When darkness settles in on your campsite, hunting cabin or fishing spot, there are few things more useful than a handheld spotlight. With a simple flip of a switch or pull of a trigger, you can light objects up, both near and far, brighter than daylight in an instant. Truth is, you probably need more than one handheld spotlight, since different lights are better for different uses. Fortunately, with the wide variety of brightness levels and effective ranges available, there’s a perfect spotlight or two for you. To make a good selection, ask yourself three questions—how bright of light do you need, what power source do you prefer and how big or small of handheld spotlight you best for your uses.



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A spotlight’s brightness—the factor many people consider most important in choosing a light—is usually measured in lumens. By definition, a lumen is “a unit of luminous flux in the International System of Units, that is equal to the amount of light given out through a solid angle by a source of one candela intensity radiating equally in all directions.” While that might not be very helpful, just know that the higher the lumens, the brighter the light’s beam. On spotlights, the lumen rating is usually expressed by the light itself and by the light bulbs used. In general, the higher the lumen rating, the higher price you’ll pay. Note, however, that brighter isn’t always better. If you want to see something clearly at a very long distance, a very bright flashlight is best for you. But really bright lights can make other chores more difficult. For instance, when blood trailing a deer, a light that is too bright can make everything it is shined on look washed out, making the blood drops visible than it would be with a dimmer light.

Power Source

How you want your spotlight to be powered is also an important factor. Most run on either replaceable batteries, rechargeable batteries or a vehicle’s 12-volt battery via a cigarette adapter. There are trade-offs with each type. Replaceable battery spotlights generally aren’t as powerful, so aren’t as bright. But when your battery runs out, you simply replace it and go on your way. Rechargeable battery lights are usually lightweight and brighter than replaceable battery lights, but once your battery is dead, you are left in the dark. Lights that run off your vehicle’s battery can be very strong and handy but can only be used when you are within a few feet of your vehicle. Consider how and where you will use your light to make the best power source choice.



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Another important factor that depends on your planned usage, size can make all the difference on whether you love your spotlight or hate it. If you plan to carry your light for several miles back into the wilderness, smaller is definitely better. On the other hand, if you are going to haul it around in your vehicle for emergencies and have a place to stow it, a very large flashlight might suit your needs. In the end, choose the size that is best for the way you will be using your spotlight the majority of the time.