What are the Best ‘AAA’ Flashlights?

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Are you in a hurry and want to know my pick for the best ‘AAA’ flashlight? It’s the ThruNite TI3 NW – read on to find out why.

In photography, the motto is “the best camera is the one that you have”. The same holds true for Flashlights.  The best ‘AAA’ flashlights are sized nicely for convenient, everyday carry.

I came home after work one night to a burnt-out porch light.  It was pitch black thanks to the Alaskan winter, and I had an armload of groceries to bring in. If I had a free hand I could have brought out one of my three or four super-bright flashlights in my truck to light the way, but the little ‘AAA’ torch in my pocket was perfect for holding in my teeth while I found the keyhole in the darkness.

Read on for a list of the 6 Best ‘AAA’ Flashlights to consider for your everyday carry.

The Quick List

What to consider when buying your ‘AAA’ flashlight

If you are in the market for the best ‘AAA’ flashlight then you likely have a specific purpose or function in mind for it.  Here are some items to consider before making your purchase.

Size

You are probably not shopping for a ‘AAA’ battery because of the brightness or the throw. You’re shopping specifically for the size and convenience of having a light on your key ring, pocket, or bag and at the ready. ‘AAA’ flashlights should, of course, be small – barely bigger than the battery itself.

Convenience

Convenience is the other main factor in finding the best ‘AAA’ flashlight. Let’s face it, these small lights can be tough to find sometimes, so convenient connectors such as keychain loops, clips, or small carabiners can be nice to have. I have had one light with a large key ring that made it difficult to fit in my pocket, so be aware of factors like that. My favorite convenience item for this size of the light is a reversible pocket clip that also goes on the bill of a hat for hands-free work.

Power Cell Type

By definition, the best ‘AAA’ flashlight’ is going to take ‘AAA’ cells and not have a rechargeable Li-Ion based power source. You want the convenience of replacing a depleted ‘AAA’ cell with a fresh one as needed, and have those ‘AAA’ cells readily available wherever you travel. That being said, don’t ignore the cost and environmental impact savings of ‘AAA’ rechargeable batteries like the Eneloop Pro. Rechargeable batteries also have a benefit of a longer discharge curve than Alkaline cells, allowing for longer run times.

Learn everything you need to know about Batteries with our Ultimate Guide to Batteries!

Operation

It is always inconvenient (sometimes REALLY inconvenient) for your flashlight to be completely dead when you reach for it. Your ‘AAA’ flashlight is likely to spend a lot of time in a pocket or handbag where the power switch can be turned on accidentally. Having a switch that is not a push-button, such as a slide or a twist or even one with a power switch lockout, can help keep this from happening so your light is always ready when you need it.

Flashlight memory may also be important. When you turn your flashlight on, do you want it to always go to the lowest setting? Or maybe the last setting that was previously used? How about the next setting higher than the last setting that was previously used? Yea, that last one sounds confusing but you do see it on occasion.

Many flashlights have a strobe feature, and many flashlight owners wish that they didn’t. Sometimes really nice flashlight makers will hide that strobe feature so that it is not in the normal mode rotation.

Brightness

I don’t care how good your ‘AAA’ battery-based flashlight is, you are only going to get limited brightness out of such a small size. Although your light output is limited you do need enough light to work by. If brightness is key then look for the lights with the highest Lumens. Of course, for the really bright lights rechargeable Li-Ion based flashlights are the way to go.

How durable is it? What does IPX6 mean? Read our Ultimate Guide to the ANSI/PLATO FL1 Standard symbols!

Beam Pattern

Again, your ‘AAA’ battery light is not going to have a lot of performance, particularly with distance. However, you are able to light up an area to see what you are doing. Consider looking for a wide beam that lights up an area and doesn’t try to be something it is not (like a long throw flashlight).

Best ‘AAA’ Flashlight Reviews

Here are my picks of the best single and double cell ‘AAA’ flashlights

Surefire Titan Plus

The Surefire Titan Plus is a specialty light with a hefty price tag. The nickel-plated brass casing provides a heavier weight and sureness of feel and the coolest look of the flashlights on this list. At 300 Lumens the Surefire Titan Plus is the brightest on the list by far. But be aware that this performance is only obtained by using a rechargeable NiMH battery. The 300 Lumens setting also only lasts for a few minutes before battery voltage drops and the light output steps down much lower.

