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Written By
Updated Nov 3, 2022 7:19 PM

If you’ve spent any time outdoors, you’ve likely been caught in the dark if you forgot a flashlight. Be it paddling to the duck blind, hiking out of the woods, or waiting on a rising trout, packing a light source is among the gear essentials many experts recommend. When the sun disappears, and you are stuck in the pitch black, having the best flashlight makes for a leisurely walk back to the truck.

A strong light is one of the most important tools for any outdoorsman. A good flashlight, headlamp, or spotlight is critical for the safety and success of a trip. After extensive testing, we found the best flashlights for any situation. One of our top picks will surely help light the way for you on the next adventure.

Best Tactical: Fenix TK16 V2.0 Tactical Flashlight

Best Tactical

Fenix TK16 V2.0 Tactical Flashlight Fenix Flashlights

Fenix TK16 V2.0 Tactical Flashlight Fenix Flashlights

Why it Made the Cut: The Felix TK16 is a powerful light in a bulletproof package ready for whatever you throw at it.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 3,100
  • Power Source: ARB-L21-5000U battery
  • Weight: 3.95 oz 
  • Run time: 2hr 50min on high
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Fully waterproof and dustproof
  • Six different light modes

Cons:

  • Battery needs to be removed for charging

If you need a powerful light in a durable package, nothing is better than the best tactical flashlight Fenix TK16 V2.0. It is equipped with an IP68 rating, and this light is built to go through just about anything. As a fisheries biologist, I find myself reaching for this light more and more. It’s waterproof and dustproof, which is ideal for working in and around water. The different modes allow you to dial in the brightness for whatever you need to see without blinding yourself.

The TK16 also has an impressive battery life which can last up to 43 hours in Eco mode or nearly 3 hours in turbo mode. For those looking for a quality tactical light, this won’t disappoint. The strobe mode blasts out at 3100 lumens and is more than bright. This is the best all-around light I have used, and it always comes with me for both work and pleasure. Not to mention the TK16 is backed with Fenix’s Limited Lifetime Guarantee.

Best EDC: Streamlight MACROSTREAM USB Everyday Carry Flashlight

Best EDC

Streamlight MACROSTREAM USB Everyday Carry Flashlight
Streamlight

Streamlight MACROSTREAM USB Everyday Carry Flashlight
Streamlight

Why it Made the Cut: The Streamlight MACROSTREAM is impressively bright and so light you forget you’re carrying it.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 500 
  • Power Source: CR123A batteries
  • Weight: 2.2 oz
  • Run Time: 2 hours on high
  • Materials: Aluminium
  • Waterproof: Water Resistant

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Bright for the size
  • USB Rechargeable

Cons:

  • Only 2 light modes

Few people think to add a flashlight into their everyday carry kit, and rightfully so. In the past, flashlights have always been big and bulky. Those small enough to carry lacked the power to illuminate anything for long periods of time. But flashlight technology has now improved to the point that both lightweight and powerful are possible in one unit.

The Streamlight MACROSTREAM is the perfect size to carry all day, and at 500 lumens is plenty bright to get the job done, making it our pick for the best EDC flashlight. This little light finds its way into my pocket daily, and at just over 2 ounces, it’s easy to forget you’re carrying it. The two light modes offer 50-lumen and 500-lumen options which are great for everyday tasks like looking under your truck or lighting up a dark parking lot. The rechargeable battery makes it easy to throw on the charger in your truck and be ready to go when you reach your destination.

Most Powerful: Fenix LR50R Flashlight

Most Powerful

Fenix LR50R Flashlight Fenix Flashlights

Fenix LR50R Flashlight Fenix Flashlights

Why it Made the Cut: The Felix LR50R is an ultra-powerful floodlight that emits a staggering 12,000 lumens.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 12,000
  • Power Source: ARB-L52-16000 Li-ion battery pack
  • Weight: 34.8 oz
  • Run time: 1hr 50 min on turbo
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Waterproof: N/A

Pros:

  • 9 different running modes
  • Tripod socket for easy setup
  • Intelligent downshifting light sensor

Cons:

  • Somewhat heavy

Ever need the power of the sun in the palm of your hand? The Fenix LR50R is the closest thing I’ve found. It’s one of the most powerful flashlights ever made. At 12,000 lumens, there is no shortage of light. This is a true floodlight and casts a wide beam up to a half-mile away. In the woods, I find myself reaching for this light more and more for tracking blood trails after a successful hunt.

