A good EDC flashlight should have some, if not all, of the following qualities: manageable size (depending on carry preference), a long-lasting LED bulb, a robust housing, water and shock resistance, multiple modes, momentary beam and beam adjustment. Other features, such as USB charging capability and Bluetooth connectivity, are also beginning to make their way into these small yet powerful torches.
Portable lights can run from $30 to well over $100, so knowing what’s important to you is key. If you need something for self-defense, go with something larger but not unwieldy. Putting it in your pocket? Look for a light with a clip. Out in the elements? Find one with sealed O-rings to keep the wet stuff at bay. Whatever your EDC lighting needs, there’s a flashlight for everyone. We’ve chosen nine excellent portable flashlights that will enhance your EDC’s versatility, as well as show you the path after the sun goes down.
Additional contributions by Amos Kwon.
Streamlight ProTac 2L-X
Sometimes no-frills is an asset in and of itself. The ProTac is proof of this; with 500 lumens of light strength, it certainly isn’t the brightest flashlight available. But a machined aircraft aluminum housing with a removable pocket clip, a gasket-sealed lens and a programmable switch make this a safe and reliable bet that won’t flicker from a few drops and a bit of foul weather.
Modes: high, low, strobe
Length: 5.1 inches
Battery Type: CR123A Lithium, 18650 Lithium Ion
Max Battery Life: 30 hours
Foursevens Quark Smart QSL
With 350 lumens, a runtime that can be drawn out to 360 hours, and an IPX8 waterproof rating that’s good for submersion in waters up to about three meters deep, the Quark Smart QSL is a great well-rounded flashlight. It’s also Bluetooth enabled, which means you can check the light’s battery status and configure its settings from an app on your phone. Of course, the torch works without the Bluetooth function (for the connectivity-averse).
Modes: high, medium, low, moonlight, strobe, SOS, beacon (hi), beacon (lo)
Length: 3.43 inches
Battery Type: CR123A
Max Battery Life: 360 hours
At less than four inches, Zebralight’s SC63 really is tiny. But its looks are only deceiving until you hit the power button — 1,300 lumens is bright, especially when projected through tempered optical-quality glass. The rechargeable 18650 battery will last more than two hours at full blast, but the flashlight will automatically dim things down when power gets low. What’s more, the SC63 has an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means it’ll survive full submersion in shallow water (up to three feet deep).
Modes: high, medium, low, beacon-strobe
Length: 3.64 inches
Battery Type: 18650
This flashlight is powered by a Cree XP-L Hi V3 LED, a tiny, luminous workhorse that’s capable of throwing a beam of light over 1,000 feet into the night. It’s also equipped with Advanced Temperature Regulation, which allows the light to regulate its own output and adapt to environmental conditions for optimal performance. With that kind of tech, the flashlight’s water-sealed micro USB charging port and aero-grade aluminum housing almost seem like afterthoughts.
Modes: high, medium, low, ultra-low, strobe, SOS, beacon
Length: 5.48 inches
Battery Type: 18650
Max Battery Life: 520 hours
LED Lenser P5R.2
Advancement in flashlight tech often translates to higher lumens and more modes, but with the P5R.2, it translates to a nifty magnetic charging dock that indicates when you’re back to full power (USB works, too). The basic functions of the light aren’t to be overlooked either; it’s lightweight, bright and splashproof, and its three light modes can be easily accessed from full or half clicks of a button.
Length: 4.6 inches
Battery Type: ICR 14500
Max Battery Life: 12 hours
SOG Dark Energy DE-06 Rechargeable
SOG, known for crafting specialty knives, has one thing in mind when designing its flashlights: get the most light in the smallest package. The DE-06 accomplishes that goal, with 687 lumens packed into less than six inches of 6061 T6 aluminum. It’s also equipped with a belt clip and is powered by a rechargeable battery.
Modes: momentary on/off, 100% power, 40% power, reading, tactical strobe
Length: 5.95 inches
Battery Type: rechargeable 18650
Max Battery Life: 98 hours
If you’ve recently upgraded your tech arsenal with USB-C devices, you might as well do the same with your everyday tactical light. But fast charging isn’t the only draw here; the T25L-R touts 2,000 lumens and throws light more than 1,200 feet. That’s at full power, of course; there are multiple output levels that can be controlled easily just by twisting the head of the flashlight — before it’s even turned on.
Modes: high, medium, low, strobe, momentary
Length: 5.9 inches
Battery Type: 18650
Max Battery Life: 70 hours
Nite Ize Inova T4RC
The T4R may have been engineered with security professionals and law enforcement in mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of place at a campsite or in the glovebox of your overlander. The light is capable of throwing light up to 840 feet and is contained by solid-stock aluminum finished with a Mil-Spec anodized finish and knurling. And it’s USB rechargeable, to boot.
Modes: high, low, dim, strobe, burst
Length: 7.89 inches
Battery Type: Inova 2600 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery
Max Battery Life: 138 hours
Muyshondt Beagle Mk. I
It makes sense that a flashlight designed for adventure was named to pay homage to the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his five-year journey around the world. The Beagle Mk. I provides two beam types — flood and high beam — and five light modes. Its 6AL4V titanium casing provides the toughest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal and is milled with a monocoque design to shed heat across the entire body of the flashlight.