The 5 Best 18650 Flashlights for 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.

Zebralight SC63

For many flashlight enthusiasts, a Zebralight is the first and last stop for an 18650 flashlight because of its design, features, and sheer customizability. The SC63 (and its neutral white tint brother the SC63w) is the latest and greatest of their compact 18650 lights, and features their best tech on offer. Its Cree XHP35 LED outputs a whopping 1300 lumen max, but can also run up to 7.1 months on its lowest 0.01 lumen setting. Its electronics regulate its outputs and protect against parasitic battery drain. A single side switch lets you operate and program the SC63's extensive outputs and modes to your exact needs. And with a 3.64” machined aluminum unibody and built-in clip, it's one of the smallest 18650 lights you can carry in your EDC.

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ThruNite TC12 V2

With six output modes and up to 1100 lumens of light, the ThruNite TC12 V2 certainly isn't lacking in the brightness department. But it's best feature is its built-in micro USB charging port. Yes, the very same you find on your smartphone and portable battery packs, meaning charging its included 18650 battery is as easy and convenient as charging the rest of your gear. As an everyday light, the TC12 V2 is up to any task thanks to its type III hard anodized aluminum body, and at 5.5”and 3 ounces is still compact enough to carry in your pockets.

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ArmyTek Partner C2 Pro V3

If it's sheer power, distance, and toughness you're after, then the appropriately named ArmyTek Partner C2 is the wingman for you. Got any football fields that need lighting up? With its Cree XHP35 LED it outputs an unprecedented 2100 lumens up to 192 meters. Paired with that insane output is some of the best build quality you'll find in a flashlight. ArmyTek protects the Partner C2 from every angle with an impact-resistant body that can withstand drops of up to 10 meters, and an IP68 rating that deals with dust and depths of up to 10 meters, too.

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Olight S2 Baton

I love and still carry the Olight S1 Baton and consider it one of the best flashlights overall for EDC to this day. That said, a little more power and a lot more runtime couldn't hurt. And with 950 lumens on high and 24 hours on low, the S2 Baton is the perfect upgrade. The S2 comes with the same compact design and the easy-to-use interface as the S1, with a narrow profile and single side button switch. Despite its length from the battery it remains one of the smallest 18650 lights you can buy, making it one of the best for everyday carry.

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Convoy S2+

If you're still on the fence despite all the benefits you get from 18650 flashlights, the Convoy S2+ is the entry-level light for you. For a minimal investment you get 490 lumens of output, multiple modes, a rugged aluminum alloy body, and a carry-friendly size and lanyard. And for a little bit more, KAMOLTECH can customize the S2+'s circuit and LED to fit your EDC needs exactly.

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Are you carrying an 18650 flashlight? Did we miss your favorite for our picks, or any other good ones we should know about? Let us know in the comments below!

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Discussion (38 total)

