EDC flashlights are relatively new to the world of everyday carry. Previously, you could lug around a Maglite packed with a couple of D cells, but it would barely fit on your belt, much less in a pocket. You could use some dinky little penlight, but unless you felt like also toting around a fistful of batteries, that wasn’t a feasible solution either. Only with the advent of the LED flashlight have reliable daily use flashlights been feasible.
Not everyone is going to need to carry a flashlight daily, but putting one in the glove box of your car, having one that can also operate as a tactical flashlight with some self-defense options, or having a basic one on your keychain for finding your way around a darkened house is not only convenient, but can be a literal lifesaver. Most people find that once they incorporate a flashlight into their daily gear, they wonder how they ever lived without it. To make sure you’re happy with your illuminating new friend, we’ve compiled the 10 best EDC flashlights for every everyday carrier.
Pro: Reverse polarity protection
Con: Swapping through modes is a little obnoxious
Best Buy: At 3.6 inches long, this is going to be about the overall size of your index finger, but has all the features of a more expensive EDC flashlight. The toggle switch sits on the end and swaps between three modes that take the battery life from an hour and a half with 130 lumens worth of output up to 40 hours at a twilight 8 lumens. Made of aircraft grade aluminum, this also has an IPX-8 waterproof rating.
Pro: Includes a red LED
Con: 8 brightness modes feels like overkill
Pocket Flood: The one thing that almost all of these flashlights have in common is a low ceiling for how bright their output is. Naturally, if you need ultimate brightness, you usually need a light that can’t fit in your pocket, but with a maximum output of 900 lumens, you can get pretty close if you choose the EA11. When you require unbeatable brightness, there’s just no EDC choice that comes close.
EagleTac D25C Clicky
Pro: Includes a memory mode for experienced users
Con: Many settings require two hands
Quick Grip: Knurling nearly covers the outside of the D25C Clicky, which is handy for those who will be using it in heavy weather or under slick conditions. Finished with black Type III anodizing, the battery tube is well protected for any environment. 5 levels of illumination offer a balanced set that run the gamut from 453 lumens down to just 1 with lifespans starting at 150 hours and dropping to just below a full 60 minutes.
Pro: Highly impact resistant
Con: Limited output and lifespan
On Hand: Using an attached quick release feature, you can snap this onto your keys or remove it as the situation requires. The color rendering is amazingly good for a light of this size. It comes in both the 2 and 3 setting flavors depending on your particular needs. Maxing out at just 85 lumens for the premium model, this is meant as a last resort EDC flashlight, not a long-term solution.
Olight S10R Baton
Pro: Glow-in-the-dark O-ring bezel
Con: Easy to break with light impacts
Smartlight: One area that EDC flashlights generally fail is making them easy to recharge. The notion is that unlike cell phones, which are quickly depleted on a daily basis, you’re not going to run your light down to the nub every day. The S10R Baton is a little wiser and works hard to bring more ease and sense to your pocket by giving you a charging dock that allows for quick and easy charging, on-board thermal management for greater longevity, and a backup power cell. The result is a whole system to keep you shining on.
Pro: Perfect for holding in your teeth
Con: Needs multiple buttons badly
Tiny Titan: Flashlights that use a single AA battery are common, but good ones are rare and great ones are practically unicorns. Well, saddle up, because this little pony can do it all. Pop in a 14500 lithium and you can overclock this to put out up to 500 lumens for about a minute, but run it at the 280 high mode for just under an hour. The recessed side switch feels clean and untroubled with no degradation after several hundred clicks. Add in the easy-grab pocket clip, and you’ll never leave home with it.
MatchBox Instruments HF-R Ti UTT
Pro: Most power for the size
Con: Easy to lose
Polished Perfection: To begin with, these lights are gloriously tiny, easily able to attach to a keychain should you so desire. This makes them portable, but also easy to lose if they aren’t snapped to something a bit larger. You can go with the standard HF-R which is a lovely anodized model, but we suggest upgrading to the titanium UTT, since it offers indestructibility and 1 to 600 lumen capability.
Pro: Huge number of customizable settings
Con: Wide “floody” beam with limited narrowing possible
Black Ops: Elzetta was devised by a pair of mechanical engineers with one purpose: To create unbeatable tactical lights. They began by making lights for shotguns and rifles, but have expanded into other tactical arenas. The Alpha is one of their smallest production models with a tiny Cree XP-G2 emitter in the body that puts out up to 315 lumens. It can be completely customized to work however you require, just remember to read the manual.
SureFire E1D Defender
Pro: Works for combat as well as everyday use
Con: Bezel can cut through pockets or injure fingers
Fight Back: We don’t advise you to start any fights in the dead of night, but if the time comes, having a flashlight that has an aggressive bezel able to do a little damage and a body that can add some heft to your swings isn’t a bad idea. The Defender has both coupled with an LED emitter that is almost impossible to break and the ability to disorient an attacker with quick flashes.
HDS Systems EDC Rotary
Pro: 24 brightness levels
Double Duty: The tricky part with the smaller bodies of these flashlights is being able to cram in the advanced features that users need without making them confusing. We found that there was a nice balance struck on the EDC Rotary in that it was simple to choose your brightness level and then snap the light on and off. A little practice made it easy to use and could create muscle memory in just a few minutes. The entire design is intuitive and the ability to operate the brightness rotation one-handed is a rare treat.