Best Flashlights; Tactical & LED items reviewed by Everyday Carry

Best Flashlights for Everyday Carry

Carrying a LED flashlight as part of your everyday carry is a bright idea—and we don't mean the one on the back of your smartphone.  While the LED on your phone can work in a pinch, a dedicated EDC flashlight is a more reliable option. Even if you think you might not use one, the reality is that it gets dark every night. So to be prepared, whether it's in a blackout, scanning the floor for something you dropped, or taking a walk at night, you should invest in a small flashlight.

If you've never carried a flashlight before, we recommend starting small. Small flashlights are easier to carry in your pocket or even on your keychain without getting in the way. The top flashlights can still get impressively bright thanks to how advanced LEDs and batteries have become.

For emergencies or really hard use, you might want to look at tactical flashlights. They're built to perform in demanding military and law enforcement applications, so they'll be powerful and durable enough for your everyday uses.

Different Types of Flashlights for Everyday Carry

To While we mentioned small keychain flashlights and tactical flashlights, you'll notice there are plenty of ways flashlights can differ. Not all lights are long, bulky cylinders. The easiest way to narrow down a flashlight is by what battery it uses: think AAA, AA, or CR123 to start. Smaller batteries generally mean smaller and more compact flashlights with less runtime and brightness. Bigger, more powerful flashlights require more batteries, and mean a bulkier light overall. To learn more about which type of flashlight is right for you, check out this brief explainer on batteries. Then, check out our buying guides for the best cheap flashlights, and scroll down for even more options.


Prometheus Preon P1 MkIII Flashlight

When you put together manufacturing prowess, over a decade of experience in pioneering flashlights, and the latest in flashlight tech, you're bound to get something special. And it's hard to describe the Preon P1 MkIII as anything but, with all the history behind it. Born out of the partnership of Prometheus Lights and Foursevens, the Preon represents a quality tool that only makers of their caliber can produce. Needless to say, it's one of the most refined AAA lights you can buy today.

The Preon P1 MkIII's exterior is a subtle fusion of both companies' design languages. On first glance you see the familiar Foursevens Preon, with its machined ridges and tapered middle barrel to accommodate your preferred grip method. Then there's the Prometheus screw-in titanium clip: a clip so good it sells on its own for other flashlights. Finally there's the materials the Preon comes in: Electroless Nickel plating and CR3 (Tri-Chrome) + PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating over 6061-T6 aluminum, both technical solutions Prometheus have used to give their lights a unique total coating that doesn't mess with the light's rear click switch operation.

In spite of its looks, the Preon P1 MkIII isn't meant to be just pocket candy. It comes with the latest and greatest Nichia 219C LED, rated at 92+ CRI (Color Rendering Index) for the closest approximation to natural light you can currently get. It also allows for a higher current than its 219B predecessor, meaning it can more efficiently produce and hold its 100-lumen output. The Preon also comes with a programmable user interface, letting you pick from 6 configurations that make use of its 7 modes. An included NiMH AAA battery also gives the light a stable and rechargeable power source so you aren't wasting disposable batteries on your light (or harming it in the worst case).

While the Preon P1 MkIII marks the first steps of Prometheus and Foursevens, it's clear that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and shows the clear influence and experience of both its creators. Learn more and pick one up for yourself in your choice of finish direct from Prometheus at the link below.

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Olight I1R EOS

Sometimes the next big thing in EDC actually turns out to be tiny. In fact, Olight's new I1R EOS keychain light is their smallest to date at just an inch and a half long. But despite its impressively compact footprint, it offers innovative features and power you'd expect from a brand like Olight, all in a considered, easy-to-use design. If you've been looking for a powerful, no-frills EDC light on a budget, don't miss this one.

The I1R EOS takes a “less is more” approach to its design and operation, keeping things refreshingly simple for a modern flashlight. It just takes a simple twist to turn the light on. To make that easier, ribbed “knurling” provides ample grip along most of the IPX8 waterproof, anodized aluminum body of the light. Once on, the light starts at its 5-lumen Low mode. Twist further to reach its high mode, which puts out an impressive 130 lumens out to 54 meters. Low mode usage will get you about 7 hours of runtime, while the I3R runs on High for about 20 minutes. No extra modes to navigate here — just a practical, 2-stage interface with well-spaced brightnesses for general day-to-day use.

The I1R uses unconventional components for both the business end as well as its internals. A Philips LUXEON TX serves as its LED paired with TIR (total internal reflection) optics at the lens to provide a wide, smooth beam that's well-suited for general close range work you'd want out of a keychain light. For added convenience, the I1R's included Li-ion battery recharges via an included microUSB cable and integrated charging port built right into the body of the light.

