fenix PD35 flashlight turned on, resting on wood

The Best Flashlights of 2022

Modern flashlights are applicable for a wide range of scenarios, offering longer battery life, powerful LED luminance, and excellent color rendering. Check out our picks for the best flashlights of 2022.

If you want a powerful, versatile lighting solution, flashlights still offer advantages over headlamps in some 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 in the 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 we’re focused on the outdoors, we rated these based on weight, size, battery life, color rendering, and lighting versatility.

Note: This isn’t a list of “light cannons,” as you’ll rarely need 1 million candlepower. But we 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.

Feel free to scroll through and check all of our recommended buys or to jump to the category you’re looking for.

The Best Flashlights of 2022

Best Overall Flashlight for the Outdoors: Fenix PD36R

Fenix PD36R Flashlight

Our team of testers loved the PD35 V2.0. But Fenix recently updated its line, replacing it with the new PD36R ($100). After a couple of months of testing, we’re pleased to discover the new PD36R is truly an upgrade over our previous top pick for the best flashlight. The PD36R is equal to, or superior to, its predecessor in several ways.

First, the runtime is phenomenal. With the new PD36R in eco mode, you can achieve an incredible 115 hours of runtime at a usable 30 lumens. While this is less total runtime than its predecessor, it comes at a significantly higher, more useful output.

For casual users (occasional camping trips and short bursts of high-output modes), that should amount to months between charges. Our tester has gone more than 2 months without recharging the PD36R with regular usage.

Speaking of modes, the PD36R ranges from a low-end 30 lumens up to a searingly bright 1,600 lumens. At that 1,600-lumen turbo mode, you can easily see objects at 928 feet. That’s more than enough for most use cases for recreation in the outdoors. And impressively, the PD36R can maintain that brightness for 2.9 hours.

With an IP68 waterproof rating, it can withstand being underwater up to 6.5 feet for 30 minutes. It’s also dustproof and shock-resistant. One feature we love is how you can easily manipulate between tactical (and strobe-enabling) functions and standard use with a small button near the front.

Beyond the specs, this is a perfect hand-size flashlight (5.3 inches long, 1.04 inches in diameter) with user-friendly functions. Turn it on and off at the tail switch, tap the small button near the front to adjust power, and check the LED on the button when turning the light on for a battery-level indication.

One change in the new model that raised our eyebrows is the PD36R recharges with a USB-C fast-charging cord. The old model used a micro-USB cord, which we liked because it seemed ubiquitous at the time.

However, Fenix notes USB-C is faster-charging and is rapidly becoming a standard charger. We hope to see more standardization in the near future to limit the number of cords needed to keep gear charged up.

Overall, we think the PD36R is the best flashlight on the market today.

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Runner-Up Best Flashlight: Ledlenser MT10

Ledlenser MT10

The Ledlenser MT10 rechargeable flashlight ($100) competes well with the Fenix above, and on paper, it in some ways outshines the competition. The specs put these two top flashlight choices in similar categories, and we expect users will love them both.

One thing we love about the MT10 over the Fenix PD36R is the Ledlenser Advanced Focus System. This simply means you can adjust between a broad floodlight and a long-distance beam in an instant. Simply press the front bezel forward, and the light focuses tighter and tighter.

It works extremely well in the field. We’ve used it to find our way out of the woods while bushwhacking during elk hunts in the Rocky Mountains and appreciated the ability to scan far hillsides for trails and landmarks with the max 1,000 lumens and 180 m of throw.

The Ledlenser MT10 also gives a great useable low light, running up to 144 hours at 10 lumens. It has a mid-power setting, but the brand doesn’t share specs on it. But at its middle setting, you get nice light for hiking and good runtime. I’ve only charged this flashlight twice in about a year of testing.

Speaking of charging, this light charges off a micro-USB cable. I love that fact, as it’s a common size and doesn’t require you to carry an oddball cable on trips.

Overall, the MT10 is one of the best flashlights you can buy, with most of the features an outdoor user will require. It’s reasonably priced as well, given its strong power and battery. We also appreciate its simple user interface.

