Best Handheld Flashlight

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Flashlights are a versatile tool with a variety of uses. Because of that, there’s a multitude of models in all shapes and sizes. Some are simple, while others come with a whole list of bells and whistles.

With so much variety, it can be almost impossible to find the ideal flashlight for your needs. We curated this list of the best handheld flashlights with that in mind.

Our list of the best handheld flashlights includes models of every shape, size, and style. Our top choice for the best handheld flashlight is the general-purpose Streamlight Protac HL5-X Series Dual Fuel Tactical Flashlight. Our other selections include:

And more!

Things to look for

When choosing which flashlight on our list is right for you, it is important to consider the available functions. Pay particular attention to the brightness, power type and size of the flashlight.

Brightness

There are so many models of flashlights today because of the inexpensive nature of LED bulbs and their energy efficiency. LED flashlights far outshine older incandescent bulbs with extended life in a much smaller package.

Lumens are the measurement to look for when considering the brightness of a flashlight. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the beam will be. Even with their energy efficiency, very high lumen levels can drain batteries quickly.

Our Lumens, Lux, and Candela article is a great resource to learn more about Lumens and light output

Power Type

As with the LEDs, battery technology has and is advancing quickly. Older flashlights used conventional alkaline batteries, but more efficient, and rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries feature in many of the flashlights on our list.

Conventional batteries are easy to come by and used in many other electronic devices, but they can be wasteful. Rechargeable flashlights are often as convenient to charge as your cell phone, but lose their portability while charging.

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

Size

All the flashlights on our list are handheld, but there is a considerable difference in size. The most powerful flashlights can be heavy and bulky. Pocket-sized flashlights offer convenience but can’t match the output or runtime of larger models.

For everyday carrying, choose a smaller size. Consider easy to charge models to make up for the low runtime. A flashlight kept at home or in your car for emergencies can be larger without worry about its easy portability.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Flashlights to learn what to look for when finding the best flashlight for your needs

Our 16 Best Handheld Flashlights

We begin our list with the best overall flashlight before moving on to our choices in specific categories, including by size and power supply.

Best General Purpose Flashlight

Streamlight Protac HL5-X

With so many options and styles available, we found choosing the top choice from our list difficult. There are so many general uses for handheld flashlights, from providing illumination when the power is out, to lighting the way for a nighttime walk or getting a better look when searching for something lost in a dark corner.

We chose the Streamlight Protac HL5-X as the best general use flashlight because of its flexibility and durability. At 9.5 inches long and weighing in at 1.2 pounds, it is too big for everyday carry but offers over 11 hours of runtime on low.

With three brightness settings and a strobe for emergency use and signaling, it banishes the dark with its 3,500 lumens high setting, but you can also use the 250 lumens low setting for everyday activities.

The power for the beam comes from two Streamlight rechargeable 18650 USB lithium-ion batteries. Instead of a charging port on the flashlight itself, these batteries have micro USB ports for direct charging.

You cannot use most flashlights with this type of battery during charging unless you have spares, but this is not the case with the Protac HL5-X.

The flashlight is “dual fuel,” meaning it can also use 3-Volt CR123A lithium batteries. With these, the runtime is slightly shorter. Instead of 1.5 hours on high, you will get 1.25. At low, it cuts an hour off the 11.5-hour runtime, but the added option increases the usefulness of the flashlight.

Streamline built it from anodized aluminum to last. It’s able to withstand impact up to 1-meter, so you don’t have to worry about dropping it. The gasket-sealed glass lens is waterproof to 1-meter for 30 minutes and comes with an anti-reflective coating.

Pros

  • Multiple brightness settings.
  • Innovative dual fuel capabilities.
  • Wide beam.

Cons

  • Too large for everyday carrying.
  • Heavy.
  • Batteries need removed to charge.

Best Pen Light Flashlight 

Streamlight Stylus Pro

Sometimes the best options come in a tiny package, especially for a portable light that you plan to carry with you or need for work. Weighing in at only 3.2 ounces and with a length that’s just under 4 inches, few flashlights come in a smaller package than this one.

