The Best Compact Flashlights

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Compact flashlights are extremely popular because they’re easy to carry and accessorize. They are typically small enough to fit in a fist or function as a keychain. Despite the small size, these products pack enough juice to give you light through the night.

How do you choose the best compact flashlight?

Right off the bat, there’s no one-size-fit-all product. Your unique needs determine the best light—that means it varies from user to user. 

Given the number of products on the market, the search can be quite overwhelming. To help with this, we’ve reviewed the 11 best compact flashlights on the market.

Before we get into details, we announce the Olight S2R II Baton as the best. It has five different brightness modes and is capable of producing a 1150-lumen beam on a full charge. 

The top 12 best compact flashlights on the list are:

Best Compact Flashlight: Buyer’s Guide

You’re out shopping for a new compact flashlight, but there are just too many options. How do you pick the best?

Well, it all depends on your unique needs. The more features a light has, the costlier it gets. If you were to go for a product with a lot of features you won’t be using, you’d be paying top dollar for what you can do without—wrong financial move.

When buying, the trick is to find the product that meets your most pressing needs at the most affordable price. To do this, you have to understand what each property translates to—as far as solving your problems is concerned. Below are a few things to look out for:

Beam Intensity

Two measurements mark the quality of light:

  • Lumens.
  • Candelas.

Lumens

A lumen is a measure of the total amount of light produced by the LED. The higher the lumens, the brighter the beam, and the further it travels. However, compact flashlights have to sacrifice runtime when they go for powerful beams. This is because they are powered by small batteries that don’t have enough juice to sustain the performance for a long time.

With that in mind, only buy super bright flashlights if you really need them. If you desire both bright and low-intensity beams, go for lights that offer multiple modes. That way, you get the best of both worlds—a bright beam when you need it, and a long run time when it’s needed.

When looking at the lumen rating, consider two things:

  • Bulb lumen.
  • OTF lumen.

Brands use different metrics for beam intensity. Some use bulb lumen, the actual light produced by the LED. Others use the more reliable OTF (Out The Front) lumen, the lumens emitted by the torch. 

Some of the light produced by the LED is lost in transmission. That’s why a bulb lumen metric can be misleading. If you have two items with identical lumen counts, go for the one using an OTF metric—it’s brighter.

Candelas

A candela is a measure of the amount of light focused on a given area. If you want to illuminate a large area, go for products with high lumens and low candelas. The low candela count indicates that the energy/light produced by the torch is dispersed. 

If you need a more focused beam, go for higher candelas. This is the type of light you want if you plan to use the torch to illuminate an intricate task.

Battery Type

The two categories of batteries are rechargeable and non-rechargeable. With non-rechargeables, you get cheap and readily available power options. The rechargeable variants have a higher upfront cost, but it evens out because they are reusable.

So, what battery type is best for you?

If you plan to use the torch a lot, rechargeable batteries are a better option. This is especially so if you plan to engage in outdoor activities. When camping, for example, you won’t always have easy access to stores. It helps if your batteries are reusable.

That said, the fact that a flashlight accommodates a reusable power unit doesn’t make it rechargeable. If you want to recharge the cell within the light, ensure the item has charging ports. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase an external charging system for your batteries.

Non-Rechargeable Batteries

Some compact flashlights are very specific on the type of cells they use. That matters because battery variants differ in performance. For non-rechargeable batteries, we have two main categories:

  • Alkaline batteries.
  • Lithium batteries.

Alkaline batteries account for over 80 percent of all units in the USA. These batteries perform best in temperatures ranging from 0–80 degrees Fahrenheit. They lose substantial power when temperatures go below 0 degrees and are very likely to rupture in hotter environments. 

Lithium batteries fare better in extreme conditions. They have an optimum operating temperature ranging from -40–140 degrees Fahrenheit. They have an excellent shelf-life of 10–12 years, making them ideal for flashlights that you don’t plan to use often. 

They also offer more power for size compared to alkaline batteries. If you want a very compact flashlight, go for units that are built for lithium cells. On the downside, these cells are harder to find, and they usually cost more than their alkaline equivalents.

Type of Switch

Compact flashlights come in two main switch styles:

  • Twist.
  • Click.

Twist switches are more comfortable to operate, where the light has different modes. You usually get to twist through the different brightness options in one revolution. The downside is that you need two hands for operation: One to hold the flashlight steady, the other to twist the head or tail.

