Flashlights make great gifts for men and women. Flashlights light up the dark spaces, bringing daylight to the night itself. Having one on hand adds a level of security for everything you do. Flashlights are tools like anything else in the toolbox, and it pays to have the right one when you need it most. But sometimes they are just cool to show off!
Here’s a quick list of the best flashlights to give for any occasion (and their battery size):
Best Pocket Flashlights
Best Everyday Carry Flashlights
Best General Purpose Flashlight
Best Flashlight for Showing Off to His Buddies (or Searching for Them)
What to look for in giving a flashlight for a gift?
We have all developed criteria and meanings for ‘quality’ over the years. Here is mine which I developed from years of using flashlights of all types, in all environments and situations.
- Fit for Purpose – What are you using the light for? Uses for a flashlight vary from lighting up a keyhole to get into your home to search and rescue in the woods. Among other things, physical flashlight size and beam width are top considerations here. If you don’t have a specific purpose in mind, you just want a solid bright light that’s ready when you need it. Then you are probably looking for a General Purpose Flashlight or an Everyday Carry (EDC) type of flashlight, depending on if you want it with you all the time or not..
- Power Source – Personally I prefer Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) rechargeable flashlights. I generally choose ones which use rechargeable cells to reduce waste and increase performance, or lights with integrated chargers that can charge from a standard USB cable. I recognize that some cases call for non-rechargeable cells. When I was travelling, I ensured that my electronics operated on ‘AA’ batteries since they can be found almost anywhere. Severe cold weather use may call for Lithium cells like CR123A. Flashlights in long-term storage such as Emergency Kits are best served with disposable cells due to their long shelf life. But for most purposes I’ve found that a rechargeable flashlight is simply the best way to go for me.
- Durability – Things get wet and cold in my world. The IP (Ingress Penetration or International Protection) Code is a numerical scale which defines levels of water and sand resistance for devices. By this scale my minimum to consider for any flashlight is IPX4, which is defined as being proof against splashing water in all directions for at least 5 minutes. I also consider drop tests where possible since I’m clumsy and everything I own seems to eventually get dropped onto concrete at least once or twice.
- Build Quality – The reputation of the designer and manufacturer are reflected in the build quality of their products. Everyone puts out some lemons here and there, but a reputable manufacturer will have a consistent track record of good quality and value, and do their best to stand behind their products and support their customers. I stick to name brands when spending any amount of money on a flashlight. I need to rely on my equipment, and going with a value brand for a cheap price has left me hanging without a light when I really needed it more than a few times.
- Beam Tint – This is a point of personal preference, but I strongly prefer ‘Warm White’ or ‘Neutral White’ beam tints. The light at these frequencies are relaxing and calming while being bright enough for almost any task. ‘Cool White’ lights are often brighter but seem to scramble my brain. I have almost no purpose for a strongly blue tinted or ‘Cool White’ light.
- WOW Factor – Never underestimate the WOW factor when buying a man a present. Men simply like things that are awesome and that impress their friends. Anything that exceeds expectations will add to that WOW factor, but if you want to go overboard then check out the Searchlight selections.
Best Everyday Carry (EDC) Flashlights
Everyday carry (EDC) flashlights are just that – flashlights that are meant to be always ready and available, and have the performance, for whatever situation you find yourself in. They are generally the highest performance flashlight that you can fit in a pocket or daily gear like a jacket or belt holster.
The Olight S2R II is the UPGRADED version of the Olight S2R. It doesn’t look like much at first, until you turn it on.
Light and compact enough to carry in your jeans, this wide-angle monster lights up the night with 1150 Lumens of brightness. The integrated magnetic charging snaps onto the charging cable with a satisfying click, ensuring that the light is fully powered when you need it. This flashlight comes with a reversible pocket clip which allows attachment to a hat brim for hands free use.
- Convenient magnetic charging
- Swappable 18650 Li-Ion battery
- Reversible pocket clip
The Nitecore P18 has a unique, tactical look that just screams ‘show me off to your buddies’, and the performance to boot. With the included high performance IMR 18650 rechargeable Li-Ion battery this light puts out up to an astounding 1800 Lumens and feels solid in your hand. Also included is a red color LED light for low light use.
- Super-bright 1800 Lumens output
- Integrated low light red LED
- Tail and side switches
Best Pocket Flashlights
Pocket flashlights can also be considered Everyday Carry (EDC) since they are small enough to fit in a pocket.
