The best camping flashlights: we shed light on the finest options for adventures in the dark

best camping flashlight: father and son in tent with flashlight
Night time adventures are often the most exciting for children (Image credit: Getty)

Without the best camping flashlight, your gear arsenal just isn’t complete. When the sun sets and you’re on your way back to camp via rough country paths, you need focussed illumination to break through the black. The best camping flashlights these days provide superb illumination for hours on end, not like the weak yellow beams and paltry battery life of the flashlights you grew up with.

Over the last ten years, the build quality of the best camping torches has moved on significantly. With durable, lightweight materials as standard, impressive shock resistance and deluge-beating waterproofing, the best camping flashlights are built to last. For those among us who spend a large amount of time in the outdoors, such heavy-duty, reliable torches are a real necessity.

best camping flashlight: couple walking on a trail at night

Late back to camp? No problem when you've got a flashlight in hand (Image credit: Getty)

Put simply, we wouldn’t pack our best camping tent into the car and set out for the backcountry without our flashlight, so we know a good model when we see one. We rate the Ledlenser MT14 1000 as the leading model, though different flashlights suit different applications. We’ve included models that can be solar charged and a torch specifically designed for runners.

For some, the handsfree option represented by the best headlamps may appeal, while those looking for a more broad light to hang a light from the top of their tent may wish to consider one of the best camping lanterns. However, for the best camping flashlights around, look no further.

How we test the best camping flashlights

Why you can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

At Advnture we endeavor to test every product we feature extensively in the field. That means one of our team of reviewers and writers – all experienced outdoor specialists active across the US, UK, Europe and Australasia – taking it out into the terrain and climatic conditions that it’s designed for. If, for any reason, this isn’t possible, we’ll say so in our buying guides and reviews.

Our reviewers test camping flashlights in a range of outdoor scenarios – camping, hiking, caving and wet-weather activities (where appropriate) – assessing their value and performance against the claims of the brand in terms of illumination, beam strength, weight, battery consumption, robustness and features.

The best camping flashlights you can buy

best camping flashlight: Ledlenser MT14 1000

(Image credit: Amazon)

Ledlenser MT14 1000

One thousand lumens of programmable, personalized illumination 


Specifications

RRP: $100 (US) / £110 (UK)
Weight: 8.9oz / 253g
Lumens: 1,000
Max range: 320 meters
Run time: 9–192 hours (high–low settings)

Reasons to buy

+
Rechargeable
+
Powerful light
+
Long run time
+
Battery strength indicator

Reasons to avoid

-
Not fully waterproof
-
Questionable USB port durability
-
Battery generates heat that affects performance 

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 nine 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.

We rate this excellent torch as the best camping flashlight option of all.

best camping flashlight: SOG Dark Energy DE-02

(Image credit: Amazon)

SOG Dark Energy DE-02

Five ways to turn darkness into light

Specifications

RRP: $66 (US) / £60 (UK) 
Weight: 4.1oz/116g
Lumens: 263
Run time: 171 mins–89 hours (high–low settings)

Reasons to buy

+
Rugged feel
+
Durable
+
Checkered housing for non-slip handling

Reasons to avoid

-
Short battery life
-
Mode controls

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 torch 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. This torch is the middle offering in a range that also includes a less powerful flashlight with 128 lumens ($62) and a big brother that packs a punch that has 678 lumens behind it ($130).

The best flashlight for runners

best camping flashlight: Nathan Terra Fire 400

(Image credit: Amazon)

Nathan Terra Fire 400

Stay on pace after dark, with this run-specific hand torch

Specifications

RRP: $60 (US) / £60 (UK)
Weight: 6.1oz / 173g
Lumens: 400
Run time: 5–12 hours (high–low settings)

Reasons to buy

+
Angled beam appeals to runners
+
Rechargeable battery
+
Rear strobe

Reasons to avoid

-
Stiff controls
-
Weather-resistant, not waterproof

If your training schedule means running after dark – and you’re not keen on wearing a head lamp – it’s nice to have a torch that’s designed specifically for that very activity. The Terra Fire shows that level of specialization the instant you pick it up. The ergonomic handle and 24-degree download projection angle illuminate the running path ahead of you. No more stumbling on cracked sidewalks or slipping on ice. Using USB rechargeable batteries, the Terra throws out 400 lumens in three modes. With a five-hour run time on high, there’s no worry about a fading light stranding you on the trail after dark. Although bad weather may send you scurrying home, the water-resistant housing is protected from snow, sleet and rain (but it’s not fully waterproof, so don’t submerge it). 

