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.


Lumintop Titanium Penlight

"This pen-style pocket flashlight features a durable titanium alloy body with a military-grade hard-anodized finish. It’s IPX8-rated waterproof, and features a 125 lumen Nichi LED light source optimized for..." (via TheAwesomer)

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ThruNite Neutron 2C V3

With rock-solid features at an exceptionally attractive price tag, the ThruNite Neutron 2C has established itself to be an excellent everyday light. Rather than reinvent the wheel to keep the flashlight fresh, ThruNite instead innovate with careful iteration. Now in its 3rd version, the latest 2C comes with measured upgrades rather than drastic differences, adopting the power, versatility, and utility of modern lights while staying true to its core as a great all-around flashlight for EDC.

The Neutron 2C V3's exterior largely remains unchanged from its initial release. It comes in an IPX8-rated black anodized aluminum tube with a raised collar with an anti-roll design that houses a metal side switch and generous knurling for its bottom half. A key feature lies with this segmented bottom portion: it unscrews into two separate parts to allow you to shorten the entire light, giving compatibility to huge range of batteries (18650 x 1, 18350 x 1, CR123A x 2, 16340 x 1, 16340 x 2). This gives the 2C ridiculous versatility and portability depending on your needs, and thanks to a built-in micro USB port, the light itself is even able to recharge said cells. The 2C's accessories include a pre-attached clip, 3400 mAh 18650 battery, holster, lanyard, and micro USB cable. These round out its carry options as well as give you a complete kit to get you started.

An electronic side switch (which also doubles as a battery indicator) navigates the light's 4 modes. It uses a Cree XP-L V6 LED available in both cool and neutral white, with a top output of 1100 lumens and a maximum runtime of 49 days on its 0.5-lumen Firefly setting. Playing again on its versatility, the 2C's main output mode allows continuous ramping between 12 and 650 lumens, with shortcuts to Firefly (long press), Turbo (double click), and Strobe (double click from Turbo) from off. These shortcuts are a nice and thoughtful touch, especially considering  getting to the right brightness on its ramping mode may take a few moments that you might not have in a pinch. Thankfully, mode memory exists for this mode when you do find that perfect brightness.

Even in its third iteration, versatility is still the name of the game for the Thrunite Neutron 2C. Pick one up in your choice of tint from the Amazon link below.

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Sub Flashlight

"From the makers of the Claw multitool comes an equally tiny flashlight. Marlboro & Kane’s Sub is under an inch long and about half an inch in diameter. It shines a 30 lumen light and has an aluminum case. It is IP67 rated for water- and..." (via TheAwesomer)

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Nitecore EC30

A while back Nitecore released a concept light, aptly named the Concept 1, with a fresh take on the compact, but, powerful flashlight. Unlike most concept products that never progress past a futuristic design or idea, the Concept 1 delivered a new model that was unique among Nitecore's other flashlights of time. Now Nitecore have taken the Concept even further with the EC30, tweaking the light in both features and price, while still offering a compact powerhouse for EDC.

The EC30 carries over many of its features from the Concept 1. It uses a Cree XHP35 HD paired with either a 18650 battery or 2 x CR123As for a maximum output of 1800 lumens up to 220 meters. 5 brightness levels and 3 special modes are accessed via a single side switch, including instant access to Moonlight (1 lumen) and Turbo (1800 lumens), the former of which has a runtime of up to 310 hours. Thanks to its combination of power, medium throw, and runtime, it's a great option as a general-use light, performing well across many usage cases for EDC.

The overall exterior design of the EC30 takes most of its cues from the Concept 1 as well. Which is a good thing, because the compact, tapered body lends itself well to pocketability and ease of carry. Its top half is smooth and houses the bolt-on clip, side switch, and branding, while the bottom half retains the magnetic tail and subtle diamond knurling pattern for a comfortable, but tight grip. The switch is the big difference on the EC30 compared to its predecessor, now a proud electronic switch compared to the more flat rectangle switch of the original. Be advised: while the switch is now easier to use, it also means accidental activation is a strong possibility, especially with a lack of electronic lockout in the EC30's user interface.