Click switches can be on the side, or the tail cap. In some flashlights, clicking to change modes dims the beam before effecting the change. Some torches have a click switch for on/off settings, and a twist feature to change the modes. 

If you’re still undecided, the Lumintop Tool can be operated by either click switch or twisting. This way, you choose the control best-fitting of your current situation.

Accessories

Compact flashlights typically come with key rings. However, the most popular accessories are the clip and magnetized tail caps. With a clip, you can attach the light to your pocket or cap and free your hands for other activities. 

The magnetized tail cap is popular among mechanics and engineers. It gives you a lot of flexibility when you need to station the light—any metallic surface is a mount. 

Clips are removable in some torches. This is useful if the metal feels uncomfortable. The clip also doubles as an anti-roll feature. 

Durability

Most flashlights are made of aluminum or titanium alloys. These sturdy metals are usually complemented with polycarbonate lenses and anti-abrasive finishes. However, the overall design may prove more important than a product’s composite material in some cases. 

When determining durability, consider two ratings:

  • IPX (Ingress Protection).
  • Fall.

IPX Rating

IPX rating indicates the degree to which a product is water and dust proofed. The first value following the P shows how dustproof an item is. The second value speaks of the waterproofing. 

The highest degree of dust resistance is 6. The highest value of water resistance is marked 8. On average, outdoors, a rating of IP44 is sufficient. If either the dust or water in the environment is above average, higher values are advisable. 

Fall

Flashlights are designed to handle a degree of rough-handling. This is best captured by the height of the fall a torch can take. Most lights can manage 4-foot falls, but the higher, the better.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Flashlights to learn everything you need for finding the best flashlight for your needs

The Top 12 Best Compact Flashlights

When shopping for the best compact flashlights, getting your money’s worth depends on how well you understand the products on the market. To help you out, here is a look at 12 of the best rated compact flashlights:

OLight S2 Baton

This compact flashlight features the new MCC II charger that’s not only 13 percent smaller than previous versions, but also compatible with more rechargeable lights. On a full charge, the Olight S2R II has the capacity for an 1150-lumen beam.

The beam has a well-balanced hotspot thanks to the product’s TIR lenses, and that translates to better vision. This light is ergonomically designed and feels comfortable in the palm of your hand. It’s knurled to improve your grip, a welcome feature if you’ll be using it with gloved hands.

The S2R II features a total of five brightness modes and a strobe function for emergencies. 

  • Mode 1: 1150-lumen beam for 230 minutes. 
  • Mode 2: 400-lumen beam for 4 hours.
  • Mode 3: 120-lumen beam for 14 hours.
  • Mode 4: 15-lumen beam for 100 hours.
  • Mode 5: 0.5-lumen beam for 60 days.

For durability, the body is made of high-quality aluminum that allows it to survive falls of over 5 feet. It is IPX8 rated and can be submerged under 6 feet of water for half an hour. Such waterproofing makes it an excellent option for use in environments that experience above-average rainfall.

The S2R II has a double-sided pocket clip that easily attaches to caps, under which conditions the light doubles as a headlamp. With each purchase, you get a rechargeable 3200mAh 18650 battery.

Pros

  • IPX8 rating.
  • Ergonomic build.
  • Magnetic charger.
  • Magnetic tail cap.
  • Five brightness modes.
  • Emergency strobe function.

Cons

  • Some customers found the switch damaged too easily.

MecArmy illumineX-1

Weighing in at 0.32 ounces, the X-1 has a maximum light intensity of 910 candelas. That’s more than enough light for a dark night. If you want to use the light for a less-demanding task like reading, adjust the torch to low mode, and you get an 8-lumen beam that can go for upwards of 6 hours on a full charge.

This torch features a rechargeable battery that attains full charge in about an hour. Because of its miniature design, this light is charged through a micro-USB port, rather than the traditional variant. 

In high mode, the X-1 produces a 130-lumen beam for half an hour—on a full charge.

It has an IPX8 waterproof rating, meaning it can be used under a torrential downpour. The body is sturdy and can withstand falls of about 5 feet. Its internal contacts are gold plated to minimize light loss. That’s why it can attain a beam distance of over 282 feet despite its small size.

The X-1 has a bicolor LED for indicating the available charge. It also has battery protection features that keep the system from undercharging or overcharging, effectively increasing battery life. This item also has a hanging ring that can be used to hold your keys.

Pros

  • IPX8 rating.
  • Bicolor charge indicator.
  • Two light modes.
  • Battery protection.
  • Quick recharge.
  • Beam distance of over 282 feet in maximum mode.

