Three best flashlights
You don't want to get caught in the dark without a reliable light source when you need it most. When the power suddenly goes out, your car breaks down at night, or you need to complete a task in a dimly lit area, you will find that the right flashlight comes in handy. Pocket-size, industrial-strength, affordably priced -- there's a flashlight on the market to fit nearly any consumer's needs and budget. This guide will give you some pointers and offer a few of our favorites.
Considerations when choosing flashlights
From practical to tactical, there are countless reasons why you might need a new flashlight. Do you want to stock your tool kit with a reliable, portable light? Do you need a small flashlight for your car's glove box? Or maybe one to keep in the kitchen for the next time you need to light your way in a power outage? Different types of flashlights are designed for different purposes, and each has various convenient features.
General-purpose flashlights: These flashlights, also referred to as utility flashlights, are the go-to for basic in-home use. They're usually inexpensive, and while practical, not known for longevity.
Pocket flashlights: These flashlights are designed as you'd expect -- they are small enough to fit in your pocket. The compact size makes them portable and ideal for lighting needs on the go. Some are even designed to resemble pens, with clips that can easily attach to a pocket or belt.
Work lights, spotlights, and industrial flashlights: These are all larger models with a rugged housing, often used for tasks around the garage or workshop. They're also suitable for tradespeople in fields like plumbing and carpentry.
Tactical flashlights: These are extremely heavy-duty lights, often made of tough, nearly indestructible metal. Modeled after flashlights used by professionals in law enforcement or the military, these flashlights provide superior lighting and are built to last.
Size: Flashlights can be small enough to fit in a pocket or large enough to light up your yard. They also come in sizes in between, so you can find the perfect match to stash in your trunk, toolbox, or kitchen drawer.
Brightness: The brightness of a flashlight is measured in watts or lumens. The higher the number, the brighter the beam. While some flashlights have incandescent bulbs, they are typically dimmer and less durable than LED bulbs, which also last longer.
Batteries: Flashlights are powered by either disposable or rechargeable batteries. While disposable batteries are easy and quick to change, they can have questionable longevity. However, the downside of a flashlight that runs on a rechargeable battery is that it could take a while to charge completely.
Flashlight prices: No matter your budget, you can find an affordable flashlight. While there are lots of well-made models for less than $20, high-end options can run over $100.
Q. I like the idea of the rugged build of tactical flashlights, but are they heavy?
A. It's true that tactical flashlights are built to withstand heavy-duty use, but that doesn't translate into hefty weight. In fact, most standard-size tactical models weigh less than a pound.
Q. What is "strobe mode"?
A. Along with turning on and off, some flashlights have a strobe mode, also sometimes referred to as SOS mode, that produces intermittent light. It comes in handy for attracting attention in an emergency.
Flashlights we recommend
Best of the best: Fenix Flashlights FX-PD35TAC Flashlight
Our take: If you're looking for a professional-grade flashlight that's up to almost any task, this is the one to buy.
What we like: Heavy-duty build with numerous capabilities, including a bright adjustable beam and SOS mode. Trusted by professionals such as military personnel.
What we dislike: Battery life and light brightness known to diminish somewhat quickly when left on for long periods of time.
Best bang for your buck: SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlight
Our take: For the consumer who needs a versatile and durable light, this is a good value.
What we like: Rugged Nitrolon construction that resists shock and moisture. Features strobe mode. Straightforward to operate.
What we dislike: We wish the battery life lasted a bit longer.
Choice 3: STANLEY FATMAX LED Spotlight
Our take: Ideal for anyone who needs a bright light for heavy-duty tasks.
What we like: Powerful, at 2,200 lumens. Rechargeable battery has long life. Can be used hands-free.
What we dislike: Bulky design. Not practical if you prefer a basic model for everyday use.
Jennifer Manfrin 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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