Switch aside, the EC30 is still a very compact light, measuring in at 4.38” and weighing 2.31 oz. That's slightly shorter and heavier than the Concept 1, but should still be just as EDC-friendly. And thanks to IPX8-rated water and impact resistance, carrying for every environment is no problem. Finally, an included lanyard and holster complete the carry package.

The Nitecore EC30 is an easy and affordable concept to grasp, and it's available now at the Amazon link below.

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Klarus XT1A 2018 Edition

While modern EDC lights these days offer tons of smart new features, sometimes you don't want all the bells and whistles—especially on a tactical light. Too many modes, programming, and magnetic charging might be more complex than you need. When you want a torch that reliably puts out a lot of light in a literal flash, tactical lights are usually the way to go. Klarus's updated XT1A offers a bit of both so you can use the light the way you want after setting it up. For example, it boasts a 1000 lumen output and accommodates USB-rechargeable Li-ion batteries, but also keeps things simple with instant access to strobe and the ability to use standard AA batteries too.

The new XT1A's pocket-friendly body has all the right features for an everyday light: anti-roll rings, a grippy middle section, and a scalloped tail that can tailstand without getting in the way of your thumb. It's compact at 4.24" long and weighs 2.17oz without a battery, built from HAIII anodized T6 aluminum alloy. The body is sized to fit both 14500 Li-ion batteries and standard AA cells, giving you options to switch between higher output or more readily available power sources. When powered by a 14500 cell, its CREE XP-L HD V6 LED pushes a maximum output of 1000 lumens and reaches a low of 5 lumens. The included 14500 itself has a built-in micro-USB port for convenient charging as well.

The XT1A has a few unique features that make it especially versatile depending on if you want to use it as a tactical light or a general EDC. On its Tactical Setting, you get instant access to Turbo with the main tail switch and a one-touch Strobe with the secondary tail switch. On the Outdoor setting, it unlocks multiple modes and SOS features. Finally, useful features like a tailswitch lock-out function, battery indicator, IPX8 waterproofing, and a stainless steel pocket clip round it out. If you prefer a more traditional flashlight form factor and more control over how you can use your light, be sure to check out the XT1A 2018 at the link below.

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RovyVon Aurora A6 High CRI Flashlight

If you've been on the market for a new EDC flashlight recently, chances are you've come across the RovyVon Aurora series. The glow-in-the-dark Aurora A5 was one of our favorite lights of last year, with high praise from our editors and our readers alike for its innovative features and design at a great price. But if you haven't had a chance to pick up one of these versatile keychain lights, you now have even more options with the new Aurora A6. It keeps much of the same great features that set the A5 apart from the rest, but now comes with a beautifully color-accurate main LED and even more side-mounted light options to boot. Whether you're a flashlight enthusiast or just starting to build your EDC, there's something for you in the new RovyVon Aurora A6.

The most notable difference with the Aurora A6 is its main LED. Instead of the 550-lumen cool white CREE XP-G3 LED on the A5, this new model offers a high color rendering index (CRI) Nichia 219C LED with a max output of 300 lumens. When it comes to the output on the A6, it's more quality over quantity. The Nichia 219C produces a “warm white” beam that more closely resembles sunlight, making colors look more natural and accurate. It's a stark contrast to typical “cool white” LEDs that can make your surroundings look harshly washed out or “cold.” If you find yourself using your EDC light mainly in outdoors settings, a high CRI light makes a huge difference. And at the end of the day, 300 lumens is still plenty for general EDC tasks and can be worth the tradeoff for more accurate color depending on your lighting tasks. The other change is the A6's side-mounted LED now comes with a blue option that works in tandem with the red LED to server as an alert or signal light.