The only ding against this compared with the more expensive Fenix is the build feels a little less robust (it’s IP54 rated for dust and water splashes and rain but is not fully waterproof). We also liked the color rendering a bit better on the Fenix. But the Ledlenser MT10 puts up a great fight.

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Best Flashlight Value: ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Cool White

ThruNite Archer 2A V3 flashlight with clip

While the ThruNite Archer ($30) lacks a few of the higher-end features of the Fenix, it comes in at an absolutely excellent price of just $30. For that, you get a quality CREE XP-L V6 LED light source with a maximum power of 500 lumens.

While that number may not look impressive, it’s way more than enough for most uses. Using two AA batteries, it has a runtime of up to 4 days on firefly mode and 11 hours on medium (75 lumens).

You heard that right — this flashlight does use AA batteries. That certainly brings down the price compared with high-end rechargeables and costs money to operate. But it makes them extremely easy to repower on backcountry trips — just bring a couple of extras.

At $30, the ThruNite Archer has earned a remarkable 4.5 stars with more than 1,800 ratings on Amazon.

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Most Versatile Flashlight: NITECORE P20IX 

Nitecore p20iX

NITECORE discontinued one of our previous favorites (the i4000R) but replaced it with an even better, more powerful torch. A strong contender for the best overall flashlight, the new NITECORE P20IX ($120) is one of the best flashlights on the market in terms of overall performance.

It’s slightly larger than our 2021 winner from Fenix, however, so it’s less suitable for hikers, hunters, or others who value light weight and small size.

That said, the new version shaves half an ounce and half an inch off the previous model, coming in at 4.06 ounces and 5.57 inches long. So it’s edging closer and closer to a pocket-friendly size.

The i4000R punches through the darkness with 4,000 lumens on turbo mode for up to 30 minutes. That’s enough to light up objects 250 yards away, so it should be high on your list for performance alone.

More importantly, it has four continuous and strobe modes, ranging all the way down to the 2-lumen ultralow mode that provides light for up to 350 hours.

It runs on a rechargeable battery that powers four CREE XP-L2 V6 LEDs. This setup provides exceptional versatility for everyone from campers and hunters to search-and-rescue and tactical uses.

The user interface is great, providing easy access to toggle between modes (like its turbo output and strobe mode) through a dedicated button separate from the rear tail switch. While this is a high-end flashlight, it’s absolutely worth the price for those who need a powerful, reliable flashlight with the potential to hold up to extremes.

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Best Flashlight With High Output: Olight Warrior X Pro

OLight warrior x pro 2250 and rechargeable battery

With a maximum output of 2,250 lumens (and the ability to project it a whopping 500 m), the Warrior X Pro ($120) packs a heck of a punch. For most people, that level of output is overkill. But for those who need to sweep large expanses of nighttime terrain (like search-and-rescue personnel), this kind of power can come in handy.

Those are pretty wild specs for a flashlight that weighs just 8.43 ounces and measures less than 6 inches in length. It runs on a 5,000mAh rechargeable battery. You can recharge it anywhere you have a 12-volt USB outlet or recharger. It comes in three additional colors.

While the Olight Warrior X Pro does give you excellent high-power performance, it’s weaker in the runtime category. That’s because its lowest power output is 300 lumens — more power than you usually need around a campsite. So for people looking for better runtime with lower outputs, there are better choices.

For search and rescue personnel, or anyone who needs a reliable tactical flashlight for nighttime scanning, however, this is one of the best flashlights you can buy.

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Best Durable Flashlight: Coast Polysteel 600R

Coast PolySteel flashlightIf your work puts your flashlight through a lot of abuse, the Polysteel 600R ($40) should be high on your list. We literally tested one by shooting it with a shotgun at about 10 yards. We may have been a little too close, but it’s the only thing that ultimately destroyed this flashlight after months of abuse.

The Polysteel 600R cranks out up to 530 lumens to a distance of 685 feet on its highest setting. We found the adjustable zoom works great to move from a tightly focused beam to a broad floodlight for versatility. On low, it has a runtime of 35 hours while still giving you a useful 42 lumens.

The only downside of this affordable flashlight is its weight. At 12 ounces, it’s probably too heavy for serious backpacking or other endeavors where weight is a factor.