Cons

  • The maximum mode could be brighter.

Nitecore TIP SS

The ultra-compact TIP SS has a beam distance of 243 feet and four brightness levels, making it ideal for all kinds of uses.

The body is made of sturdy stainless steel that makes it capable of withstanding falls of about 5 feet. It has an IP54 rating. This means it can be used in dusty environments, and in a moderate downpour.

This new addition to the Nitecore TIP line comes with a removable clip that also doubles as a cover—to prevent accidental activation of the light. It has an on/off button and a mode switch to navigate through the four modes: Turbo, high, medium, and low.

  • Turbo: 360-lumen beam for 30 minutes.
  • High: 150-lumen beam for 1.5 hours.
  • Medium: 35-lumen beam for 6.5 hours.
  • Low: 1-lumen beam for 46 hours.

Turbo can be used to signal for help in case of emergencies.

Pros

  • Four brightness modes.
  • Easy to operate with one hand.
  • Beam distance of 243 feet.
  • Dust proofed.
  • Withstands falls of up to 5 feet.
  • Sturdy stainless steel body.

Cons

  • It cannot be used in an above-average downpour.

OLIGHT i3E EOS

A single AAA battery powers the i3E. It has the capacity for a 120-lumen beam through a distance of 158 feet. However, that’s only for silver light. For other light options, you get a 90-lumen beam through a distance of 144 feet.

The model has high luminescence for its size, and consistency of color to ensure you adjust well to the light. This is a twist light, which makes it a little tricky to operate with a single hand. If that’s a feature you can’t do without, the MecArmy illumineX-1 is probably a better option.

The torch has an anti-scratch finish that ensures its shine and appeal is maintained through the years. Its body is sturdy and durable and is engineered to withstand falls of up to 4.9 feet. This makes it a good option for people who enjoy outdoor activities like camping—where occasional rough handling of the flashlight is inevitable.

This torch is waterproof to IPX8 standards, which means it can be used in the heaviest of downpours. It can even survive submersion in 5 feet of water for half an hour. OLIGHT offers a five-year warranty for this item.

Pros

  • IPX8 rating.
  • Sturdy build.
  • Anti-scratch finish.
  • High luminescence.
  • Color consistency.

Cons

  • Non-rechargeable.
  • Hard to operate with a single hand.

Lumintop Tool

This compact flashlight has a rating of IP68. This means it’s both dust and waterproof. It’s designed to be hardy and can be submerged in over 5 feet of water without damage. The body is knurled to secure your hold of the device.

It is AR coated with a double-sided military-grade aluminum-alloy body that’s capable of withstanding a fall of 5 feet. The lens is tempered with anti-scratch features that maximize transmission, allowing for a uniform beam.

The Lumintop is easy to accessorize. It has a double-sided clip that can easily attach to a hat and function as a headlight. This is especially useful when you need to free your hands. It’s also very versatile and offers three beam modes: high, medium, and low.

  • Low: 5-lumen beam for 36 hours.
  • Medium: 32-lumen beam for 4 hours.
  • High: 110-lumen beam for 3 minutes.

The Lumintop Tool gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to operation. You have the option of twisting the head or pressing the tail switch to turn it on, turn it off, or change modes. That said, the tail switch gets a little clicky, and it’s not sufficiently magnetized. If magnetization is important to you, consider the ThruNite T10T V2.

Pros

  • Knurled body.
  • Anti-scratch lens coating.
  • Sturdy build.
  • IP68 rating.
  • Three light modes.

Cons

  • The tail switch is weakly magnetized.

ThruNite T10T V2

The T10T V2 is made of a strong titanium alloy that’s scratch-resistant. Its LED is surrounded by an OP reflector that distributes the light across a larger area, expanding the reach of the beam. 

This torch is powered by two battery options: AA battery or 14500 battery. The two options offer different performances, as far as the maximum intensity is concerned.

With a 14500 battery, this torch produces an 820-lumen beam. With an AA battery, the outage drops to 230 lumens, which is still pretty bright.

For easy accessorization, the T10T V2 features a stainless steel clip and a magnetized tail cap. Both of these features make it possible for you to free your hands for the task at hand. 

This product is, however, non-rechargeable. If you are big on rechargeability, the Nitecore TIP SS is better suited to your needs.

This torch has five light modes: High, medium, low, firefly, and strobe.