It provides excellent coverage to trail blood, and the intelligent downshifting light sensor will automatically dim the light when I get up close. Another great feature is it will double as a portable charger to keep your phone or other electronics ready to go during a long sit in the stand. If you’re looking for the brightest light you can find and don’t mind a little extra weight; then the Fenix LR50R is your pick.

Best for Fishing: Nebo LUXTREME SL100

Best for Fishing

Nebo LUXTREME SL100 NEBO

Nebo LUXTREME SL100 NEBO

Why it Made the Cut: The Nebo LUXTREME SL100 is a perfect light for when you need to see further than you ever imagined.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 500
  • Power Source:
  • Weight: 20.8 oz
  • Run Time: 6.25 hours on spotlight mode
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros:

  • Magnetic base
  • LEP laser for long distance
  • Red light mode

Cons:

  • Be careful where you shine the LEP laser

In the world of flashlights, lumens were everything until the Nebo LUXTREME SL100 came along. As the best flashlight for fishing, this innovative light uses an LEP laser that can shine up to a mile away and is truly impressive. On my boat, I run from dock light to dock light in the dead of night, looking for wary snook and tarpon. Weaving in and out of channel markers and obstructions makes for a sketchy trip without good light. I find this light shines as a boat light—pun intended.

The magnetic base sticks to the center console, and with the squeeze of a trigger, I can see everything in front of me. It also offers a wide range of floodlights that helps brighten a larger area. This is beneficial when tying on flies and moving around the boat. If the fish are incredibly wary, I turn on the red-light mode to stay stealthy and hidden.

Best for Hunting: Fenix HM50R V2.0 Rechargeable Headlamp

Best for Hunting

Fenix HM50R V2.0 Rechargeable Headlamp Fenix

Fenix HM50R V2.0 Rechargeable Headlamp Fenix

Why it Made the Cut: The Fenix HM50R V2.0 is the most adaptable headlamp on the market for any hunting situation.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 700 
  • Power Source: ARB-L16 batteries
  • Weight: 2.75 oz
  • Run Time: 1 hour on turbo mode
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros:

  • Red light mode
  • Detachable clip
  • Rechargeable

Cons:

  • Changing between modes can take some getting used to

What do 30-inch brown trout, trophy deer, and a flock of ducks all have in common? Other than the need for a headlamp, not much. Trekking to your deer stand, paddling to your duck spot, or casting all night for a fish of a lifetime are all next to impossible without a good light. The Fenix HM50R V2.0 is the best headlamp for fishing and hunting I’ve used to date and keeps your hands ready to go. On a recent hunt, I tested this extensively by hiking miles through the dark and rain to my stand with ease.

With four different brightness options, clicking a button allowed me to see everything and minimize glare, especially in the rain. The neat part of this light is that it can detach from the headband, allowing you to clip it to a shirt pocket or hold it in your hand to see in tight places. Additionally, a red-light mode gives you the option to help stay hidden from wild game and wary trout. The HM50R is an incredibly well-thought-out headlamp in a virtually indestructible and rechargeable package.

Best Rechargeable: Nebo SLIM+

Best Rechargeable

Nebo SLIM+ NEBO

Nebo SLIM+ NEBO

Why it Made the Cut: The Nebo SLIM+ flashlight is a true do-it-all light that is up to any task you throw at it.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 700
  • Weight: 4 oz
  • Run Time: 1.5 hours on high
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Waterproof:

Pros:

  • USB battery pack
  • Laser pointer 
  • Adjustable clip

Cons:

  • Battery life is not long-lasting 

Most flashlights are rechargeable these days, but few offer as many features as the Nebo SLIM+. This model is our choice for the best rechargeable flashlight because it is a flashlight and a laser pointer and battery pack in a small convenient package. While it may not look like a conventional flashlight in its rectangular shape package, this light blasts out 700 lumens and is plenty bright enough.

