The Best Flashlights of 2024

The Best Flashlights of 2024

If you want a powerful, versatile lighting solution, the best flashlights still offer advantages over headlamps in many scenarios.

Flashlights point wherever you want, not just where your head is pointing. Also, due to fewer weight constraints, they tend to have more powerful, longer-lasting batteries and incredible power for modest-sized devices.

And to be honest, I’m a flashlight buff. Yes, I also use headlamps a lot when I’m outdoors. But more often than not, I grab a small flashlight from my truck center console and, if I need two hands for a project, clasp it in my teeth. I just love having the ability to point it wherever I want without having to crane my neck in a specific direction.

So if you love torches, read on for what we’ve determined to be the best flashlights available today. Because GearJunkie focuses on the outdoors, I rated these based on weight, size, battery life, color rendering, and lighting versatility. You can learn a lot more about how I tested and chose these flashlights below, but right up top, I’d like to state that this guide focuses on truly excellent flashlights that can perform day in and day out — whether you use a light professionally or simply need one for camping or to store at home for a power outage.

This isn’t a list of “light cannons,” as you’ll rarely need one million candlepower model. But, I did include one monster in case super-powered lighting is your jam.

Be sure to read the buyer’s guide and frequently asked questions for helpful tips. Also, have a look at our comparison chart to help steer your decision-making.

Editor’s Note: For our March 1st, 2024 update, we tested the very powerful yet small Nitecore EDC33.

The Best Flashlights of 2024


Best Overall Flashlight

  • Max lumens
    2,800
  • Max beam distance
    1,247 ft. (380 m)
  • Max runtime
    42 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    Five brightness levels and strobe
  • Battery
    Included 21700 rechargeable li-ion battery
  • Bulb type
    Luminus SFT70 LED
  • Color temperature
    Around 6,500K
  • Size
    Length: 5.74” (145.8mm), head: 1.04” (26.5mm), body: 1.01” (25.7mm)
  • Weight
    5.96 oz. (169g) including battery

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The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Powerful, uniform 2,800-lumen beam

  • USB-C charging

  • Long battery life

  • Great user interface


  • Cannot tail stand

  • Price could be a factor

Best Budget Flashlight

  • Max lumens
    500
  • Max beam distance
    93 m
  • Max runtime
    51 hrs. (low), 15 days “firefly mode”
  • Lighting modes
    Four plus strobe
  • Battery
    Two AA
  • Bulb type
    CREE XP-L2 LED
  • Dimensions
    Length: 6.1″, width: 0.86″
  • Weight
    1.69 oz. (48 g)

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Long battery life

  • Small and light

  • Enough power for indoor or close outdoor use

  • Affordable


  • AA batteries not included

Powerful Pocket-Size EDC Light

  • Max lumens
    4,000
  • Max beam distance
    492 yards
  • Max runtime
    63 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    Five brightness levels, plus spotlight and Lumen Shield
  • Battery included
    4,000mAh 18650 Li-ion battery
  • Bulb type
    NiteLab UHi 20 LED MAX
  • Length
    4.55”, head: 1”, body: .94”
  • Weight
    4.48 oz., including battery

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Small, fits easily in pocket with deep pocket clip

  • Very bright, with useful lower-power modes

  • USB-C charging

  • Easy-to-use lock


  • Gets hot quickly in high-power use

  • Built-in battery cannot be changed

Best Value Zooming Flashlight

  • Max lumens
    465
  • Max beam distance
    134 m
  • Max runtime
    17 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    2
  • Battery
    2 AA
  • Bulb type
    LED
  • Dimensions
    Length: 6.5″, height: 1.1″
  • Weight
    6.9 oz.

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Nice light in both zoom and wide modes

  • Easy user interface

  • Very affordable

  • Can upgrade with rechargeable battery from Coast


  • Only splash-resistant

  • Failed in a 10-foot drop test

  • Not as powerful as more expensive lights

Best EDC Flashlight

  • Max lumens
    3,000
  • Max beam distance
    220 m
  • Max runtime
    37 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    Five brightness levels and strobe
  • Battery
    Built-in li-ion battery
  • Bulb type
    2x Luminus SST40 LED
  • Dimensions
    Length: 135.6 mm (5.34″), width: 31.4 mm (1.24″)
  • Weight
    4.37 oz. including battery

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Slim design with pocket clip

  • OLED screen displays remaining time, output

  • 3,000-lumen output

  • Long throw

  • Long battery life

Most Versatile Flashlight

  • Max lumens
    4,000
  • Max beam distance
    241 yds.
  • Max runtime
    350 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    Six plus strobe
  • Battery
    Nitecore 21700 i Series (other options available)
  • Bulb type
    4 x CREE XP-L2 V6 LEDs
  • Dimensions
    Length: 5.57″, height; 1.25″
  • Weight
    4.09 oz.