Aside from the changes to the LEDs, the A6 retains those same great features from the A5. Its glow-in-the-dark polycarbonate housing is still just 2.16” long and 0.416 oz in weight, making it ultra portable. A stainless steel bezel protects the business end of the light from impact, a side switch operates both the main LED and side lights, while a lanyard attachment point at the tail end of the light and an included, reversible, 2-way pocket clip give you convenient carry options. Its 130mAh Li-ion battery recharges via a built-in micro USB port too. Last but not least, it features IP65 water resistance so you don't have to worry about rain and splashes. If you've been holding out for a high CRI version of the Aurora, now's your chance to see what all the hype is about. Grab one for your EDC at the link below.

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Rofis TC1 Flashlight

When it comes to recent EDC lights, it's no longer all about the numbers on the box. Usability, innovation, and convenience are just as important as the specs. But it's a thin line between a clever light and a gimmicky one—you have to know the rules of a good light before you can bend them. That's where companies like Rofis come in. Known for their versatile angled flashlights, they're pushing the envelope once again with the new TC1. It's their latest compact flashlight that redefines what it means to have light at your fingertips.

On first look, the TC1 looks like any other bullet-shaped keychain light with a twist interface. Smaller than a thumb and weighing only half an ounce even with its battery, the TC1 is the type of compact light you set and forget on your keychain. That is, until you take a closer look and see the features Rofis have packed into the light's tiny package. Within the TC1's anodized aluminum shell lies a 10180 rechargable battery, which, when paired with the XP-G3 LED, gives off a maximum output of 120 lumens across 3 levels. Charging is also convenient thanks to a micro USB port built into the TC1's screw threads, which also gives the light IPX6-rated water and impact resistance.

But it's the rear of the light where the magic happens. Rather than a twist or clicky interface, the TC1 comes with a brand new touch switch more akin to a smartphone fingerprint reader than the flashlight hardware we've been used to. Given its high sensitivity it means activating and switching levels much faster than having to twist the whole body or completely clicking a button. And rather than leaving it at that, it doubles as a battery indicator too, flashing red when fuel gets low.

With nods to the past while getting decked out for the future, the TC1 sets a fresh and interesting precedent to the lights we'll be seeing from here on out. Pick one up at the Amazon link below for under twenty bucks.

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Olight Warrior X

When gear has the word “warrior” in its name, that's when you know it means business. And for Olight especially, who have released some excellent lights under the “warrior” banner, it's also an indicator of quality. The new Warrior X celebrates 10 years of flagship flashlights, each showcasing how far flashlights have come for their time, and in the case of the X, how much Olight have mastered their own. It's a powerful light with the latest features you would want from a modern light, while also paying homage to the simple efficiency of Olight's design history.

Designed first and foremost to be a weaponlight, the Warrior X is built for the part. A beefy, IPX8-rated aluminium shell and a 3 mm tempered glass lens allows the Warrior X to endure harsh drops up to 2 meters, as well as the maximum impact and water resistance you could get from a flashlight. Its weaponlight designation also informs some of the design features of the light, including being built for throw with an extra large ridged head and smooth reflector, two types of grip rings to suit your un/gloved preference, and a simpler UI with a single tail switch to control its two configurations and two respective outputs.

Speaking of outputs, this is where the Warrior X starts to bare its teeth. Making full use of a new Cree XHP35 NW LED paired with a high-drain 18650 battery, the X is capable of dishing out a maximum of 2,000 lumens for up to 560 meters of throw. It's one of the most powerful outputs and ranges you can get from a light of this size and battery, effectively doubling the output of previous generation lights, though it does have a rather large stepdown to 600 lumens on High after a minute and a half.

The X's other key features make up for this jump, however. First is a built-in vibrating power indicator rather than an LED to notify you of low power (power ≤30%: vibrate once every 5 minutes, power ≤10%: vibrate once per minute, power ≤5%: vibrate 6 times per minute). It's a first of its kind, and a clever compromise for losing the signature Olight side switch/indicator. Its tail comes with Olight's latest magnetic charging button, compatible with their recent magnetic chargers as well as the world's first magnetic pressure switch when in a mounted configuration.

