Everyday Carry

Why Carrying a Flashlight is a Bright Idea

Authored by:
Mikey Bautista
Why Carrying a Flashlight is a Bright Idea

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In this installment of Carry Smarter, I'm going to take you through the basics of choosing and carrying a modern flashlight, and how and why a good one — even without a ridiculous amount of lumens and features — is worth a spot in your EDC.

"Why should I carry a flashlight when my phone has one?"

As a flashaholic, this is by far the most common question we get from people who see the flashlights in our EDCs. It's also a perfectly valid one. Why should we carry an extra piece of equipment that would just weigh down our pockets, when the phone we carry with us all the time can perform all the lighting tasks we need in normal situations? My favorite response to that question has always been: "You would bring an umbrella without a thought for a 50% chance of rain, so why wouldn't you carry a light for a 100% chance of darkness every night?"

The Right Tool for the Job

While a mobile phone flashlight can fulfill basic lighting tasks, the goal of carrying a dedicated flashlight is to be the best tool for the job. As an example: you could certainly open boxes and prep food with the same dinner knife, but wouldn't a box cutter and a chef's knife be better for those tasks? A dedicated tool also means a more focused and specific set of features. In the case of flashlights, this means more power, sturdier construction, and the fact that on some outputs a light's runtime is measured in days. It comes in handy in emergency situations where your phone is the quickest to run out of power and darkness is one of the first challenges you'd need to overcome.

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Shedding Light on Your Needs

With dozens of brands and hundreds of options and features in the market, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice in choosing a first light. Even knowing what I do about lights it's still hard for me to make a purchase because of how specific some of my needs are. The important thing is to think about how a light would benefit your carry and the usual situations you're in where an extra bit of light would be helpful. Here are some things to consider when choosing a light:

  • Convenience: A light is useless if it's a hassle to carry every day. Do you prefer a light that is small enough to go on your keychain, or something larger that would have a bigger battery for more power and runtime? Is the light something you'll carry daily in your pants, or something handy for emergencies in your bag or glove box? A light should be there the moment you need it but quietly stay out of your way when you don't.
  • Ease of use: You may be like Adam Savage who prefers his light modes to be as simple as possible, or someone who wants as many modes and functions as possible at their disposal. What's important is that your light functions as easily as possible to you. You'll end up leaving your light at home if it fails to perform just the way you like it exactly when you need it.
  • Runtime: This is, in my opinion, the best reason to carry a light. Yes, at the end of the day, your phone's light might get the job done. Unfortunately, the end of the day is also the usual quitting time for your phone's battery unless you have access to an outlet or a portable battery pack. For the price of said pack and a fraction of the space, you could get a light that will see you through the night long after your phone has died.

Ordinary Cells, Extraordinary Value

So you've thought about how a light would fit in your carry and are ready to take on the daunting task in choosing your first one, but that doesn't decrease the number of choices out there. My recommendation is to start with something small and inexpensive, and work your way up to lights with easily-accessible primary cells. Here are my picks for solid lights to get you started.

Button Cell

Nitecore Tube Keychain Light

At one point or another, most flashaholics started with these lights. They're inexpensive, durable due to the plastic design, plenty bright for everyday tasks, and invisible on a keychain. The Nitecore Tube has made waves since its release as it takes those qualities and levels them up in every way. For little investment you get durable Polycarbonate construction, 45 variable lumens at the push of a button, and extremely convenient micro USB charging. Whether or not you move on to bigger lights, you can't go wrong with this on your keychain.

BUY ($11)

Single AAA Battery

Fenix LD02

AAA lights are a great balance of form and function. They're compact enough to easily carry on a keychain or disappear in your pocket, and extremely convenient to power due to AAA cells being available in every convenience store in the world. The Fenix LD02 is small in size, but big on features. Its simple rear clicky activation makes cycling through its three brightness levels a breeze. It's 8-lumen low setting can keep going for 15 hours, while it's 100-lumen high is not a brightness you'd believe possible from such a tiny package. An AAA flashlight should be the first stop for every EDC, and the LD02 is a solid pick from one of the most reliable brands on the market.

BUY ($30)

Single AA Battery

ThruNite T10

The AA cell is just as common as its AAA little brother, but has about three times the capacity for a much longer runtime. The ThruNite T10 makes amazing use of the battery, fueling its 0.2-lumen firefly low setting for an unbelievable 147 hours -- that's almost a full week of continuous light! It also has a simple rear clicky activation for fuss-free operation. If you can spare the room for its larger body (which comes in a variety of materials to fit your style and preference), the T10 will light up your evenings for a very, very long time.

BUY ($27)

A Bright Future Ahead

Now that you've given thought to how having a dedicated light will improve your carry and maybe picked out your first one, what now? In the next installment of Carry Smarter, I take a look at some unique lights and their uncommon features that may prove useful companions to your daily carry.

Did I miss out on reasons why a light is useful for your EDC? What would you recommend as a practical and useful light to invest in? Sound off in the comments below!

Mikey Bautista

Director of Everyday Carry Operations

About the Author
Mikey Bautista is an everyday carry (EDC) expert who has been working with the EverydayCarry.com team for nearly a decade, starting with an interest in EDC as a hobby and ending up as a writer for the site in 2014. Through the years, he’s led the site in editorial content and writing about products across every category, from knives to bags to flashlights and everything in between, as well as discovering, bringing exposure, and building bridges with many brands in the industry. Today, he is the site's Director of Everyday Carry Operations, leading the editorial team and managing day-to-day operations.

He has lived through many personal and professional lives, spending nearly a decade in the workforce management industry, a minor career in gaming, and has lent a hand with entrepreneurial efforts back home in the Philippines. He has also been an active participant and helped build a number of significant social communities online, both for EDC and his other hobbies.

