The flashlight app in today’s Smartphone is everyone’s regular go-to these days for illumination purposes and is possibly good enough for finding your step in the darkness of your home at night, or looking for matches and a candle in an unexpected blackout, or even at a concert. But it is nowhere close to adequate if you are an avid outdoor person.
And even if you aren’t, wouldn’t it be nice to know you have a bright flashlight available in case of emergency?
It simply won’t do to depend on a regular battery-operated, household flashlight to work when the power goes out. High chances are that the batteries may have long surpassed their lifespan and should they have managed to survive, they most definitely won’t last very long. A good flashlight has plenty of advantages over your Smartphone, and is an important part of your Backpacking First Aid Kit.
A dedicated tool like a flashlight is more specific and focused with great features than what a mobile flashlight can offer. It also means that a flashlight meant for a specific job comes with more power and with durable construction, as compared to a phone that is used for many purposes, making it inappropriate for a particular task of providing you with adequate lighting when you need it.
Table of Content:
- Flashing a Light Over the Factors
- What Is a Tactical Flashlight
- What is an EDC Flashlight
- The Era of Digital Flashlights
- Never to Compromise – Utility Flashlights
- The Upgrades of Flashlights - LED Flashlights
- Emerge from the Darkness - Emergency Flashlights
In the good old days, if you had a flashlight, chances are your variety range would be a flashlight, a big flashlight, and a really big flashlight. But now, with a simple search in the market will give you an array of choices and features, throw in some free accessories and you’re thoroughly in the dark about what you want.
For your own safety and also a slight bit for your peace of mind, it is necessary to choose the best and the brightest flashlight of the lot.
What to do?
Where to start?
Unfortunately, with a multitude of options to choose from, how do you choose the best flashlight that addresses your needs?
Everyone’s needs are different, and what suits me may not necessarily suit you.
Keeping that in mind, think about which features appeal the most to you. Usually, and most generically a basic flashlight should have 3 things:
This guide will help you buy a flashlight going beyond just the makes and models of flashlights. Whether you’re a newbie or an expert, this guide can help anyone and everyone. To take matters into our own hands, and to shine some light on the darkness of this matter, we’ve listed down a few factors and flashlight reviews which affect your choice of the best flashlight.
Flashing A Light Over the Factors
Today’s consumer is thoroughly spoilt for choice. The market exudes various types of flashlights and each brand shows off loads of features in each of their models. Nearly every flashlight producer will stake the claim for ‘the best flashlight’ ever, however, not everyone can be best, and it’s not easy to determine which of these are flying high with fake boasts.
These are the Key Factors Of A Flashlight:
The most basic question you need to ask yourself is which of your needs is most highlighted. The answer will help you to consider which features matter the most to you.
2. The Body of the Flashlight
A flashlight made of steel, aluminum, or sometimes titanium brings about a sense of strength and an obvious feel of quality when compared to plastic bodied flashlights. A decent flashlight should be made of a tough metal alloy, preferably featuring a hard, durable cover to prevent scratches.
Not all of its components should be on the lower end of the quality bracket, and a good lens of a flashlight will have anti-shatter and anti-shock properties, making it less easy to break. Plastic doesn’t always hold up its promise of durability as well as its counterparts.
3. Brightness Levels
150 lumens are at the very high end of the amount of light you need to see. Anything beyond that and you will be squinting to see what’s ahead. For normal use at home and when walking the dog, 75 lumens are perfect. If you are going camping or hiking, a figure between 100-150 lumens is ideal. In order to choose the brightest flashlight, let’s first understand the groundwork that goes into causing the brightness to vary.
It’s staring you right in the face… the BULB!
- Incandescent are gas filled lamps used for high performance. Flashlights use either xenon or halogen bulbs. Comparatively, halogen bulbs darken less with age than the xenon. They both face eventual replacement and fail on extreme impact. However, they are the most powerful and easily focused for long distances.
- LED stands for light emitting diodes, with a lasting capacity of approximately up to 10,000 hours. They are efficient for close work and are durable.
- Next in line is the latest achievement in the LED technology, called the Luxeon. It provides the illumination of an incandescent but ups the capacity of the LED by lasting as long as 50,000 hours.
Some flashlights might also have other options for brightness, such as a strobe light for biking activities and self-defense, and an SOS emergency function that flashes “SOS” in Morse code when activated.
This is the total beam distance of the flashlight. As the distance of the beam can vary from football fields to a full moon illumination, it’s good to know which one is the strongest and the farthest for adventure and travel. The distance can be measured in meters or feet.
5. Run Time
Next in line is determining the total number of hours you’ll, which means once the hours are met, the flashlight drops down to 10% of battery charge, allowing you to replace or recharge the battery, not leaving you in complete blackouts. Note that something might be wrong if a flashlight features a decreased run time, especially after consistent use. You must also not confuse this with the number of hours is takes to charge the batteries to maximum capacity.
