Flashlights have come a long way in a very short period of time. It wasn’t that long ago that the best and brightest flashlights cost a small fortune, couldn’t be dropped, and were heavier than your grandmother’s fruitcake she gave you every Christmas. Today’s flashlights are very different thanks to LED technology developments.
Now the best and brightest LED flashlights are highly affordable. They can shine a focused beam of light for a half-mile or more. They are small enough to fit into a pocket or large enough to knock someone out if you cracked them over the head with it. Some of these flashlights even come with AM/FM radios, a shortwave radio, or a USB jack so you can charge your iPhone.
You can benefit from owning a high-quality flashlight today. It’s time to find the best investment that won’t be a budget breaker.
The Best Chart for LED Flashlights
Some LED flashlights are small enough to act like a keychain. Others are so big that they are effective tactical devices. Whether your needs are personal or professional, indoors or outdoors, or even rural or urban, the chart below will let you find a top-rated flashlight at a great price right now.
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Light Output (Lumens)||Beam Distance||Weight||Price|
|Hausbell T6 LED Flashlight 2-Pack|| 4.4 ||1600||600 ft|| $$
|Maglite ML300L LED 3-Cell Flashlight|| 4.6 ||625||1330 ft|| $$$$
|BlueFire CREE XML T6 Adjustable LED 5 Mode Flashlight|| 4.3 ||1200||450 ft|| $$
|Rayovac Beast LED Outdoor Flashlight|| 4.3 ||2000||1300 ft|| $$$$$+
|DAX Tactical LED Flashlight Kit|| 4.5 ||1200||450 ft|| $$$$
|Solaray ZX-1XL Professional Series Flashlight|| 4.3 ||1600||600 ft|| $$$
|Duracell Durabeam Ultra|| 4.3 ||1300||885 ft|| $$$$$
|Skysted WF-501B [email protected] Mini Portable Flashlight|| 4.8 ||1200||600 ft|| $$
|Forrader C* XM-L2 U3 Super Bright LED Flashlight|| 4.3 ||2000||1000 ft|| $$
|On the Way A100 5-Mode Zoomable Flashlight|| 4.4 ||2000||1600 ft|| $$
|Picture||Name||Our Rating||Light Output (Lumens)||Beam Distance||Weight||Price|
Why Choose an LED Flashlight Today?
Above any other reason, LED flashlights today have an incredible lifespan. A traditional incandescent bulb might last up to 10 hours – assuming you don’t accidentally drop the flashlight and cause the bulb to break prematurely. In comparison, an LED light has a standard lifespan of 50,000 hours or more.
LED lights also produce a more genuine daylight experience, even when the smallest EDC flashlights are being used. This makes it a lot easier on the eyes when you need to see something in the dark.
The best and brightest LED flashlights also have incredible running times on a single battery charge. Some will give you 50+ hours of life. Youeven have battery options available to you in this category, ranging from standard AAA alkaline to lithium-ion batteries, along with everything in-between.
Batteries: The Most Important Feature on an LED Flashlight
Traditional batteries are common when looking at the best and brightest LED flashlights. You know the type: AA or AAA alkaline batteries that come in multi-packs in big displays next to your favorite checkout line. The only problem is that these standard batteries won’t actually give you the brightest light.
That’s right. You have to invest in lithium-ion batteries if you want to maximize the potential of an LED flashlight.
Although the initial price of lithium-ion batteries is higher and most LED flashlights have a permanent battery installed, you still have options. To start, lithium-ion batteries are often rated with a shelf life that can meet or exceed 10 years. This makes it a suitable investment for your emergency kit, your glove box, your pocket or all of the above.
You’ll also have longer running times and the bright output you would come to expect from a modern LED flashlight. We highly recommend 18650 batteries from EBL if you do not have a permanent battery installation.
What if I can’t afford a lithium-ion rechargeable battery? Then your next best option is to purchase standard lithium batteries that are in the AA or AAA size instead. We highly recommend the Ultimate Lithium batteries that Energizer creates. These cost more than alkaline batteries do, but you’ll recoup your investment several times over with these installed.
Lithium batteries are also a little lighter than alkaline batteries, so you can make the best and brightest LED flashlights a little easier to carry along for a hike, camping trip, or other outdoor adventure.
Some AA and AAA lithium batteries are rated to hold power in storage for up to 20 years.
Not every lithium battery comes in the standard sizes. You’ll find some LED flashlights require a CR123 lithium battery. These batteries can be somewhat expensive and difficult to find. Look for them in stores near the digital cameras. We highly recommend Energizer CR123 batteries for best results. Purchasing them in a 12-pack can reduce the costs to under $2 each.
How to Find the Best and Brightest LED Flashlight
When you’re looking for a flashlight, the best and brightest one is the one you’ll have with you when you need to use one. This means once you’ve settled on the right type of battery, you need to figure out how you’re going to use your new investment most often.
Today’s LED flashlights come in a variety of design options so you can find the correct flashlight for your lifestyle.
