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.

The Best AA Flashlights of 2017

One important consideration when choosing the best EDC flashlight for your needs is the type of battery it uses. On paper, LED flashlights that take AA batteries seem a bit out of place. They aren't the most powerful or longest lasting, nor are they compact enough to carry on a keychain like other EDC lights. But the main draw of AA batteries is their availability.

You can find them everywhere, from gas stations to grocery stores, so if your main EDC light uses it, you can bet you'll never be far away from a backup source for it. Even better: modern AA flashlights can make use of rechargeable AA batteries (or their more powerful lithium-ion versions), saving you money in the long run while giving you a performance boost to boot.

Whether it's for availability or convenience, an AA flashlight is a great choice for everyday carry. We've put together 12 of the best EDC flashlights below.

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. And with its size and spring-loaded attachment clip, it's a no-brainer light to add to your kit.

You won't find the usual LED and reflector on this 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. Its spring-loaded clip also makes it easy to take the KeyMate off your keychain and attach it to a zipper pull or lanyard, giving you hands-free task lighting or a better location for use as a signal beacon.

There's no bulky battery to replace; with built-in USB charging and an included cable, topping up the KeyMate is as easy as charging your phone. And without a larger battery it stays compact and lightweight at 2.9” and 0.5 ounces, making it an invisible yet useful backup light for your EDC.

You can pick up the Streamlight KeyMate USB from Amazon at the link below.

Buy on Amazon

The 10 Best Keychain Flashlights for EDC

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.

The 5 Best 18650 Flashlights for EDC

Show of hands: who's carrying an 18650 flashlight for EDC? Probably not many of you. But that's OK, we're here to tell you what it's all about and why it's so awesome. The 18650 lithium-ion battery—so named for its 18mm diameter, 65mm length, and cylindrical shape—is one of the most popular battery form factors in production. Its size and features make it ideal for electronic applications, like laptop and electronic car batteries, and even portable battery chargers.

An 18650's higher voltage, bigger capacity, and reusability make flashlights one of the better beneficiaries of its benefits. We're talking upwards of 1000 lumens in your pocket, runtimes measured in weeks and months (yes, months), and no longer having to buy disposable batteries which is always good for the environment.

Below we've rounded up 5 of the best 18650 flashlights on the market. They're lights that make full use of the battery's capabilities but remain compact enough for everyday carry. You can go ahead and put away those AA, AAA, and CR123A lights—you won't be needing them from here on out.

The Best EDC Gear from SHOT Show 2017

This past week, EDC brands you know and love came together to show off their latest and greatest gear at the industry's biggest annual trade show—SHOT Show 2017.

The show is massive, with literally tons of new products on display within the tactical, hunting, and outdoor industries.

We scoped out some of the biggest names in the EDC scene to check out what they're bringing to the table this year.

In this quick post-show recap, we're giving you a sneak peek at some of our favorite new knives, lights, and other EDC gear we saw that should definitely be on your radar.

Olight H1R Nova

When you think of a headlamp, you probably picture something pretty cut and dry—a lamp you wear on your head. But with a sophisticated enough design, it can be much more than that. Olight's new H1R Nova is a solid example of this. It takes a proven design and puts a new angle on it, offering more versatility as a powerful task light with plenty of carry options for up-close, hands-free work.

Two distinct features set the H1R apart from traditional lights. Up front is its angled head, packing a Cree XM-L2 emitter that can push out up to 600 lumens. Paired with a TIR bead lens, it gives off a floody beam useful for area illumination. With the included clip and magnetic tail, the H1R also won't get stuck with permanent forehead duty—now you have options for clipping it onto a pocket or bag, or mounting it onto surfaces for better lighting angles.

And then there's the H1R's charging cable. With the same width as the light itself, it's a compact way to keep its RCR123A battery charged, so you don't have to lug a bulky charger around everywhere to top up. A magnetic connection also keeps the light and cable safe from accidental tugs or yanks that could damage either.

Olight's H1R Nova gives you an everyday light that's more than a hunk of metal sticking out from your forehead. Pick one up in the tint of your choice from the Amazon link below.

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Refyne P1 Modular Pen and Flashlight

You might think you don't need a pen or a flashlight in your EDC as much as you do your phone or wallet. But in those crucial times you do, they're absolutely essential. Finding a way to carry both a pen and a light that's actually convenient goes a long way to make sure you get the most use out of them. And that's exactly what Refyne set out to do with the P1 modular pen. It puts a pen and flashlight together in one tough, titanium package so you don't have to worry about making room for two separate tools.