The best rechargeable flashlights

best camping flashlight: Knog PWR Camper 600

(Image credit: Amazon)

Knog PWR Camper 600

A bright flashlight/bike light that can power your electronic devices

Specifications

RRP: $110 (US) / £86 (UK) / $180 (AUS)
Weight: 9.2oz / 260g
Lumens: 600
Run time: 2 hours 45mins–30 hours (high–low settings)

Reasons to buy

+
Customizable light head
+
Doubles as a bike light
+
Serves as a power bank for other electronics
+
Bright 600 lumens beam

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Waterproofing rating unknown

Simple, elegant design carries the day with this flashlight, produced by an Australian company that specializes in making bike lights. The torch packs a strong 600-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. A removable lanyard helps you keep the flashlight handy when you’re setting up camp or organizing the inside of your tent. Knog hasn’t made the waterproofing rating of their lights public yet, but it seems to be weatherproof.

best camping flashlight: Nite Ize Inova T7R Powerswitch

(Image credit: Amazon)

Nite Ize Inova T7R Powerswitch

A versatile flashlight with a feature list as long as its name

Specifications

RRP: $100 (US) / £95 (UK)
Weight: 7.2oz / 204g
Lumens: 713 (with rechargeable battery) / 825 (with batteries)
Max range: 216 meters
Run time: 3 hours 55 min (on high beam)

Reasons to buy

+
Tactical durability
+
Six light modes
+
Rechargeable USB and battery back-up power

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive compared to similar models
-
Weather-resistant, not waterproof

With this versatile flashlight, you can shift from spotlight to wide flood with a simple twist of the head. The end cap switch activates six illumination modes, from a high beam to a momentary strobe. The PowerSwitch dual power delivers juice through micro USB rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries or two CR123 batteries – which aren’t included but are widely available. Having this option means you can take spare batteries on longer adventures, where you won’t be able to plug the torch in and recharge. 

A charge indicator light turns from red to green when fully charged, and visa versa, so you can make the switch to batteries in good time, and there’s no more worrying about a fading light just when you need it most. The precision-machined, rugged mil-spec aluminum body is shockproof, crushproof and water-resistant (not waterproof, though). A steel belt clip keeps the flashlight secure and accessible.

The best solar-powered flashlight

Best camping flashlight: Goal Zero Torch 500

(Image credit: Amazon)

Goal Zero Torch 500

An unconventional, multi-purpose, solar-powered, portable power, LED light

Specifications

RRP: $50 (US) / £50 (UK)
Weight: 12.8oz / 363g
Lumens: 300
Run time: 3–50 hours (high–low settings)

Reasons to buy

+
Built-in solar panel
+
USB rechargeable
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
No lanyard
-
Unconventional shape

Goal Zero moves away from the traditional flashlight shape with the Torch 500, which can be charged from the sun. The angular shape means it can be used as a handheld flashlight, or the unit stands on its end for use as a floodlight – useful in a tent and in all sorts of other situations when you want to keep your hands free. A built-in solar panel and USB-C rechargeable battery powers a 500-lumen three-level spotlight. The integrated powerbank also lets you charge other small electronics, such as a smartphone, GPS unit or headlamp. The rugged housing is waterproof. Use the convenient clip to hang the light to provide more illumination when needed. 

The best camping flashlight for wild camping

Best camping flashligh: Maglite XL 50

(Image credit: Amazon)

Maglite XL 50

A little pocket rocket of a flashlight, which punches well above its weight

Specifications

RRP: $38 (US) / £45 (UK)
Weight: 2.4oz / 68g
Lumens: 200
Max range: 224 meters
Run time: 6–25 hours (high–low settings)

Reasons to buy

+
Compact
+
Rugged
+
Single button control

Reasons to avoid

-
One mode only
-
Low power for some situations
-
Weather-resistant, not waterproof

There are more advanced models in this collection of the best flashlights, 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. 