This article finally pushed me to order the Olight S2 I've had on my wish list for a while!
I have a Fenix pd35tac flashlight with that battery and can enthusiastically concur. I usually use the 2nd setting of the available 5 brightness settings and can go for weeks, literally, between charges with normal/easy use. At Boy Scout summer camp with my boys it got used often, and for long periods over a 6 day trip and when I put it on the charger I had used a touch over half the battery. The extra voltage is nice as well. I have a very large backyard and on the 1000 lumen setting this little thing lights up my entire yard like it's daylight out. I couldn't be happier with it. I've dropped it off my roof onto the driveway (hanging Christmas lights) and no problem. Had to swap a fuel pump out on the side of the road in a rain storm, no problem. Dropped in the river by my youngest and left there, still turned on, for the 5-6 minutes it took him to come tell me and for me to fetch it, no problem.
I've owned Streamlights and Surefires before and put all of the above through shifts at the Fire Department and at the Prison and will buy this same flashlight again and again as they die (2 years of medium/hard use on this one and still running). You can't go wrong.
Those are some awesome anecdotes!
As a flashlight enthusiast, I can say that ALL of these models are top notch. I've done a lot of research on flashlights that take 18650's, and I have probably 30 different 18650 cells sitting in a box that I rotate between. They are truly the best lithium ion cell you can use for devices like this these days. Nothing else comes close to the energy density or output.
you forgot the Manker U11 one of the best edc light for a very good price!!
Oh that one is new to me, thanks for the reco! We'll consider it for next time. :)
I have the Fenix PD32 with a tactical end which runs on one 18650 battery for weeks if not months. The charge holds bright and I have it in my hand when in doubt and have it turned on when walking back to the car parked in an area when the streetlights have decided to go off duty. I've once had it in my bag for 3 months without using it and still runs bright enough to do look for owls when doing night birdwatching. Now the newer version PD35 sports a tactical end as well, with 1000lumens brightness.
Great piece. One addition to the Zebralight, though: it only takes unprotected 18650s. These are harder to find, and make some people a little leery due to overcharging risks. If you do just a little research and are careful with your charging, the danger is fairly minimal, but it's worth considering.
You make a good point and one thing that I didn't get to mention in the article--trust batteries and chargers from reputable brands! Though Zebralights won't have issues with over-discharge or over-current with unprotected 18650s, bad chargers and batteries may not be as careful with over-charging.
Or you could drop down to the SC 600. You would only lose 200 lumen, but could use most protected 18650s. One battery that did not fit mine was the Orbtronic 3500 mAh, too wide. :(
Wouldn't say they're hard to find anymore. IMR and INR 18650's are one of the most popular batteries vapers use so they're very easy to find online now. A samsung or LG paired up with a nitecore charger is completely safe. Plus flashlights that use unprotected batteries have the same protections built into the electronics.
Little disappointed no mention of my favourite brand, Nitecore! I own the srt7 model as well as MH20GT, MH27, MH20, they are simply amazing. By the way NO I do not have any connection with the company! Lol, I just did my research and came across these these only after that. They do come highly recommended.
I was debating quite a bit with putting the SRT series in there as magnetic ring is still my favorite interface--but the ThruNite had the slightly higher favor in this day and age where everyone's carrying portable batteries for that extra bit of convenience. But don't worry I'm a huge Nitecore fan too!
I'm new to these nice flashlights and EDC. A few comments: the 18650s seem to be whats used in the low-end cell phone battery packs. I get them at tradeshow as a giveaway from vendors so I'm hoping to have a readily available source of batteries. With so many choices of flashlights it took a while but I finally made the choice to get a convoy S2 plus as my first light. Nice to see it on your list. It's on order from gear best but it's been a month and a half and I'm sstill waiting. when you talk of a specific model like the S2 plus, my head spins because there's a myriad of choices on most websites! It's tough enough settling on a model, let alone choosing from all the variations!!
I had trouble researching that guy as well since a lot of the sites you can buy from lets you customize everything from the LED bin down to the tint and modes. At least if you make a "mistake" it's not a terribly large investment!

And yes, a lot of people also strip down old laptop batteries to get to the 18650s inside. :)
Well I am the one who get the old laptop battery run on my red Convoy S2+ from Gearbest too. It performed really well. BTW, you should get a good li-ion battery charger to charge the batteries, the batteries from old laptop battery pack is unprotected.
I have the thrunite TC12 and I would only recommend it as an EDC if you plan on carrying it in a separate pouch or outside of your pockets. It is a great flashlight but definitely not a pocket carry. I really do think 18650s are the way to go though
I've been loving my Fenix TK16. It's super bright and while its less streamlined than others (due to the anti-roll features), it's a durable, dependable tactical flashlight for EDC.
I religiously carry an EDC light. This has definitely expanded the scope of what I will look at going forward. I have been stuck in the surefire mentality since I got my first one for my M4 when we deployed. I did not even realize that some of these were out there. Thanks!
I carry an Olight M1X Striker. 4 light levels and a strobe function for signaling, and it doesn't take up the whole pocket (I carry it clipped to the hip pocket similar to a knife, with the knife clipped in the other pocket). I can still reach in and get a small set of keys around it without moving it.
I just got a Manker (?) BLF Special Edition and I love it!! One of the best flashlights I have ever owned or seen.
I'm 99% sure that's the battery in my Led Lenser M7R. A little bigger than these, so it fits nicely on a belt (or molle backpack), but not in a pocket. It's the older version, but still bright enough for 50-100m searching for 24 hours per charge.
I've been carrying the Fenix PD35 TAC Tactical CREE XP-L (V5) LED Flashlight for the past six months and love it. It costs less than your first two listings, but more than the remaining. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for an 18650 light. The only thing I wish it had is a red filter. I've seen two red filters on Amazon - one was plastic and poorly made, the other was well made, but did not fit the PD35.
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