  • High: 230-lumen beam for 130 minutes.
  • Low: 7-lumen beam for 40 hours.
  • Medium: 50-lumen beam for 8 hours.
  • Firefly: 0.5-lumen beam for 13 days.
  • Strobe: 230-lumen beam for 130 minutes.

Pros

  • Five beam modes.
  • Titanium alloy body.
  • Stainless steel clip.
  • Magnetic tail cap.
  • Ergonomic design.

Cons

  • Non-rechargeable.
  • Some users found the switch a little hard to find in the dark.

Olight S1A

The S1A’s lens is designed for maximum transmission, resulting in a uniform beam. The body is knurled to ensure a firm grip, even if your hands are gloved. 

The torch also comes with a double-sided clip so you can hang it anywhere. Its aluminum body is complemented by a hard-anodized anti-scratch finish that enhances durability.

This product has overcurrent protection, so different kinds of batteries can be used. Included is a 14500 rechargeable lithium battery, or it can be powered by a single AA battery. 

It’s waterproof to IPX8 standards, which means it will withstand heavy rain. The aluminum alloy body also makes it sturdy enough to survive a 5-foot fall. 

It also offers five brightness modes: Low, medium, high, strobe, and turbo.

  • Low: 0.5 lumens.
  • Medium: 5 lumens.
  • High: 50 lumens.
  • Strobe: 10 Hz, 220 lumens.
  • Turbo: 600 lumens—only available when you use a rechargeable 14500 battery. 

Like all Olight flashlights, the S1A comes with a five-year warranty. 

Pros

  • Five-year warranty.
  • Five brightness beams.
  • Beam distance of 387 feet on turbo mode.
  • Ergonomic design.
  • Knurled body.
  • Double-sided clip.

Cons

  • Non-rechargeable.
  • The button isn’t recessed and can accidentally switch on the torch.

Streamlight MicroStream

This compact flashlight is made of military-grade aluminum that’s both light and durable. It’s anodized to make it scratch-resistant, and the lens is made of clear polycarbonate that’s abrasion-resistant. This lens is very reflective, making for a wide and uniform beam.

The torch has a waterproof rating of IPX4, meaning it can be used under an average downpour. For more torrential rain, you’ll need a higher IPX rated product like the Lumintop Tool.

The 66604 has a double-sided clip that makes it very easy to accessorize. If you want a light that can be used hands-free, this may just be the option for you. It also has a metal-protected USB charge port that’s O-ring sealed to keep the water out.

Its lithium-ion battery is fully charged in about four hours, and a tail switch ensures easy operation. This light has two modes: High and low.

  • High: 250-lumen beam for 1.5 hours.
  • Low: 50-lumen beam for 3.5 hours.

The high mode produces 1,150 candelas. This makes it excellent for lighting up a dark night. The beam has a reach of 223 feet, making it possible to use the torch to light up a larger area. 

The low mode is marked at 250 candelas, and this is bright enough for everyday use. This mode, however, will only go for a distance of about 102 feet.

Pros

  • Polycarbonate lens.
  • Removable double-sided clip.
  • Multi-function tail switch.
  • Ergonomic design.
  • Military-grade aluminum body.

Cons

  • It can’t be used under heavy downpours.

EagleTac D25C

The D25C is ergonomically designed with a knurled surface that prevents slipping and rolling. It has a pocket clip for easy accessorization, but the clip isn’t easily removed and may need a little getting used to. If that’s a non-starter for you, consider the Streamlight MicroStream

Considering its small size that fits in the palm of your hand, this torch has an impressive beam distance of 344 feet. That’s thanks to a scratch-resistant lens that ensures a uniform beam. This light has four brightness modes: Low, medium, high, and turbo.

  • Low: 1-lumen beam for over 150 hours (0.5 OTF lumen).
  • Medium: 33-lumen beam for 10 hours (24 OTF lumen).
  • High: 296-lumen beam for over 1.5 hours (210 OTF lumen).
  • Turbo: 453-lumen beam for just under 1 hour (317 OTF lumen).

This torch has a waterproof rating of IPX8 and can be used under a heavy downpour. It also features beacon, SOS, strobe, and flash modes.

Pros 

  • Comfortable design.
  • Four brightness modes.
  • SOS light mode.
  • Beam distance of 344 feet on turbo mode.
  • IPX8 rating.
  • Knurled surface for an enhanced grip.

Cons

  • The clip isn’t easily removed.

