Are you afraid of the dark? I hope not. But if you don’t want to get stuck without light in the middle of nowhere while camping or hiking then you need a handy camping flashlight. Flashlights are for more than just brightening a dark spot. You can use them for signaling help to come your way when the going gets rough.
Today’s camping flashlights are more than just a single beam of weak light. But figuring out the best one for you and your adventures is going to be a bit challenging unless you do your research. That is why this list has been compiled to help you pick from the best camping flashlights so you are never without a brightening path to walk.
Top 5 Best Camping Flashlights
1. Anker LC90 LED Flashlight
This is one of the highest rated flashlights on Amazon. The reason for the popularity would have to be the extremely bright CREE LED that has five different settings: low, medium, high, SOS and strobe. You can also control the “zoom,” making the beam wide or narrow. The max distance is 1000 feet, and the 900 Lumen sweep can span two football fields.
Furthermore, you get up to 6 hours of non-diminishing brightness per charge on the battery. The battery is rechargeable, the body is IP65-rated waterproof and very durable, and the beam is more than powerful. You can’t go wrong with this flashlight for your next camping trip.
2. Fenix PD 35 1000 Lumen CREE XP-L LED Tactical Flashlight
The Fenix Tactical Flashlight is essentially the same as the Anker model, but it simply costs more. This high performance flashlight also looks sleek, is lightweight, and fits into the average-sized pocket. The LED bulb in latest model has a lifespan of 50,000 hours.
While the bulb is blinding, you can switch out the batteries to something weaker to change the brightness slightly. What makes the Fenix flashlight stand out is the durability. It’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum and only weighs 85 grams without its battery.
3. Streamlight Stinger LED Rechargeable Flashlight
Named the Best Police Flashlight for Duty by Best Tactical Flashlights, the Streamlight is not only great for blinding intruders to your campsite, it can light up the darkest of trails and get you back to the fireside in no time. The high-quality construction is just one perk to this flashlight. It is the perfect size to carry thanks to the rubberized grip, is light, dependable, rechargeable (120-Volt AC/DC), and has a super bright LED beam with 50,000 hours of life.
Cycling through the different modes and settings is also highly intuitive. It is also IPX4 water resistant and 1 meter impact resistant. The only thing that may hold you back from purchasing this flashlight would be the price.
4. J5 Tactical V1-PRO 300 Lumen Ultra Bright Flashlight
Looking for a flashlight that fits in the palm of your hand but burns brighter than the sun (300 Lumens)? This little light will do the trick. The super bright LED light comes with a focus and wide angle adjustability as well as dependability. The J5 Tactical Flashlight is used by military, security, and police.
The beam has low, high, and strobe settings. Plus, it comes with a pocket clip that is as indestructible as this sturdy flashlight. For a mid-range flashlight, the price is also just right. Though the flashlight can run off a single AA battery, you can also switch it out for a 14500 rechargeable battery.
5. Supernova Guardian Rechargeable Tactical LED Flashlight
This flashlight is a decent package deal that comes with two 18650 rechargeable batteries and a charger, the extra rechargeable battery makes this great for longer camping trips. It also incorporates a number of self-defense features that make the survivalist in you smile. First, the flashlight is made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and has a waterproof casing. Second, it has a disorienting strobe mode and a stainless steel ridged strike bezel to ward off attacks or wild animals.
The flashlight is also incredibly easy to use thanks to 5 operating models with BrightStart Memory Technology and a remote pressure switch. Lastly, the Ultra Bright CREE XM-L U2 LED has a large area of focus and is utterly blinding. The only downside is that if you do wind up using the flashlight as a bludgeon, it may not last as long as you’d hoped.
How Choose The Best Flashlight
What makes a flashlight better than a headlamp? Flashlights have a number of advantages over their competition. The handheld option is perfect when you need a strong portable light, the ability to aim where you want illumination, have to set the light down to be able to work, and a signaling device. With recent developments in LED technology and more efficient batteries, flashlights have gotten smaller but ten times brighter than their predecessors.
