Last Updated November, 2017: We’ve added new picks and insights. Prices and links have also been updated.

Editor’s Choice: 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 due to a few drops from a bit of foul weather.

Lumens: 500
Modes: high, low, strobe
Weight: 4.4oz
Length: 5.1 inches
Battery Type: CR123A Lithium, 18650 Lithium Ion
Max Battery Life: 30 hours



Introduction

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 critical. If you need something for self-defense, go with something more substantial 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 contribution by Amos Kwon, Tanner Bowden and Michael Finn.

Foursevens Quark Smart QSL

Best Smart Flashlight: 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 an excellent, 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). One of the Quark’s most unique features is a secondary switch near the lens, used for activating pre-programmed light modes — Moonlight (low), high output, custom brightness, and strobe. It takes some getting used to, but once you’ve figured it out, you might forget about the primary switch entirely.

Lumens: 350
Modes: high, medium, low, moonlight, strobe, SOS, beacon (high), beacon (low)
Weight: 1.46oz
Length: 3.43 inches
Battery Type: CR123A
Max Battery Life: 360 hours

Zebralight SC63

Best Tiny-Yet-Powerful Flashlight: At less than four inches, Zebralight’s SC63 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).

Lumens: 1,300
Modes: high, medium, low, beacon-strobe
Weight: 1.3oz
Length: 3.64 inches
Battery Type: 18650

Nitecore MH12GT

Best Self-Regulating Flashlight 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.

Lumens: 1,000
Modes: high, medium, low, ultra-low, strobe, SOS, beacon
Weight: 3.07oz
Length: 5.48 inches
Battery Type: 18650
Max Battery Life: 520 hours

Streamlight ProTac 2L-X

Editor’s Choice: 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 due to a few drops from a bit of foul weather. It’s an all-around performer — not too strong, not too weak, and just the right price.

Lumens: 500
Modes: high, low, strobe
Weight: 4.4oz
Length: 5.1 inches
Battery Type: CR123A Lithium, 18650 Lithium Ion
Max Battery Life: 30 hours

LED Lenser P5R.2

Best Rechargeable Flashlight: 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). Don’t ovelook the P5R.2’s basic functions either; it’s lightweight, bright and splashproof, and its three light modes can be easily accessed from full or half clicks of a button. The charging dock is dead-simple. Rather than having to unscrew the cap, take out the rechargeable batteries and put them into an outlet dock, you simply pop on the charging cable and walk away.

Lumens: 270
Weight: 2.72oz
Length: 4.6 inches
Battery Type: ICR 14500
Max Battery Life: 12 hours

SOG Dark Energy DE-06 Rechargeable

Best Large-Format EDC Flashlight: 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. Given its size, the DE-06 is scratching the upper limits of the EDC category; but for those who want a flashlight with a burlier hand-feel that’s still pocketable, the DE-06 will suffice. The twisted aluminum housing is also a nice cosmetic touch.

Lumens: 687
Modes: momentary on/off, 100% power, 40% power, reading, tactical strobe
Weight: 4.8oz
Length: 5.95 inches
Battery Type: rechargeable 18650
Max Battery Life: 98 hours

Nite Ize Inova T4RC

Best Tactical Flashlight: The T4R was 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. The Inova T4RC is quite large, considering its intended use is tactical operations. It’s meant for tool belts, not pants pockets. Perhaps its greatest feature is the included charging dock, which can be screw-mounted to any surface — for example, a garage wall or a gun cabinet.

Lumens: 850
Modes: high, low, dim, strobe, burst
Weight: 8.9oz
Length: 7.89 inches
Battery Type: Inova 2600 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery
Max Battery Life: 138 hours

Muyshondt Beagle Mk. I

Best Premium Flashlight: 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. The best feature of the Mk. I is the color of the light itself. In comparison to lights from brands like LED Lenser which are very white, Muyshondt’s lights cast a slightly orange, slightly yellowish hue. It may sound nitpicky, but it makes a huge difference in practice.

Lumens: 435
Modes: flood, throw, five intensity levels
Weight: 6.17oz
Length: 3.31 inches
Battery Type: CR123 or MPC-18350I
Max Battery Life: 100 hours

SureFire Titan

Best Keychain Flashlight: Keychain flashlights are rarely this nice. The Titan is exceptionally light, strong (anodized aerospace aluminum) and compact (no bigger than a disposable lighter), while its brightness rivals that of powerful headlamps. Since it lacks a button, the light is turned on and adjusted by just barely unscrewing the case. It feels a little strange at first, and may cause the Titan to turn on in transit accidentally, but that’s a necessary trade-off to have such a tiny yet powerful pocket torch.

Lumens: 125
Modes: high, low, medium
Weight: 0.9 ounces
Length: 3 inches
Battery Type: AAA NiMH or AAA alkaline
Max Battery Life: 8.5 hours
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