With a barely-there weight of 0.42 ounces and an integrated lanyard attachment point, the I1R is especially easy to add to your EDC. It won't set you back too much, either, with a sticker price of about $20. Check it out and grab one for your own keychain at the link below.

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Streamlight PolyTac X

If there's anyone with experience with putting a reliable light in your pockets, it's Streamlight. Thanks to incredibly popular (and more importantly, inexpensive), high-quality flashlights like the MicroStream, hundreds of EDCers carry their gear. And while their smaller lights get a lot attention, they've got some versatile, bigger lights packing some power, too. The PolyTac X takes their line of handheld lights and packs more power and versatility in a practically bomb-proof build.

The first thing you'll notice with the PolyTac X that sets it apart from its peers is its molded nylon polymer exterior. It's a super-tough material that gives the light up to 3 meters of impact resistance, and comes with a unique stippled texture that locks in your grip. New to the PolyTac X is its ability to take either an 18650 battery or 2 x CR123A lithium batteries to power its C4 LED, giving it up to 600 lumens with 205 meters of throw for up to 3.5 hours, or a 36-hour runtime with its 35-lumen Low mode. Another unique feature is the light's TEN-TAP programming system which lets you select 3 operating modes for the light, changing how it cycles its modes or giving it a single output on High for emergency/tactical use.

While ruggedness and IPX7 resistance are great features, the light doesn't mean much for EDC if it isn't easy to carry. The PolyTac X has you covered with its two-position clip, attached with a washer-style ring that's pretty rare among flashlights. This ensures the clip will never fly off even during extreme use while giving you plenty of options with carrying the light tip up, down, or attached to your hat for hands-free use.

The PolyTac X is unique, versatile, and requires little investment to add to your EDC. Pick one up in 3 colors from Amazon at the link below.

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Knog Bandicoot Headlamp

"Knog, makers of the excellent Qudos Action Light light are back with a new creation – a lightweight and comfortable silicone headband with built-in LED illumination. It offers spot, ambient, reading, and night vision modes, and..." (via TheAwesomer)

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Klarus TP20 Penlight

When you think of a penlight, you probably picture a flashlight that's long and slim like its namesake: the humble pocket pen. The convenient form factor makes it both easy to carry and use for up-close inspection work. With their new TP20, Klarus made the penlight even better by taking the name literally. They've combined a rugged titanium tactical pen with a powerful LED flashlight in a lightweight, streamlined design. Now you can write and light with just a single tool in your EDC.

The Klarus TP20's precision CNC-machined titanium body makes it far more discreet than other tactical pens with sharp edges and aggressive styling. While it may not look the part, it's still a useful tactical pen thanks to the tungsten strike bezel that helps with aggressive poking and prodding. It also pulls escape tool duty, doubling as an emergency glass breaker.

And during normal use, you'll find that the TP20 is worthy on its own as a writing implement. A grip section channeled into the side of the body makes the pen easy to hold when jotting things down. The pen accommodates both Schmidt P950M and Fisher space pen pressurized ink cartridges, so it's ready to write anywhere, anytime as well. At 5.9” long it's not too big for your pockets and only weighs an impressive 1.62 ounces when you consider it comes with a light on the back end.

But it's the built-in penlight that sets the TP20 apart. The top of the pen contains a light module featuring a CREE XP-G3 LED that has a max output of 130 lumens.  It'll throw that light out to about 98 feet, with a runtime of a half hour thanks to its micro-USB rechargeable 10180 battery. A simple twist of the crown of the light lets you switch the light on and off, and choose between high and low modes. That low mode brings the light down to a much more economical 8 lumens, extending its useful life to a full five hours.

The TP20's pen and light combination is already novel, but it's also important to note that you can take them apart as well.  By simply unscrewing the light from the pen assembly, you can use both independently from each other when the situation demands it.

The Klarus TP20 marries everything good about having a penlight and a tactical pen into one convenient and useful package. Free up your pockets, consolidate your carry, and pick one of these up for yourself today at the link below.

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AceBeam UC15

As modern flashlight tech improves, so does the efficiency of the lights it comes in. What used to take a half-dozen C or D batteries for a paltry lumen output is now just the lowest output of a keychain light. And even then, keychain lights themselves have made leaps and bounds in performance. Lights like the AceBeam UC15 have broken past the point of compromise, giving you a compact keychain light that's as powerful as it is compact and convenient.

