8 High CRI Flashlights for EDC

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Your EDC flashlight might put out a ton of lumens, but that's not the only mark of a good light. The quality of light can be just as important as the quantity. For instance, a lot of flashlights make things look washed out or more blue than they actually are. For some critical tasks, especially in electrical, mechanical, and medical work, seeing colors accurately makes all the difference. Imagine needing to cut a red wire when your light tints everything so purple it's hard to figure out which is which. Proper color rendition also helps with outdoor navigation at night. Luckily, you have solid options for lights that show colors more accurately. In this guide, we'll go over the importance of a high color rending index (CRI) and some excellent high-CRI lights to prepare you for the darker months to come.

What is CRI?

CRI stands for Color Rendering Index. It's a measurement of how accurate colors are when illuminated by a particular light. The higher the number, the more accurate the colors reproduced by the light.

Note that CRI is not the same as color temperature. Color temperature, measured in units of Kelvins, describes the color a light emits. Lower temperature leads to warmer yellow tones that are like an incandescent bulb. Higher temperature leads to cooler, more blue tones that are closer to daylight. But you can have high-CRI lights that render proper colors across this color spectrum. Also, a light that says it is 'daylight' or 'neutral' balanced doesn't guarantee that it's a high-CRI light.

Now that you know a bit about the difference between color rendering and color temperature, let's look at some handy lights with high CRIs.


Manker E02

The Manker E02 is a compact right-angle flashlight that works well in your hands or clipped to a pocket for hands-free work. The high-CRI version features a Nichia 219C LED module that puts out a respectable 180 lumens. It's a handy light, and batteries are easy to come across because it's powered by a single AAA cell.

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Nitecore TIP CRI

Nitecore's TIP CRI is a discreet keychain LED flashlight, but don't let its size fool you. It features a high-CRI Nichia 219B LED module that puts out a stunning 220 lumens. Because it's USB-rechargeable, you can use it a lot without having to worry too much about its charge. Plus its impact resistance means you don't have to baby it when you carry it around with your keys.

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Prometheus Beta QR V2

If you want a keychain light that has a more traditional form factor, the Prometheus Beta QRv2 is for you. It's a single-AAA powered high-CRI flashlight featuring a Nichia 219B LED module. This tiny light comes with two output modes at both 60 and 15 lumens, which is not too bright for close up use. The innovative quick release lets you take it off your keys without too much fuss when you need to do so as well.

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Zebralight SC5c MK III

The Zebralight SC5c MK III is a small tactical light that features a high-CRI CREE XP-L2 LED module. With a CRI value between 93-95, and a neutral 4000K color temperature you will have a clear view of your surroundings. With its convenient single AA battery configuration, it can put out a max of 475 lumens. And because it has an orange peel reflector, it has an even spread.

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Maratac AAA Copper Nichia 219 Flashlight

This is one of the more stylish high-CRI everyday carry LED flashlights you can EDC. It's also one of the lightest, weighing in at only 40 grams loaded. That's because their new design is smaller than the old at only 2.6 inches. It still has the excellent quality you get from its Nichia 219 emitter. But this light drives harder, putting out 138 lumens for 70 minutes. It lasts even longer 55 hours in its 1.5 lumen low output mode as well.

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Eagletac D25C Titanium 123 2017 Edition

If you like the form factor that lights powered by CR123A batteries give you, give the Eagletac D25C a look. It's a solid Nichia 219C LED module flashlight that puts out 300 lumens to around 425 feet without huge heft. This particular model has an attractive titanium body, polished up to a mirror finish.

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Klarus P20

The Klarus P20 is a high-CRI LED penlight that breaks the mold. Unlike most penlights, the P20 has an even flood spread that's not focused on a single area. It's also pretty powerful, putting out a max of 230 lumens out of its high 90 CRI Nichia 219C module. And because it's powered off two AAA batteries, finding the cells you need is easy and convenient.

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Astrolux S41

The Astrolux S41 actually features four Nichia 219C LED modules in a single EDC light package. Combined, they work together to provide you a total of 1600 lumens with a high CRI value over 90. It has a simple tailswitch design that makes navigating the output modes easy. The strong aluminum build and IPX-8 waterproofing up to two meters make it a good outdoor choice.

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Do you prefer more accurate colors in your flashlights? Let us know what you think about these lights in the comments below.

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Discussion (8 total)

The Astrolux S41 have only 1400 Lumens with Nichia. Love the S41 and de Manker E02 Flashlights!
I've yet to find a handy flashlight that I can carry comfortably in my jeans pocket (without feeling like a pack mule). Any suggestions for some truly small lights?
The BetaQR is really small, only slightly thicker than a AAA battery and maybe half an inch longer than one. I keep it on my keychain and it works great. Really powerful as well.
the AAA Maratac is small, cheap, high CRI and is either copper (awesome) or aluminum (lightweight). I love my copper one.
Those Nitecore rechargables are also way small. Honestly there are a lot of choices out there in this category. Also, consider perhaps a pocket dangler or keychain fob that connects to your belt. I always have my light dangling so that it doesn't just sit in the bottom of my pocket, but instead is kept vertical so I feel it much less. A pocket clip can serve this purpose also. I hate having things just bulking-out in my pockets! Happy hunting.
Look at a Streamlight Microstream. I’ve been carrying one as part of my daily EDC for about 2-years now. Not saying it’s the best, but it hasn’t let me down once
The Thrunite T10 is super bright and affordable. The clip is movable so you can orient the light however you want. For $20 it's a steal.
Olight is the way to go in my opinion. I lobe the lockout feature.