Though a duty light first, the X comes with some great EDC features too, including a custom holster with space for an extra battery, knife, or even backup light, as well as a stainless steel clip for pocket or bag carry with a manageable 7.69-ounce weight. You also get a rechargeable 3000 mAh 18650 battery and magnetic charging USB cable to spare you from having to carry around a charger, which can also charge your other compatible Olight models. Finally, a 5-year warranty ensures years of reliable service to come.

Celebrate 10 years of Olight's finest with the Warrior X by picking one up from Amazon at the link below.

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Readers' Choice: Top 3 EDC Flashlights in 2018

With the new year right around the corner, there's plenty of new gear in store for us to look forward to. But until then, now's a great time to look back on the gear that served us best through 2018. We polled our community in our exclusive Facebook group and asked what their favorite EDC gear was in the past year. In this quick round-up, we're highlighting your favorite flashlights! We've narrowed it down to the top three answers among the community — read on to see what your favorites were, and stay tuned for more gear to come in our Readers' Choice series.

RovyVon Angel Eyes E300S Flashlight

If you still can't see the usefulness of a flashlight in your EDC, maybe you need to look at it from the right angle. You might find the secret to making the most of an everyday light is just 90 degrees away. RovyVon has shown plenty of innovation in their past lineup of EDC flashlights, and their new Angel Eyes E300s continues the trend with its unique rectangular body, right-angle layout, and triple LED configuration. And while its right-angle form factor opens up new possibilities for EDC applications and carry options, its whopping 2000 lumen output also makes it worth a closer look.

Right off the bat, it's clear the E300S isn't how you'd picture a typical flashlight. It ditches the usual head-and-barrel design for a more rectangular shape constructed from HAIII anodized aluminum alloy. It measures in at just shy of 4” long, 1.4” wide, and 0.68” thick, weighing 3.7oz. Towards the top of the light sits the set of 3 CREE XP-G3 LEDs, which put out a combined 2000 lumens on its Turbo mode. A switch on the top of the light gives instant momentary access to Turbo, as well as emergency modes. A side switch navigates levels with different button presses, offering flexibility depending on how you like to use your light. You can start from its 3 lumen moonlight mode and cycle through low, medium, high, and turbo modes as a more traditional method. You can also start at 250 lumens and fine-tune the brightness with infinite adjustability and memory. Last but not least, there's also an option for a 450 lumen medium mode with all other modes for no-fuss illumination.

To go along with all that power and versatility at the business end, the unique form factor of the E300S makes it better suited for certain EDC scenarios. Ridges along the sides of the E300S provide grip in place of traditional knurling and also allow for its included pocket clip to attach at different places and orientations on the light. This gives some flexibility in how you carry the light, which is already easily pocketable thanks to its slim rectangular shape. And since the LEDs are situated at a right angle, you can clip the light to a shirt pocket, pants pocket, or bag strap to keep your hands free while you're working.

Another advantage of the right angle and flat body means it won't roll away when you set it down, but it can also easily bounce light off of the ceiling to provide floody, ambient light for the whole room, such as in a blackout situation. The E300S also features a lanyard attachment point that can stand the light upright as well. Last but not least, the form factor has potential to be used as a headlamp or bike lamp too when paired with optional upcoming accessories.

Overall, the E300S offers an impressive amount of power and flexibility all in a unique form factor that fits in the palm of your hand. If you're looking for something different in your EDC light, give the E300S a look. You can grab one from Amazon at the link below.