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Amazon’s Bestselling Flashlight: GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000, 2-Pack

GearLight Box and two GearLight tactical flashlights

Two flashlights for $25? How the heck can they be any good? We’re not sure, but 10,000 reviews can’t be all that wrong. Amazon’s bestseller has a 4.7-star rating, so we got a couple to test.

In short, you get what you pay for. At about $12 apiece, the GearLight LED Tactical S1000 ($25 for two) runs on three AAA batteries. And while the light is extremely vague on its specs (it has “high lumens”), it claims to have a throw out to 1,000 feet and has high, medium, and low settings.

GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000
The Gearlight shining in a tester’s basement; (photo/Sean McCoy)

In use, it’s an OK flashlight for around the house or at an established campsite. It kicks out a decent cone of light with the zoom dialed back to the “flood” view. But zoom in for a longer throw and things get weird. Instead of a cone of light, you literally see a replication of the shape of the LED projected at a long distance. It’s kind of a grid, and not very pleasing to the eyes. But the light does throw a long way as long as you don’t mind it being an odd, grid-like projection.

gearlight focused beam
The odd shape of the focused light from the Gearlight; (photo/Sean McCoy)

For $25, this makes a decent backup light. It works fine poking around the basement or attic. While I wouldn’t trust it for mission-critical lighting, toss a couple in your truck or cabinets with some batteries close at hand and always have a backup flashlight that performs.

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Best Flashlight for Mechanics: Blackfire Rechargeable Weatherproof Magnetic Flashlight with Lantern

Blackfire BBM6412 Flashlight Review
The strong magnet in the Blackfire BBM6412 Flashlight holds it against a wall while the work light illuminates a hinge; (photo/Sean McCoy)

Blackfire, a newer division of Klein Tools, is making some nice flashlights these days. Overall, the BBM6412 is an excellent upgrade to our previous top flashlight for mechanics.

At around the $40 range, this light packs in a ton of performance that makes it fit for both the garage and the wilderness. It has a top output of 500 lumens — while not super powerful, that’s certainly sufficient for use on the trail and around the campsite. And it’s more than enough power when working under the hood of your truck.

Where it really stands out is its magnetic base and side-throw lantern. This work light illuminates a larger area with soft, useful light at five brightness settings. In our testing, it was the perfect companion while checking for loose wires under the hood of a truck in the dark. And it’s capable of big tasks, too. It’ll kick out 375 lumens for 10 hours in work light mode or 500 lumens for 7 hours in standard mode.

Our testers also loved the simple, common USB-C connection for fast recharging and multi-color battery level indicator. Top it off with a glow-in-the-dark bezel that makes it easy to find in a center console in the dark, and you’re looking at a lot of flashlight for not much money.

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Best Flashlights: Comparison Chart

Flashlight Price Max Output (Lumens) Max Beam Distance Battery Type Weight
Fenix PD36R $100 1600 928′ Rechargeable 3 oz.
Ledlenser MT10 $100 1000 590′ Rechargeable 6 oz.
ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Cool White $30 500 305′ 2 x AA 1,7 oz.
NITECORE P20IX $120 4000 725′ Rechargeable 4.1 oz.
Olight Warrior X Pro $120 2100 1,640′ Rechargeable 8.4 oz.
Coast Polysteel 600R $40 530 685′ 4 x AA 12 oz.
GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000, 2-Pack $25 1040 1,000′ 1 x AAA 5.1 oz.
Blackfire Rechargeable Weatherproof Magnetic Flashlight with Lantern $40 500 N/A Rechargeable 6.9 oz.

 

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. And we 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. We 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.

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.

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.

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.

Coast Polysteel 600 flashlight next to a hard hat

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).

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.

FAQ

What Does Lumen Mean?

A lumen is the basic unit of measurement for how bright a light is. The brighter the light, the more lumens it produces.

Do LED Flashlights Get Hot?

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.

What Flashlight Has the Highest Lumens?

The highest-lumen flashlight currently on the market is the Imalent MS18, which shines at a jaw-dropping 100,000 lumens.

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.

What Is the Best EDC Flashlight?

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.


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