Compared to the keychain lights of recent recent, the UC15's main draw is its compatibility with both the common AAA battery and its lithium-ion rechargable counterpart, the 10440. Paired with its Cree XP-L2 LED, 2 AAA batteries give you a substantial maximum output of 250 lumens with a 14-hour maximum runtime on Low, while running on dual 10440s gives the UC15 an unprecedented 1000 lumens for a minute before dropping down to a more stable 200 lumens. That's an output you only usually see from much larger and higher-voltage lights, but with the UC15, now you can just slip it into your pocket.

2 special LEDs also give the UC15 some unique outputs in the form of a red beam ideal for preserving night vision, as well as a UV beam for document and forensic needs. Everything's packed into an anodized aluminum shell with IP54-rated resistance, and weighs 1.38 ounces without batteries. Output is controlled via a single switch on the UC15's main face, which also doubles as a battery indicator. EDCing the light means either hanging it off its key loop or via an included beefy clip.

Keychain flashlights have come a long way, and if the UC15 is any indication, will only keep getting better. Pick one up in your choice of 4 colors at the Amazon link below.

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Manker U12 Rechargeable Flashlight

While plenty of flashlights are built with toughness in mind, few of them look the part of being built like a tank, much less perform like one. Manker's U12 clearly doesn't have that problem. Thanks to both its construction and use of cutting-edge tech, it pushes the limits of the strength and performance you can get from an EDC light. Whether you're looking for awesome output, charging convenience, or simply a bombproof light, the U12's ready to roll out.

The U12's solid stature comes from its two piece construction: its tail is its only detaching piece, which means its head and optics are protected within a single unibody aluminum frame. This gives the light IPX8 resistance with up to 2 meters of impact protection, ensuring it can take a hit and keep on going. And keep on going it can, thanks to its use of a 20700 battery, whose larger size affords it 4250 mAh of power for a near-ridiculous runtime of 70 days on its Moonlight output. Paired with its Cree XHP50 II LED, the U12's also got power on the top end, able to maintain a 2000-lumen Turbo for 3 minutes before dropping down to a 870-lumen High for almost 3 hours.

The U12's rechargeable 20700 battery is rather uncommon compared to the more popular 18650 or CR123A cells, but you won't have to worry about buying a separate charger just to keep it topped up. A USB Type-C port is built into the U12's body, one of the very few lights making use of the latest hardware standard. Its direct benefit to the light is a much higher input voltage, allowing for faster charging from more powerful sources. This port sits opposite the U12's side switch which operates the light's 6 modes while doubling as a locator/battery indicator as well.

With its toughness and tech, the U12 breaks through every expectation you'd have from an EDC light. Pick one up from the Amazon link below.

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The Best USB Rechargeable Flashlights in 2018

Nothing beats the convenience of a USB rechargeable flashlight. Gone are the cumbersome and bulky specialty chargers and battery cradles. Instead, these flashlights get their juice from a USB power port and cable. No outlet? No problem — charge your light off your laptop or an external battery pack. The best part is that these lights don't skimp on the performance you'd expect from a proper EDC light. There's a lot of them out there though, so we've together this list of our favorites to make it easier to find the right one for you.

Nitecore P26

If there's one thing that's just as important as performance when it comes to your EDC gear, it's control. Having a sharp knife that's unwieldy, or in this case, a blindingly bright flashlight with fussy controls is the last thing you need. That's especially true for tactical lights designed to be used where there's no margin for error. Nitecore's new P26 offers unlimited control of its high-powered LED through a unique rotary switch that lets you dial in when lighting up.

As a tactical light, the P26 has all the right features for quick, powerful, and controlled lighting. For starters, it turns on with a familiar on/off push button at the rear. The tailcap itself is scalloped, giving you the best of both worlds: you can easily access the switch even when wearing gloves, but it's not so easy to accidentally press. It also allows for a lanyard attachment and tailstanding to act as a makeshift candle. The switch itself is a “forward clicky,” which you can soft-press for a silent, momentary on activation. Finally, a tac ring on the body of the light provides a better grip when holding the light cigar style for tactical applications.

The P26's defining feature, the rotary switch, sits just under the base of the head. It controls the CREE XP-L HI V3's modes starting from a 0.5-lumen Low up to a 1000-lumen Max, settling anywhere in between as a result of its infinitely variable brightness. As a tactical light, the P26's only other special mode that can be accessed from the rotary dial is a Strobe mode to keep things simple.

Its anodized aluminum body offers 1.5m of impact resistance and IPX8 water resistance to withstand EDC. The barrel also accommodates 1x18650 or 2xCR123a batteries, meaning it's a substantial light in hand with solid runtimes at 500 hours on Low and 1 hour at Max brightness. For a feature-packed tactical light that really puts you in control, check out the P26 at the link below.

