The majority of people only realize how beneficial it is to have a flashlight the moment they’re left stranded in the dark! They are especially essential for roadside emergencies, camping trips, hunting, exploring, construction work and even search and rescue operations.
There are thousands of different cool flashlight brands on the market today, with a wide variety of designs and functions to suit every need.
We thoroughly reviewed some of the best flashlights, across a diverse range of applications.
These are our absolute winners for 2018!
|Streamlight Protac HL-x||1000||6.2 oz||Waterproof & Multiple Battery Options|
|Outline A100||800||5.2 oz||Adjustable Focus & SOS Features|
|ThorFire S70||3000!||21 oz||Longest Distance Beam Throw|
|J5 Hyper-V||400||4.0 oz||Small and Solid Design|
|Streamlight Penlight||90||1.6 oz||The Brightest Penlight|
|Primacare Penlight||unk.||0.8 oz||Printed Pupil Gauge|
|Streamlight Nano||10||0.4 oz||Tough & Tiny|
What are Lumens and How are they Measured?
The following is a VERY simplified, layman’s guide to help you get your head around lumens. More scientific guides exist online.
A lumen is the unit in which visible light is measured on a surface area over a specific distance. One Lumen is roughly equivalent to the brightness of a birthday candle. Unfortunately, the light is dispersed more and more, the further it moves from the source and quickly loses intensity.
The beam on a flashlight however, can be focused and thus intensifies in brightness. You can therefore get a lot more “brightness” than from a dispersed light source of the same lumens.
- 1 LM = Roughly similar to a small birthday candle
- 5 LM = Approximately a household candle
- 10 LM = USB lamp for reading in bed
- 20 LM = Keychain flashlights and small penlights for medical use or finding a keyhole.
- 50-200 LM = Compact flashlights for lighting up a foot path at night or checking your backyard for racoons
- 400-800 LM = Powerful flashlights that can be used to hike in the dark and can easily illuminate objects 50-100 yards away.
- 1000 LM and up = Super bright flashlights that work over long distances, especially if the beam is focussed or “thrown”. These are great for emergencies, rescue situations and when you want to spot animals and trails several hundred yards away.
Battery Types and Power Supplies
With modern technology we are blessed with rechargeable batteries to keep our devices working for longer periods without the need for replacing batteries on a regular basis.
The rechargeable Lithium ion batteries, often called 18650’s are brilliant and keep a good charge for much longer than disposable alkaline batteries, increasing your light time by at least 1 or 2 hours. They are also fairly quick to charge.
On the other hand, some smaller designs function very well with standard AAA alkaline batteries, depending on their design and light output.
There are even a few products that have USB ports for direct charging.
Here are Our Top Rated Flashlight Winners!
Strongest 1000 Lumen Rechargeable Flashlight
For a 1000 lumen pocket-sized design, we chose Streamlight’s Protac HL-x 1000 tactical! It is lightweight, compact and solidly built and has a few really great features. It uses 2 x CR123A batteries or 1 x 18650 rechargeable Li-ion Battery which are included. The Li-ion battery included in the unit can be recharged in the flashlight.
It is completely waterproof and it’s ideal for outdoors use without being concerned about rain or even complete submersion.
Its multi battery versatility is great.
Its small size and rugged construction paired with a ultra bright 1000 lumens of light power make it awesome.
The three, programmed light settings seem a bit confusing, because each setting has its own programme of functions. This means that you need to go through all the settings to get to the one you want to use.
Overall it’s a great high lumen tactical flashlight worth the money spent. View full review.
800 Lumen Tactical Flashlight
The Outlite A100 Tactical Flashlight is a great little companion and has a sweet price tag to go along with it. It uses a rechargeable 18650 battery and includes a charger.
The focusable reflector head is great, changing the light from a fine beam to a more even spread of light.
A SOS setting which flashes the SOS sequence is brilliant for emergency situations.
The lens is made from tempered glass making it tough enough to withstand a fall to the ground.
Unfortunately it is only water resistant and not waterproof, so it can only handle light moisture and maybe a bit of use in the rain.
It lacks the handy pocket or belt clip that other brands feature.
Despite this, the Outlite A100 is a superb 800 lumen flashlight at a great price. View full review.
Best Throw Flashlight with 3000 Lumens!
For the longest throw flashlight, the ThorFire S70 is a true winner. Thorfire pumps out 3000 lumens of light in a beam that hits 550 yards. It is rugged and tough and is ideal for explorers, search and rescue teams and anyone else wanting to have extra bright light covering a further distance. It uses 2 x 18650 or 2 x 26650 3.7V batteries. (Batteries not included)
100% waterproof and completely submersible down to 2 meters and its tough and rugged construction with a high shock resistance makes it one of the strongest flashlights ever.
Also comes with a set of spares in case something goes wrong.
Thorfire is an expensive flashlight, a bit bigger and heavier making it unsuitable for carrying in a handbag or for space conscious travellers.
This extra bright flashlight is designed as a workhorse with the intent of being the brightest flashlight in the world, so it is a more specific purchase. View full review.
Smallest Most Powerful Flashlight
The J5 Hyper V is the best flashlight for the money at this size we could find and produces a hefty 400 lumen of light from its tiny frame. It uses 3 x standard AAA batteries. (Batteries not included)
Small and compact at only 5 inches long and an inch in diameter, it can be stored anywhere.
A handy belt clip to keep it accessible.