For example, a flashlight could have, say, 80 hours of use, but is capable of supporting only 1 hour of continuous use, with an allotment of time between uses. Such factors influence both the suitability and sustainability of the flashlight.
Understanding batteries and how their capacity is directly in effect to the capacity of the flashlight. Mostly flashlights use a mix of batteries, from AA or even AAA right to rechargeable lithium batteries.
Rechargeable lithium batteries usually have a voltage of 3.7 V. The main advantage of lithium batteries is that they provide a higher voltage and higher current rates when compared to that of a conventional battery.
The worst thing would be to have a flashlight, your reliable companion, die out on you at an alarmingly fast rate. Some flashlights come with built-in protection or provide proprietary batteries with similar safety features. This function prevents overcharging or discharge, which further converts to a longer lasting flashlight with the battery power functioning to the very fullest.
This would be especially important if you’re using a durable flashlight to have some outdoor-related resistance for convenience and ease of use. Your flashlight needs to have an impact resistance and weather resistance. You might convince yourself that you don’t really need a water-protected flashlight, which is not the same as a submersible flashlight, but believe me; you are most likely to drop your flashlight in the most unlikely of places.
Some flashlights are waterproof when submerged in a certain depth of water, and there are those that can withstand freezing temperatures without any issues! Some manufacturers measure the resistance of their product in cm or meters. There are models with a rubber outer body which are especially resistant to falls. While there are some companies out there that put their flashlights through rigorous testing, to the point of running them over or using brute force on them to test their durability, it’s not always desirable to have that level of strength.
At the minimum, a flashlight should at least be able to withstand 5 feet of impact when dropped.
Also remember to take into consideration grip, size, and weight. While these mostly come under personal preferences, it could improve your experience of using a flashlight, helping you hold it better and utilize it to its fullest extent.
7. Lens and the Reflector Type
What’s important when choosing the best flashlight for you is the strength and type of LED as its lens and reflector (silver area) since the quality may improve or worsen performance.
In the types of lenses, some might be smooth while others a bit rough. In the case of smooth types, concentric rings often show a clear and strong light, whereas the rough lenses are a light blur function which makes the distribution of the beam spread more evenly as opposed to a high direct beam. Apart from this, it is also related to the type of light.
There is also the Urban vs. Wilderness aspect. Is your purchase going to be a part of your camping and hiking trips or a part of you Every Day Carry (EDC) in a daily urban setting?
These factors are what decide the performance of a flashlight.
What is a Tactical Flashlight
These flashlights are required to be extremely reliable, of extremely high quality and powerful since they are meant to be used in a self-defense situation where any mistake can lead to lethal consequences. A solid upgrade in flashlight technology has us moving on from the use of earlier incandescent filament bulbs to xenon bulbs and to the latest, most powerful, and super bright LED lights.
LED lights, while being small, are a direct preference over any of the others, since they are many times brighter than xenon bulbs and have longer battery life. Speaking of battery life, let’s not leave before mentioning the upgrade here as well. Rechargeable batteries are easily available and preferred, almost retiring the earlier alkaline and lithium-based batteries and that is why rechargeable batteries are better for flashlights.
A tactical flashlight is very different from its counterpart, the everyday carry flashlight namely because of the following features:
- It’s made of a durable and tough material, typically belonging to weapon or aircraft grade.
- The amount of light output is high enough to blind an attacker – of course, measured in lumens.
- Don’t be fooled by its small size, allowing you to stick in into your shirt pocket or your belt.
- Otherwise not a totally necessary feature for an EDC, a tactical flashlight bears a non-slip textured grip.
- It also boasts of a beveled edge, so as to use as a striking surface to fend off an attacker.
One of the Best Tactical Flashlights we would recommend is the CRKT Williams Tactical Applications Flashlight. The flashlight is ideal as a blinding weapon when enabled at its maximum beam setting. It comes fitted out with a rubberized tail cap which is excellent for tractions and a pocket clip for easy attachment to other pockets.
What is an EDC Flashlight
At one point in time, these flashlights were assigned only to handymen and emergency responders, but are now reasonably affordable and useful for everyone. These flashlights are specifically designed for everyday use, and make use of plastic/nylon composites to create a durable body of the product that can withstand a moderate degree of abuse.
These work flashlights sometimes could showcase a rubber encasement over their composite housing, providing a slightly added layer of comfort and durability. They are likely to be water resistant, but shouldn’t be mistaken to mean entirely waterproof.
The bulbs used are usually Krypton or Xenon units that offer good light output. Typical light output numbers for these work flashlights are 17 lumens for Krypton bulb units and 20-30 lumens for Xenon bulb units. Battery life is average but often declines rapidly after only an hour of use due to the higher output of Xenon bulbs.
One that we’d recommend picking up would be the Fenix PD35 LED Tactical Flashlight. This flashlight is all about sustainability. It emits a 1000 lumen output and is portable to carry on the move. It’s machined from aircraft grade aluminum with an anodized, anti-abrasive finish strong enough to withstand concrete or tough weather conditions.
