Headlamps are indispensable for campers, hikers, and outdoorsmen in general. But, some tasks call for a good ol’ fashioned flashlight. If you haven’t upgraded yours in a while, know that lighting technology has come a long way in the last few decades. Modern LED models are brighter, more durable, and offer far better battery life than traditional flashlights and your smartphone. Here are the best flashlights for every type of situation.
Goal Zero’s newly released Torch 500 is among the most versatile flashlights on the market. The unique, angular design combines a traditional directional flashlight with a wide-beam camping lantern. Metal hooks on both ends allow for hanging in the garage or at your campsite, depending on your needs. The fact that it’s rechargeable via a traditional USB cable or solar ensures you’re never short on illumination wherever and whenever you need it.
Olight has long been a favorite among survivalists and avid outdoorsmen for its durable, ultra-compact flashlights. The brand’s S2R II upgrades the original S2R in every way. The new TIR lens delivers a solid 1,150-lumen output with a balanced beam at nearly 150 yards. We especially love the unique magnetic charging system that connects to the tail cap for fast, efficient recharges. The pocketable form factor — weighing just 3.4 ounces and measuring less than four inches long — makes it a great addition to any EDC kit.
Fenix is another favorite among the hardcore prepper set. The PD35 V2 is an upgrade to the company’s most popular flashlight. With a Cree XP-L HI V3 LED, it delivers a whopping 1,000 lumens at more than 800 feet. A tail switch allows for quick and easy cycling through six lighting modes. Plus, the extended battery will keep the PD35 V2 running for more than 400 hours in ECO mode. For those who require no-compromise design in their tools, this premium tactical flashlight also boasts an IP68 rating, meaning it’s dustproof and waterproof, down to two meters.
With a 500-lumen rating, ThruNite’s Archer 2A V3 is among the brightest AA-battery-powered flashlights on the market. The five total modes — firefly, low, medium, high, and strobe — make it useful in a wide variety of situations, from general use to emergencies. The lightweight design also stands upright, and it’s guaranteed not to roll on a flat surface. Plus, it’s rugged enough to withstand a 1-meter drop or immersion in water.
If money is no object and only the best will do, Nitecore’s i4000R is arguably the best overall flashlight on the market. The blinding 4,400-lumen output and 250 yards of reach make it one of the brightest we’ve ever seen. It’s no surprise that it’s a favorite among military and law enforcement personnel. The rugged, waterproof, and impact-resistant case also allows it to take a severe beating. At more than $100, the only downside is the price.
Few tactical flashlights offer the bang-for-your-buck value of GearLight’s LED Tactical Flashlight. The straightforward single-mode torches are zoomable and water-resistant. They also conveniently run off either standard AAA batteries or a single 18,650mAh rechargeable battery. Plus, they’re among the best-reviewed flashlights on Amazon, with a 4.5-plus star rating and more than 9,000 reviews.
It’s hard to beat the reliability of steel. Coast’s Polysteel 600 Focusing LED Flashlight boasts a stainless steel core wrapped in a grip-textured nylon exterior. That rock-solid construction ensures that it’s crushproof, dustproof, and waterproof. It puts out more than 700 lumens at more than 800 feet — more than enough to illuminate your campsite or spot attack bears hiding in the woods. A twistable lens housing allows you to focus the beam as tightly or widely as you need it.
For old-school simplicity, Rayovac’s Floating LED Lantern Flashlight does the trick. The no-nonsense design is big, plastic, and chunky like the traditional flashlights of the last century. It’s bigger than every other option on this list, but it’s also durable, bright, and, as the name implies, it floats. That latter ensures that it’s forever waterproof and makes it a great option for kayakers and pleasure boaters. The included six-volt battery keeps this one running for up 30 hours, and the LED never needs to be replaced.
Midland’s ER310 Emergency Crank Radio/Flashlight is a multipurpose tool that’s great for stashing in your vehicle or at home. This isn’t a typical “everyday” flashlight but rather an all-in-one backup solution for those rare emergency situations. Beyond the flashlight with strobe and SOS functions, it also includes an integrated radio to keep you updated on weather alerts issued by official emergency personnel in your area. Lithium-ion batteries deliver up to 32 hours of continuous use and can be recharged via solar or the built-in hand crank.
Ahead of your next trip into the Great Outdoors, check out the best camping lanterns to light the way.
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