The quest for the best flashlight on the market is never ending. There are always new flashlights arriving on the market that use new technologies and innovative construction techniques. There’s always some new gewgaw or doodad to wow the masses. Then there are the tried and true flashlights that have stood the test of time.
Terms like “the best” are subjective. Meaning that each person has a different set of criteria for what he or she determines to be the “best flashlight on the market”; however, there are several factors that each person should consider when deciding his or her criteria for “best flashlight”. We invite you to explore these key factors to help you determine the best flashlight for your goals.
For years, the only option available when choosing a flashlight was the incandescent bulb. Your only input was in how many watts. That all changed when Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs came on the market. As the new technology became more affordable, incandescent bulbs were made obsolete.
There are still flashlights on the market that use incandescent bulbs, but typically, they are cheaper, less effective flashlights – the kind suitable for reading a book under the sheets but not for much else. The truth is, if you are in the market for a high-quality flashlight, you should not consider anything that doesn’t feature at least one LED as the light source. These bulbs last longer, produce more light and burn cooler than any incandescent.
How is your light powered? Do you use a rechargeable integrated battery, a removable rechargeable battery that requires a charging station, replaceable batteries like the lithium CR123 or easy to find AA or AAA batteries? This is an important consideration as you are pretty much stuck once you make this choice. Think about how you will be using your flashlight and where you will be when the batteries run down, and choose wisely.
Size is another important consideration. It will often determine the power source as well as the flashlights overall appropriateness for its primary task. Larger flashlights typically have a longer battery life and offer more features, and smaller flashlights have a shorter battery life but have the added bonus of convenience and are easy to stow and carry in a pocket or backpack.
For years, plastic was a preferred material. It was lighter and wasn’t as brittle, and some plastics are remarkably impact resistant. However, in recent years, the lower cost of aero-grade, anodized aluminum has caused the market to cool on plastics. This material is both tough and lightweight and is ideal for the construction of high-quality flashlights.
Cost is always a consideration. A quality flashlight – just like any tool – requires an investment on your part, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. There are several quality flashlights out there for under $50. Just keep in two things:
- The more you are willing to spend the more features your flashlight will offer.
- This is an investment for years. With proper care, a quality flashlight can last for a very long time.
How Do You Plan to Use Your Flashlight?
Finally, how are you going to use your flashlight? Don’t consider how you might use your flashlight. Define its primary purpose and go from there. Odds are that any flashlight you choose that meets your primary needs will do in a pinch when those out-of-the-ordinary situations pop up – and you won’t waste money on something you probably don’t need.
On to the Best…
On this page, we will briefly discuss four types of quality flashlight and what makes a flashlight worthy of consideration for the title of “best flashlight” in that category. For a more in-depth look at each category, just click on the link in each category.
Best Rechargeable LED Flashlight
Rechargeable flashlights have been around since rechargeable batteries, but they’ve always suffered from the same flaws: they take forever to charge, you need a special adapter or charging station to charge your batteries, batteries don’t last long and they don’t have much power. So, if you’re looking for a high quality, rechargeable flashlight – especially when considering “the best rechargeable flashlight” – you want the exact opposite of all these things.
You can find the best rechargeable flashlight possible when you look for the following:
- Easy to charge – either via USB or AC adapter.
- Quick charge capability – think minutes, not hours.
- Long run time – think hours, not minutes.
- Ability to power a light with a high lumen output.
Best Small or Mini Flashlight
Small flashlight, mini flashlights and even keychain flashlights are very popular these days due to their size. They’re just easy to put in your pocket or glove box and go. That way, you’re never without a flashlight. However, there are several problems with cheaper, small flashlights like: hard to use, not very powerful and easy to break.
When looking to buy the best small flashlight for your adventures, consider the following:
- Easy to use interface.
- At least a 16 lumen output or greater.
- Hardy construction that can take a little abuse.
Best AA or AAA Flashlight
AA and AAA batteries are the most common and readily available batteries on the market. You can literally find them in any store from convenience stores to book stores. It follows that flashlights that use these batteries as a power source are very popular, but some of the same problems that plague smaller flashlights afflict AA and AAA flashlights.
To help you find the best AA flashlight or AA torch for your goals, consider the following:
- Easy to use interface that offers multiple brightness settings.
- At least a 25 lumen output or greater.
- Hardy construction that can take a little abuse.
Best Tactical Flashlight
Tactical flashlights were the original high-quality flashlights. The people that use flashlights in tactical situations demand the best because their lives depend on their lights performing well in the worst conditions.
In order to find the best tactical flashlight for your job and adventures, consider the following:
- Intuitive and easy to use interface.
- Hardy construction that can take abuse.
- Ability to be attached to or used in conjunction with a weapon.
- Variable brightness modes and interruption modes
Best Flashlight for Hiking
For many hiking is a day trip. You pack up the kids in the car, put a few snacks and H20 in the pack, and head to the local trails. The overwhelming majority of the time everything goes great and there aren’t any challenges. Unfortunately each year there are plenty of examples of hikes that go ary. A little wrong turn and you can be out for much longer than anticipated. To be prepared for any situation we recommend being prepared with a flashlight in your day pack. Hopefully you don’t need it, but if you do, consider the following features to help you select the best flashlight for hiking:
- Strobe or SOS Feature
- Beam Distance Over 100m
- Water Resistant IPX7 or Greater