The P1's true advantage is that it's actually two tools that seamlessly fit together. Thanks to a magnetic twist lock, the flashlight module latches onto the pen, combining into a compact length of 4.65”. You can use the pen module's bolt action to engage its Lamy M22 rollerball refill, while twisting the flashlight's head lets you access its two modes for up to 130 lumens of output thanks to a Cree XP-G2 emitter.

The flashlight module is also quite the capable tool on its own. You can charge its 10180 battery directly through a micro USB port built right into the module's threads, with an LED letting you know when it's full. A magnetic tail lets you attach it to surfaces for hands-free operation, and an optional quick-release tailcap makes the module keychain-ready, comfortably sitting in your pocket at 1.95”.

Whether separately or as one, the Refyne P1 adds up to a tool that rounds out your EDC in style. There's plenty of time to pledge for a P1 in your choice of finish and add-ons at the Kickstarter link below.

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Fenix FD30 Adjustable Focus Flashlight

You would usually have two types of flashlights to get the job done. A floodlight with a wide, even beam for up close work, and a spotlight to light things up at a distance. While both are useful, that may be one light too many to cram into your pockets. That's where a focusing flashlight like Fenix's FD30 comes in. It combines both types into a single flashlight, giving you the right beam for the task with just a twist.

Powered by either a single 18650 battery or 2 CR123As, the FD30 outputs up to 900 lumens for 2 hours thanks to its Cree XP-L HI LED. You have 5 brightness levels at your disposal using a combination of its tactical tail switch and side mode selector. When switching between its floodlight and spotlight functions, that's  a total of 10 functional modes. By twisting the FD30's focusing ring, its head and reflector move forward and back, giving you between 7 and 76 variable degrees to best fit your activity.

And we're talking any activity, too: the FD30 comes in aircraft-grade aluminum protected with a type III, hard-anodized, anti-abrasive finish. Pair that with an IP68 water-and dust-proof rating and you've got yourself an EDC light ready to take on any task both indoors and outdoors. Carrying it as your main light  is no problem, either, thanks to an included clip, lanyard, and holster.

Always have the right light for the job with the Fenix FD30. Pick one up from Amazon at the link below.

Buy on Amazon

Nitecore R40 Inductive Charging Searchlight

These days, almost every EDC flashlight can pack a huge punch in a small package. But here's the thing—they tend to run out of juice in a hurry. Even though most use rechargeable batteries, dealing with chargers and cables can get messy. Thankfully, recharging the Nitecore R40 is as simple as it gets thanks to its wireless charging dock. And that's if you need a charge in the first place, as this 1000-lumen searchlight's got a proprietary, high-capacity battery powering it.

Nitecore calls the R40 a searchlight, and at 1000 lumens of power and 520 meters of throw, it performs at the level of larger lights despite its sub-6" size. Even with all that power, the R40's rated to last up to 1000 hours of use at its lowest brightness setting.

After all that runtime, you've got plenty of options to recharge the R40. At home base, you can use the R40's unique wireless induction system that works with a stand that you can place on a table or mount on a wall. When you're on the go, you can plug the flashlight into any USB power source to charge it as well. And you won't have to worry about leaving it on the charger too long thanks to its built-in overcharge protection circuitry.

With all these features, you'll want to take the R40 with you everywhere. Thanks to its IPX-8 weather-sealing, you can pretty much do just that. The Nitecore R40 searchlight is a handheld powerhouse that's as versatile to charge as it is to use every day. Grab the full kit at the link below.

Buy on Amazon

Fenix UC02SS Rechargeable Mini Keychain Light

The best light is the one you have with you. Size, convenience, and handy features sometimes beat even the best flashlight specs on paper. Fenix's new UC02SS not only fits the bill as a handy pocket flashlight, but one with features in its tiny frame that make it a surprisingly capable EDC light.

The UC02SS can produce up to 130 lumens of light with a simple twist of its head. Considering its 1.7” size, it puts a lot of its bigger brothers to shame. And 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 can ride neatly on your keychain, but it also comes with a lanyard should you want additional options for carry—and why not, since it's got the look for a sleek pendant. 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, powering it up with an external battery pack or laptop so it's always ready to go.

Add some power to your pocket and never get caught in the dark—you can pick up the Fenix UC02SS in blue or yellow from the Amazon link below. For more color options in a lighter weight aluminum finish and a lower price, check out the standard Fenix UC02 model too.

