Updated: June 8, 2015

Flashlight Reviews:

When the first power outage occurs each winter, people rush to find a flashlight in their house and realize the batteries are dead or the flashlight is not where they thought. Flashlights are a great safety device when the lights suddenly go out or when you are camping and need a source of light when the sun goes down. Personal lighting devices, as flashlights are often called these days, have plenty of differences. Think about your intended use for the flashlight - will you bring it camping, are you in law enforcement, underwater diving, caving, or will it be a general household flashlight. If you are a backpacker, then you would want the lightest, easiest flashlight to carry while something that sits in your drawers at home for when the power goes out can be bulkier and run on batteries. Hand held flashlights do an excellent job when you only need them on for a few minutes, but a headlamp is perfect for tasks that require your hands to be free (extended power outage, setting up camp, etc.). Most flashlights are made from aluminum or plastic/polymer. The famous Mag series of flashlights are made from aluminum which makes them durable. An anodize finish on the aluminum flashlights is the hardest finish available and all Arc brand lights use this as well as some of the Surefire flashlights.
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Buying Guide - The main types of bulbs you will find in flashlights are flourescent, LED, or incandescent. Incandescent bulbs produce light by heating a filament, LEDs are great at producing light at lower light levels, and flourescent bulbs create light that is "softer" and can't be focused into a beam. LED bulbs are slowly growing in market share as they are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs (lasting 5-10 times longer). The one drawback to LED flashlights is that they are not as bright as incandescent models. All flashlights run on either lithium, alkaline or rechargeable batteries. Other features to consider are smooth or textured reflectors, o-ring or gasket seals, different types of on/off switches, and of course price. Ultimately you want a flashlight you can count on to work in an emergency situation and certainly be durable. Since flashlights can be made for a variety of purposes, please see our lists below of the most popular and best selling lights in each category. We were able to get quality ratings and reviews online at Amazon.com, Candlepowerforums.com, and Flashlightreviews.com. These experts and consumer experiences with dozens of brands gave us clear feedback on which ones perform the best. The top selling brand names are Streamlight, Coast, Maglite, Pelican, Princeton, Inova, Gerber, Coleman, Rayovac, and Surefire. You can browse the top selling flashlights online here.

Best Flashlights:

When it comes to quality flashlights that last a long time, give off powerful light and are simple to use, I always recommend a MagLite. I personally own the Mag Instrument Flashlight - one of the top flashlights used by police officers and security guards. The sturdy design always makes me think it could double as a weapon if you run across a burglar or prowler in your home. It's precision-machined, high strength aluminum alloy case make it durable and the sealed O-rings make it water resistant. For less than $20, how can you go wrong with a Mag Lite flashlight. It takes D batteries which last about 2 years of average runtime. Another newcomer that we found excellent reviews on was the Garrity Power Lite 3 LED Crank Light ($11). For a relatively cheap flashlight, the Garrity performs well with its innovative self powered crank-lite. You wind up the light for about 1 minute which then gives you 60 minutes of light. It's compact, takes no batteries, and the magnifying lens produces a large beam. Users praise this model for coming through during power outages when other flashlights had dead batteries and were useless.

Rechargeable Flashlight:

The best rechargeable flashlight is the Streamlight 78014 Ultra Stinger ($105) - features a xenon bi-pin bulb which produces up to 75,000 candlepower, is constructed of black, machined aluminum with a traditional push button switch. Users say the spot/flood beam is powerful and the Nickel-cadmium 6 volt battery is rechargeable up to 1000 times. This Streamlight flashlight is a little over 11 inches in length and performs flawlessly. Owners say it gets a full recharge in very little time and it's lightweight build makes it easy to carry on evening dog walks or other outdoor activities at night. The police department in our small town recommends these lights for homeowners. The Surefire 8AX Commander is a great rechargeable incandescent flashlight that sells for about $140-$200. This tactical flashlight is great for on the job duties (great for night guards) or just for general use around your house. The high intensity beam will light up anything with ease and it's compact build at less than 7 inches makes it easy to carry. Surefire also makes the L7 LumaMax Kit ($225) - a more expensive rechargeable LED flashlight with extended runtime and up to 100 lumens of output. You can view the most popular rechargeable flashlights here.

LED Flashlight:

For top of the line LED flashlights, we go with Inova flashlights. The Inova XO LED Flashlight sells for $56. Inova lights are built tough and the LED flashlights they produce are efficient, cut through darkness, and work up to 200'. We read a review online written by a professional electrician and after the praise he gave the Inova flashlight we looked into the model more seriously and found that countless other homeowners and on the job professionals rated it just as high. LED bulbs are lifetime guaranteed, and the Inova is waterproof as well. This is the best mid-range priced LED flashlight we could find. The Surefire L1 LumaMax ($135) is a high end LED Flashlight with great customer feedback too. The Surefire is very compact and the dual output LED flashlight lights up dark areas with no problem. RECOMMENDED - See all the top rated Surefire LED flashlights here.


Top Waterproof Flashlight:

When we went looking for a waterproof flashlight, all reviewers pointed us to a Pelican flashlight. They make some of the best water resistant lights on the market and the little Pelican MityLite 1900 ($12.50) is a submersible flashlight. The Pelican flashlight is tough, has a super bright xenon beam, can go down almost 500 feet, and includes a lifetime guarantee. Most flashlights produce a yellowish beam, but the Pelican has a powerful, bright beam that cuts through fog, smoke, and dust as well as water. The Mitylite is a great personal light, but for serious divers, we think the Aqua Kinglite 4100 ($100) from Pelican is the best choice in waterproof flashlights. The Pelican 4100 has an ABS body, polycarbonate lens, and is totally chemical resistant and corrosion proof. You get 2 reflectors - a modified spot and a laser spot both perfect for underwater use. You can view all the Pelican models online with descriptions and prices at Pelican.com.

Headlamps:

Headlamps are very useful as we mentioned above when you need your hands free in a dark environment. Whether you are setting up a campsite late at night or caving and need your hands to do other things besides hold a flashlight, then owning a headlamp is important. The top 2 makers of headlamps are Petzl and Streamlight. The best headlamp per reviewers is the Petzl E47P Tikka Plus Headlamp ($35) - it's water resistant and doesn't short out if submerged, gives you almost 150 hours of burn time, has an excellent tilt feature and fits easily in toolboxs, glove boxes, or your pocket. The Tikka headlamp fits snugly and shines bright. Users say it's an essential piece of outdoor gear for hiking or camping. Mechanics who work under cars say the Petzl headlamp is a lifesaver and gives them the ultimate freedom to use their hands on work and not holding a light in place. Many consumers also noted that during the short days of winter, when runners go out during the dark hours after work, having a Petzl headlamp is a great safety accessory to have. The Petzl E48P Zipka Plus Headlamp for $30 is another top seller. The Streamlight 61052 Septor Super-Bright 7 LED Headlight ($30) is one of our favorites with bright white LEDs, 3 levels of lighting and the option for either a rubber or plastic strap. Several reviewers who do work under houses (telecom, duct work, etc) say the Streamlight is comfortable and provides plenty of light while in extreme dark and tight quarters. The guys at Flashlightreviews.com like the Princeton Tec Apex model with the Luxeon LED light which sells for about $65.