predecessors, but exactly how bright is bright? A light source’s brightness is usually measured in lumens, and manufacturers often take pains to emphasize lumen ratings of their lights. For reference, a candle usually produces around 10 lumens, while the average car headlight puts out about 1,000 lumens, and HID headlights often generate approximately 3,000 lumens.
After determining a particular flashlight’s intended use, buyers should consider how well a miniature light can handle environmental factors. Precedence should be given to torches that resist water, dust, and shock or impacts. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) created the “IP” system, which allows for easy identification of an electronic device’s resistance to water and dust. For example, IPX7-rated lights are waterproof for at least 30 minutes in water up to three feet deep.
When purchasing any flashlight, its power source should be of prime consideration. While most modern mini flashlights run on AAA or AA batteries, specialized lights may use different batteries, such as CR123A batteries, or they could be rechargeable.
- Ease of Carrying. While somewhat subjective, the ease of carrying a miniature flashlight is an important factor to consider when selecting an EDC flashlight. In addition to the light’s overall size, buyers should consider how they plan to carry in and see what features match the intended carry method. For example, tactical lights often have clips that allow for easy attachment to a pocket, while others may rely on a keyring to remain secure.
The Best Mini Flashlight Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Consider a miniature flashlight’s intended use before purchasing. An emergency preparedness-type light will have different requirements than a keychain light or an EDC flashlight. Factors to consider include storage, battery usage, and many more.
What is the best small flashlight?
A: This depends heavily on the light’s intended use. EDC and tactical flashlights must be tougher and more reliable than lights intended for a child’s slumber party. Portability, battery type, and waterproofing are just a few of the factors a potential purchaser must consider.
How do I fix a small flashlight?
A: Often, low-quality aluminum flashlights require shaking to keep working, yet will remain unreliable. This is usually due to a poor connection between the bulb assembly/battery contact and the internal aluminum housing. Lightly sand away the finish on the cap threads to create a better electrical connection.
What is the smallest and brightest flashlight?
A: Micro flashlights tend to lack brightness due to a lack of power. Those that actually do produce intense light tend to have a minimal light “life.” That said, the Olight i1R 2 EOS is worth checking it—it produces a 150-lumen beam that lasts about five minutes before dying.
For an excellent all-around mini flashlight, buyers can’t go wrong with the tough, durable Maglite Solitaire. It produces 47 lumens and fits virtually anywhere one might imagine. The LuxPro LP395—though a bit wider—is still an incredibly handy light that is easy on the wallet.