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Nitecore TUP

Just when you think flashlights can't get any smaller or brighter, something revolutionary comes along. At first, it was the Nitecore Tube, with its novel form factor and impressive output for its size. More lights followed with the TIP and TINI improving upon both performance and portability. But now Nitecore's latest TUP flashlight hits new milestones with a whopping 1000 lumen output and an OLED display. It brings the sheer power and versatile features you'd expect from lights twice its size to an all-new design that's fit for your keychain.

The TUP marks a shift in the direction of Nitecore's T-series, this time opting for more power and functionality in favor of ultra portability. Its rectangular form makes space for a slew of new features. At the business end, a CREE XP-L HD V6 LED sits behind TIR optics to achieve a 1000-lumen max output that throws out to 180 meters. It's powered by an integrated 1200mAh, micro-USB rechargeable battery. The battery provides up to 70 hours of runtime, comparable to a light that takes two CR123a batteries, but in a size closer to that of a single cell flashlight. The light uses two side switches to control its digital lockout and usage modes, stepping down from its 1000 lumen max to its “ultra low” mode of 1 lumen. Relevant information is displayed on the light's unique OLED display, showing voltage, battery level, brightness, runtime remaining, modes, and more. It's especially handy for power users who want to know every last detail about the light they're depending on in their EDC.

Despite all these features, the TUP is impressively pocketable at just 2.76” long and weighing only 1.87 oz. It comes equipped with a deep pocket clip for multiple ways to carry as well as a keychain attachment point that can withstand up to 30kg of pull force. Its HAIII anodized aluminum body comes in both black and grey to match most EDCs. You can pick up this pocket rocket from Amazon at the link below.

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SureFire Stiletto

When it comes to flashlights that you can stake your life on, few have earned the reputation that SureFire lights have. From rugged, duty-ready torches to dependable daily drivers, their lights have stood the test of time. And while their main focus has always been reliability, they've got room for some innovation, too. The SureFire Stiletto takes cues from its namesake to give you a light you can draw and use as fast as a knife. It's a rugged yet sleek addition to any EDC with a few modern features for good measure.

The Stiletto doesn't look like a modern flashlight. Instead of the usual aluminum tube, it instead comes in a lightweight polymer construction, reducing its weight while still maintaining heavy-duty, IPX7-rated resistance. This ensures the Stiletto's lithium polymer batteries and electronics stay protected, no matter the activity. An anodized aluminum head assembly houses both the light's LED and its MaxVision reflector, giving you a wide, floody beam useful for everyday tasks.

Along the Stiletto's top face are its two switches and its sealing micro USB charging port. Its main switch activates its three output levels, including a High of 650 lumens for up to 1.75 hours, and a Low of 5 lumens good for up to 30. A tactical switch gives quick access to High and an optional strobe for emergencies. The Stiletto can also be reprogrammed between tactical and task outputs depending on how you need to use the light. Finally, an LED indicator tracks remaining battery so you always know when to top up.

As this is an EDC light, the Stiletto comes with a few features to help with ease of carry. This includes a Melonite-coated, spring steel pocket clip for bezel up pocket carry, while its body tapers for the smoothest egress possible from its stowed location. And in spite of its robust appearance, the Stiletto carries light at only 2.8 ounces.

With its heritage of reliability and an innovative, sleek design, the Stiletto is a quick and easy addition to any EDC. Pick up SureFire's latest from Amazon at the link below.

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5 Best EDC Lights Under $50 in 2018

With the days getting shorter and nights getting darker, now's the perfect time to rethink your current EDC light. And of all the gear you can carry, your flashlight is most likely to be due for an upgrade given how quickly flashlight technology advances. Luckily, a solid light with modern features doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. In this guide, we're rounding up 5 new and noteworthy lights released this year that can all be had for less than 50 bucks. There's a light for everyone here, with picks suited for tactical EDCs, classy carries, outdoor setups, and more.

Olight S1R II Baton

It truly is an enlightened age for flashlights. Olight is a company that knows this better than most, with years of experience making popular EDC flashlights and continuous development that makes every new release worth the wait. Their latest light, the S1R II Baton, fills out the popular CR123A-powered category with a modern light with modern tech. It's got the size, power, and convenience of an EDC-worthy flashlight.