Penlights can’t match the brightness of larger flashlights, but with 250 lumens pumping out on its high mode, it can provide a great deal of illumination. You can use the 90 lumens low mode to navigate dark rooms or get a better look at the menu in a dimly lit restaurant.

The internal lithium-ion battery is rechargeable through the flashlight’s micro USB port. A sliding metal cover, to provide water resistance, protects it when not in use. It takes 2.5 hours to charge the battery, and the runtime on high is 1.5 hours, low 3.5 hours.

The Type II military-spec aluminum housing of the flashlight offers resistance to abrasion, so you won’t have to worry about it getting scuffed in your pocket or purse. The detachable pocket clip adds convenience for those who need the flashlight within reach.

Pros

  • Lightweight and small.
  • Quick recharging.
  • Bright beam for such a small size.

Cons

  • Short runtime.
  • Only two brightness settings and no strobe.

Best Rechargeable Flashlight

Fenix FX-PD35TAC

Twenty years ago, almost all portable lighting used conventional batteries for power. Operating flashlights on batteries from AAA to giant D cells can become costly and create a lot of waste. Thanks to cell phones and portable computers, battery technology has improved with most of the flashlights on our list using rechargeable cells.

Fenix Flashlights FX-PD35TAC is our top choice in this category thanks to its multiple brightness settings, long run time and overall durability in an easy to carry size.

With five brightness modes and an emergency signal strobe, you won’t have to worry about having too much or too little illumination, no matter the task. The high mode provides 1000 lumens through the ultra-clear, toughened glass lens, which has an anti-reflective coating.

Capable of 140 hours of operation at low mode on a single charge of the 18650 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it can also work on two 3V CR123. You must remove the batteries to recharge them, so having spares on hand will prevent you from going without its light.

Pros

  • Multiple brightness modes.
  • Easy to use side and rear buttons.
  • Small size and weight.
  • Long run time on low mode.

Cons

  • Too bulky for everyday carrying.
  • Heats up on the highest mode.

Best USB Rechargeable Flashlight

Pelican 7600

When your phone’s battery is getting low, you plug it in to bring it back up to 100%. It is much more convenient than swapping batteries out, so who wouldn’t want that same convenience with a handheld flashlight?

Our favorite USB rechargeable flashlight offers a beam shooting out an impressive 944 lumens on its high setting with a runtime that a lot of the other lights on our list can’t match. You will get over three hours on the high and strobe settings while you can expect over 24 hours on the low mode.

Pelican offers a lifetime guarantee. If you break it, they will replace it, but with its durable anodized aluminum body, you probably won’t need to worry.

Besides the many brightness settings, it offers you a choice of beam color. Both green and red beams are available along with the standard white. Red tinted light will help you preserve your night vision, so this mode is perfect for the backcountry.

With its onboard USB port, you can charge it wherever you charge your phone and other electronic devices.

Pros

  • Multiple brightness and color modes.
  • Long battery life.
  • Easy to charge.
  • Lifetime warranty. 

Cons

  • Larger than comparable lights.
  • Charging is difficult when power is out.

Best Budget USB Rechargeable Flashlight 

Anker Bolder LC90

Everyone likes a bargain, especially when it comes with many of the features the more expensive models have. You won’t have to sacrifice much when you choose the Anker Bolder LC90.

With a super bright CREE LED, there is nothing budget about the amount of illumination, with 900 lumens on high and strobe modes. The focus can be scaled from a narrow beam to a wide spotlight on all modes.

Fully rechargeable in 6 hours with the included micro-USB cable, you can expect the same amount of run time on medium settings.

Its durable aluminum body is shock resistant and able to survive falls of up to a meter. It can operate at temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can withstand all weather.

Pros

  • USB recharging.
  • Multiple brightness modes and beam control.
  • Strong construction.
  • Budget Price

Cons

  • Long charging time.
  • Poor grip in adverse weather.