Mikey has been at the cusp of gaming, technology, and the internet since the ‘90s and continues to lend his experience, expertise, and authority to all his pursuits. When not online, in a game, or watching movies, you'll find him in the gym, speedrunning his next hobby, or talking at length about EDC with anyone willing to listen.

Discussion (38 total)

Jim O ·
Best reason to have a dedicated flashlight - you can't hold your phone in your mouth if you need to use both hands!

I second (and third, and fourth) the recommendation on the Nitecore Tube. It's WAY better than a Photon squeezy light. So small and light, yet plenty of illumination for most everyday tasks. Just today I used mine to find a pen that rolled under the stove. Then it lit up the back of the stereo rack - a tight space that my Thrunite Archer 1C would have been a handful in
(keep a hair band in your EDC to band the light to your finger so you won't drop it).
Mikey Bautista ·
I've had a Tube in a checkout tab on my browser for ages. One of these days I am seriously going to pull the trigger on it.
Bernard Capulong ·
Editor's Note on flashaholics: There are literally dozens of us!
J Wahooo ·
Streamlite Microstream . 1 AAA. 1 mode. 1 button. Small and light plus fits in my jeans 5th pocket.
Mikey Bautista ·
Reverse clip is also really useful for hats!
i find the reverse clip a bitch in rear pockets cause it scratches couches and furniture
Ian Wolfe ·
It's been a few years, but my first EDC flashlight (a Streamlight Stylus Pro) is still going strong. Best $15 I've spent in a long time.
Mikey Bautista ·
EDC favorite! I have friends in the health industry who really like them.
SavageX ·
I've been meaning to get a flashlight for a long time now. I just got a new phone and this one doesn't have the light app built in like my previous one did. I don't want to download an app to use the flashlight on my phone because of the inconvenience of holding a phone and using the light. I look forward to getting my first light soon.
Nicely done with the article. Looking forward to part 2!
Mikey Bautista ·
Thank you! And yes, quite inconvenient with today's large phones. Hope you have fun picking up your first light, there are a ton of options at every price point. :)
1 more comments
Johan Bertilsson ·
Well since i live in the country, we have several flashligts around the house. One in every car, my Dacia Duster and my wifes Volvo C30. In my EDC keyring i have Photon, and in my coatpocket an old Maglight Solitaire, i prefer flashlights with AA or AAA batteries because you caän get new ones on every gasstation or convinience store. As using the smartphone as your only source of light, bad idea, be
cause at the end of the day the battery is also near its end.
lol dat title.
Rick ·
Absolutely. I carry a flashlight everywhere. Due to my balance problems, I even have a light in my schlump-around-the-house pants (in the event that the power goes out). My (current) standard is a Fenix PD20 (no longer made). It has a simple tail cap button that, in turbo mode, switches between really bright and a strobe. It is a defensive "weapon" where "real" weapons are not permitted (e.g., airplanes, courthouses). It also has 3 not-as-brighjt modes. Unfortunately, its replacement, the PD-22, has the tail cap button and a small button on the barrel. I don't want to be trying to find that in a hurry. And, yeah, I know it takes a CR123. I carry spares when I travel.
Mikey Bautista ·
I've been on the fence on the barrel switches as well. Give me a rear forward clicky every time. Have you checked out the LD02 and LD09? Nice and simple for AAA and AA, respectively.
Rofannie Chan ·
Oh yes. This. I myself always have two lights on me. I have the first one recommended, the Nitecore light and I also have the Energizer Carabiner Handcrank light, no need for batteries at all. Both are on my lanyard. On my car I have a few lights, a headlight and a smaller Cree Flashlight.
Mikey Bautista ·
I think I have...4? Main light (ThruNite T10T), Fenix E99Ti on keychain, LED light on SAK Midnite Manager, and my phone's light. :P Can't get enough, haha.
White Knight ·
My Thrunite T12 (AAA) is teeny-keyringy (72mm) and, like Adam's, simple enough. For blasting across the hills an Ultrafire T6 (18650) adds modes and zoom. Eminently portable at 113mm. My favourite, however, is my Thrunite T10 (AA). Small enough for EDC at 93mm, it lights up my life in so many ways. Its genius is the magic wand; a plastic cap that covers the beam and disperses it outwards, effectively becoming a lantern. Each of the three intensity modes offer many opportunities to light but not blight. The firefly is perfect when my dearest is asleep and I crawl into bed after reading for too long on EDC. Next up will easily light your tent. Top whack will light up a big room. Folk down the pub were oohing and aahing around it. A great all-rounder.
Mikey Bautista ·
High five for the T10. I'm completely in love with my T10T. I even like just like LOOKING at it. The diffuser is also really fun to use, good on ThruNite for adding that into the base kit.
Richard Worley ·
Just picked up the FENIX E99Ti. Great output for a AAA.
Mikey Bautista ·
Have one on my keychain right now. Really awesome output for the size.
Al K ·
Olight I3S EOS AAAx1. Crazy bright! Switch with the excellent Fenix occasionally.
Giannis Merichovitis ·
Great article!!
Dave ·
Haha, very pun-ny title
Justin Schiller ·
I've carried a flashlight as part of my EDC since before EDC was a popular idea. All the way back in high school I started carrying a AA mini Mag Lite. I continued to use those until I was issued a Surefire 6P in the Army. I currently use a Fenix PD35 or 5.11 XBT A2. Both last a long time one a charge or set of batteries. I dislike relying on my phone for too many jobs, especially since it could be my lifeline in an emergency and the battery is limited and not replaceable in the field.
8 more comments