When you think back on memories of your first nighttime trek, you were probably clutching an enormous flashlight as a fading yellow beam danced in front of your eyes. If this is your memory of flashlights then the good news for you is that technology has come a long way.
In situations where you need to keep your hands free, the best headlamp is indispensable, but there are situations where a handheld flashlight is the right tool for the job. Advances in LED technology mean that modern flashlights give you a lot of lumens for your money and hours of unfading battery life. It’s time to leave your dad’s old flashlight in the garage and check out our pick of the best flashlights available.
Flashlights don’t come much better than the Nitecore P20iX. Putting out 4000 lumens and throwing almost 250 yards, this is the flashlight of choice for search and rescue, law enforcement, and tactical operations. The tough bezel is built to break glass and with an IP68 waterproof rating and anti-impact protection, you can be confident that this is ready for anything you can throw at it. There are four brightness settings, as well as a non-linear strobe setting which can be useful to daze animals or to get attention. The battery indicator lets you know when you need to recharge, but with 350-hours of battery life on low, this won’t be very often.
ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Flashlight
The ThruNight Archer 2A V3 is one of the brightest AA battery-powered flashlights available. You can quickly change between the five brightness settings — firefly, low, medium, high, and strobe — with the thumb switch at the front of the flashlight. The high setting is rated to 500 lumens, but it’s the firefly setting that has people talking about this flashlight. The firefly setting is bright enough for adjustments to a telescope, to read a book, or to climb out of your tent, but it won’t ruin your night vision or dazzle anyone still trying to sleep.
Goal Zero Torch 500
The Goal Zero Torch 500 is much more than your average flashlight. The 300-lumen output can be used with either the flashlight beam or hung up in lantern mode to light up a tent or tarp area for camping. The 5200 mAh battery will keep this torch burning for up to 50 hours and with USB ports you can also use it to charge your devices. Using a lot of power? Put the Torch 500 out in the sun and the built-in solar panels will top your battery up. With an IP67 rating that keeps out water and dust, you can take this flashlight just about anywhere.
Made using top-grade aluminum with an ultra-grippy rubberized surround, the COast IP11R is a seriously tough flashlight. Weighing in at just under 6 ounces, this IP54 dust and weatherproof flashlight slips easily into your pocket or backpack. With an output of up to 2100 lumens on turbo mode, you’ll have no trouble finding your way around your campsite. If something moves in the bushes, you can quickly change from flood mode to spot beam with the slide focus.
Midland ER310 Emergency Radio/Flashlight
This isn’t your standard flashlight, but the Midlands ER310 Emergency Radio/Flashlight is an emergency tool that is worth keeping in your home, car, or backpack. With two brightness settings and an SOS mode, as well as a high-frequency dog whistle, the ER310 can enhance your chances of being found. The flashlight has up to 32 hours of battery and can be recharged using the hand crank, or solar power. In an emergency situation, you can get regular weather updates from emergency services through the NOAA weather alerts.
CSNDICE 35W Rechargeable Handheld Flashlight
The CSNDICE 35W Rechargeable Flashlight looks more like your dad’s old flashlight, but technology has come a long way. The powerful LED emits a blinding 6000 lumens and has an enormous range of over 850 yards, so you can spot a coyote at the edge of your campsite. While you probably aren’t going to pack this for your next backpacking trip, it’s lightweight and portable enough for short walks, or as an emergency flashlight to keep in the trunk of your car.
Black Diamond Ion Keychain Light
Sometimes we just need a little light close at hand. The Black Diamond Ion Keychain light clips onto your keys, backpack, tent zipper, or anywhere else you might need it. It might feel like overkill, but you can even use it as you search in your bag for a more powerful flashlight. At 40 lumens, this handy flashlight is powerful enough for you to read the best book in your tent, find your best boots in the night, or light your way to your car.
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