Best Rechargeable Flashlight with Cradle 

Streamlight Stinger

Being able to recharge batteries results in less waste from throwing the disposable ones away and saves you money in the long run, but chargers can be inconvenient and easy to forget, resulting in drained batteries when you need a flashlight. Not so with Streamlight’s cradle charger included with the Stinger.

Simply snap the flashlight into the piggyback charger, and it will charge them in an average of 2.5 hours. An optional version of the charger contains room for a separate battery, so you can always have a second on hand. With a battery tested to 1000 cycles, you might not need that second battery for a long while, though.

Three brightness settings and a strobe for emergencies give the Stinger flexibility to provide illumination for a variety of purposes. Its high setting is not as bright as many flashlights on the list at 425 lumens, but it can run for an impressive 3 hours at that setting or 10 hours on low with 100 lumens.

Pros

  • Easy to use, snap-in charger.
  • Impressive battery life.
  • Multiple brightness settings with strobe.

Cons

  • High setting is not as bright as many others.
  • Not submersible.

Best Everyday Carry (EDC)

Olight S2R II

“Be Prepared,” is the Boy Scout motto, but you need not be a scout to take it to heart. Many people take a small flashlight with them wherever they go as part of their everyday carry  — so they can be better prepared with illumination whenever they need it.

Everyday carry flashlights need to be small, powerful, and easy to use, like this Olight S2R.

It is small enough to fit in most pockets, measuring only 3.9 inches long, with a weight of 3.4 ounces, or on your belt with the included removable clip and lanyard.

Packing a whopping 1150 lumens on high brightness into such a small package, when you need lots of light, it can provide it.

With four other modes from 400 lumens down to 0.5, it will help you “be prepared” for a lot of different uses.

Because of its small size, the flashlight cannot sustain the higher brightness setting for long. The high setting provides 2 minutes at 1150 lumens before dropping down to 400 lumens for an additional half-hour.

Charging with the included magnetic charger could not be simpler. Plug it in and let the magnet snap to it.

Pros

  • Tiny size, so easy to carry.
  • Magnetic charger cable. 
  • Dazzling for such a small flashlight.

Cons

  • Short runtime on high and medium.
  • Uses a proprietary battery.
  • Unintuitive button control.

Best Compact Flashlight

ACEBEAM TK17

They often say that good things come in small packages, and that is true with portable lights. You never know when you will need a little illumination to light the way. At 3.26 inches long and only 2.6 grams, battery included, few flashlights pack as much power into a compact case as the TK17.

With the Samsung LED, it can pump out 2,300 lumens on turbo mode for 45 minutes, a respectable time for such a compact flashlight. Its other modes descend to ultra-low with 3 lumens and a 120-hour runtime.

You charge the battery with the included micro USB cable. You can plug it in wherever you charge your phone to ensure it is ready when you need it. Unless you have a spare battery, you cannot use the flashlight when it is charging.

Acebeam has constructed the lightweight case from anodized machined aircraft aluminum for durability, and it has been impact tested to 1 meter. You won’t have to worry about water, as long as it is not too deep. This flashlight can withstand submersion in up to two meters of water.

Pros

  • Long runtime on low brightness levels.
  • Several brightness modes, including strobe.
  • Rugged design.

Cons

  • Can’t use while charging.
  • Runs warm at high brightness.

Best Pocket Flashlight

ACEBEAM TK18

As portable flashlights become more substantial than the most compact, their features and power grow with them. There is no better example on our list than this ACEBEAM TK18. A size up from our compact choice, it features the same rugged styling and battery recharging method but with a stronger beam and more options.

Besides the standard brightness modes, with a 3,000 lumens turbo down to the ultra-low at 3 lumens, it offers an ECO option to extend battery life. With ECO selected, turbo drops to 1450 lumens, but this allows it to run on two CR123A batteries while the proprietary battery charges through its included micro-USB port.

Unlike most other flashlights on our list, the TK18 offers three bulb options. The standard model comes with Samsung LEDs offering extreme brightness. If you need a flashlight that mimics natural light, the Nichia 219 LED provides a color rendering index over 90. The Osram LED option pushes the beam length to 286 meters for those who need to see farther.