Olight's new and improved S1R II Baton joins the fray as the upgrade to their original S1R, a light made popular due to its convenient magnetic charging and intense output for a pocket flashlight. While it uses the same Cree XM-L2 LED as its predecessor and is also able to use a CR123A lithium primary, it now runs off of an included IMR 16340 rechargeable battery. You do lose some runtime due to the smaller capacity, but the S1R II is now able to push out a top end of 1000 lumens on Turbo before dropping down to a more manageable ~300 lumens after about a minute. Its 4 other modes, including a Low setting that gives 0.5 lumens up to 8 days and direct access to Strobe, is navigated with the S-series's tried-and-true single side button interface.

It's not just output where the S1R II made improvements. For starters, it's shorter, more compact, and even slightly lighter than the original. It sports a new, more aggressive knurling, as well as the new 2-way clip Olight have been rolling out with their newer lights. The side button now also comes with an LED indicator to let you know its battery level. And speaking of battery, charging is much more convenient now since the S1R II uses Olight's new MCCII (Magnetic Charging Cable II) standard, making the light compatible with the rest of Olight's chargers and cables for ther other magnetic charging lights. The new MCCII cable is included, along with a soft pouch, lanyard, and battery case to hold and carry everything together.

The Olight S1R II Baton shows that Olight knows when not to reinvent the wheel to bring the most benefit to their flashlights. Sometimes a little tweaking is all it takes to make the biggest difference. Pick up Olight's newest compact light at that Amazon link below.

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Fenix E16 EDC Flashlight

As flashlight tech gets better and better, the market for an EDC light gets more and more competitive. Some differentiate by being as compact as possible for ease of carry, while some just want to scorch some retinas with sheer lumen power. Few can do both, much less do it well. Fenix are one of those few. With the E16 EDC Flashlight, they push the possibilities of power and portability of a pocket light. With unique features and unprecedented output from a torch that's only 2 inches, it sets the bar for an everyday, usable light that fits into any carry.

Rather than just an emitter into a tube of anodized aluminum, Fenix manages to fit in a few unique touches to E16's tiny frame. This includes cooling vents built into the light's head, along with a vertical textured knurling pattern to help keep the light in your hands. A stainless steel side switch controls its 5 output levels, with a Cree XP-L Hi LED able to emit 3 lumens for up to 110 hours on Low with a CR123A battery, or up to 700 lumens for over 1 hour of total runtime on High with a 16340 rechargeable cell.

Space is a premium for a light of this size, and Fenix made sure none of it goes to waste. Starting with its reflector, it comes in at a minimal 3mm, saving a ton of space on the light's head. A 3-way pocket clip allows for tip up, tip down, or lanyard carry, giving you plenty of ways to carry it, including as a psuedo-headlamp when attached to the brim of a cap. Its tail is able to tailstand while integrating both a lanyard point attachment and a magnetic base for even more utility. And even though the E16 weighs in at a featherweight 2.6 ounces, it still comes with IP68-rated dust resistance and water ingress protection up to 2 meters for 30 minutes.

While the compact EDC flashlight space is getting crowded, the E16 is a heavy-duty contender that takes up no space at all. Pick one up from the Amazon link below.

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Gear Up for Fall with 5.11 Tactical Apparel and Flashlights

With an emphasis on practical design and tough build materials, 5.11 Tactical gear has become the go-to for many EDCers. On top of their iconic bags, pouches, and tools that they make, they've also got gear to cover the rest of your bases from head to toe. So if you're serious about staying prepared with functional gear, it's important to pay attention not only to what you carry, but the clothes you carry them in as well. 5.11 Tactical's latest releases include their Defender-Flex tactical jeans, Union Waterproof boots, and their handy EDC penlight with performance-driven improvements all around.