This flashlight is absolutely beautiful and a definite conversation piece both from its’ looks and its’ abilities. Yea – showing off flashlights is something I do up here sometimes to impress my neighbors.

Specs

  • Battery: Single rechargeable ‘AAA’ NiMH included
  • Durability: Weather Resistant
  • Switch: Twisty
  • Modes: 3 Brightness Modes
  • Lumens: 300 Lumens, 75 Lumens, 15 Lumens
  • Candela: 1100cd (Max)
  • Beam Shape: Wide/Flood
  • Dimensions: 3.4” long x 0.6” wide
  • Weight: 2.0 oz (with battery)

Pros

  • 300 Lumens – the brightest ‘AAA’ flashlight on the list!
  • Rechargeable ‘AAA’ NiMH battery is included
  • Nickel-plated brass casing has a solid feel

Cons

  • Max Lumens output is based on a rechargeable NiMH battery.
  • Rechargeable ‘AAA’ NiMH battery charger is not included
  • Expensive flashlight compared to others in this size – click below to see current prices.

Learn everything you need to know about Batteries with our Ultimate Guide to Batteries!

Fenix LD02 V2 High CRI

The Fenix LD02 V2 High CRI is a great fit for hospitality workers such as bartenders, waitresses, and door security. The UV option allows for a quick scan of money or ID’s, and the warm white light will give higher color rendition without throwing off night vision too much with the glare of a bluish tint light.

Weak pocket clips are a common complaint about flashlights of this size, but this pocket clip seems to be fairly stout.

I wouldn’t expect too much out of the UV mode. If UV is a key requirement check out our picks for the best UV flashlights.

Specs

  • LED: CREE XQ-E HI
  • Rechargeable: No
  • Durability: IPX8 (waterproof to 2m)
  • Beam Tint: Warm White
  • Modes: 3 Brightness Modes + UV (365nm)
  • Switch: Rear Click
  • Lumens: 1 Lumen, 25 Lumens, 70 Lumens
  • Candela: 10cd, 185cd, 580cd
  • Throw 20m, 89m, 157m
  • Dimensions: 3.62” long x 0.5” wide
  • Weight: 24g (without battery)

Pros

  • Warm white light gives a good color rendition
  • Solid feel and build quality

Cons

  • UV light is not very powerful
  • Artifact in the beam due to UV light presence
  • Cannot tail-stand due to tail switch

OLight I3T

The OLight I3T can put out 180 Lumens, giving plenty of illumination for your needs. The cool white tint is good for working but may not have the best color rendition. The reversible pocket clip makes it easy to clip to the brim of a hat, turning it into a convenient headlamp for hands-free work.

Specs

  • LED: Philips LUXEON TX
  • Battery: 1.5v ‘AAA” battery (Alkaline, NiMH or Lithium cell)
  • Rechargeable: No, can use rechargeable NiMH cells
  • Durability: IPX8
  • Beam Tint: Cool White, 6500K
  • Modes: 2 Brightness Modes
  • Switch: Rear Clicky
  • Lumens: 5 Lumens, 180 Lumens
  • Candela: 900cd
  • Throw: 196 ft
  • Dimensions: 3.5” long x 0.59” wide
  • Weight: 39g

Pros

  • Pocket clip doubles as a hat-brim clip
  • Only 2 modes (low, high) for make it simple to use

Cons

  • The pocket clip is a bit weak and can fail
  • Reports of durability issues

Nitecore MT06

The Nitecore MT06 sports 2 ‘AAA’ batteries giving it a long, lean look and feel compared to the others on this list. The extra voltage gives it a boost to 180 Lumens, and the high CRI Nichia LED gives fantastic color rendition in a neutral white beam tint. The Nitecore MT06 always starts in a low mode so you and others are not surprised by turning on a bright light unexpectedly.