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Very powerful

  • Operates on various battery types

  • Extremely long runtime

  • USB-C Rechargeable


  • No pocket clip

  • Overkill for many users

Best Flashlight With Long Range

  • Max lumens
    2,250
  • Max beam distance
    500 m
  • Max runtime
    8 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    2
  • Battery
    5,000mAh 21700 battery
  • Bulb type
    High-performance neutral white LED
  • Dimensions
    Length: 5.87″, width: 1.03″
  • Weight
    8.43 oz.

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Very long light range

  • Great water resistance

  • 3m drop tested


  • Magnetic charging requires special cable

  • No low-power mode

  • Narrow beam hard to use at close range

Best Flashlight With Zooming Lens

  • Max lumens
    1,000
  • Max beam distance
    180 m
  • Max runtime
    144 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    Programmable
  • Battery
    Rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Bulb type
    LED
  • Dimensions
    Length: 5.03″
  • Weight
    5.5 oz.

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Smooth zooming beam

  • Long throw in spotlight mode

  • Easy-to-use button control


  • Requires specialized charging cord

Best Flashlight for Mechanics

  • Max lumens
    500
  • Max beam distance
    N/A
  • Max runtime
    30 hrs.
  • Lighting modes
    Four, plus lantern
  • Battery
    Rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Bulb type
    LED
  • Dimensions
    Length: 5.5″, width: 1.5″
  • Weight
    6.9 oz.

The Best Flashlights of 2024


  • Affordable

  • Magnetic base

  • Lantern mode on side

  • Glow-in-dark bezel


  • Lower brightness than premium options

Flashlights Comparison Chart

Why You Should Trust Us

In short, our primary flashlight testers are not just super into the outdoors; they’re also flashlight nerds. We really love the technology that goes into flashlights and headlamps. As the author of this article, I personally spend hours every month testing the newest flashlights to see if they can outperform our favorites listed here.

For the record, it takes a long time and impressive performance for a flashlight to earn a spot in this article. I constantly test new flashlights and updates from our favorite brands and update this article many times each year to keep it up to date with the best flashlights available.

This article has evolved significantly since it was first published back in 2018. At that time, it explained in depth why I love flashlights, and how they are different in use from headlamps. I still love flashlights for their directionality and ease of use in many situations. However, our team has done much more testing since this guide’s inception — and has new recommendations based on those results.

So, how do I test flashlights? First, I use them in controlled environments, measuring both runtime and brightness compared to claimed numbers. I put them on a scale to check the weights. I submerse them in water and drop them onto concrete.

Flashlight weight testing the Trunite Archer on a scale
Weighing the Thurnite Archer budget flashlight (batteries included); (photo/Sean McCoy)

These flashlights also get significant field testing. Our team takes them on all kinds of adventures — hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, hunting, boating, and camping are all part of the mix. Most of our team’s tests occur in the mountains of Colorado and fields and forests of the Midwest.

I take all this information and experience and compile the best advice for you. Over the years I’ve tested about 50 flashlights specifically for this buyer’s guide, selected from hundreds pitched to me by brands and examined at events like SHOT Show and the Outdoor Retailer convention. My goal is to give you the same advice I give my best friends.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Flashlight

There are a few important specs to consider when choosing a flashlight: size and weight, max power output (usually noted in lumens), minimum power output, runtime (especially in lower modes), durability, and waterproofness.

Before we get into some of those details, I’d like to share some details about how I chose flashlights to test for this article. And there have been a lot of them.

Several flashlights being tested
Just a few of the many flashlights we’ve tested over the last 10 years; (photo/Sean McCoy)

First, I look for flashlights that work well for both home and outdoor use. This means I look for higher output than flashlights intended primarily for indoor use. I also only include flashlights that can function after at least a 1m drop, are water-resistant, and have a max runtime of at least 8 hours — enough to get you through a summer night at a minimum.

Next comes the question of batteries. Because of the efficiency of modern flashlights, there are now just two real choices: flashlights that run on AA or AAA batteries, or rechargeable flashlights that run off one of many higher-end battery systems and are almost always included in the light. Gone are the days of giant D-cell flashlights. But there is still a significant argument between those who believe disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries are better. I will get into it more below, but our team likes rechargeable batteries more in most cases.

Lumens: Max Output

For most campers, anything over 1,000 lumens is overkill. You’ll often find yourself using much lower settings, especially around camp. However, those big numbers can be nice, especially if you need to see faraway objects.