Pros

  • Eco mode.
  • Multiple LED options.
  • Easy to use charger.
  • Accepts multiple battery types.

Cons

  • Feels flimsy.
  • Expensive.

Best Medium Flashlight

Olight Seeker 2 Pro

Smaller flashlights have their place for everyday use, but their size is often limiting, unable to match the power, run time and features that bigger lights can offer.

We can see this in one of the most interesting innovations in this category, the Olight Seeker 2 Pro.

A super all-around flashlight, it is only slightly larger than our pocket favorite, though it weighs much more thanks to the customized rechargeable battery. At its highest brightness mode, it provides a staggering 3,200 lumens for 2 minutes before dropping to 600 for an additional 150 minutes. The 5 lumens low mode offers an impressive 12-day runtime.

The innovation comes in the charger. As with the other Olight models on our list, it uses a magnetic charging cable that snaps right to the back of the flashlight. In addition to that, the Seeker 2 comes with a mountable L-shaped charging station. You can hang the flashlight from the charging station so it will always be ready for when you need it.

Made from T-6 durable aluminum alloy, it can stand up to rugged use and comes with a lanyard for easy carrying. The charging station is compatible with other Olight models so you can get even more value out of it when you add another light.

Pros

  • Easy to use magnetic charger.
  • Multiple brightness modes.
  • Included L shaped charging station.

Cons

  • Proprietary battery is expensive to replace.
  • Long charging time.
  • Short turbo mode.

Best Large Flashlight

Olight Javelot Pro

When you need a lot of illumination, you are often best served with a substantial light. Olight Javelot Pro won’t fit in your pocket but provides a brighter beam and a longer runtime that smaller flashlights just can’t match.

The rechargeable battery pack, integrated into the handle, can pump out 2,100 lumens on Mode 1 for ten minutes, followed by an additional 90 minutes at 1,000 lumens. Mode 4, at 15 lumens, can run for up to eight full days.

Like Olight’s other models, it recharges through the innovative magnetic tail cap. You can also use the magnet to affix the flashlight onto metal surfaces for hands-free use.

The light comes with a sturdy carrying case and a large belt holster for portability.

Pros

  • Bright bulb with long runtime on turbo.
  • Innovative magnetic charger.
  • Easy to grip handle.

Cons

  • Heats under prolonged use.
  • No strobe setting.
  • Expensive battery replacement.

Best UV Flashlight

uvBeast MINI UV

Ultraviolet light exists in the spectrum between X-rays and visible light. With a UV flashlight, the highest wavelengths become visible to the human eye, illuminated in bright fluorescence.

Beyond adding visual effects for parties, UV flashlights can detect counterfeit money, and in forensics, detect bodily fluids and fingerprints.

The uvBeast is two lights in one, with both a 365nm UV and a bright white lamp. Anyone who needs access to UV light won’t  have to carry an extra flashlight.

Unlike many other UV flashlights, it has a beam that can extend as far as 24 feet in the dark and is powerful enough to work in normal light. The 18650 rechargeable battery provides plenty of runtime in both modes.

Made from aerospace-grade aluminum and small enough to fit in your pocket, the toggle switch and LEDs are both recessed to protect from scratches and accidental activation.

Pros

  • Dual LED with both UV and bright white light.
  • Bright UV settings.
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • Pocket size.

Cons

  • UV light weakens when the battery is low.
  • Battery not included.

Best Ultra-Bright

Acebeam X70

Thanks to their small size and the immense power an array of LED bulbs can output, you can now hold a blindingly bright spotlight in the palm of your hand.

That power, however, comes with several downsides, including large size, heat production and cost. Most people would be better served with a different flashlight, but if you really need the power, the X70 is our choice.

Equipped with an array of 12 CREE Xhp70.2 LEDs, it can output a whopping 60,000 lumens on turbo, the equivalent of 71 60 watt incandescent bulbs. With four other brightness modes down to “ultra low” at 625 lumens, and a strobe function, it provides various functionality.