Specs

  • LED: Nichia 219B LED
  • Battery 2x ‘AAA’ cells
  • Rechargeable: No, can use rechargeable NiMH cells
  • Durability: IPX8 (2 meters submersible)
  • Beam Tint: High CRI Neutral White (5000K)
  • Modes: 3 Brightness Modes
  • Switch: Rear Clicky
  • Lumens: 4 Lumens, 45 Lumens, 180 Lumens
  • Candela: 860cd
  • Throw: 58m (190 ft)
  • Dimensions 5.04” long (128mm) x
  • Weight 0.78 oz

Pros

  • Smooth floody beam with little hot spot
  • The MT06MD always starts in the ‘low’ mode

Cons

  • Poor quality pocket clip
  • Free play in the clicker switch
  • Easy to turn on accidentally while in your pocket

Streamlight Stylus Pro CP

The Streamlight Stylus Pro CP is another dual ‘AAA’ cell selection with a long, lean profile that fits well in some pockets. The Streamlight Stylus Pro CP gets high marks for durability, something we have heard about before about the Streamlight Stylus line of flashlights. A single brightness mode means that the flashlight is simply on or off. This makes operation extremely simple, but at 100 Lumens may be too bright for trying to sneak around at night without waking your cabin-mates up.

One note: when shopping for the Streamlight Stylus at Amazon you do want to be careful in picking the right model. There are several to choose from that appear to be very similar, but they can vary in the power source or light tint from what you are looking for. You may pick the cool looking black and purple light just to be surprised when you open the box and find a rechargeable UV blacklight!

Specs

  • LED: C4 LED
  • Battery: 2 x ‘AAA’ cells
  • Rechargeable: No, can use rechargeable NiMH cells
  • Durability: IPX4
  • Beam Tint (Warm White, Neutral White, Cool White, etc.)
  • Modes: 1 Brightness Mode
  • Switch: Rear Clicky, momentary, or constant-on operation.
  • Lumens: 100 Lumens
  • Candela: 950cd
  • Throw: 62m (203 ft)
  • Alternate Colors: Some models have integrated green lights
  • Dimensions: 5.3 in (134mm) long
  • Weight: 1.64 oz (46.9 g) with included batteries

Pros

  • Available in a variety of colors that stand out against a field of black flashlights
  • Momentary on switch

Cons

  • Single brightness mode
  • Very stiff power button

ThruNite TI3 NW

The ThruNite TI3 is a great little light to throw in a bag or a pocket for almost any situation. You turn it on by twisting the bezel which makes it more difficult to be accidentally turned on (and drained) while in a bag or a pocket. The firefly mode is exceptionally easy on the eyes when you don’t want to interrupt your or your parties’ night vision.

Specs

  • LED: Cree XP-G2 R5
  • Battery 1 x ‘AAA’ cells
  • Rechargeable: No, can use rechargeable NiMH cells
  • Durability: IPX8 Waterproof and Submersible.
  • Switch: Twisty
  • Beam Tint: Neutral White (with Cool White options)
  • Modes: 4 Brightness Modes + 1 hidden strobe mode
  • Lumens 0.04 Lumens (firefly), 12 Lumens, 120 Lumens, strobe 120 Lumens
  • Candela: 625 cd
  • Dimensions 2.63 in (67mm) long x 0.62 in (14mm) wide
  • Weight 15g (without battery)

Pros

  • Strobe mode is ‘hidden’ and not in the main cycles to switch through
  • Super low power ‘firefly’ option at 0.04 Lumens for moving around at night without disturbing others
  • Reversible pocket clip or keychain options

Cons

  • When you first turn on the ThruNite TI3 it will use the next mode from your previous use, not the same one you used before (next mode memory).
  • The screw-top switch can come out completely in a pocket if you are not careful

What is the Best ‘AAA’ Flashlight?

The size and convenience of a ‘AAA’ make it a very personal decision. They are all good quality lights and great values, but beam tint, single or double cell, brightness, etc. all play into the decision as to what is best for you.

For my purposes, the ThruNite TI3 is our pick for the best ‘AAA’ flashlight. If you have read my other reviews you know I’m a stickler for a neutral white beam tint (which knocked the ThruNite TI3 out of the running), and the twisty switch lets me throw it in my bag without worry that it will turn on and drain the battery out.

The ThruNite TI3 is such a reasonable value that I bought one for many of my family and friends one year for Christmas stocking stuffers.

If you’re looking for a conversation piece than by all means look hard at the ThruNite TI3 with its’ whopping 300 Lumens and the solid feel of its’ nickel-brass housing. This one is definitely a conversation piece (and I love a conversation piece).

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