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.


Olight S1 Mini Baton Rechargeable

Since the Olight S1 Baton's release in the past year, few lights have epitomized the size and features of an ideal EDC light. It had a great size and useful features, and has been a mainstay carry ever since. And while the S1's been joined by siblings such as the S Mini and S1R, there's been little reason to upgrade the S1 itself—until now. Olight recently launched the S1 Mini Baton, consolidating the Baton family features into one light while giving the it upgrades in all the right places. Packing convenience and and functionality, the S1 Mini Baton cements its place in EDCers pockets.

The best thing about the new S1 is it didn't try to change anything that wasn't broken. It's taken the S Mini's shorter and lighter form factor of 2.13” and 1.52 ounces, while improving on its power and features. Specifically, the new S1 comes with up to 600 lumens (50 more from the S Mini) and up to 15 days of runtime off its XM-L2 LED emitter, with a high CRI option to boot for fans of a more eye-pleasing tint. The magnetic tail that was missing from the S Mini is back as well, giving the S1 Baton more versatility, in addition to a new two-way clip and a braided knurling pattern that makes it easier than ever to carry and use.

On top of it all, the S1 Mini comes with a new 650mAh battery with a built-in micro USB charging port, making the light even more convenient and useful and playing well with the rest of your tech. IPX8-rated ruggedness rounds out the light's features, along with an included lanyard for more options for convenient carry.

The S1 Mini Baton takes a great light and makes it even better, improving on its features and not fixing what isn't broken. Pick one up from Amazon at the link below.

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Nitecore TINI

The great thing about flashlights is that you can get some serious performance without the bulk. Nitecore know this well, with their increasingly powerful keychain lights like the TUBE and the TIP. The new Nitecore TINI keychain light may be tiny, but its output and feature set couldn't be further from its name.

Remember when the 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.

While the TINI does sacrifice a bit of water resistance to integrate a built-in micro USB charger (meaning it can take some water splashes but don't go swimming with it), the light still comes with a respectable IP54 protection rating, meaning it won't have problems handling daily tasks. And with an included split ring slot and availability in 7 colors, it can be right at home in any EDC configuration and aesthetic.

Tiny in size, but not in performance—the TINI is here to play. Pick one up in your choice of color from the Amazon link below.

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Kel-Tec CL-42 and CL-43 Tactical Flashlights

When it comes to making tactical gear, Kel-Tec has decades of experience. Their innovative firearms designs have seen great success in the military, law enforcement, and civilian markets. But their recent efforts aren't only focused on delivering weapons platforms. With the CL-42 and CL-43, Kel-Tec has brought their design expertise to the EDC flashlight arena. Both of these tactical flashlights are compact and suitable for everyday carry, especially if you carry a firearm. But even if you don't, they're  rugged enough to stand up to the rough use in the field.

The Kel-Tec CL-42 is a low-profile tactical LED flashlight that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. At only 4.5” long it's big enough to give you a proper grip, but not so big that it becomes bulky in your pockets. It has a textured aluminum case that helps provide you that grip even in inclement conditions.

The light is simple to use: a full press turns the light on and off while a half press enables its momentary-on feature. Because of its heritage as a tactical light for use with a firearm, there isn't a confusing plethora of modes to shuffle through. It has a single 420 lumen output, and it throws its beam of light out 525 feet.

It takes two 123A batteries, and with them it is rated to put out its maximum output for an hour and 15 minutes. But unlike other LED flashlights, the CL-42 is designed to deal with prolonged power consumption gracefully. Instead of shutting off when it doesn't have enough power to run on max, it reduces its output gradually until there's nothing left to give. So after two hours and 20 minutes of use, the light is rated to put out 40 lumens. And because it's a weapon light, it's ready for hard use. The CL-42 is impact resistant up to one meter, and it's also water resistant to a depth of one meter.

The Kel-Tec CL-43 is another compact tactical EDC flashlight, but with a twist. It has an innovative design that lets you cradle it in your offhand while letting you maintain a firm grip a handgun in your primary hand. But even if you don't intend to use it that way, the unique shape lets you point at what you want to illuminate easily. You can easily hold it in one hand and click on the activation switch like a trigger to turn it on and off.

Like the CL-42, the CL-43 also has a momentary-on function. But unlike the CL-42, the CL-43 is able to hold one more 123A battery while being noticeably shorter than its cousin at only 3.75” long. The extra battery capacity allows it to run its 420 lumen single output far longer than the CL-42 at 3 hours and 35 minutes. Like with the other Kel-Tec light, the CL-43 slowly lowers its output once your exceed that max rating until all of the power stored is finally used up.

