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.

Olight ION

The ION is a compact LED flashlight that has an attractive titanium alloy frame. And at around 2.25 inches long and weighing only 1.13 ounces, it won't add unnecessary bulk to your carry. Unlike other lights, theres no complicated twist activation or button presses to turn on the ION. A simple on-off switch on the side controls the dual CREE XP-G3 emitters on its front. Those two LEDs work with the TIR reflectors to give you a large hotspot that’s especially useful for illuminating wide areas. A touch-sensitive, Gorilla Glass-reinforced top panel also lets you control the ION's four stepped modes, giving the ION unique functionality while staying rugged for daily use and bumping around on your keychain or in your pocket.

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Nitecore TINI

Remember when the Nitecore TUBE could get the job done with 45 lumens yet still disappear on a keychain? The TINI outdoes its predecessor on all fronts, with 380 lumens at its disposal and weighing under half an ounce with its actually tiny metallic shell. Its Cree XP-G2 S3 LED puts out 4 modes controlled by 2 side switches on the body of the light. When paired with its beaded reflector, you get soft, uniform light suitable for illuminating a workspace or immediate area. For added convenience it's powered by a built-in, micro-USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery that reaches up to 60 hours of runtime.

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SureFire Titan Plus

Unique to SureFire's rugged flashlight catalog is their keychain champion the Titan Plus. The light stays portable at 3.375 inches long and weighing 2 ounces, but now comes in a striking silver colorway made from nickel-plated brass. Its comes with three levels including 15 lumens for 7 hours on low and an unprecedented 300 lumens on high for 1 hour with a NiMH battery. The SureFire Titan Plus also includes multiple options to fit into any carry, including a stainless steel split ring, removable pocket clip, and a quick-detach tailcap that lets you deploy the light with a simple pull.

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Klarus Mini One

The Mini One comes with a 10180 battery, an onboard-rechargeable lithium-ion cell that, while uncommon, brings great capacity and voltage to power a light even this small. When paired with its XP-G3 LED and TIR optics it's able to output a floody, useful 130 lumens on High for 24 minutes or 8 lumens on Low for over 5 hours—not the output you would expect from a light smaller than its AAA peers of yesteryear. Output levels are controlled via a 3-stage twisty interface, opening on Low then ending on High. It's simple and effective, and one you can navigate one-handed while the Mini One is hanging off a keychain or belt loop, which it does especially well at only 1.73” long and weighing a scant 0.56oz thanks to its lightweight titanium construction.

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ThruNite Ti3

While the Ti3 comes from the previous generation of AAA twisty keychain lights, make no mistake: this is an extremely capable light. Powered by a single AAA battery and paired with with a Cree XP-L V3 LED, you get up to 130 lumens on High for up to 30 minutes, or a 0.08-lumen Firefly for  an impressive 120 hours, a setting many larger flashlights don't even offer. It also comes with a 1-hour runtime Strobe to round out its levels. Anodized aluminum construction keeps the Ti3 light—a mere 0.4 ounces without a battery—making it the perfect rugged addition to your keychain. And the best part: at under $15 it's a great value for any EDC.

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Fenix UC02SS

The UC02SS can produce up to 130 lumens of light with a simple twist of its head. But  just because it's small doesn't mean the light isn't tough enough for everyday use: stainless steel construction gives it a hardy shell, and IP68-rated water- and dustproofing means it's ready for every activity both indoors and out. The UC02SS rides neatly on your keychain but also comes with a lanyard should you want additional options for carry. And while it does use an uncommon 10180 Li-ion cell, the fact that it's shorter than even a AAA battery plays a big role in achieving such a compact form factor. The best part: you can easily recharge the 10180 battery it comes with thanks to its micro USB charging port so it's always ready to go.

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Manker LAD

While Manker's LAD was built as a keychain light first, its spec sheet surprises with just how good its features are despite its size. Weighing under an ounce and and about the size of a car key fob, the LAD packs up to 300 lumens on High/Strobe with its Cree XP-G3 LED, powered by a USB-rechargable polymer lithium battery. But its most appealing feature is an option to choose Nichia 219C as its emitter, an LED that hasn't found its way onto many lights on the market. It's one of the best ways to emit a beam as close to natural light as possible, and thus the most pleasing to the eyes and most accurate way to view the colors of your surroundings. Topping off its features is a 1-lumen red LED that preserves your night vision, IPX6 resistance, and 3 colors to match your EDC.

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Maratac PCL (Personal Carry Light)

Maratac are best known for their AA and AAA lights, so it's no surprise the Personal Carry Light may have slipped under many EDCers' radars. It's one of their smallest lights yet, using a 14250 battery paired with a Cree XP-G2 S4 LED for two modes controlled with a unique twisty interface. Twisting it on starts the PCL off with a 15-lumen Low good for 9 hours, and a half turn further activates a 305-lumen High for up to 40 minutes. Don't worry about charging its uncommon battery because it comes with a built-in USB charging port and cable; instead, worry about which exotic version of the light to get with its options for copper, brass, or stainless steel to best fit your carry aesthetic.


