The best flashlight of 2020
Whether for emergencies or day-to-day use, a flashlight provides the light you need in the dark.
You might want a flashlight to take camping, to keep around in case of a power outage, or simply to make shadow puppets on the wall for your kids.
Today's flashlights can boast a huge range of features. Some of these are excellent, but it can leave buyers baffled about what they need and what they don't.
To help get you started, we've researched the best flashlights of 2020 for your consideration. On our short list, we've included a couple of new models alongside a long-standing top pick.
Best flashlights of 2020
1. Fenix Flashlights' FX-PD35TAC Flashlight: This top choice is returning to our list, thanks to its rugged body and choice of six output modes up to 1,000 lumens.
2. Bell + Howell's Taclight High-Powered Tactical Flashlight: An affordable option that doesn't scrimp on quality, this flashlight can withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures, and it offers three levels of brightness, plus strobe and S.O.S. modes.
3. Goal Zero's Torch 250 Flashlight, Lantern, and USB Recharger: Way more than just a flashlight, this new favorite of ours can be used to charge devices, plus it has hand-crank and solar-power options to extend its battery life.
For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.
What you need to know before buying a flashlight
If you're looking for an average flashlight for general use, a utility flashlight fits the bill. These are basic but all that many people need. Tactical flashlights are more rugged than utility flashlights and sometimes have additional emergency modes or extra-bright settings to surprise intruders (though realistically most people won't need the latter). Emergency flashlights have solar or hand crank options so you can use them when you don't have access to power outlets or fresh batteries. Industrial flashlights tend to be extra-bright and rugged and are designed for construction workers or other people who need flashlights for work.
It's nice to have a range of brightness settings since you won't always want or need the brightest flashlight, but on occasion you may need that extra boost to see further into the distance.
In terms of power, there's a mix of flashlights that use standard single-use batteries (such as AA or C) and those with internal rechargeable batteries, like cell phones. Single-use batteries tend to power a torch for longer, which is good if regular recharging isn't practical, but you have the added expense and hassle of replacing the batteries when they run out.
Flashlights can cost as little as $5 for basic models to around $50 for high-tech options.
Q. What sort of features should I look for in a flashlight to take camping?
A. If you'll be taking a flashlight camping, we'd recommend a flashlight with an S.O.S. or strobe mode for emergencies, especially if you're off the beaten track. You might also like a flashlight that doubles as a power bank to charge your devices, or one with a hand crank charging option in case it runs out of juice.
Q. What's a good number of lumens for a flashlight?
A. The brightness of a flashlight is measured in lumens. You can find flashlights with brightnesses of anywhere from around 20 lumens to 3,000 lumens plus. For average use while doing household tasks or on camping trips, something around the 100 lumen mark will suffice, though some people find they need around 500 to 1,000 for hiking after dark, sailing, caving, or industrial use. However, it's worth noting that lumens aren't the be-all and end-all of brightness. Depending on factors such as quality of reflectors, a 50 lumen flashlight can appear brighter than a 100 lumen model, for instance.
In-depth reviews for best flashlights
Best of the best: Fenix Flashlights' FX-PD35TAC Flashlight
What we like: Made from rugged yet lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum. Turbo 1,000 lumen mode can potentially startle intruders. Features strobe and S.O.S. modes.
What we dislike: Battery life could be better, especially when using brighter settings.
Best bang for your buck: Bell + Howell's Taclight High-Powered Tactical Flashlight
What we like: Uses AA batteries, so you can replace them when needed rather than waiting to recharge. Waterproof and shockproof. Works at freezing and boiling temps.
What we dislike: Some durability issues with the on/off button.
What we like: The internal lithium ion battery is long-lasting. Solar panel recharges it during the day. Doubles as a power bank. Hand crank for emergency battery charging.
What we dislike: One minute of turning the crank only powers the flashlight for two minutes.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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