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Streamlight MicroStream USB

For years, one flashlight has been a pocket staple, lighting the way for hundreds of EDCers on our site alone. Streamlight's MicroStream AAA had the right size, reliability, everyday performance, and price to make it a truly solid EDC. So how do you make a great light even better? By fixing what isn't broken and improving the rest, as Streamlight have done with the new MicroStream USB. While it looks and carries like the same light you've always known, under the hood it's better than ever, and in all the right ways.

Since the original MicroStream has been around a while, its 45-lumen power output may not be enough for an EDC light in 2018. The new USB model bumps up its levels fivefold, with a High output of 250 lumens for 1.5 hours, and a Low of 50 lumens for up to 3.5 hours. Output is controlled via the familiar tail clicky switch, which now doubles as a charge indicator when topping up. Charging is accessed by unscrewing a sleeve built into the USB's head to reveal the micro USB port underneath, letting you charge the internal lithium ion battery with your power bank or wall plug.

While the new specs adds a bit of length to the MicroStream USB (now 3.87” compared to the 3.6” AAA), it remains a compact and lightweight carry at only 1.2 ounces. It retains the IPX4-rated anodized aluminum construction of the original, with the shape and grooves that give it a familiar grip. And when you need to go hands-free, it keeps the two-way clip that lets you secure the light with equal ease to your pocket or hat.

The old faithful learns some new tricks with the Streamlight MicroStream USB. Pick one up (at a still affordable price) from Amazon at the link below.

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MecArmy FL02 Flashlight

When choosing to EDC a keychain flashlight, you usually end up having to pick between size or power. By having the convenience of something easy to carry, you often give up the power and features of a bigger light. Often, but not always, especially with a light like MecArmy's FL02 that brings big features to the smallest space you can fit a flashlight. You get capability, collectibility, and even charging convenience in a totally unique form factor.

It's hard to believe the kind of output a light of this size can produce, considering its 2.6” length and feather weight at under an ounce. Pairing a lithium polymer battery with its XP-G2 S4 LED, the FL02 produces up to 360 lumens across 5 modes including Strobe. Its Turbo setting can maintain max lumens for 2 minutes before stepping down to 60 lumens for up to 48 minutes, while its Low mode can keep going up to 8 hours. And of course, when power levels get low, a built-in micro USB charging port lets you top up with ease with a power bank or laptop.

The FL02's outer shell and switch is CNC-machined with grip-friendly knurling and ergonomics from TC4 titanium, keeping it light and comfortable to use yet tough enough to bang against the rest of your keys. The material gives the light an exotic touch that also doubles as a canvas for coatings and etched designs that give each light a unique aesthetic. And if that's not enough, the FL02 comes with IPX5 water resistance for even more resilience when used as an everyday light.

No need to make compromises with a light that punches way above its weight class. Pick up MecArmy's FL02 keychain light in your choice of design from the Amazon link below.

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StatGear Pocket Lumen

Finding the right EDC flashlight can be difficult, especially when space is at a premium. And when your pockets are full, it's hard to justify carrying a full-size or even compact light. Tiny keychain lights can fit the bill, but they tend to lack the power you need. Plus, they can be too small to comfortably hold and operate when you actually need them. Enter the upcoming Pocket Lumen by StatGear. It's a tiny yet capable keychain LED flashlight that has the right ergonomics for EDC.

The Pocket Lumen is a simple yet powerful light for its size. At 1.77" long and 0.4 ounces in weight, it doesn't add too much heft to your carry. But it is enough for you to get a firm grip on the light. And lights with twist-on activation, the Pocket Lumen's head has prominent grip surfaces. This lets you control its handy single-output 30 lumen LED module with one hand. And with its four LR41 batteries, it can power that light for a full 15 hours.

Unlike most keychain flashlights, the Pocket Lumen offers a rugged build. Its hard anodized aircraft-grade aluminum case boasts 3ATM water resistance for use in wet conditions. The aluminum case also offers some impact resistance. In their durability testing, StatGear dropped the light from a high roof onto the concrete below and it lived to tell the tale.

The Pocket Lumen is a great everyday carry keychain light, and you can secure it right now on StatGear's fully-funded Kickstarter page. StatGear has a long history of developing innovative and useful EDC solutions and delivering them to the community via crowdfunding. Plus, you can even snag their X-Grip titanium tweezers with the light at the right pledge level. Find it at the link below.

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This is a sponsored post presented by StatGear.