User Interface

The Fenix PD36R has a two-button user interface that is simple and easy to learn; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Flashlight users want easy control of the light their lights produce. The interface — the buttons and switches that control the light source — is an important consideration.

Most of the best flashlights, particularly smaller EDC flashlights, have a tail switch. The tail switch is usually a button that you press to turn the light on and off, and often also scrolls through brightness levels or other modes. Some of them have a momentary-on, which turns the light on through a partial press, which lets the light turn off when you release the switch. Others, like our favorite Fenix PD36R, have two tail switches to control different functions.

Some flashlights have side switches in place of, or in addition to, tail switches. A few flashlights also have physical switches that lock the flashlight in the “off” mode for safety and battery protection.

Regardless of the style of the buttons, they should be easy to learn and simple and reliable to use. We have tested and learned about the user interfaces in the flashlights in this guide. All of the lights here are effective and acceptably easy to use.

Battery Life

Another important consideration is if the flashlight uses its own rechargeable battery or if it runs on disposable batteries. Most people will get more value out of a flashlight that offers long runtimes and is easy to recharge.

Battery Type

As noted above, our team prefers rechargeable batteries in most situations. Most rechargeable batteries, such as the 21700 rechargeable li-ion battery included in the Fenix PD36R PRO, offer superior performance to both disposable and rechargeable AA or AAA batteries. But more importantly, flashlights that include this type of high-end rechargeable battery do not have hidden costs. And those who will use a battery more than casually will find that the cost of batteries will very quickly add up to more than the cost of the flashlight.

Next, rechargeable flashlights generally have a charging port or system built in. As you can see with our choices, our favorite flashlights today use USB-C charging. This is quickly becoming the industry standard as it is much faster than micro-USB charging. And unlike magnetic charging systems (or other proprietary chargers), you can easily find a USB-C cable anywhere and likely own several already.

One final note on AA and AAA batteries. Some folks argue that it is easier to replace batteries in the field than to charge them. Our testers have carried small battery chargers on many adventures, and they work great with flashlights for long trips. For trips over a week or two in length, though, disposable batteries still have an edge.

So keep battery and charging style in mind when you buy a flashlight. It will make a difference when you’re packing for a trip as to how many cables you’ll need to bring, or if you’ll need to buy batteries continually through the life of the product.

However, it’s convenient to quickly change batteries and refresh your flashlight in the field. Both are valid options but consider how you’ll use the light (and if you mind constantly buying new batteries).

The rechargeable battery of the Fenix PD36R
The rechargeable battery of the Fenix PD36R packs 5,000 mAh of power; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Quality and Output

Modern LED flashlights vary in the quality of their color rendering, meaning you can see color better with some higher-end lights. The best flashlights on the market should always give you a colorized, realistic view.

Better-quality lights also tend to have more efficient LEDs. Some even have “regulators” that electronically manage the power output, resulting in consistent lighting. To expand on that, first understand that most flashlights, even very good ones, lose a little output as they run and deplete the battery. Better flashlights use a regulator to manage this drop-off. Poor flashlights tend to lose power consistently over time, gradually becoming less and less useful as the battery slowly drains.

FAQ

A lumen is the basic unit of measurement for how bright a light is. The brighter the light, the more lumens it produces. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a lumen as “a unit of luminous flux equal to the light emitted in a unit solid angle by a uniform point source of one candle intensity.” For the layperson, a one-lumen flashlight is barely enough to read a typical book at a normal reading distance from the face, or the amount of light of one birthday candle one foot away.

Yes, LED flashlights do get warm if they’re pushed hard enough. For many flashlights, this is a sign the heat sink is working, moving heat away from the delicate electronics inside.

The highest-lumen flashlight currently on the market is the Imalent MS18, which claims a jaw-dropping 100,000 lumens. However, many huge claims like this are questionable. The brightest flashlight I have tested is the Fenix LR50R. It blasts out a verifiable 12,000 lumens and lights objects clearly up to 950 yards away!

EDC is an acronym for “everyday carry.” It refers to the items that you carry around with you on an ongoing basis.

As a philosophy, EDC is built on utility and being prepared for anything. In this case, it represents a flashlight you carry every day with you in case you ever need light in a dark environment.

First and foremost, you’ll want a small flashlight that’ll fit in your pocket, clip to your belt, or fit in your daypack. After that, look for a flashlight with good brightness, long battery life, and easy operation.

1,000 to 2,000 lumens is plenty bright for an EDC. That should give you enough juice to see objects 200 to 300 yards away. Our top choice for everyday carry is the Nitecore EDC27.

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