The Surefire Stiletto has a unique concept light with an aggressive form factor which is sure to grab attention. The Stiletto projects a 650 Lumen emitter and MaxVision reflector light up your immediate area and enhance your situational awareness. While it doesn’t break the 1000 Lumen mark it does have a size small enough to always have on your person for when you need it the most. The removable pocket clip is designed to hold the Stiletto in a ‘bezel up’ position in your pocket which enables a very fast and smooth deployment to an ‘ice pick’ overhand grip. There is a primary side switch and also a tactical tail switch which activates the high output mode.
- Lightning fast deployment
- Internal USB Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
- Primary side switch and full
is labeled as the world’s first professional grade keychain flashlight. The LED outputs 300 Lumens of white light. The most striking feature of the Titan Plus, along with the size, is the scratch resistant nickel plated brass construction. The Titan Plus has a twist can be used with a pocket clip or a detachable keychain fob. The convenient size and ‘AAA’ power ensure that the Titan Plus is always ready to go.
- Small go-anywhere size
- Stylish, scratch resistant nickel plated brass
- Keychain fob and pocket clip
Best Flashlight for Impressing His Buddies (or Finding Them in the Woods)
When you have to search for something in the woods, whether it is a lost dog or a lost buddy, that’s when you break out the BFF (I’ll leave it to you to translate). Tons of power, tons of light and tons of distance, these guys truly are sunlight in your hand.
The Acebeam K75 is made to throw light. Every little bit counts, and with over 1.8 Million Candela this one throws light up to 2500 Meters (that’s 1.5 Miles!) Powered by 4x 18650 rechargeable Li-Ion or an after-market rechargeable battery pack. The six power modes vary from 6300 Lumens in the Turbo mode to a soft 7 Lumens in the Ultra-Low mode as well as a strobe function. The side switch allows for single click on/off and mode cycling, but also quick access to the Turbo and Strobe functions.
This light is also available with a red LED to preserve night vision, although there is a sacrifice in brightness and throw. See your local Acebeam vendor for details.
- 1.5 Million Candela enabling 2500 Meters of throw!
- Convenient side switch
More Wow factor here – the Olight Javelot Pro can send light over 1000 Meters downrange. The light is powered by a battery pack containing two rechargeable 18650 Li-Ion batteries. Waterproof to IPX8 standard it is submersible, or durable enough to take along for hunting and fishing. The broad head and slender body has a very robust and sturdy feel.
- Magnetic charging
- Four lighting levels from 2100 Lumens (Turbo) to 15 Lumens (Low)
- Comfortable form factor
Best General Purpose Flashlight
When you are going to the kitchen drawer to get a flashlight, what will be there for you to use? General purpose flashlights are reliable workhorses that will satisfy 80% of whatever you’ll need a flashlight for.
The Streamlight Protac HL5-X is a robust workhorse from a quality flashlight maker. This is very durable and built for duty but also exceptionally bright at 3500 Lumens. The rubber grip helps keep a handle on the light while keeping the ‘business end’ all metal. Being in a cold environment I do enjoy a rubber grip over cold metal when I can find it. This flashlight uses 2x USB rechargeable 18650 Li-Ion batteries or can use 4x CR123A Lithium cells. There is not an integrated charger in this light.
- 3000 Lumen output
- Rubber handle for improved grip and operation in cold and wet weather
An upgraded version of your dad’s Maglite. The old incandescent Maglites of the 90’s were awesome clubs, but they utilized incandescent bulbs and were made irrelevant by the onset of more powerful LED emitters. Maglite has come back kicking though, and this version puts out over 1000 Lumens and a throw of almost 500 ft. with it’s LED emitter. Waterproof to IPX4 so it can be operated in the rain or snow. This flashlight includes a rechargeable Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO) cell that is the size of 3 ‘C’ cell batteries placed end-to-end.
Maglite does have larger versions that can take a package of ‘D’ cell batteries, but I’m a much bigger fan of rechargeable cells so the ML150R wins out for me.
- Rechargeable Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) cell
- ‘Zoomie’ head giving both wide and narrow light beams
In conclusion there is no best flashlight, given as a gift or otherwise. It all comes down to the availability, durability and performance that you or your loved ones are looking for – and of course how much they will brag about it!