The versatility of the SLIM+ is why it made it on our list. Hold the power button down, and it suddenly becomes a laser pointer. If your phone is dying, plug it into the USB port, and you’ll be fully charged. This light is a valuable addition to my camping gear when I need extra light and can conveniently keep my other electronics charged simultaneously. The innovative adjustable hook and magnetic base work great for hanging inside a tent to double as a camp lantern.

Most Versatile: Goal Zero Torch 500 Multi-Use Light

Most Versatile

Goal Zero Torch 500 Multi-Use Light

Goal Zero Torch 500 Multi-Use Light

Why it Made the Cut: The Goal Zero Torch is a versatile and effective light that works well for fishing, camping, backpacking, and working at home.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 500
  • Power Source: monocrystalline 5200 mAh battery
  • Weight: 12.8 oz
  • Run Time: 50 hours (low spotlight)
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros:

  • Spotlight and floodlight modes
  • Built-in solar panel to recharge
  • IP67 waterproof rating
  • The battery can charge small devices like phones

Cons:

  • The outer casing isn’t as durable as other options

Goal Zero is well known for its solar panels and power banks to upgrade your off-grid living. The Goal Zero Torch 500 flashlight combines a handheld light with a solar power bank for the perfect backcountry light source. With both a spotlight and a floodlight feature, this light is versatile enough to be a staple in the garage, survival kit, or on the trail. You can recharge the light from the sun with the built-in solar panel or a USB-C power source. The powerful 5200 mAh battery also allows you to charge your phone.

Both the floodlight and the spotlight have three light settings. The Torch 500 splits the lumens between the two light sources. So, you have 300 lumens with the spotlight and 300 lumens with the floodlight. The 50-hour run time is for the spotlight when running on low. If you run both lights simultaneously on high power, the battery will only last around 2 hours. Just one light on high power runs between 3-4 hours. Regardless of the light setting, it is reliable for emergency and outdoor situations since it has an IP67 waterproof rating.


Best Budget: Anker Rechargeable Boulder Flashlight

Best Budget

Anker Rechargeable Boulder Flashlight

Anker Rechargeable Boulder Flashlight

Why it Made the Cut: The Anker Rechargeable Boulder Flashlight is a durable yet affordable flashlight versatile enough for a variety of applications.

Key Features

  • Lumens: 400
  • Power Source: Lithium Metal batteries
  • Weight: 4.3 oz
  • Run Time: 20 hours (medium beam)
  • Materials: Aluminum
  • Waterproof: Yes

Pros:

  • Reliable light source down to 14℉/-10℃
  • Great value for the price
  • Compact design
  • Five light modes

Cons:

  • Battery run time is not the best

If you want good value for the price, then the Anker Rechargeable Boulder Flashlight is a good pick. It gets the job done and has no especially stand-out features. The materials are strong, durable, and have an IP65 rating. So, if you plan to use it as a flashlight on outdoor expeditions, it will hold up to rain, snow, and general moisture. We like that the battery functions in low temperatures, but keep in mind that the battery life may not be as good in cold weather. The casing is also shock resistant, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the flashlight if you drop it as you hike. Five light modes, including an SOS feature, are essential for any emergency kit flashlight. It is a simple, reliable, and affordable flashlight that you can trust.

