The 10 Best LED Flashlights
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in October of 2017. You'll never get left in the dark again if you snag one of these LED flashlights. They can illuminate any room or path effectively and, with an average lifespan of 40,000 hours, you don't have to worry about the bulbs burning out. They are also more power-efficient than standard flashlights, so you won't be constantly worrying about recharging or buying new batteries. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
February 03, 2021:
It was a fairly smooth round of updates, although we did remove the Nitecore P12 and SureFire P2X due to availability issues. Luckily, we had no issue finding two excellent replacements for these two, both available at considerably lower price points than the models they replaced.
The first new addition, the ThruNite Archer 2A V3, is a well lauded option that would make a great everyday-carry unit for just about anybody. You can order it with your choice of cool- or neutral-white LEDs, and it puts out an impressive 500 lumens from a compact body that weighs less than two ounces.
Our second pick, the Klein Tools 56028, is impressively loaded with features, given its budget-friendly price. Not only does it have a lifetime warranty, glow-in-the-dark bezel, and a powerful magnet for hands-free mounting, but it’s also waterproof and shockproof, and it even has a second LED panel on its side, in case a lateral beam works better when you’ve got it hung up on something with its magnet.
I actually ordered the 56028 for my personal tool bag, a couple months back – out of pure vanity, because I liked the way its comfortable rubber grip matched the look of my Klein screwdrivers – and I ended up ordering a second one a few weeks later as an EDC gadget, because I was so impressed with it. Admittedly, its orange housing isn’t for everybody, but if the color doesn’t bother you, it’s unlikely that this selection will disappoint you otherwise.
March 04, 2019:
There are quite a few scenarios where a high-quality LED flashlight will come in handy, and maybe even save the day. Law enforcement and military professionals are known to use models like the NiteCore, which is an affordable, yet especially durable unit, and the SureFire, which is on the high end of the price spectrum, but is nearly impossible to damage. The Internova also features a striking bezel that makes it ideal for self-defense, both for police and everyday citizens. The Dorcy and the Goal Zero can come in handy in emergency and wilderness situations; the former is built waterproof, and it won't sink, so if your tent or home is flooded, you'll still likely be able to find it. The latter is rechargeable via plug, solar panel, or hand crank, so if the power's out, you're still able to see what you're doing. For streamlined, comfortable-to-hold options that will surely last for years, check out the Streamlight Stinger, which is pretty costly, but worth it, or the iconic MagLite, which is one of the latest evolutions of a brand favored by cops, campers, and homeowners for many years.
Flashlights Save Lives, And They Look Good Doing It
Couple that circumstance with a natural disaster of any kind, and the stakes skyrocket.
Flashlights are undoubtedly cool. Pop one into a little kid's hands and you’ll see how true this is as their eyes light up more brightly than the flashlight itself. They bring light to the darkest corners of the night, but they can also serve as much less lethal lightsabers or as an illumination source for an impromptu puppet show. My own childhood obsession with flashlights has carried through to the present moment, and it even resulted in the purchase of one (or more) of the items on our list. What do I tell my girlfriend when she sees more flashlights arriving at our door? It’s all in the name of disaster preparedness.
Flashlights are an incredibly important tool in the event of a disaster, so if you live anywhere near a danger zone, you ought to stock up. That means anywhere susceptible to flooding (including flash flooding), earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, landslides, and blizzards, just to name a handful of dangers. Any and all of these is almost certain to cause a disruption in the power supply. And in the dark, things get dangerous.
When you can’t find your way around your space in normal circumstances, you run the risk of falling and injuring yourself, or at least stubbing your toe rather dramatically. Couple that circumstance with a natural disaster of any kind, and the stakes skyrocket. A good flashlight will light your way to safety.
Of course, disaster doesn’t only befall us in our homes, and it’s not always the fault of nature. A flat tire in the middle of the night on some lost highway could see you dangerously stranded until dawn. With a flashlight in your car, you can keep the darkness and bay, and even use it to flag down passing motorists that might be able to help you.
Choosing Your LED Flashlight
Picking a flashlight has always been a tough thing to do, even before the advent of LED bulbs with their cryptic specifications. Understanding those specifications, however, will go a long way toward guiding your hand to a selection, but there are also some other features worth examining before you finalize your decision.
Attachment points are another useful feature you’ll find on some models.
Lumens may seem foreign to you if you come from the distant days of watts, but those old incandescent flashlights had lumen ratings, too. That’s because lumens are simply a measure of the light that any source can put out across a set distance. They’re affected by power, to be sure, but they’re also affected by the size and quality of a given bulb, diode, or collection of diodes. All you need to know is that the higher this number is, the brighter your light is liable to be, and the more battery power it’s liable to need. That latter point will affect the run time and weight of the unit.
Once you know how to find the right brightness for your needs, you can look at some other features, and the aforementioned point of power is an important one. Some of the LED flashlights on the market run on disposable batteries just like the flashlights of yore did. There are also models with built-in rechargeable batteries, but if you’re interested in one of these you’re going to need to scrutinize things like life span and charge time, so you won’t find yourself out of juice when you need it most.
Attachment points are another useful feature you’ll find on some models. These are usually simple clips designed to let you hang your flashlight on a belt or the seam of a pocket. Just make sure you don’t intend to use your flashlight in an environment where such a clip can become a liability. You don't want your flashlight snagging on something at the wrong moment, after all. Police rarely use flashlights with any such bells and whistles specifically for this reason.
Finally, you may notice that some LED flashlights feature adjustable beams. This is a great thing to have, as you can transition from using your flashlight as a flood light to using it as a spotlight, often with great ease. That way, you can illuminate a large area with just a single light or focus all the power of your beam on a solitary target.
Other Emergency Essentials
Flashlights certainly can help out in a pinch, and there are endless emergency scenarios in which one would come in handy. They are only one such tool, however, and a true preparedness kit is going to include a number of other important emergency essentials.
Some include built-in lights to supplement your flashlight, and even USB chargers to power other important electronics.
A good first aid kit is something in which you should definitely invest. This should include adhesive bandages and antibiotic ointment, of course, but it should also contain ancillary items specific to your region or particular situation. This could include anti-venom in regions with poisonous snakes or spiders, an EpiPen for intense allergy sufferers, or even spare syringes and blood testing material for diabetics.
In addition to a first aid kit, you should have a good supply of emergency water and food rations, or at least the means to purify water for your safety. This could be anything from iodine tablets to a filtration straw. A means to cook — like a camping stove — can also be vital for preparing freeze-dried foodstuffs.
Finally, communication and information are among the most important commodities in an emergency. An emergency radio that can charge by solar power or a hand crank is your best bet for keeping up to date with evacuation orders and other news. Some include built-in lights to supplement your flashlight, and even USB chargers to power other important electronics. If you want to be able to keep in touch with others during a crisis, a handheld CB radio or VHF transceiver might come in handy, though the latter has a more limited range, especially in cities.