If you are considering purchasing a quality survival flashlight, there are a few things to consider while checking out the different options. Materials, size, durability, battery, bulb, and waterproofing are all key elements that survivalists will want to take note of when deciding which survival flashlight is best suited for their particular needs.
Deciding to do your research and choosing the very best flashlight possible will save you all the headache and money in the long run, and will keep you safe and prepared during your travels. Use this buyer’s guide to choose the very best survival flashlight currently on the market, and learn just what makes these flashlights live up to those standards.
Here are some details to watch out for before beginning a search for the perfect flashlight.
Our Top List: Best Survival Flashlights
- Best Compact Flashlight: EagleTac D25C LED Flashlight
- Best Handheld Flashlight: Streamlight 88047 ProTac HL 3
- Best Hiking Flashlight: Fenix TK32
- Best Emergency Flashlight: Streamlight 45801 E-Flood Litebox
- Best Overall Survival Flashlight: Coast HP21 High-Performance Focusing Flashlight
Scroll down to read our detailed reviews on each of these items, but you can check out the current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon by clicking the links above.
Survival Flashlight Buying Guide
The material that a survival flashlight is made of plays a significant role in the flashlight’s overall durability and ability to withstand extreme weather often encountered by long-term survivalists and travelers.
The two best options for buyers to consider are plastic and anodized aluminum.
Anodized aluminum has been chemically hardened to be stronger and more resistant to punctures than regular aluminum, making it a great choice for buyer’s who want the strongest flashlight money can buy.
However, plastic flashlights these days are hardened as well and can be significantly more inexpensive than their anodized aluminum competitor. If looking for a quality product at a more affordable cost, a plastic flashlight should hold up just fine. They are also more lightweight than metal flashlights and not as susceptible to extreme hot or cold temperatures.
The perfect size for a survival flashlight is greatly impacted by what else the buyer is going to be packing and traveling with. Since the flashlight will be carried most of the time in a backpack or some type of bag, it can often be the case that a smaller option is necessary.
Obviously, the more rugged a flashlight is the more likely it is to hold up well under extreme conditions over time.
That being said, some smaller flashlights, typically made of anodized aluminum, are made specifically to compete with the durability of larger options. Smaller sizes are beneficial to survivalists who need to use the space in their bags for other items. If space isn’t an issue, go ahead and choose a large and rugged flashlight.
Just make sure it isn’t too heavy to be comfortably carried for extended periods of time.
As earlier mentioned, construction material is a key factor in determining a survival flashlight’s durability.
If meeting with rough terrain or harsh weather is expected or unavoidable, then durability should be of high significance to the buyer. In this case, a flashlight with an anodized aluminum casing is the best option, although pricier.
An extra feature to look for if concerned with durability is rubberized plastic. Some metal flashlights have an extra layer of this material around them, making them far easier to keep a grip on and more likely to absorb impact if dropped or mishandled.
Many flashlight buyers struggle to decide if standard alkaline batteries or the higher-end li-ion batteries are best suited for their needs.
Speaking specifically about flashlights being used for survival purposes, it can be assumed that the flashlight will be turned on for long periods of time. If this is the case, then standard alkaline batteries are actually the most cost-effective and efficient option. This is because they are much easier to find in a pinch, and buyers can afford to purchase many at a time to store in their bags as a backup.
Always be sure to bring extra, as it is possible for alkaline batteries to corrode or even leak fairly easily. Getting stuck in the dark with no other options could be a possible safety hazard.
Check often to make sure that the batteries are not corroding, and replace them if there are any signs of damage at all. A leaky battery left unattended in a bag for too long could potentially cause permanent damage to your survival flashlight.
Just as important as the battery in a flashlight is the light-bulb.
There are three options for bulb types: LED, HID, and incandescent bulbs.
The best option by far to use in a survival flashlight is an LED bulb. Not only are these bulbs significantly brighter than incandescent bulbs, they are also more energy efficient than both other options and will last longer.
However, buyers should keep in mind that brighter bulbs put more strain on the battery. This shouldn’t be of too much concern if enough extra batteries are packed, as the additional brightness could be extremely beneficial to survivalist who need to work in dark conditions or who get lost at night in an emergency situation.