The low-profile and efficient design of these Kel-Tec lights make them a solid option to introduce to your own everyday carry, whether it's for daily use or emergency situations. Check them out in more detail at the link below.

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This is a sponsored post presented by Kel-Tec.

Reader's Choice: 5 Lights EDCers Want

Last week our team put together a list of flashlights that came out this past year that we'd love to get our hands on. After sharing our picks, we took to the comments and social media to see what you, the readers, were excited about too. In this guide we've listed the lights you've chosen, and we hope it gives you even more great flashlights to pick from as the year comes to a close.

Fenix CL09

If you're looking to illuminate a wide area, a lantern is what you need. They’re purpose-built to do the job, and they'll do it better than a standard flashlight. Now you might think a lantern would too big to EDC, but a modern LED light like the new Fenix CL09 is so compact it fits in the palm of your hand. With all its features, it makes for a great outdoor companion, emergency lamp, or task light for general EDC.

Despite its small 3" size, the CL09 puts out a max of 200 lumens spread out an even 33 feet around you with its diffuser. You can pick between four different output levels and three colors with its simple twisty tail cap. The standard light is a nice neutral white, but there are also red and green light output modes to preserve nightvision or as a signal for camping companions. On its lowest one-lumen setting, the light will last up to 90 hours of continuous use with the included battery.

The thoughtful design of the light makes it easy for you to bring around and use everyday. It has a loop that lets you hang it above you as you work, or to keep around you with a lanyard. The rear cap is magnetic, which is especially useful if you want to attach it underneath the hood of your car in a pinch. Even maintaining the light is easy. It comes with a Fenix USB-rechargeable battery which accepts a standard microUSB cable. The light also accepts 16340 and CR123A batteries. Using a CR123A battery, by the way, increases the runtime of the one-lumen setting out to an astounding 150 hours.

Don't let the size fool you, this is a durable outdoor light. The Fenix CL09 benefits from hardy aircraft-grade aluminum construction. It's impact resistant rated to survive a hard one meter drop. And because it's an outdoor light, it's also designed to be IP68 waterproof. That means it's rated to survive immersion in two meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

With the Fenix CL09, you get an excellent compact EDC light made for wide area illumination. It's the right tool for the job and it's available in two different colors: black and gray. Purchase the one you want and see it in action for yourself at the link below.

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Staff Picks: 5 EDC Flashlights We Want Right Now

It's almost the end of the year, and it's been a good one for EDCers. From knives to lights to bags to tech, there have been plenty of releases primed and ready to be added to our kit. We obviously love talking about gear around here, and with this series, the Everyday Carry staff have put together a few lists of the ones we can't wait to get our hands on. We hope it gives you a good idea of products that you may have missed throughout the year, and gets you as excited as we are to pick up the latest and greatest gear for your EDC.

Before we begin, we want to know…

AUKEY LT-SET5 Flashlight

If you're looking for a solid entry-level LED flashlight for your everyday carry, today's the day. This deal from AUKEY lets you grab two LT-SET5 LED flashlights for less than 10 bucks. And unlike most flashlights you can find at this price, it deserves some attention thanks to its capable output, versatile optics, and all-around resistance.

The LT-SET5 is a compact LED flashlight that puts out a max of 70 lumens on its highest setting. With its zoom slider you can focus that beam out to 164 feet or spread it out over a wider angle. It also has a battery saver low output mode and a strobe for emergency situations. A simple half press on the power switch lets you cycle through these modes with ease. It's powered by a single AA battery, which is easy to find and replace when needed. Because of that, this light won't take up too much bulk in your pockets. It weighs only 2.3 ounces and measures about 3.9 inches in length. Also, unlike most lights at this price point, the AUKEY features IPX4 water resistance. That along with its solid aluminum alloy construction make it a light you can take with you everyday.

Two is one and one is none. With this deal you can ensure you have more than one flashlight for the task at hand when you need it. And even if you have a better EDC flashlight of your own, you can still pick these up as a spare. Throw them into your daybag, vehicle trunk, or emergency bug out bag. You can use the coupon code EL75HD47 at checkout to grab a set of two for $8.99 from Amazon at the link below.

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Jetbeam E20R

While seeing thousands of lumens light up your backyard never gets old, a light you can slip into your pocket and forget about is what EDC is all about. And while it used to be that such lights were more about portability than their power, these days we're spoiled for choice for lights that can do both. Jetbeam's new E20R is one of them, joining a small but impressive group of lights with plenty of both lumens and features to surprise and delight any EDCer.