Even powered by eight 186540 rechargeable batteries, the turbo setting drops from the maximum to 18,000 lumens after a minute, and can sustain that for 50 minutes. On ultra-low, the usage extends to 24 hours.

Heat is a significant issue with ultra-bright flashlights, and the X70 offers an innovative solution. An external fan system attaches to the flashlight to provide a cool-to-the-touch handle and disperse the heat created by its mammoth beam.

Weighing in at just over six pounds and 11 inches long, it is not the easiest flashlight to carry but comes with a shoulder strap to make it easier.

The aircraft-grade aluminum body has an anti-abrasive coating, and Acebeam rates it to handle water as deep as 30 feet.

Pros

  • Brightest flashlight on the list.
  • Cooling handle.

Cons

  • Very short runtime at the highest brightness levels.
  • Low setting is too bright.
  • Gets hot even with the cooling handle.

Best Hunting Flashlight

Nitecore P30

With the right light, you can extend the hunt well into the night. The Nitecore New P30 1000 lumen beam can reach up to 676 yards, but that is only one reason it is our top choice for hunters.

With five brightness modes from 1000 lumens down to the single lumen ultra-low setting and three specials, including strobe, it functions as a great all-around flashlight. You can expect an hour of runtime on turbo with 40 days on ultra-low.

The long reach of the beam is perfect for hunters. With the included offset rail mount and HC mount, you can easily attach it to your scope or barrel. The green and red filters allow you to protect your night vision while stalking the woods.

Pros

  • Multiple brightness modes, including ultra-low and strobe.
  • Included hunting accessories.
  • Long throw.

Cons

  • Cannot tail stand.
  • Red and green filters reduce brightness.

Best Firefighting Flashlight 

Streamlight Knucklehead Spot Light

Based on one of their work lights, Streamlight designed the knucklehead spot with firefighters and search and rescue professionals in mind. Lightweight and handheld, it works reliably in smoky conditions.

There are two modes, a 180-lumen high with a runtime of three and a half hours and a 55-lumen low mode that can last up to 16 hours. The flashlight features an articulating head with a parabolic reflector to create a tight, long-range beam.

A removable magnet on the base provides a 135 pounds pull strength. You won’t have to worry about it giving way when it’s affixed to a metal surface. The high-impact, super-tough nylon polymer housing can handle rough and tumble use without failure.

Pros

  • Articulating head.
  • Powerful removable magnet.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Only two brightness modes.
  • High mode is not as bright as many other models.

Best Police Flashlight

Olight R50 PRO Seeker LE

The men and women in law enforcement use their flashlights in a variety of ways, so they need a reliable all-around model that’s durable enough to handle the job.

The R50 Pro Seeker provides the multiple brightness modes that law enforcement officers need, along with the innovative features of Olight’s other flashlights.

The bright pinpoint light with the power of 3,200 lumens in Mode 1 will illuminate any scene for one and a half minutes before dropping to 1,000 lumens for an additional 150 minutes of runtime. The 60-lumen Mode 4 provides a runtime of 50 hours before you need to worry about recharging.

Instead of a conventional charging port, Olight uses its magnetic charging cable, though it does not come with the LE Kit.

The R50 is compatible with its L shaped mountable charger for greater convenience.

The compact and durable aluminum housing is impact resistant to five feet and able to survive immersion in up to three feet of water. It’s built to last and easy to operate in one hand.

Pros

  • Magnetic base and charger.
  • Easy to hold.
  • 3,200-lumen brightness.

Cons

  • Charger not included.
  • No lanyard hole.
  • Proprietary battery.

Conclusion

If you haven’t found a flashlight that meets your needs on our list, it probably doesn’t exist. Remember to keep the size, power type and brightness in mind when making your decision.

The best overall choice on our list, the Streamlight Protac HL5-X Flashlight features everything most people need in a flashlight. From its 3,500 lumens high mode to the 250 lumens low mode, it will provide you with the right amount of light for the job at hand in a compact package with rechargeable batteries.

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