Methodology

As a fisheries biologist and an avid angler and hunter, I find myself reaching for a flashlight daily. If you choose the right light, the job at hand becomes much easier, but choose the wrong one, you have a long night ahead of you. I took the time to narrow down the best flashlights on the market today to help save you from that struggle. All of my picks are field-tested and field-proven. My selections were based on the following criteria:

  • Lumens: How bright is the flashlight, and does it offer different brightness modes?
  • Battery life: Will the battery life hold up long enough to get the job done?
  • Rechargeable: Is the flashlight USB rechargeable, or does it rely on disposable batteries?
  • Distance: How well do the available lumens translate into beam distance?
  • Size: Do the size and shape make sense, and is it ergonomic and comfortable?
  • Weight: What is the weight of the light, and is it justifiable?
  • Durability: Flashlights must be built to withstand lots of abuse without faltering. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Flashlight

A good flashlight can last you a long time, but a decent price tag comes with that. Before committing to a purchase, you should know what you need from a flashlight. Look for lights built with a purpose, and you’ll be much happier in the long run. Here are a few key considerations:

Reliability

When you look for a flashlight, chances are you need it. You don’t want that dreaded feeling of hitting the power button with no response. Look for lights with rechargeable batteries that will hold a charge for a long time. Another essential feature is the light’s durability rating. Is it IP68-rated? Meaning, is it drop-proof, dustproof, and waterproof? These are all important considerations when finding a light that will never fail you when you need it most.

Ergonomics

Finding a light that is comfortable in your hand makes the user experience much more enjoyable. Look for rubberized grips or finger grooves to make holding the light for long periods comfortable. Along with ergonomics comes weight and size. For instance, compact and lightweight are significant factors if you want an everyday carry flashlight. If a spotlight is more important for you, then weight and size might not be as big of a deal compared to if it fits your hand comfortably.

Brightness

Flashlights are big on lumens, a unit of measurement equal to roughly one birthday candle from one foot away. A good starting point for a flashlight is anything 500 lumens and up on high power. This is more than enough light for you to see plenty at night. With lumens, another important factor is how the flashlight projects the light. Floodlights, for instance, might be upwards of 10,000 lumens but spread a wide beam. In contrast, a typical flashlight might be 700 lumens but can see just as far, if not farther, with a narrow light beam.

Battery Life and Charging

Nowadays, there are endless battery options for flashlights. Rechargeable lights are readily available and can be charged using any USB port if you want something that’s always ready to go. If you know you’ll be off the grid for long periods of time, look for lights with disposable batteries and pack extras for when your light runs out. Look carefully at how long the light will run on specific settings to ensure the light you choose will last long enough for the job you need. Nothing is worse than a slowly dimming light when you need it the most.

FAQs

Q: How many lumens should a good flashlight have?

In the flashlight world lumens are everything and can range anywhere from 100 to 100,000. A good starting point for most lights is 500 to 1,000 lumens. This range is plenty bright without being overkill. The result is a usable light that gets the job done without blinding those around you. Lights with variable modes allow you to adjust the brightness to the task at hand and maximize battery life.

Q: What are lumens?

Lumens (lm) are the measurement used to distinguish the amount of visible (to the human eye) light from a light source. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light appears.

Q: What is the best flashlight on the market?

Many flashlight brands are rugged, reliable, and bright. It’s tough to say what the best flashlight is because like a pocket knife it depends on how you plan to use it. The perfect light for me may not be the perfect light for you. Companies such as Fenix, Nebo, and Streamlight make quality lights that can withstand anything you throw at them.

Q: Are flashlights

waterproof?

Not all flashlights are waterproof, but we prefer waterproof ones. Look for an IP rating of 65 or higher to find a flashlight that is waterproof and dustproof. If a flashlight is waterproof, the company will list it in the product description. Remember that a water-resistant light won’t be as impervious to water exposure as a waterproof one so look for specific language regarding the casing and moisture resistance.

Q: What is the longest-lasting flashlight?

Flashlight battery life depends on a lot of conditions such as the temperature outside and the settings you run it on. Any rechargeable light worthy of owning should last up to 20 hours on low power while many such as the LR50R can last upwards of 60 hours. Do your research and find a light that will last more than enough for what you plan to use it on.

Final Thoughts on the Best Flashlights

Choosing the right flashlight for you is not always as straightforward as you may think. Something comfortable, long-lasting, and bright is a good starting point but really knowing what you plan to use it for can help you narrow it down. My top picks will help steer you in the right direction with something for everyone. But remember to do your research and look for a flashlight that will serve you the best.