- Keychain Flashlights. Since you always take your keys with you, a keychain flashlight makes sense. They are smaller in size and might take button-cell batteries, but they’ll also give you light in tight situations.
- Pen Lights. These flashlights look and feel like a pen. They clip to your pocket protector just like a pen. It’s a flashlight that’s too big for most key chains, but still slim and powerful enough for specific needs.
- Pocket Lights. These flashlights usually take 1-2 standard batteries and are a little larger than a penlight. Some can be very compact and fit in the palm of your hand. They’ll give you a stronger and better overall light, but the distances offered are minimal. These flashlights are great for indoor chores, automotive work, inspection work, and similar tasks.
- Headlamps. If you want a highly specialized type of LED flashlight, then consider this option. It straps to your head for a hands-free experience, which makes it a good hunting, hiking, or biking tool. You have more tint, color, and filtering options in this category as well.
As a final option, you’ve got the biggest and “baddest” LED flashlights of them all. Some call them trunk or shelf lights. We call them a massive source of light awesomeness. They are heavy enough to be used as an improvised self-defense tool, can put out a focused beam of light past a half-mile, and give you a lumens rating that can reach 10,000 if you’re willing to shell out enough cash.
Seriously. Here’s proof.
What Features Should the Best and Brightest LED Flashlights Have?
There are many features that the modern LED flashlight may have. This is because these flashlights are often like tiny super-computers, able to be programmed to do several different things automatically. You can have them change color, flash out Morse code in an emergency, or even produce multiple beam strength levels.
These features are neat, but they also drive up the price of the flashlight. How often are you going to need to use an SOS feature on a flashlight? Of course, you’ll want to have it if you need it, but you could also flash your own SOS if need be without the added feature cost.
Unless you’re in the market for one of the best tactical LED flashlights, the one feature you should consider is the multiple beam strength modes that are offered. Many flashlights with this feature allow you to use three levels of brightness. We’ll call them “high,” “medium,” and “low.”
Some of the best and brightest LED flashlights have two additional modes that may also be useful.
- Moonlight Mode. This flashlight mode is an extra low setting, usually 5-10% of the maximum output of the flashlight, and it’s perfect for night reading. You might also use this mode while camping if you need to make your way to the bathroom while not disturbing everyone else around you.
- Turbo Mode. This is the highest mode that a flashlight would offer. It is equivalent to the “high” setting on a 3-beam LED flashlight.
For added fun, you can also find some flashlights that will remember your last beam setting and stay on it the next time you turn your flashlight on. Others will automatically turn to your most-used beam setting.
How to Determine a Good Quality LED Flashlight
There’s one simple test when looking at a flashlight to see if you’re getting a high-quality light or a cheap piece of mass-produced junk. Look at how the light is produced in the flashlight. The best flashlights in this category have a single LED that offers a light that is enhanced by a nice and smooth reflector. This produces a user experience that gives you a longer running flashlight with a brighter light and is probably more water-resistant as well.
Cheaper LED flashlights tend to have a set of 6 LEDs that are offset by a textured reflector. You’ll still get a nice source of light, but the beam won’t be as smooth. This means it won’t travel as far. These cheaper flashlights generally have a water-resistance rating of IPX3, which means you shouldn’t even store the flashlight in your bathroom because the steam from a shower could ruin it.
But I keep buying LED flashlights that are very bright and they end up failing after a few months. Now I’ve got a drawer that is full of bad flashlights.
If you want an LED flashlight that really has some stamina to it, then you’re going to need to put some money into your investment today. Any flashlight that is priced less than $50 is likely to last 1-2 years at most. On the other hand, if you purchase a flashlight that is in the $100-$200 price range, there’s a good chance it will still be working 10 years from now when new technologies are going to be tempting you to upgrade once again.
What Brands Offer the Best and Brightest LED Flashlights?
When you’re looking through the best flashlight reviews, you’re going to find a number of brands that sound familiar to you. The flashlight brands of our childhood, like Rayovac, Maglite, and Surefire, are producing affordable LED lights that offer the same consistencies you remember from your nights at summer camp.
These traditional brands are a little more expensive, but you’re also paying for the joy of using the same type of flashlight as you’ve always used.
If you’re looking for the best and brightest LED flashlights that punch above their weight class, then you’ll want to look at the flashlights being manufactured by Nitecore, Fenix, 4Sevens, and O-Light. These LED flashlights are incredibly strong, lightweight, and bright. They also come in a variety of styles so you can buy a flashlight that meets all of your needs today.
For enhanced quality, consider a Streamlight LED flashlight. Their models come at a premium price (penlights are typically priced at $30 vs. $10 for other brands), but you’ll also be able to use a Streamlight flashlight every day due to their reliability. The extra investment will pay dividends back to you month after month.
What Are the Prices of the Best and Brightest LED Flashlights?
You’ll find LED flashlight prices range anywhere from $5 to $1,000 today. This is why it is so important to determine what features and qualities you need in the flashlight. A simple keychain light is not going to perform like a powerful hunting flashlight. This is why many are sorely disappointed with what their flashlights can do; they’ve purchased the wrong flashlight for their needs.
