Best LED Flashlights

Updated December 2019
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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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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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Why trust BestReviews?
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
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 we never accept free products from manufacturers. 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 
How we decided

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

36 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
408 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 LED flashlights

Last Updated December 2019

Sometimes you need to shed a little light on what you’re doing, so having the right amount of illumination matters. That’s why LED flashlights are worth considering. Not only can they light things up, but they have a variety of settings and features to provide the beam and brightness you desire.

LED flashlights are known for their wide, bright white beams, and they’re essential for anyone who expects to spend time in the dark. Uses include camping, fishing, and many professions, and the flashlights are great for anyone else to have on hand, too. LED flashlights consume less power than incandescent flashlights, so one makes an ideal emergency accessory to keep in the car or in your home in case of a power outage.

Read on to choose an LED flashlight that works for your professional and personal needs. Our buying guide includes all the details on features, settings, and styles, as well as some recommendations, to make your decision as easy as possible.

LED flashlights are essential car accessories, and you’ll be glad it’s there if you have car trouble. Since many of these lights are waterproof or weatherproof, they’re a better option than relying on your phone’s light in inclement weather.

Key considerations

LED vs. incandescent

LED flashlights outshine their competition, incandescent flashlights, in more ways than one. While they tend to be much more expensive, they last longer and are an overall better investment.

Efficient: LED flashlights are far more efficient than incandescent flashlights. They’re bright but consume less energy, so batteries last longer, making LED flashlights both cost-effective and more eco-friendly.

Durable: Incandescent flashlights, even those with a heavyweight case, risk becoming completely unusable if they’re dropped and the bulb’s filament breaks. LED flashlights don’t have a filament and will continue working even after being dropped. In fact, some LED flashlights are crush-proof to one ton, and others can be submerged for underwater use.

Beam color: Incandescent flashlights emit a yellow light, which gets progressively dimmer with use. LED flashlights emit a bright white light that illuminates objects better without affecting their color, which is often altered in yellowish light.

Beam width: For the most part, incandescent flashlights emit a narrow beam of light. LED flashlights have settings to control the beam width. That means you can have a narrow beam or widen the scope for better peripheral visibility.   

LED flashlight basics

Brightness: Brightness is expressed in lumens, and for LED flashlights it ranges from 90 to 1,000 lumens. Generally speaking, the higher the number the brighter the beam.

Beam distance: The beam distance is generally measured in meters, and for LED flashlights it’s usually between 60 and 100 meters. With that said, manufacturers aren’t consistently forthcoming with this information, so you’ll have to do a bit of digging to find it.

Light settings: LED flashlights come with a host of settings, with the most common being adjustable zoom between spotlight and floodlight modes. Brightness can also be adjusted in many models, which is ideal if you expect a combination of close-up and distance use. Also common are strobe and emergency settings, which can  help get the attention of others if used correctly.

Power

LED flashlights are powered by either alkaline or rechargeable batteries. Because LED flashlights are more efficient, they consume less power and so require less frequent battery changes.

Alkaline: Models that use alkaline batteries typically use AA or AAA batteries, though there are some that require C, D, or specialty batteries. Most of these models come with a beginner pair of off-brand batteries. It’s a good idea to upgrade to quality, reliable batteries from a brand you know.

Rechargeable: LED flashlights that use rechargeable batteries tend to be more expensive upfront, but you’ll save money on batteries over the long term. In fact, some rechargeable models have batteries that are compatible with other products from the same manufacturer, so if you’re loyal to the brand, you can get even more bang for your buck.

Size

The most popular size for LED flashlights is 4 to 8 inches. These flashlights are considered handheld or pocket-size. Large LED flashlights are closer to 12 inches long and are most commonly used by professionals like contractors, construction workers, and field technicians. These usually have a unique grip for prolonged holding, or they can be affixed to a base to be used hands-free while you work. There are also compact LED flashlights in the form of keychains or cards. These are usually kept in purses, gym bags, and wallets and reserved for emergency use.

EXPERT TIP

Keep an LED flashlight and spare batteries next to your bed. In the event of a power outage, you’ll know where to find a light that will last until power is restored.


Staff  | BestReviews

LED flashlight features

Materials

The case of an LED flashlight is usually made of aluminum alloy, rubber, or commercial-grade plastic.

Aluminum: These flashlights tend to be the heaviest, though they’re considered the most durable due to their rustproof and drop-proof metal cases.

