The Best USB Rechargeable Flashlights in 2018

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UPDATE: We’ve updated this list with new picks in 2019. Check out the new guide here.

Nothing beats the convenience of a USB rechargeable flashlight. Gone are the cumbersome and bulky specialty chargers and battery cradles. Instead, these flashlights get their juice from a USB power port and cable. No outlet? No problem — charge your light off your laptop or an external battery pack. The best part is that these lights don’t skimp on the performance you’d expect from a proper EDC light. There’s a lot of them out there though, so we’ve together this list of our favorites to make it easier to find the right one for you.

Nitecore TINI

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.

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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 water resistance, and 3 colors to match your EDC.

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Streamlight MicroStream USB

Since the original MicroStream has been around a while, its 45-lumen power output may not be enough for an EDC light in 2018. The new USB model bumps up its levels fivefold, with a High output of 250 lumens for 1.5 hours, and a Low of 50 lumens for up to 3.5 hours. Output is controlled via the familiar tail clicky switch, which now doubles as a charge indicator when topping up. Charging is accessed by unscrewing a sleeve built into the USB’s head to reveal the micro USB port underneath, letting you charge the internal lithium ion battery with your power bank or wall plug.

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Olight S1 Mini Baton

The best thing about the new S1 is it didn’t try to change anything that wasn’t broken from its predecessors. 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.

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Jetbeam E20R

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.

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ThruNite TC12 V2

18650-powered flashlights pack some of the most useful features for an everyday light, thanks to the combined power output and capacity the battery provides. ThruNite’s second version of their popular TC12 model is a perfect way to get your feet wet with lights of this size and performance. It offers up to 1100 lumens of output across 5 modes, controlled by an easy-to-use two-switch system. A built-in micro USB port ensures you never have to worry about charging, while the affordable asking price makes the light a regret-free investment. You can’t go wrong with the TC12 V2 as your first 18650 EDC light.

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Armytek Prime C2

The Prime C2 USB comes with 1050 lumens of output on Turbo, with five additional modes for any lighting task. This includes a 0.4 Firefly mode for up to 100 days(!) of continuous runtime thanks to its 18650 battery. Pair this with the C2’s TIR optics and you get a useful, floody beam useful for evenly lighting up an immediate area. It can even do some decent throwing with a range of up to 174 meters. Its side switch should be a familiar interface, and its tail houses its magnetic charging compatible with tech you may already have in your EDC, like a power bank or wall plug.

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Olight M2R Warrior

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.

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Klarus XT12GT

With an 18650 battery paired with a Cree XHP35 Hi D4 LED, the XT12GT 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 XT12GT can throw its full power up to an incredible 603 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.

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Acebeam L30

While the other lights on this list are built more towards EDC use, sometimes you just need complete, unbridled power from a light—bonus points if it’s convenient to carry and charge, too. The Acebeam L30 has all this and so much more, as its Cree XHP70.2 LED pairs with its included 20700 battery for a staggering 4000-lumen output up to 373 meters. While it can only keep up this intense output for a couple of minutes before stepping down, 5 other modes including a 1-lumen Firefly mode good for 59 days covers everyday lighting needs. There’s onboard micro USB charging of course, surrounded by IPX8-rated anodized aluminum for maximum toughness. And when you’re heading out on your next adventure, an included holster and lanyard cable keeps the L30 within reach.

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Do you use a USB-rechargeable light? Let us know how you like yours in the comments below.

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