The 10 Best EDC Keychain Flashlights in 2018

Your keychain is one of the most convenient places to keep your tools. You carry your keys every day anyway, so adding extra gear to them—like a flashlight—ensures you always stay prepared.

You might think to get a flashlight that's powerful enough to be worth carrying would take up way too much pocket space. But thanks to LED and battery tech, even smaller modern lights are more than powerful enough for everyday use. The best part is that many of them can live right on your keychain, always within reach.

A good part of our days is spent in the dark, so carrying a light is always a bright idea. Here are 10 of the best flashlights that can go on your keychain to round out your EDC.

NEBO Rebel Task Light

"This compact, rechargeable LED light can be operated handheld, as a headlamp, or attached to a metallic surface thanks to its magnetic base. It cranks out up to 600 lumens of brightness, and..." (via TheAwesomer)

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Reylight Lan v2 Titanium High CRI AA Flashlight

If you asked a flashlight enthusiast ten years ago what EDC lights would look like in 2018, chances are they couldn't have predicted the tiny pocket rockets pushing hundreds of lumens we have on our keychains today. Instead, high-end light designs took a more retro-futuristic approach, looking more like a bona fide lightsaber than a thumb drive. The ReyLight Lan Titanium flashlight is an excellent present-day example of the high design and features that old school “flashaholics” dreamed of, with a price point and availability that's much more accessible to the rest of the EDC crowd. It's based on the familiar and convenient AA form factor, taken to the next level with premium materials and components.

The ReyLight Lan doesn't aim to impress with its total lumen output alone. While it still hits a maximum 390 lumens with a 14500 battery, it has much more to offer to the discerning EDCer. For starters, it uses a 4000K Nichia 219C high CRI LED, which does a much better job at making the colors of your surroundings vivid and lifelike as if they were in sunlight as opposed to the harsh, cold, blue light that most LEDs put out. It also offers a super useful Moonlight mode at 0.2 lumens for preserving night vision and keeping discreet so you don't disturb others when you need a little extra light. Because the Lan can take both a standard AA battery and a lithium rechargeable 14500, its output and runtimes can vary. For more power, use a 14500 to get 390 lumens for 40 minutes on High with 20 days on Moonlight mode. An AA lasts a bit longer at the expense of total output, hitting a max of 110 lumens for 50 minutes and lasting 30 days on Moonlight.

You can find more enthusiast features in the body of the light itself. It's Ti-6Al-4V titanium through and through, down to the tritium-compatible, tailstanding rear click switch. You can also insert tritium vials around the bezel, giving you plenty of ways to customize the light and improve its visibility in a dark pocket or bag. Last but not least, a pocket clip makes it easy to carry and access for EDC. The Lan v2 is available now on Amazon at the link below. If you'd rather wait for mode memory and a bit higher output, check out the updated Lan v3 currently in the works as a fully funded Kickstarter project.

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Olight M2T Warrior Tactical Flashlight

When the Olight M2R Warrior last year, it ticked all the boxes as one of the most robust 18650 flashlights you can EDC. As good as it was, all its bells and whistles weren't for everyone. If you already had a tidy pile of batteries and chargers, or preferred a light with a proud tailswitch for use with gloves, then the M2R wasn't the light for you. So Olight went back to the drawing board and came back with the M2T, offering a different set of features from the flagship M2R. It's got plenty of what made the original great, with smart compromises to address the needs of more discerning EDCers at a lower cost.

The M2T comes in the same 5.12”-long, anodized aluminum form factor as the M2R, with a key change in its tailcap. Instead of the recessed electronic button that allowed magnetic charging on the M2R, the M2T comes with a 3-stage rubber tailswitch, giving access to momentary and full activation of its 1200-lumen Turbo, as well as strobe when depressed and held. The switch makes it easier to activate the light in an underhand grip and while gloved, while maintaining a compact length that makes it one of the shortest tailswitch lights on the market using 18650 batteries.

Olight retains many features on the M2T from its flagship big brother. Use of the high-powered Cree XHP35 HD LED, the familiar side switch interface that controls its 7 modes, even the great two-way clip makes an appearance on the light. While it doesn't come with an 18650 battery (one of the ways it lowers its asking price), it includes a battery magazine that lets you use 2 x CR123A batteries as a power source. You also get a custom holster and lanyard as carry options, with an IPX8 rating that keeps the light tough regardless of how it's carried.

While at first glance the M2T seems like a light full of compromises, make no mistake: it takes its Warrior badge seriously and remains one heck of a light. It's an affordable option with thoughtful features to fit your EDC perfectly. Pick up the M2T from Amazon at the link below.

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