We've seen plenty of lights that can use a CR123A or 16340 rechargeable battery, but few of them can get up to the outputs the E20R can. Its Luminus SST-40 N4 BC LED is able to push out up to 520 lumens with a CR123A battery, while the higher-voltage 16340 can dole out a whopping 990 lumens on its highest setting. A side switch controls the E20R's 5 modes, which comes with a built-in indicator to let you know when the battery is running low. But don't fret, as the light comes with a built-in micro USB charging port to top up during heavy use.

The ER20's type III hard-anodized shell keeps the light durable but lightweight, with an IPX8 waterproof rating that gives it up to 2 meters of submersible resistance. A ridged design built into the head helps with both cooling and anti-roll capability, while a magnetic tail gives the light versatile, hands-free use. With its 3” length and included pocket clip, pocketing the E20R for EDC is no problem.

Thanks to lights like the E20R, there's no longer a need to choose between power or pocketability. Pick one up at the Amazon link below.

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Giveaway: Win the Ultimate Tactical EDC Gear Loadout from ASP!

Update: Congrats to Mike M, winner of this giveaway!

When it comes to reliable gear for LEOs, military personnel, and personal self-defense, one brand comes to mind: ASP. Armament Systems and Procedures has been making solid and reliable tactical gear for law enforcement professionals for over 40 years, and has recently unveiled its latest and greatest products. One lucky winner will receive this huge loadout of tactical flashlights and personal protection for EDC, courtesy of our sponsor, ASP.

Klarus XT12S Tactical Extended Reach Flashlight

Far too often the “tactical” badge gets added to flashlights, with lights promising robust performance but delivering far less functionality than expected. Fortunately for a manufacturer like Klarus, with their pedigree of cutting-edge flashlight products, such a title isn't all show. And that's true more than ever for their XT12S light, the compact upgrade to their previous XT12GT tactical light. It combines the convenient tech of a modern rechargeable flashlight with the fit and finish of a duty light, giving you an EDC powerhouse more than capable of handling every situation.

With an 18650 battery paired with a Cree XHP35 Hi D4 LED, the XT12S has up to 1600 lumens across 6 modes at the touch of its switches. For everyday use you have 10 lumens on Low for up to 200 hours. For the outdoors, the XT12S can throw it's full power to 400 meters on Turbo. And with its dedicated tactical button, you have one-touch access to Strobe for emergencies. Its body is built from anodized 6061 aluminum, IPX8 rated for full functionality even while submerged up to 2 meters. This rugged body also integrates magnetic charging, making it convenient to charge its 18650 battery while also sparing you from having to carry an extra charger around.

Both on and under its surface, the XT12S comes loaded with thoughtful features. A crenelated bezel lends itself to the light's tactical applications. Its magnetic charging port integrates an intelligent battery capacity indicator. Fins along the head help dissipate heat, while knurling along its body give the best grip. A clip makes the light convenient carry, which ends at a tactical ring for grip versatility and anti-roll capability. Klarus didn't skimp on its electronics either, giving the XT12S programmability and battery polarity protection to round out its internal features.

Whether it's a convenient, modern EDC light you're after or a powerful partner as a last resort, the XT12S has your back. Pick one up from the Amazon link below.

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Olight M2R Warrior

We talk a lot about flashlights around here. That's because there's always something new to talk about with how fast technology advances. But as we've seen in their past lights, Olight somehow manages to push the envelope in exciting ways that continue to surprise us. With their latest release, the M2R Warrior, they took the best parts of all their models and produced an everyday light that hits all the right notes. Whether your'e wielding it for EDC or need a powerful partner for tactical applications, the Warrior is ready for duty.

At its core the M2R Warrior is powered by an 18650 battery, giving it the power and runtime you would expect from a modern light. Paired with the latest Cree XHP35 HD LED, you get up to 1500 lumens on Turbo for a little under 2 hours (with a step down to 700 lumens after 3 minutes) or up to 25 days on its 1-lumen Moonlight mode.  These and its modes in between are navigated via Olight's simple and effective side-button interface.

The M2R's tailcap is where things get interesting, as Olight have packed both tech and tactical into it. You can access Turbo and Strobe at the push of its tail switch, a stainless steel button which doubles as a magnetic charging port(!) compatible with Olight's chargers and docks, letting the M2R play nicely with the rest of the family.

The rest of the M2R's features add a few nice layers of icing to an already delicious-looking cake. If you're a flashlight enthusiast, it's hard to find fault with what the light brings to the table. A choice of cool or neutral white tint. Full compatibility with standard 18650 batteries in addition to the 3500mAh one it comes with. Magnetic charging with an included cable. IPX8 waterprooofing with its ergonomically-knurled aluminum shell. A thick, stainless steel pocket clip that's not only dual-facing but also dual-positioning for tip up or down deep carry. And if that's not convenient enough for EDC, it even comes with a lanyard and holster.