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Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Flash Lantern

"It’s tiny but it’s also very, very bright. The Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Flash Lantern is a smaller but still full-featured lantern features four internal LEDs that output up to a combined 150 lumens, running four 7 hours on its highest setting and up to 170 hours on the lowest. Top up its rechargeable battery thanks to a pop-out USB plug — no cables necessary. It’s also got a four-step battery indicator, a flashlight mode that still puts out a respectable 120 lumens, and..." (via GearHungry)

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Nitecore P05 Flashlight

You'd think a single button would be the easiest way to turn on a flashlight. But the thing is, if you need a specific brightness, tapping through different modes can leave you in the dark longer than needed. This is where the pair of instant access switches on Nitecore's new P05 flashlight come in. You have all its power at your disposal with a single touch or click, giving you the light that you need the second you need it.

The P05 is operated completely with the two mode switches on its tail. Individually, the switches give momentary access to both your selected level (of up to 460 lumens) and strobe. When turned on, you can use the dedicated strobe switch to cycle through the P05's three levels. The power switch itself even doubles as a battery level indicator, blinking to notify you of the remaining battery level.

Speaking of batteries, the P05 uses a single CR123A or RCR123A battery, keeping the light compact. And at under 4” and weighing only 2.13 ounces, it's small enough to be easily kept in a pocket for everyday carry. Clipping it on the outside of your gear is a good option too, thanks to the P05's IPX8-rated waterproofing and HAIII hard-anodized aluminum body.

Sometimes, two heads—or switches, in this case—are better than one. Pick up the Nitecore P05 from Amazon at the link below.

Buy on Amazon

Giveaway: SureFire P2X Fury Intellibeam

Update: Congrats to Dane G, winner of this week's giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered. Stay tuned for more giveaways here on

A flashlight is one of the best things you can add to your everyday carry, and we've got just the thing to add some power to your pocket. The best part? We're giving it away for free! This week, we're giving one lucky reader an intelligent tactical flashlight, brought to you by our sponsor, SureFire. You know the name. They've been making some of the hardest-use flashlights and tactical equipment for nearly 40 years, gear designed for the harshest conditions and professions.

Prometheus Beta-QR Flashlight

When deciding on a new EDC light, it's important to think about how it'll fit your everyday carry. You might find an amazingly powerful, multi-battery flashlight and think, “Wait… How am I supposed to carry something like that?” All that power might be overkill for your needs anyway, and it comes at the cost of bulk and weight. That’s not the case with the Prometheus Beta-QR. It hits the sweet spot for keychain lights, with just the right mix of size, accessibility, and ease of use.

Despite it being small enough to keep on your keychain, the Beta-QR packs in an impressive amount of features, including in its physical construction. It comes equipped with a patent-pending quick release mechanism that's strong enough to keep the light attached to your keychain, but easy enough to release for quick access. You can swap out the quick release hardware for an optional titanium pocket clip too, should you want to keep your key setup minimal.

The light's precision-machined body features a unique ribbed pattern for improved grip. Inside the head, there’s a color-accurate Nichia 219 LED that has three brightness modes: a 1 lumen firefly mode, a 15 lumen low mode, and an 85 lumen high mode. Operating the light is super simple: it takes a single AAA battery and turns on and off by twisting the head.

Upgrade your keychain light with one of the best all-around EDC lights out there. Check it out at the link below.

Buy on Amazon

Gifts For Men - Your Buying Guide to Everyday Carry

If you’re like us, finding the right gear to EDC for ourselves is hard enough. Trying to find a gift for another like-minded EDCer can be daunting, if not utterly exhausting. How do you pick something they’ll appreciate, actually use, and be proud to carry? Our Everyday Carry gift guide should help.

SureFire P2X Fury Intellibeam

When darkness falls, you'll want a light that's easy to use in any situation. And while modern flashlights give you a ton of options for controlling brightness, the last thing you want is to blind yourself from accidentally activating it on its max setting. SureFire's new P2X Fury automatically adjusts its brightness to your needs the moment you turn it on thanks to its unique Intellibeam technology, making it an excellent everyday light to have handy at a moment's notice.

The Intellibeam system takes the P2X's 15 to 600-lumen range and adjusts its output to match your environment. An intelligent sensor and microprocessor in the light continuously scopes out your surroundings, and with a single click of its tail switch delivers just the brightness you need. Thanks to this system, the P2X will never activate on full power when you're in close quarters, and even saves you time fiddling with the light's interface to get to a suitable brightness when in use.

Sometimes, however, you still need those 600 lumens at your immediate disposal. The P2X grants you quick access to full brightness with a quick double-click of its switch. Paired with its smooth reflector, you get a powerful beam with a bright hotspot and plenty of throw to light up your area. The light is also plenty rugged for all situations thanks to a high-strength aerospace aluminum body with mil-spec hard anodization and a weatherproofed interior sealed with O-rings and gaskets.

Time to get smart with your EDC light. Pick up the P2X Fury with Intellibeam tech direct from SureFire at the link below.


This is a sponsored post presented by SureFire.