The 10 Best Flashlights

Updated December 07, 2017 by Chase Brush

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Shed some light on any poorly illuminated situation with one of these compact and highly portable flashlights. With sizes ranging from pocket to mighty, and light outputs going up to an impressive 6,000 lumens, we've included models ideal for just about any purpose you can imagine. Stick one in your backpack or pocket when camping or hiking or in your vehicle's glove box. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best flashlight on Amazon.

10. EcoGear FX TK120X

The EcoGear FX TK120X features an emergency window-breaking head, though the build quality makes it seem like it might not last more than a few strikes. Its beam can be focused and it has an ultra-bright setting that throws light up to an impressive 1,000 feet.
  • high light intensity
  • comes with a free mini flashlight
  • cannot be submerged
Brand EcoGear FX
Model TK120X
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

9. ThorFire C8s

The ruggedly-made ThorFire C8s is a smart choice for hiking and camping in the wilderness, as it's designed to withstand lots of abuse. It offers five different brightness modes, including strobe and one for use in moonlight settings, and runs on a rechargeable battery.
  • produces 900 lumens on high
  • 90 hour run time on low
  • battery not included
Brand Thorfire
Model pending
Weight 6.6 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Streamlight TLR-1

At just 4.2 ounces, the Streamlight TLR-1 still manages to put out an impressive 800 lumens with a 12,000 candela peak beam intensity. The housing is made from machined aircraft-grade aluminum to withstand drops and dings without failing on you when you need it most.
  • double-tap paddle for strobe
  • designed to be gun mounted
  • not great for handheld use
Brand Streamlight
Model 692602
Weight 7 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. ThruNite TN4A

The ThruNite TN4A is a handy option to keep in the glove or tool box. It's just a touch over 4 inches long, so it can be easily carried around in your pocket, is powered by standard AA batteries, and incorporates a built-in memory for quick access to your go-to function.
  • produces a cool white light
  • includes a lanyard and spare o-ring
  • can get warm when used continuously
Brand ThruNite
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Nitecore Tiny Monster TM26

If you need the power of the sun in a compact unit that easily fits in your pocket, the Nitecore Tiny Monster TM26 is worth considering. It produces 4,000 lumens, features eight easily switchable brightness modes, and has a steel bezel ring.
  • built-in thermal protection circuit
  • submersible up to 2 meters
  • extremely expensive option
Brand Nitecore
Model TM26
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Streamlight ProTAC HL

The Streamlight ProTAC HL is available in models ranging from 70 lumens to 1,100 lumens, so there is one for every need. It uses C4 LED technology for extreme brightness and is completely waterproof and shockproof for use in the most intense situations.
  • comes with a rechargeable battery
  • momentary-on function
  • no texture on tail button
Brand Streamlight
Model 88040
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. SureFire Defender Series

The SureFire Defender Series is available in a 300 or 500 watt model, and features a strike bezel for personal defense. It produces a tight beam with an extra long throw distance, yet still provides enough peripheral light to keep you aware of your surroundings.
  • tactical tail-cap switch
  • removable belt clip
  • durable tempered glass lens
Brand SureFire Defender Serie
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Coast HP7

It's not the most powerful or longest-lasting, but the Coast HP7 still manages to represent a great blend of performance and design. It's both impact and weather-resistant, boasting an IPX4 rating, and unlike other, more complicated models, can be focused with one hand.
  • works with rechargeable battery
  • includes sheath
  • tested and rated to ansi standards
Brand Coast
Model HP7
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. ThruNite Archer 2A V3

With a two-button interface, four brightness levels, and a handy design, the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 is a versatile tool appropriate for professional applications. But it's also relatively affordable, making it accessible to anyone in need of a reliable source of light.
  • comes in neutral or cool white
  • backed by 30 day warranty
  • convenient metal clip
Brand ThruNite
Model Archer 2A V2 CW
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Maglite ML300L

For those times when all you need is a regular, dependable flashlight, look no further than the popular Maglite ML300L. It comes in a few different sizes and colors, but all have an all-but-indestructible anodized aluminum body and various activity-based functions.
  • eco-mode for extended run time
  • sure to last for years
  • great for law and service personnel
Brand Mag-Lite
Model ML300L-S3016
Weight 13.4 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Where The Light Comes From

Flashlights, often called torches in other parts of the world, are such simple devices that their genius can easily be overlooked.

All they really do is take a charge from a battery or set of batteries and convert it into light through a simple circuit and a little bulb of tungsten, halogen, or LED.

It's a head-slapping, "duh"-inducing setup, but the devices that existed before the flashlight came about were so much less efficient and so much more dangerous.

It would be one thing if all a flashlight did was to light up a little bulb and let it do its thing. What helps to both redirect and magnify the light from that bulb, however, is a concave reflector on the inside of the flashlight head.

Often, this reflective material works in concert with a kind of zoom lens you can manipulate to change the intensity of your light from that of a powerful spot to a more evenly distributed flood light.

That light is often measured in lumens (lm), thanks to a recent marketing strategy that's really caught on in the last decade or so.

It's a simple and popular way to understand how bright your flashlight can get, but it doesn't correlate directly to the distance the light can travel once you put a lens in front of it and a reflector behind it. Generally speaking, though, more lumens is a good thing.

Carry The Torch If You Can

There is no shortage of options when it comes to selecting a flashlight for your home, or work, or for recreation. I have my plethora of personal biases about what makes a good flashlight, and I certainly have my particular set of intended uses.

But I'm more concerned with what's going to be most useful to you than evangelizing for one style of torch. That said, I think a little perspective, some common sense about flashlights, if you will, would be of use.

There's a saying in the camera industry that the best camera is the one you've got on you. That idea is one of the primary drivers that continues to see high-tech camera developments in the world of cell phones.

The same is true of your flashlight, and if you're getting it to keep in your car for emergencies or to take camping with you, a light that's too big, or that has too short a battery life, is useless to you. Those giant, superpowered flashlights, for example, have no place in the woods or in your Winnebago.

Take a second to think about what you actually want to do with the thing. Are you a law enforcement official looking for just the right light source while on the job? You might want something large and ruggedly-made, with strong bezels that can be used to smash windows or for personal defense.

Perhaps you're a hunter in need of a light that tailors itself for different setting and environments, such as the woods in early dawn or the mountains at dusk. You'll want something versatile and with a few different brightness functions, including high, low, and even strobe.

Shine On, You Crazy Flashlight

What you're looking at here is one of, if not the, first flashlight ever invented. Before this little puppy came along, people lit the way with actual torches, candles, and lanterns running on oil.

That flashlight there was invented in 1898 by the owner of the Eveready Battery Company, whose batteries took after the early dry cell designs that only came out a decade or so before. In fact, it was a pretty short span from the inventions of both the bulb and the battery to the invention of the flashlight.

It's original purpose? Lighting up flowers. That's right. These lights were designed, at least according to legend, to light up flowerpots containing prized flora during the midnight hours.

Other than their intended use, not a lot has changed about the designs through the last century. Sure, flashlights have gotten stronger and more efficient, but at its core it's still just batteries, bulb, lens, and switch.

Indeed, and although you wouldn't think it by looking at it, inventions like the first flashlight more or less torpedoed the whaling industry, the primary purpose of which (you have no idea how tempted I was to write 'porpoise' just now) was to provide oil as fuel for light.

You know what? Once you do get yourself a nice flashlight, make like a kid trying to stay up past his or her bedtime and huddle with it under the covers reading Moby Dick. You'll thank me later.

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Last updated on December 07, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.

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