Olight has done it again, cramming every feature you could want from an 18650 light in the M2R Warrior. Pick one up for yourself at the Amazon link below.

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8 High CRI Flashlights for EDC

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.

Klarus Mi1C

When you think of the most compact yet versatile lights for EDC, certain brands and models come to mind. But with the speed of tech and innovation, what used to be a niche for strictly small lights now boasts some of its most powerful and convenient. Case in point: the new Klarus Mi1C. You wouldn't expect such power or runtime from a light the size of your thumb, but that's where it's just getting started.

At the heart of the Mi1C is a 16340 battery, with good voltage and capacity for a cell of its size. When paired with the light's XP-L HI V3 LED, you get outputs of up to 600 floody lumens on its highest output or up to 6 days of runtime on its 1-lumen Moonlight mode. And before you start worrying about having to charge it, the Mi1C is one step ahead with a built-in micro USB charging right in the battery, extending its use in your light as well as any other device that can use it.

Despite its size, Klarus didn't skimp on the Mi1C's build quality. It comes in IPX8-rated, HAIII-anodized aluminum, giving it 2 meters of waterproofing as well as impact resistance of up to 1 meter. Of course, it helps that the light is a mere 0.95 ounces without its battery, with a magnetic tail to let you position and secure it when in use. And last but not least, a stainless steel clip with lanyard hole lets you carry the Mi1C as needed.

There's a new contender for your coveted pocket space, and the Mi1C looks to make its mark. Pick one up from Amazon at the link below.

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Manker PL10 Multi-tool Flashlight

Sometimes the most useful and impressive results come from the most unlikely partnerships. Despite flashlights and pens often sharing a similar shape, no one's managed to put them together well in the same tool. And while a poor effort can easily end up ineffective in both applications, Manker's taken the best parts—especially the parts EDCers like—from tactical pens and flashlights and put them into the PL10. It's a compact multi-tool that's no jack of both trades.

The PL10 seeks to hit 3 EDC nails on the head: the need for a pleasant and pocketable light, the usefulness of always having a pen, and the robust construction for tactical use in an emergency. As a light, the PL10 comes with a hi-CRI Nichia 219B LED, pushing out up to 120 lumens in a versatile, floody beam. It uses a rechargeable 10180 lithium battery as a power source, which you don't have to worry about replacing since the PL10 comes with a built-in charging port and USB cable. On the pen side the PL10 uses a black refill cartridge. While it does serve to keep the tool compact, this unfortunately means it's a refill you'd have to replace direct from Manker. It's a bit of a compromise, but the two included refills should last you quite a bit.

For tactical applications, you get IPX-6-rated fit and finish in a solid stainless steel body. It's knurled with a deep diamond pattern, with fins and grooves that give added grip when used as a pen or striking tool. A tungsten tip on the cap also gives the PL10 glass breaking ability should you need it. Said cap also comes with a smooth pocket clip that lets you easily carry the tool as you would a light or pen, making it easy to EDC, especially at only 2.1 ounces with its battery.

Whether as a light or a tactical pen, the PL10 means business for both departments. Pick one up from Amazon at the link below, or direct from Manker here.

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Nitecore TIP SS

From Tube to TIP, the iconic Nitecore keychain flashlights have proven their mettle through the years. And while they came out with a high-CRI model earlier this year, they're beefing up the TIP yet again from the inside out. In this newest iteration Nitecore adds some metal to the mix, outfitting the TIP 2017 SS with a stainless steel build and a stronger output for heavy keychain duty.

The key features of the TIP 2017 are still present in the SS model. The reworked clip gives you carry options and protects the TIP's charging ports, dual intelligent modes tailor the light's 360 lumens and 46 hours of runtime to your needs, and IP54-rated metallic construction and USB charging round out its features.

New in the SS are the exotic new finishes: polished stainless steel and jet black/tropical PVD (physical vapor deposition) titanium coatings. They add a touch of elite aesthetic to your TIP of choice, making it even easier to match them to your equally exotic EDC.

Exceptional portability, exotic aesthetic, and ease of carry: the TIP 2017 SS is game, set and match. If you have have room to add yet another versatile keychain flashlight to your carry, pick out your SS of choice at the link below.

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ASP Flashlights

If you ask any police officer about the gear on his or her duty belt, chances are there’s something on it made by Armament Systems and Procedures, better known as ASP. If you're unfamiliar with ASP, they've been making solid and reliable tactical gear for law enforcement professionals for over 40 years now. While their products are primarily designed and made for the pros, they've got what it takes for civilian EDC, too. ASP offers an eclectic lineup of everyday carry flashlights, all designed with an emphasis on high performance, ease of use, and reliability.