Most people will find general use LED flashlights in the $50 or less price range to be suitable. General outdoor use will sometimes require an upgrade to the $100-$200 price range to ensure that there is moisture resistance built into the design.
Premium flashlights are priced above $350. These are usually tactical flashlights that have been designed for specific law enforcement purposes, but there are some high-powered LED lights for personal use in this category as well.
Here’s Our Top Picks
The features of the Hausbell T6 LED flashlight make it an affordable addition to your hunting or camping packs, for hiking and climbing, or standard household use. Since you’re receiving a 2-pack, you could also throw one into your emergency kit and use the other thanks to the great price on this flashlight. Unlike other flashlights at this price point, the Hausbell has a lens made from glass. Although we didn’t test it, the manufacturer says that breaking the lens is easy to do so you have another form of self-defense. After taking a look at this flashlight, we have no reason to doubt this claim.
The primary feature that stands out on this flashlight is its advanced focusing system. By turning the head of the flashlight less than a quarter turn, you’re able to adjust the light from its natural spot-style beam to a flood light and it takes just seconds. This allows you to illuminate an entire area of a field or yard or focus a beam of light to over 400 meters away. It also features a multi-mode electronic switch to help you cycle through the various beam settings you have. You have access to a full or low power mode, and economy mode, a momentary mode for a brief inspection light, and there is a strobe function.
Like many entry-level tactical flashlights, you’ll receive 5 different beam functions with this BlueFire model. It offers low, middle, and high beams, along with a strobe and an SOS function. The difference here is in how the functions are accessed. You’ll be pressing the small orange button on the back of the flashlight with light pressure and it’s easy to get the pressure right. It took just a couple of attempts to avoid a “hard” press that turned the flashlight off.
What we found most impressive about this particular Rayovac flashlight is that it accomplishes this brightness and durability without the use of rechargeable batteries. That does bring up one potential negative for some users: to operate, you’ll need four CR123 lithium batteries. Look for rechargeables for the best solution, though the manufacturer does not recommend this. Additionally, the LED lighting allows for a beam of light that is ultra-bright and very reliable, allowing you to shed darkness with one-click convenience.
When you look at the primary LED flashlight in this kit, you’ll find that it has been equipped with 5 modes and offers an adjustable focus. The flashlight itself is equipped with reliable XM-L2 lights that are protected by an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy head. This gives the flashlight a rugged design and the rigid head really does a good job of breaking glass. From an overall perspective, the Dax tactical flashlights are relatively sturdy. Although you wouldn’t want to run them over with your vehicle, the anodized finish and anti-abrasive lens help to maintain the quality of light that you’re able to receive with these flashlights.
If you’re on a budget, but want a flashlight with a reasonably good quality level, then this is the flashlight for you. Here’s why: an aircraft-grade aluminum housing that has some water-resistance built into it protects the flashlight itself. Although you can’t submerge this flashlight in water, if it gets splashed, it will likely survive. Although the 1600 lumens rating seems to be slightly over, you can definitely see this flashlight outperform many other models at this price point. Each Cree LED features single-die super-silicon carbide, while the XM-L chip gives you a high-quality beam, allowing you to have a flood-type or spot-style beam.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that this flashlight comes in more of a kit than an individual flashlight. Powered by three C-cell batteries, you’re able to get 4-5 hours of life from the high beam and over 30 hours of use from the low beam. That is just the beginning of the story that this flashlight is able to tell. We felt that the casing of this flashlight is reminiscent of older Maglite flashlights. It’s weather-resistant, but you don’t want to expose it to a lot of moisture. It will handle a drop from about thigh-high.
There are three aspects of the design with this Forrader flashlight that were done right: the LED upgrade, the aircraft-grade aluminum housing, and the smooth reflector. This flashlight is equipped with a U3 LED with a large, smooth reflector that really gives you a nice throw. The housing is fairly smooth, but the ergonomics built into the design allow you to still have a good grip. We also liked the belt clip that comes with this flashlight. It allows you to keep this compact tool within reach so that you have a portable lighting solution when you need it.
If you want to get the most out of this flashlight, then don’t skimp on the battery. Invest into one of the best 18650 batteries that are available today. Avoid using the cheaper 18650 batteries because this will reduce the lumens that the flashlight is able to achieve. The CR123 batteries are more of an emergency replacement than a long-term solution.
The primary feature of this flashlight is the 5-beam mode option that many similar tactical flashlight designs offer. You receive high, medium, and low along with an SOS and a strobe light function. Because of the brightness of this light, the strobe is more than adequate as a self-defense tool. It comes with an 18650 battery with this price, which many flashlights do not provide. You’ll receive a 2800 mAh battery that gives you a reasonably long beam life on high of about 2-3 hours.
The best and brightest LED flashlights have the ability to help you get the toughest chores done without the need to stumble around in the dark. There are many different shapes, styles, and sizes, but each has one thing in common: a reliable and durable user experience. If you’re in the market for a new flashlight, then use the best flashlight reviews to find and buy the model that will meet your needs today.