Ruggedly built from solid machined alloy.
It has a focusable light beam.
It is powered by standard AAA batteries which naturally don’t have a long charge at 400 lumens of light output.
It is not waterproof or resistant which is a bit of a downer.
Despite this, it is one of the smallest high lumen flashlights out there. View full review.
Best Tactical Penlight
The Streamlight Stylus Pro LED is really well made from the best materials and components. It’s a very practical design and will serve its purpose as a mini tactical option very well. It happens to be one of the brightest penlight flashlights that emits a full 90 lumens of light! It uses 2 AAA alkaline batteries which are included. It can also use NiMH rechargeable batteries and NiCd batteries.
It is water resistant and also shock resistant to 1 meter, which means it’s tough enough to be used as a tactical companion indoors or outdoors.
The ultra bright 90 lumen LED is ideal for lighting up small confined spaces.
Made from the best aircraft aluminium and has a handy belt or pocket clip.
The really bright LED on this handheld micro flashlight might be too bright for certain specific tasks that require a more subtle light, for example reading the letters printed on components of a pc board.
The Streamlight Stylus Pro is really awesome for people who do fine hand work in dark or cramped spaces. View full review.
Best Medical Penlight
The Primacare reusable penlight is unique in having a medical application with its printed pupil gauge. It is ideal for ER Officers, doctors, nurses and for first aid kits. It uses 2 AAA batteries which are included.
A handy pupil gauge is printed on the side of the penlight, making pupil dilation comparison quick and easy for medical personnel.
The LED is not too bright and fits the standard for inspection of the human eye.
It is superlight and weighs almost nothing.
The Primacare medical penlight is really very cheap to purchase.
It is made of plastic which is a bit of a down point, a slightly more tough material could have been used on the penlight, but at that price you can’t really expect any better material. The penlight could easily crack or break if dropped to a hard surfaced floor.
Some people may find the pocket clip On/Off switch a bit annoying to use.
It might be cheap but it gets the job done. View full review.
The Nano Light, made by Streamlight, is an ultra rugged, lightweight micro-flashlight. It uses 4 LR44 batteries which are included.
At just over an inch in length and crafted from solid machined aluminium, it is unbreakable.
It has a snapclip for attachment to bunches of keys or other suitable holds.
The on/off function is super easy; only a twist of the reflector head turns it on or off.
The solid aluminium construction with a tempered 10 lumen LED makes it virtually indestructible.
Its small size makes it a highly portable and handy backup light.
We couldn’t find much wrong with the Streamlight Nano except that it is so small, that you could maybe lose it!
Different Types and How to Choose
Need the Brightest Flashlight on the Market?
If it’s full brightness you are after, then the Thorfire throwlight is a sure winner at 3000 lumens of light power. It is followed by the Streamlight Protac HL-x 1000 lumen, which is much smaller but very bright.
Following these are the Outlite A100 at 800 lumens and then the J5 Hyper V which emits 400 lumens, but is the smallest design.
For our penlights the Streamlight Stylus Pro penlight comes in with 90 lumens, one of the brightest penlight flashlights available. The Primacare medical penlight only emits about 30 lumens, which is more suited to close quarter’s medical examinations.
Lastly the Streamlight Nano Keychain light only provides 10 lumens, but is ample for its design function.
Portability is a prevalent question to ask when selecting a light source. Most of the smaller tactical options have handy pocket or belt clips to make access to the light fast and simple.
The big exception in our selection is the Thorfire S70 throw light, which is too big to store on a belt or in a pocket. This is understandable because it is designed for long term use like search and rescue, hunting, industrial work and other situations where you might need one of the world’s brightest flashlights.
Also, the small Outlite 800 is the only other light in our selection that has a slight design flaw by not having a belt clip.
All of the cool flashlights in our selection that are made by Streamlight are water proof and water resistant, making them great for outdoor camping, hiking and other outdoor needs.
The Thorfire S70 is also completely waterproof and can handle complete submersion (temporarily) down to 2 meters.
The Thorfire S70 and the Streamlight ProTac are ideal survival choices.
They are rugged, waterproof and have an SOS flash function which makes them ideal for hiking, trekking, and other outdoor activities that could lead to a survival situation.
The Streamlight Nano keychain light would make a handy addition as an emergency light that can be stored away almost anywhere because of its micro size.
The strobe setting on a few of these products are designed for protection in the case of the user being attacked by someone. The extra bright flashing sequence of a high lumen light in someone’s direct view offers temporary visual disorientation, giving the victim the chance to run and get away.
The Streamlight Pro Tac, Outlite A 100, Thorfire S70 and the J5 Hyper V tactical all have this strobe function.
Long Lasting Battery Life
The Streamlight ProTac running on lithium ions provides 1 hours and 30 minutes of constant light at 1000 lumens and 23 hours at 65 lumens.
Thorfire’s S70 has a good 18 hours of burn time on its low setting and 3 hours on its full power setting.
The J5 Hyper V runs on standard AAA batteries that will give you about 2 – 3 hours of constant runtime.
The smaller penlights and the Streamlight keychain light also provide a good few hours of constant runtime on their very light standard AAA and button cell alkaline batteries.
The Final Word
We looked for function, quality and ease of use with this selection of the best tactical flashlights. There are literally hordes to choose from out there, so we made it a bit easier by choosing 7 of the flashlights that have all the quality and functional traits that people need, but also with the price conscious buyer in mind. So get out there and light up the darkness!