Best Flashlights

Updated September 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
197 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best flashlights

Every house needs a flashlight, whether for chores like checking out a crawl space or blown circuit breaker or for emergency use in power outages. It’s also useful to keep a spare in the house emergency kit, and every car needs one, too. With all these uses, it’s little surprise that there’s a wide range to choose from in a variety of strengths and with myriad other features.

Depending on your use, you may want to opt for rugged waterproof and shockproof designs that can withstand the elements outdoors, or you may prefer the lightweight, pencil design for general or lighter use. Some designs come with additional personal self-defense safety features, useful to keep in a purse. Professionals may want a hands-free feature.  Whichever you choose, look for powerful light (lumens) and long battery life for best results.

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Did you know? Flashlights got their name because they couldn’t provide a long, steady beam of light when they were first invented.

Types of flashlights

Utility flashlights

Utility flashlights are the most common type and are usually used in homes as general-purpose flashlights. Typically lightweight in feel, they provide a modest amount of light. They’re usually inexpensive and only last a few years.

Industrial flashlights

Industrial flashlights are heavy-duty models that are often used in homes and garages. They have a heavy feel and are typically large, so they can’t be carried in a pocket. Industrial flashlights provide a significant amount of light and range in price from modest to fairly expensive.

Tactical flashlights

Tactical flashlights not only to provide light but act as self-defense tools as well. They are usually small in size but made of heavy material that can do significant damage. Tactical flashlights also have extremely powerful lights that are bright enough to temporarily blind an intruder or attacker. Because of their power, they are usually expensive.

Emergency flashlights

Emergency flashlights don’t run on batteries. They are powered by a hand crank or solar power. Because they don’t need batteries, they are very effective at providing light during natural disasters and other emergencies.

Campers, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts should invest in water-resistant flashlights.

What to look for when buying a flashlight


Flashlights are typically made of two materials: plastic or aluminum. Plastic models are usually lightweight and not as durable as metal flashlights, unless the plastic is high-grade. Aluminum flashlights are extremely durable and tend to have a heavier feel.


For the most versatile flashlight, you’ll want one with multiple modes. With high and low settings for the light, you won’t use any more battery power than necessary. Some higher-end models have up to three or four brightness modes.


The size of a flashlight doesn’t affect its overall performance, but it is a factor in terms of what you’re using the light for and what you’re comfortable with. If you plan to carry a flashlight with you every day, a small keychain style is the best option. For a utility or industrial flashlight, a length of 5 to 14 inches usually works well. For a tactical flashlight, look for a model that’s 3 to 7 inches in size.

Bulb type

  • Incandescent bulbs: The more traditional option, incandescent bulbs tend to provide a softer light. They can break easily when dropped, though, and they run through battery power more quickly.

  • LED bulbs: LED bulbs are highly durable, can last up to 100,000 hours, and use only a quarter of the energy that a traditional bulb does. However, you’ll likely pay more for an LED flashlight.

Battery type

  • Disposable batteries

Standard alkaline or lithium batteries are disposable. You’ll usually need AA, AAA, C, D, or 9V batteries for flashlights. The drawback to disposable batteries is that they must be replaced. However, in an emergency, you can throw in a new pair without waiting for the batteries to recharge.

  • Rechargeable batteries

Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, rechargeable batteries are usually lithium ion or nickel metal hydride. They can simply be recharged once they run out of power. You won’t have to purchase replacement batteries, which will save you money, but you could wind up with uncharged batteries in an emergency.

Switch/controls type

  • Click switches: Push-button click switches are usually located on the side or bottom of the flashlight. They are easy to use with one hand and can be rubberized for water resistance.

  • Slide switches: A slide switch is a piece of plastic that slides back and forth to turn the flashlight on and off. They’re usually found on inexpensive models and can’t be waterproofed.

  • Membrane press switch: A plastic membrane covers the switch and you simply press it to turn the flashlight on and off. It can be used with one hand.

  • Bezel twist controls: With these controls, you twist the front or end of the flashlight to turn it on and off. Bezel twist controls usually require two hands.

"Some tactical flashlights have a strobe mode to disorient attackers or signal an emergency."

How much should you pay for a flashlight?

You can find flashlights at a variety of price points, but normally they range from $20 to $200.

For a basic flashlight that may not be as durable or run as long, you can expect to pay $20 to $50.

For an extremely durable model with multiple settings, an LED bulb, and other special features, you’ll likely pay $60 to $150.

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Did you know?
A lumen is a unit of measure for a flashlight’s total light output. A flashlight may have as little as one lumen or more than 100. Lights with 1,000+ lumens are typically used in search-and-rescue operations.

Flashlight tips and tricks

  • It’s a good idea to have flashlights in a couple of spots in your home. That way you don’t have to go hunting for one if the power goes out. Keep one in the kitchen or living room, one in the basement, and one in the garage.

  • Be sure to replace the batteries in a traditional flashlight every three to four months if you haven’t used it for a while. This will prevent battery leakage and corrosion.

  • Don’t keep your flashlight in a hot or damp location, which can cause your flashlight bulb to break down or the batteries to leak.

  • You may want to add a hand-crank flashlight to your home in case of an emergency, as it requires no batteries or electricity for recharging.

  • A water-resistance rating of IPX8 means that a flashlight can withstand submersion in water for up to four hours at the depth that is specified.

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Keep your flashlight in a cool, dry spot where it’s easy to reach in case of a power outage or other emergency. Don’t store it in direct sunlight.


Q. What does it mean if a flashlight promises high lumens?

A. Lumens refer to a flashlight’s light output. With traditional bulbs, lumens measure the entire output of the bulb. For an LED flashlight, lumens measure the light inside the beam angle. Keep in mind that high-lumen flashlights may not necessarily look any brighter to the naked eye, and they can drain batteries very quickly.

Q. Is it necessary to get a water-resistant flashlight?

A. A water-resistant flashlight is important if you plan to use it outdoors where it could be exposed to rain and/or bodies of water. Water resistance is rated with the IP system. A rating of IPX4 means the flashlight is splash resistant from all angles, while an IPX7 rating means the flashlight can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of one meter.

Q. What features should I look for in a tactical flashlight?

A. In addition to an extremely bright, focused light beam that can temporarily blind an intruder, look for a push-button on/off switch on the tail end. That way you can hold the flashlight defensively and still turn it on with your thumb.

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