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Best flashlight

best flashlight
(Image credit: Getty)

A camper’s kit just isn’t complete without a good torch. When darkness descends, the best flashlights push back. Instead of weak yellow beams that drain batteries quickly, today’s models deliver incredible amounts of illumination with powerful rechargeable batteries and incredible run times. 

The construction quality of the best flashlights has also improved immeasurably over the last decade or so. Materials are more durable and lightweight, with vastly improved levels of shock resistance and waterproofing. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, clipping a flashlight to your belt feels as natural as the multitool you already carry. We have looked at a variety of the best flashlights for a range of applications here, including some that can be solar charged anywhere, one that’s designed specifically for runners and a little light that makes an excellent back-up beam to include in your Everyday Carry kit. 

Best overall

flashlight

(Image credit: Ledlenser)

Ledlenser MT14 1000

Programmable, personalized illumination

This small, lightweight, rechargeable flashlight delivers a powerful punch of light. Four light modes are controlled through Ledlenser’s Smart Light Technology and an ‘Advanced Focus System’ that lets you program and personalize the light beam for your specific environment and activity, offering functionality ranging from broad flood to long-distance focused beam. The USB rechargeable battery includes a status indicator to give you real-time, accurate readings on battery life. The MT14 delivers an incredible 9 hours of run time on the highest mode and almost 200 hours at the lowest setting. The housing is weather-resistant, but not fully waterproof, so don’t go submerging it. 

Best for toughness

flashlight

(Image credit: SOG)

SOG Dark Energy DE-02

Five modes to turn darkness into light

This flashlight feels rugged the instant you pick it up. Crafted from aluminum, the housing is checkered to deliver a firm grip. No more frustration dropping your flashlight just when you need it. The 263-lumens beam is strong enough to illuminate your work. With a fine balance in your hand and five modes managed from a single button control, it’s easy to match the beam to the need. A belt hook keeps the Dark Energy flashlight close at hand. Powered by a pair of CR123 batteries. 

Best for bikes

flashlight

(Image credit: Amazon)

KNOG PWR Headlight Outdoor recreation

Fits bikes and can power your devices

Simple, elegant design carries the day with this flashlight, produced by an Australian company who specialize in making bike lights. The torch packs a strong 450-lumen circular beam, which can be used as a camping flashlight or interchanged with another optional light head to serve as a bike light. Five light modes help you customize the beam. The PWR Bank also offers a USB port for charging other devices. A simple one-button push reveals battery life status. 

Best basic flashlight

flashlight

(Image credit: Maglite)

Maglite XL 50

A little pocket rocket of a flashlight

There are more advanced flashlights in this collection, but sophistication sometimes brings complication. The XL 50 is a simple, rugged, dependable tool. One button delivers a powerful beam for close-up work environments. One mode, one purpose, one singular benefit. Show me the light. It’s small, compact, light and inexpensive, so you can buy multiple units for your backpack hip belt pocket, day pack and glove box – this is a dependable little light that you can have as a secondary light source, in case all else fails. 

Bottom line

Whether you’re exploring the backcountry by foot or car, or simply camping out with the family in the backyard, a quality flashlight is an essential piece of kit. For all-round performance, we highly rate the Ledlenser MT14 1000 as the best flashlight you can have in your gear cupboard. It's rechargeable, has a powerful light and a long run time. Everything you want from a flashlight, in fact.
If you want a simple, rugged torch that just works, the Maglite XL 50 comes recommended. It has one mode only but lights things up with a powerful beam when you press its one button.