The Era of Digital Flashlights
This is a relatively new product category which is steadily gaining popularity. Its prevalence has allowed owners to be able to get rid of stand-alone batteries. You can easily reignite your torch by plugging it into a power source such as an AC adapter or USB cable to regenerate the built-in battery, very much like your other electronic devices.
It’s quite evident that these merge mobile-centric and smart features with standard flashlight functionality deliver an enhanced lighting experience. They are also widely popular by the name of smart flashlights, they also brag about advanced features like adaptive focusing technology, digital displays, and other cool add-ons. These flashlights have an output and a runtime solid enough for occasional use.
Our popular choice is the Olight S10R II Baton. This flashlight comes with a micro-USB charging and a capacity of lasting up to an entire week on a full charge. It also prides itself on 500-lumen Cree XP-L LED, magnet support, and anti-corrosion design.
Never to Compromise – Utility Flashlights
The utility flashlight best represents the value of serviceability. Whether used as an attachment or a standalone, these are best suited for a hands-free experience.
Our pick of the lot would certainly be the Klarus XT12. It's powerful illumination is powered by 930 lumens and the petite structure makes it lightweight enough to carry while not compromising on factors of sturdiness and versatility required for harsh physical conditions.
The Upgrades of Flashlights - LED Flashlights
LED (light-emitting diode) flashlights are the superior option for the lot, parading around, expelling a crazy brightness and a longer shelf life, making you super grateful of its presence whether you’re hitting the trails or investigating cobwebby corners in the attic or the basement. Not to forget, these flashlights only use 85% of power, thus, producing less light pollution. Widen your lenses for these luminous alternatives.
Go ahead, and consider our suggestion of the Vizeri VZ230 LED Tactical Flashlight. With a beam described as ‘dangerously bright’, which is more of a compliment than a danger, it comes equipped with five robust modes including high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS. In addition, it also has a lamp diffuser, holster, D-ring, and carabiner for hanging onto a tent as part of its accessories.
Emerge from the Darkness - Emergency Flashlights
Things will go wrong when you least expect it. Power cuts, blackouts, natural disasters are easy to faze your rationality. Enter the Emergency Flashlight! A solar powered torch or any crank operated torch will easily get you through this, with a lasting capacity between 10 minutes to several hours.
For emergency flashlights, consider looking for lights with the following:
- Rubber On/Off switches which are not only durable and comfortable but also waterproof and deliver a solid in repetitive use.
- With the assumption that the On/Off Assuming switch is on the side of the light, a flat bottom will ensure you can set the light on a flat surface so you can illuminate a larger area
- Flashlight with Clips or key rings will allow you to secure the light inside of a pocket like in the case of a pen or a knife. A key ring gives you the ability to attach your light to a keychain or a backpack for immediate access.
- A Switch lock will not only prevent you from accidentally activating your light but also will help keep the light on when in use without fear of it being switched off.
- Included carrying case is helpful if you want to carry your light on your hip or on a vest or jacket. Make sure it has a good cover that won’t pop open with slight disturbances.
We’d suggest you go with the Goal Zero Torch 250. Just like its name, its goal to supply you with illumination is accomplished by this hybrid product sporting a hand crank dynamo, solar panel, and USB charging cable to fire up this burst of light. In times of unavailable conventional sources, crank the Torch 250 for about 60 seconds to squeeze out 10 minutes of light. It runs for about 48 minutes when fully charged.
While starting out in bafflement over your choice of a flashlight we hope we’ve ‘shed some light’ on the knowledge about the subject. The process of selecting a flashlight can be overwhelming and daunting at most times. We often tend to go with the common rule of price affordability, but isn’t it better to combine other factors along with your budget to make an informed purchase, you won’t regret later. Flashlights are an important tool that you always want to have around.
The best flashlight is one that will give you everything you need, namely:
- a high-performance flashlight
- high and clean light intensity
- diverse emergency light options
- long-lasting lifespan
- perfect durability
All of which goes to the heart of our recommendation that you carefully consider the “mission.” If you are looking for a general purpose flashlight, one with high/low settings is probably just the ticket. If you keep these considerations in mind when choosing a light, you should find yourself with a great piece of kit that suits your needs.
Whether you’re in your backyard, or out in the wilderness seeking adventure, the dark is going to change things and that’s when you’re most certainly going to need a source of light. The dark makes it difficult to judge distance and spatial relationships, obstacles are more obscured, not to forget, confidence levels drop in the dark. Why would you want to settle for a discounted disappointment when so many factors are weighing heavily on your choice of a flashlight?
A reliable product is sure to help you in avoiding pratfalls, stay safe and feel secure. A reliable light will help you avoid pratfalls, stay safe and make you feel more secure. No, make it a point to choose a light that provides you with that high level of performance and reliability.
So, that you have the best flashlight at hand, pack these other camping essentials and keep the shine on!