If for some reason an incandescent bulb is the only option, a high-quality reflector can aid in brightness and the width of a flashlight’s beam.
Survival flashlights are rated for how waterproof they are on this scale: IPX4 is water resistant or splash proof from all directions, IPX7 is waterproof and resistant to 1-meter submersion for 30 seconds, and IPX8 is waterproof for a submersion of 4 hours.
All three of these options should, in theory, be waterproof against rainfall or splashing. However, many survivalists complain of water somehow leaking into the seal of their IPX4 rated flashlights during heavy rain or snow. If this is a major concern, the higher rated flashlights are obviously a better option.
Even if the flashlight isn’t going to be used around any significant body of water, bad weather is unavoidable as well as unpredictable.
Most high-end and durable flashlights will have a waterproof rating of IPX7 or IPX8 regardless, but just double-check this before purchasing so that your flashlight doesn’t end up wet and damaged.
Best Compact Flashlight
If looking for the most rugged and bright flashlight in the smallest available size, then purchase the EagleTac D25C LED flashlight. It is the brightest of all compact flashlights and, because of its size, is more affordable than many of the larger flashlights.
It features an LED bulb and is rated IPX8 for waterproof, making it perfect in any situation a buyer might find themselves in. The lens on this light is impact-resistant, so cracking during a fall doesn’t have to be a major concern, and the body itself is aluminum.
Anodized aluminum would make this flashlight better, but the small size and all other features of this product make the EagleTac D25C the best compact flashlight on the market.
Best Handheld Flashlight
The best handheld flashlight currently on the market is the Streamlight 88047 ProTac HL 3. With an 1100 lumens LED light, this flashlight is exceptionally bright and will make it easy to navigate and complete necessary tasks in total darkness.
It is an extremely durable option made from anodized aircraft aluminum. It will hold up in harsh weather conditions and tolerate a large amount of impact, making it ideal for the buyers who wants to be prepared for anything nature can throw at them.
At 7.1 inches, this flashlight is still relatively small to others on the market and won’t take up too much space in a backpack, giving survivalists extra room for additional items and not weighing them down during their travels.
Best Hiking Flashlight
If looking to purchase a flashlight that will be predominantly used for hiking purposes, the best option is the Fenix TK32 flashlight.
This light features a 1000 lumens output and is known for its long beam throw of up to 1,385ft, so it is ideal for hikers who need to see at a distance where they are walking in the dark.
Made of anodized aluminum with stainless steel components, this flashlight can handle impact with ease and resists corrosion and scratches in the finish. A bonus feature of this flashlight is the low-voltage warning, which alerts hikers when their batteries are running low so that they can replace them quickly.
Best Emergency Flashlight
The best survival flashlight on the market to have in case of emergency is the Streamlight 45801 E-Flood Litebox.
Lumens can be adjusted for longer runtime, using 615 lumens with for an eight hour run time, or 330 lumens for an eighteen hour run time.
What makes this flashlight so good in an emergency situation is the broadness of its beam. This is important during emergencies when survivalists may need to light up the entirety of a general area rather than use a direct beam to see just in front of them.
The flashlight’s housing is made of thermoplastic rather than metal, but it is also equipped with rubberized bumpers which do help add to the product’s durability. Keep in mind that this flashlight is bulkier than the others, taking up more space in a bag, and weighs 11 lbs.
Best Overall Survival Flashlight
For the survivalists who want the best and brightest flashlight they can buy, the Coast HP21 High-Performance Focusing flashlight is ideal in almost every possible way.
This flashlight is the brightest of this quality, boasting an amazing 1317 lumens! It also has a focusing component, meaning that buyers get the best of both worlds with alternating flood and direct beams. It works just as great lighting up the trail in front of you as it does illuminating a general area.
With an IPX8 rating, this flashlight is as waterproof as they come making it functional in any weather or environment. It is a little over 15 inches but only weighs in at 2.2lbs.
With its use of alkaline batteries, this flashlight proves easy to shop for. Make sure to stock up in case of corrosion or leaking so that the flashlight itself does not become damaged, leaving you in the dark without another option.
The one imperfect thing about this otherwise outstanding product is that is constructed with regular, untreated aluminum which can be fairly soft and susceptible to scratches or other damage.