If you’ve ever dropped anything under a desk, come home to find that your porch light has burned out, or struggled to find the light switch in a dark room, you probably understand the value of keeping a flashlight handy. And if you haven’t already added one to your everyday carry, you most definitely should. Once relegated primarily to handymen, emergency responders, and law enforcement, flashlights have become much more reasonably available to the everyman – especially one who understands that it is always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. And, thanks to some clever engineering, they now come in many different shapes and sizes.
Some of the more recent technological leaps and bounds of everyday carry have been made in the realm of portable lighting. As time goes by, more and more manufacturers are figuring out how to reduce losses of power and features whilst still shrinking down the end product. That means that smaller flashlights can now offer a greater range of onboard options and can come in a wide variety of layouts and materials. Which is great for us, the consumers. Whether you’re a fiend for patina or obsessed with minimizing your carry, there are some brilliant options out there. The following are ten of the best EDC flashlights on the market right now.
A no-frills offering from the folks at Fenix Lighting, the E12 is an excellent option for anyone looking for a more basic small-scale EDC flashlight. With a maximum output of 130 lumens, three brightness settings – the middle of which outputs 50 lumens for up to six hours and 30 minutes – and a precision-machined aluminum alloy case, this single AA-powered, water-resistant flashlight also comes with the Fenix limited lifetime guarantee. And the recessed rubber push-button is both easy to use and helps prevent unwanted pocket clicks.
Tec Accessories Pixel
A pixel – which comes from a portmanteau of ‘picture element’ and is the thing from which this flashlight derives its name – is, at the most basic, a minute dot of illumination. Being that this square keychain flashlight is one of the smallest on the market, the correlation is clear. The ultimate in minimalist EDC lighting, the stainless steel and water-resistant Pixel flashlight has an output of 25 lumens – enough for most daily needs – and weighs in at less than half an ounce. So don’t think that adding a useful flashlight to your carry means you’ll end up weighed down.
Mec Army Illuminex-3
This little keychain torch offers up something uncommon on the market: USB recharging. Not too mention it’s the smallest flashlight in the world with this feature. And that’s not even its only impressive feature. Achieving a full charge to its single 10180 lithium-ion batter in just one hour, the Illuminex-3 from Mec Army has a maximum output of 130 lumens, two brightness settings, and a 6-hour potential runtime. Which makes this under 20g light more than a worthwhile consideration.
Olight S1 Baton
One of the most comprehensive options on the market, the S1 Baton is the most popular flashlight from Olight – and that’s for good reason. Boasting a durable, IPX8 water resistant construction, each S1 is impact resistant up to 1.5 meters – meaning it was built to take a beating. Equipped with 500 lumens, and capable of a 110m beam distance, each one runs on a single RCA123A or CR123A battery for 600 hours. And thanks its built-in pocket clip and 1.6-ounce overall weight, it’s a no brainer for everyday carry.
SOG Dark Energy DE-01
If you want something a little more tactical in your carry that can still fit comfortably in your pocket, the SOG Dark Energy might be the flashlight you need. The DE-01 produces a maximum output of 214 lumens from its Cool White CREE R5 LED emitter that’s housed within the 6061 T6 aluminum case. And its low-output option runs for up to 180 minutes. At its front end, the toothed bezel – also built from hard-anodized aluminum – gives this 3 ounce, water-resistant flashlight a bit of extra self-defense potential.
Offering up an impressive range of lumens and features, this palm-sized flashlight features a recessed clicker with simple push-button functionality, making it easy to switch between its 4 different outputs – its maximum lumens at 453, second at 296, third at 33, and lowest at only 1. It also has a potential runtime of over 150 hours and a choice of two battery types – CR123A or RCR123A – from which its CREE XM-L2 U2 emitter can draw power. It also offers up several different light modes, including SOS, strobe, flash, and beacon.
Prometheus Lights Beta-QRV2
Keychain flashlights can often come in handy, but you don’t always want to bring your keys with you. In the case of this portable lantern, you don’t need to, Prometheus Lights equips each of their torches with a quick-release attachment on the end. It also features the option to use multiple battery chemistries in its operation – including AAA alkaline, lithium, and NiMH. And with two brightness settings of 15 or 60 lumens, a potential 4 hour runtime, and its 6061 aluminum construction, this light is a versatile and capable addition to any everyday carry load out.
Peak LED Solutions Eiger
Boasting the title of the brightest flashlight on the market with single AAA functionality, the Eiger – which is made in the USA – uses Quantum Tunneling Composite technology to allow for a scalable light output from the dimmest glow to blindingly brilliant and everything in-between. And it has one of the widest ranges of battery functionality available – including AAA alkaline, AAA lithium, rechargeable NiMH, and 3.7v Li-Ion rechargeable 10440. This stainless steel, CREE XPG keychain flashlight might just be the best bang for your buck.
Foursevens Bolt Mini
Unique both for its pen shape and bolt-action functionality, this slim Foursevens flashlight – which is made from aircraft-grade hard anodized type 3 aluminum and features a CREE XP-L HD emitter – has a range from 5 lumens minimum to 100 lumens maximum and a runtime of 1-20 hours. And that runtime is dictated by your choice of its 3 brightness settings and 5 different operational modes – including normal, strobe, SOS, high beacon, and low beacon. Seeing as how it runs on a single AAA battery, that makes this flashlight thoroughly impressive.
Surefire E2D Defender Ultra
Perhaps the ultimate in tried-and-true personal defense everyday carry, the Surefire Defender is a tactical flashlight that can contend with many of its larger counterparts. Made from Mil-Spec hard anodized aerospace aluminum, featuring Surefire’s Strike Bezel, and equipped with an impact-resistant coated and tempered TIR lens, this flashlight can take a tremendous amount of punishment. But the 500 lumen maximum output promises to relegate that punishment to user-error, as it produces more than enough light to startle and blind even the most aggressive assailant.