Children in tent with torch

When it's dark, a flashlight will keep children entertained for hours (or until the batteries run out). (Image credit: Getty)
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Camping Flashlights Comparison Table
FlashlightPriceWeightLumensBest use
LED Lenser MT14 1000$100 (US) / £110 (UK)8.9oz / 253g1,000General camping and hiking
SOG Dark Energy DE-02$66 (US) / £60 (UK)4.1oz / 116g263General camping and hiking
Nathan Terra Fire 400$60 (US) / £60 (UK)6.1oz / 173g400Running
Knog PWR Camper 600$110 (US) / £86 (UK) / $180 (AUS)9.2oz / 260g600General camping and hiking
Nite Ize Inova T7R Powerswitch$100 (US) / £95 (UK)7.2oz / 204g713 (with rechargeable battery) / 825 (with batteries)General camping and hiking
Goal Zero Torch 500$50 (US) / £50 (UK)12.8oz / 363g300General camping and hiking especially in summer
Maglite XL 50$38 (US) / £45 (UK)2.4oz / 68g200Wild camping expeditions

What to look for when buying the best camping flashlight

Every one of the best camping flashlight options above deliver high-performance illumination. Here are some criteria to help you evaluate the options and help you narrow down your choices. Add one (or two) to your gear kit, tick them off on your camping checklist and push back the dark.

If you haven't got a headlamp either, it's worth getting both. For guidance on their features, advantages and disadvantages, see our feature on headlamps vs flashlights.

Lumens

When it comes to the best camping flashlight, one of the first features brands brag about is the number of lumens offered. Lumens is a measure of how bright a torches' beam is, with max output being the number of lumens when the torch is on its most powerful setting. 

More is better, but that’s not always the full story. Different applications require different shapes and sizes of beams. From tight focused beams to full flood, the number of lumens is influenced by environment and application. Generally, a good flashlight will boast a minimum of 200 lumens, which is bright enough for the vast majority of applications.

best camping flashlight: camper shines beam into night sky using flashlight

The higher the lumens, the brighter the torch (Image credit: Getty)

Multiple light modes

Today’s flashlights are far more powerful than a simple high, medium and low settings. Most of the best torches offer a collection of useful settings including emergency, strobe and burst modes that target all of the flashlight’s lumens in a tightly focused beam. There’s no consistency between brands in terms of controlling and switching between modes. Power buttons can be found on the side or both ends of the flashlight housing. Some models can be programmed or customized for specific uses and preferences. All function well – just find a model that fits your needs.

Power source

Flashlights have been part of a camper’s gear kit since they were invented. The tech inside has evolved a long way, from low-power light bulbs to impressive LEDs that light up the night. Power is the next innovation. Many models have switched from standard AA batteries to rechargeable longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries.

Backpackers embarking on multi-day adventures can use flashlights with dual power sources, so they can take spare batteries, or use a torch with an inbuilt solar panel. With long run times and fast recharging rates, there’s no reason to stumble around in the dark.

Runtime

The runtime is the amount of time the flashlight will operate on a fully charged battery. Of course, different modes and settings drink juice at different rates, so it's worth getting clued up on these. Marching through the dark with your light on full is all well and good but if it runs out on you, you'll wish you'd had it on a lower setting. After all, you can always recharge when you get back to camp.

Extras 

Flashlights that use micro USB ports to bring power to the rechargeable batteries can serve a second purpose. With some models, the flashlight’s power bank can be used to recharge small electronics like your best GPS watch, headlamp or smartphone. The power banks don’t store a lot of power, but nice to know there’s a little extra juice when your other gear is fading. 

best camping flashlight: camper shining flashlight beam next to tent

The best camping flashlight is a piece of kit that works hard (Image credit: Getty)

Weather resistance and durability

The best camping flashlight is a piece of kit that works hard. They get dropped on rocky terrain on campsites, rolled around in the beds of pick-ups, and accidentally dumped into streams and lakes. Most torches are constructed of durable aluminum water-resistant housings. Surfaces are checkered to enhance the grip, especially when your hands are wet. Every flashlight’s product description includes a rating that explains the water-resistant or waterproof level of the flashlight’s housing. Take a look and match the model to your applications. 

A journalist specializing in outdoor recreation, Lou has covered product design innovations, participation trends and environmentally sustainable manufacturing for over 20 years. On the other hand, he’s had some less than successful outdoor adventures: once, completely spent after a hard day on the trail, he managed to set a vintage MSR Whisperlite stove ablaze before accidentally kicking the burning contraption into a lake. A published author, his book about invasive fish threatening the Great Lakes watershed will be published in 2021. craftedwords.com