Streamlight ProTac 1L

The ProTac 1L features an anti-roll design that should prove useful when working on flat surfaces. It’s hardy with an aluminum body and impact-resistant glass that enables the torch to withstand falls of up to 6.6 feet. 

This light features a waterproof rating of IPX7. This means that it can handle heavy downpours, and can be submerged at a depth of 3.3 feet for 1.5 hours. 

It has a pocket clip that’s very durable and sturdy, even in the face of sudden movements. This doubles as a security measure by ensuring the torch doesn’t accidentally fall off.

The pocket clip is removable, for when you want a steady grip on the cylindrical body of the flashlight. When using it on flat surfaces, consider attaching the clip. You’ll find that it complements the anti-roll properties of the head.

The ProTac 1L has three selectable light programs: 

  • High/ Strobe/ Low.
  • High Only.
  • High/ Low.

All of these are controlled by a multi-function tail switch that has a rubber cover for enhanced comfort.

  • High: 275-lumen beam for 2 hours—and a beam distance of 469 feet.
  • Strobe: 275-lumen beam for 3.5 hours.
  • Low: 22-lumen beam for 24 hours—and a beam distance of 135 feet.

Pros

  • Preset light modes.
  • Tail switch operation.
  • Ergonomic design.
  • Strobe light for emergencies.
  • Anti-roll features.
  • Removable pocket clip.

Cons

  • Some users found the tail switch to be too sensitive.

Olight S1R II

The S1R II can produce a 1000-lumen beam through a distance of 474 feet. It has a double-sided clip to keep it secure in your pocket or on your belt and a textured body for improved grip. An even, cylindrical build makes the little flashlight very comfortable to handle.

A TIR optic lens evens the beam, ensuring your light is both directed and distributed. This light is rechargeable and comes with two batteries and a magnetic USB charging system. 

It also features a three-color power indicator, so you always know how much juice you have. 

This is important when you are planning for a camping trip.

  • Green: Over 60 percent of power.
  • Yellow: Less than 60 percent, more than 10 percent of power.
  • Red: Less than 10 percent of power.

The S1R has five modes which include strobe function for emergencies:

  • Strobe: 600-lumen beam. 
  • Mode 2: 600-lumen beam for 1.5 hours.
  • Mode 3: 60-lumen beam for 3.7 hours.
  • Mode 4: 12-lumen beam for 20 hours.
  • Mode 5: 0.5-lumen beam for 8 days.

This flashlight has an IPX8 waterproof rating, which means it can handle submersion in 6.6 feet of water for 1.5 hours. It is designed to withstand falls of up to 5 feet.

Pros

  • IPX8 rating.
  • Five brightness modes.
  • Strobe feature.
  • Uniform cylindrical body.
  • Double-sided clip.
  • Three-color battery indication.

Cons

  • Some customers complained that the on/off button is too easily triggered.

EagleTac D25C MKII

At maximum capacity, the MKII produces an 800-lumen beam featuring a throw of 420 feet. The light has an IPX8 rating and can be submerged in over 6 feet of water for 30 minutes. It’s an excellent option if you plan to use your flashlight in high-rainfall environments.

The MKII has five brightness modes:

  • Max: 800-lumen beam for 36 minutes.
  • High: 410-lumen beam for 1 hour.
  • Medium: 155-lumen beam for 3 hours.
  • Low: 21-lumen beam for 17 hours.
  • Very low: 0.5-lumen beam for 200 hours.

The aluminum body is knurled for improved grip, and a hardened lens enhances the durability. It can handle falls of over 5 feet, making it a worthy consideration if you’re shopping for an outdoor flashlight.

Pros

  • IPX8 rating.
  • Knurled body.
  • Five brightness modes.
  • 420-foot throw.
  • Ergonomic build.
  • Sturdy design.
  • Includes a holster pouch.

Cons

  • Pocket clip can be unreliable.

(Source)

In a Nutshell

After testing the products and reading through hundreds of reviews, we found the Olight S2R II Baton to be the best compact flashlight on the market.

On a full charge, it produces an 1150-lumen beam that also clocked 4,600 candelas. That’s bright enough for all outdoor activities. We also found it quite impressive that this small light managed a beam distance of 443 feet. 

A close runner-up is the Nitecore TIP SS, which has a 243 beam distance on high mode. It also impressed us by the fact that it could sustain a 360-lumen beam for about half an hour. True to its claims, we found that the beam was barely affected by 5-foot falls. A welcome feature if you plan to use it for outdoor activities.

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