Lumintop Ant

Lumintop puts a modern spin on the classic AAA flashlight design with the Ant, a compact light designed for EDC whether clipped to your pocket or hanging from your keychain. It comes with 4 modes and up to 120 lumens off its Cree XP-G2 LED, giving it plenty of capability as an everyday light. Lumintop have given the Ant a side clicky switch to navigate its modes, a refreshing change from the usual twisty operation of this type of light. A removable clip also gives you EDC options should you prefer it handy in your pocket rather than attached via its keyring hole. And to match its brass or silver shell, there's even a tritium slot on the Ant's tail to help locate it in the dark or add a touch of colorful style.

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Streamlight KeyMate USB

Forget what you know about keychain lights. Streamlight's KeyMate USB disguises itself as another key on your keychain, but it's no secret how useful it can be. Bringing 35 lumens to bear, the KeyMate's features give it unique uses that make it ideal as a backup or emergency light. Since the KeyMate keeps its strip-shaped LED on the underside of its “blade,” you can turn it on face down on a flat surface for unique area illumination thanks to the sweeping, floody beam it gives off. With three modes and plenty of runtime (up to 2 hours on low), it's enough light to let you work in a pinch or flash in case of an emergency. And with built-in USB charging and an included cable, topping up the KeyMate is as easy as charging your phone.

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Do you carry a light on your keychain? If you have a one that you think is worthy of the title “best,” make sure to let us know in the comments below!

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Discussion (21 total)

Olight i3e. Small, lightweight, and a simple, one mode interface. That's exactly what I want in a keychain light.
Digressing slightly, what knife is that in the header image
Streamlight Nano. Hands down best flashlight money can buy. Ive had one on my keychain for 5 years. Use it more than any other light.
I have the nite core tip. I love how small and compact it is. The tip is plenty bright and is USB rechargeable. One downside of it is the lockout feature. If I lean against something it can press the button and it goes off in my pocket and usually I don't notice it.
Ok... maybe I’m cheap and really a pain when it comes to spending my money, and wanting EDC to be handy, not bulky...
but you gotta consider the WUBEN Mini Keychain Flashlight.

This little charmer is nice to lol at- yet won’t attract attention that will get it stolen from you.

It has 2 levels (3 and 130 lumens).

It’s water proof (supposedly- I have not had the need to test it).

It comes with a rechargeable batter via USB...
Really nice packaging if you want to “gift” it.

Several colors and a nice chain of you want to have your female wear it (I don’t know anyone that would wear a flashlight necklace, but you can repurpose it).

It’s great on your jet chain.

The light turns on with a twist- and I don’t love that part, because I am, without reason, nervous about it falling apart- paranoia from past flashlights doing that- HOWEVER, I’m being overly cautious- the cap would have to spin a full 4 times around before falling off- and that’s doubtful because it’s nice a tight fitting due to the O-ring.

For 20 bucks, they can take my money.

I have had it on my keychain for 3 months with lots of things to scatch it up- and don’t see one mark on on it.

Consider this little gem.
Fun fact, there's a few of these lights with almost exactly the same features, tracing back to the CooYoo Quantum, which I'm assuming was the original template and rebranded by other companies. The Fenix UC02SS we listed above is also one such light and is one of the better iterations.
My most carried is the MecArmy SNG3, having the extra RED LED is nice and 160 lumen does the job.

Next preferred would be the Nitecore CRI TIP, with lower output than the standard TIP but better color clarity for working with cat5e wiring in dim placed.

The TIP sits in my EDC box with knife sharpening equipment while the Tini is used in my car MED KIT to find contents in no or low light. This way anybody can use the MED KIT not just those with a keychain torch.
BTW, the Nitecore NU20 headlamp is also in my MED KIT for hands free needs, has the same 360 lumens, USB recharge as the TIP for same price with a head strap included... Talk about value.
I'm looking forward to the 'Olight i3R EOS' small es can be and USB rechargeable!
I'm looking forward to that one also!
I think any list that doesn't contain the Prometheus Beta QR is incomplete. Great light, and the copper one patinas beautifully!
I love that light as well but thought we'd feature newer models this year as it was the highlight of last years' list. :)
AAA lights seem to be the size that suits me and you can get a decent amount of lumens out of them too.
Maratac and surefire titan plus are my faves at the moment but neither has a moonlight mode that i think is super handy.
You definitely need to get a Maratac PCL. I heavily carried my Maratac Copper AAA nearly everyday until I got the PCL. The PCL is a limited run of 888 lights and are serial numbered. Buy an extra battery and you've got probably the best keychain/mouse light all for under $50.
I solved my "keychain light problem" by replacing my old (non-LED) MAG solitaire with TPC Titanium Pocket Clip (bigidesign LED model). It's not actually a real flashlight, but it's quite compact and bright enough for quick spotlighting tasks (and it can hold a keychain of course).
I carry the led lenser K3 brilliant little light.
I have and carry the TINI. It’s only downfall is that there is no lockout feature. When you stow it in your pocket with keys, it may light up your pocket. Other than that, its a good piece of kit to rotate your EDC light options.
Is there a reason that no one Carry's led lenser? I've been using them for years, head torch for work and I've had various sizes from the p2 to a p7 amazing torches. There are a few different models ideal for EDC. ie. The p2, k2,k3 ,m3, p4 ....
MAG solitaire does the job greatly. It's still a classic.
The Manker was really cool until it stopped working. Great ergonomic design. I would plug it in and the light would go on and it wouldn't charge. It cost me $20 to ship it to China to fix it, and I still haven't gotten it back after several weeks.