When choosing the best flashlight for you, look at the following key factors first:
- Size and weight
- Battery type
- Battery run time
- Light output (lumens)
Every factor influences another. For example, the brighter a flashlight is, the more expensive it is going to be. A rechargeable battery will also elevate the overall cost. You should also consider any additional functions or features that could come in handy. Generally, a bare bones flashlight could be as cheap as US$10, while something with more features could break the US$100 mark.
Flashlight Performance and Functions
In 2009, the ANSI FL1 Standard for flashlights was introduced to ensure that all flashlight models are test and rated according to the same scale. This has definitely revolutionized the usefulness of flashlights as well as creating a better way of comparing various models. Compliance to these standards is voluntary, however,the manufacturers are required to hold their own testing. That said, if you go with a major brand, like Fenix, Inova, Princeton Tec or MagLite, you know they are upholding the ANSI FL1 standards.
The important components of performance data are as follows:
- Beam Distance – This is measured in meters and shows how far the light will shine before the brightness fades. “Full moon illumination” is considered satisfactory for traveling outdoors at night. Distance will usually vary depending on the level of brightness selected.
- Light Output – This is measured in lumens and shows the intensity of the light coming from the flashlight bulb when the batteries are new and the light is at max brightness. Keep in mind that beam intensity, distance, and type are affected by various settings. Output can range from 20 lumens to 3500 lumens.
- Run Time – Measured in hours (and rounded usually to the nearest quarter), according to how long it takes the light output to decrease to 10%. Light output may gradually decreased or remain bright then suddenly disappear. You will commonly see this displayed on packaging as a runtime graph.
- Water Resistance – Usually rated via IPX system. Water resistance is essential if you plan on hiking near bodies of water or through precipitation. Prioritize 3 ratings: an IPX4 rating which indicates the flashlight is splash resistant from every angle; IPX7 which means the flashlight can survive temporary submersion up to 30 minutes in length to a depth of 1 meter; IPX8 which shows water resistance in total submersion for up to 4 hours at a specified depth.
- Impact Resistance – No one wants their flashlight to shatter when accidentally dropped. Look for flashlights that have undergone this test. Lights are dropped 6 times onto concrete at a rated distance (measured in meters). Note that this is only accidental drops, not resistance to getting tossed, striking objects or getting struck, or getting run over.
Secondary (but still important) components include:
- Beam Type – There is a lens reflector inside the flashlight that can change how the bulb is dispersed. The common options are flood (fixed), spot (focused), or adjustable. Flood is a single beam that is good for general tasks like camping or light walking; spot (or focused) is condensed to go greater distances. This is best for route-finding or running. Lastly, there’s adjustable, which means you can change the beam to flood or focused or set it at a point in-between.
- Bulb Type – Avoid incandescent or krypton flashlight bulbs and opt for LED flashlights. Not only is the level of illumination greater, but so too is the impact resistance and battery life.
- Battery Type – You want to keep battery type in mind, because it can affect the usefulness of your flashlight. The common sizes are AAA, AA, and CR123A. These are all disposable. Next, you can get rechargeable, which would hook up to a USB or AC/DC power outlet or solar panel. Though the upfront cost is a bit more than disposable battery models, the low ongoing cost reduces wastes and saves you money overtime. Lastly, there are even renewable energy flashlights which have hand-cranks or solar panels and are solely for emergencies.
- Controls – Do you like on/off modes? Switches? Push buttons or sliders? Some flashlights have rotating bezels that require two-hands. What about a safety lock feature? There are a number of controls you can make use of. One of the best to look for is the non-clicking insta-beam function that many law enforcement officials use.
- Materials and Styling – Many flashlights are made of either plastic or aluminum alloy. Others have a stainless steel head to increase impact resistance. Also, remember to look for flashlights that are built to not roll away from you, especially if you are going to be doing hiking. If you want to increase grip, look for a knurled pattern on the handle.
In short, when choosing the best camping flashlight for you, you might end up reaching for the tactical flashlight model. These flashlights are often the most durable, lightweight, have rechargeable batteries, and a brightness that turns a dark forest into a much less intimidating place.