Rubber: Rubber cases tend to be lighter and less expensive than professional or tactical flashlights.

Plastic: You’ll see commercial-grade plastic in heavy-duty and professional LED flashlights because these are often used on construction sites or in environments where they sustain a lot of wear and tear.

Water resistance

Some LED flashlights are waterproof and can be immersed for underwater use. These models feature airtight closures around internal parts to prevent water damage. Some of these also float, making them a popular style for fishing and camping. There are also water-resistant LED flashlights. While these shouldn’t be immersed in water, they’re made for outdoor use in inclement weather conditions including rain, snow, and hail.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re camping or fishing, carry more than one LED flashlight in case one stops working.


Staff  | BestReviews

LED flashlight prices

LED flashlights typically cost between $10 and $100, depending on the features and quality.

Inexpensive: LED flashlights priced between $10 and $20 have decent-quality cases but tend to have beams that are less bright than other models. Functions are somewhat limited in these, so only expect two or three simple settings at most.

Mid-range: These LED flashlights cost between $20 and $40. This price includes some value packs with two or more flashlights, and well as individual flashlights with above-average quality. These have significantly more functionality than basic models and are more durable.

Expensive: If you’re willing to spend top dollar on an LED flashlight, you’ll find premium models priced between $50 and $100. Many of these are considered tactical or professional-grade flashlights because they have a number of advanced features, including various light settings, rechargeable batteries, and attachment compatibility.

EXPERT TIP

If you want an LED flashlight that’s easy to find in a bag, choose one with a brightly colored case. Many LED flashlights are black, which can get lost at the bottom of a full bag.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Purchase a value pack. LED flashlights cost more than traditional flashlights, so it’s a good idea to purchase a value pack to get the most for your money. You can keep one in your car, bedroom, camper, basement, office, and anywhere else you might need light in an emergency.
  • Consider battery cost. When you compare the cost of various LED flashlights, take a look at how they stack up when it comes to battery consumption. Some are real power hogs, while others have a power-save mode or use rechargeable batteries.
  • Take one when you walk your dog. Since four-legged friends often need to go outside at night, it’s a good idea to invest in an LED flashlight with a wide beam to take on walks after dark.
  • Buy a lanyard. If you’re doing an activity that requires intermittent use of an LED flashlight, attach it to a lanyard for easy, quick access.

Other products we considered

If you’d like to get a set of LED flashlights to leave around your office or home in case of emergency, pick up a pack of Fastpro Mini LED Flashlights. This ultra-affordable pack of ten mini flashlights is a real value with pre-installed AAA batteries ready for immediate use. Each flashlight provides 30 lumens of light, which is plenty for personal use. With a rubber coating and easy-twist on/off mechanism, they’re ideal for lots of uses. Each comes with a short lanyard attached to keep it secure in your hand.

For the professional who needs a little light on the spur of the moment, the Streamlight Stylus Pro LED PenLight is essential. This LED flashlight emits 100 lumens and runs for 8 hours, so you’ll get plenty of use out of it before needing to change the batteries.  It’s incredibly durable as well because it’s water-resistant and impact resistant to 2 meters. It includes a removable clip to secure it to a pocket or belt and comes in seven bright colors.

Avoid shining an LED flashlight directly in anyone’s eyes. It’s dangerous and could cause temporary blindness.

FAQ

Q. How do I attach an LED flashlight to my bag or belt?
A.
Many LED flashlights have simple cases with no additional features, so you’ll need one with a loop or attachment capability. Certain LED flashlights come with lanyards, which can be looped and tied to a bag or belt. Others can attach to a carabiner or keychain. These styles are especially popular for attaching to backpacks or fishing vests.
 

Q. What does it mean if my LED flashlight is flickering?
A.
It could be caused by more than one thing. First, check if it has a strobe setting that has accidentally been turned on. Another possibility is that the battery is about to run out. If you dropped your LED flashlight recently, you may have corrupted the internal parts, resulting in a poor connection. Many LED flashlights can be dismantled, so to take it apart and reattach each part firmly.


Q. Does a lightweight LED flashlight have limited capability?
A.
Only in some cases. Some lightweight or compact LED flashlights are as powerful as larger models, while others are more focused on size than capability. With that said, certain lightweight flashlights are commercial- and professional-grade, so they’re equipped with a broad range of features. Conversely, large LED flashlights aren’t necessarily better, and they require larger and more batteries to function. As a result, these are often costly and usually have a much shorter battery life.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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