The common mistake with flashlights is the belief that they are just for illuminating the dark. That’s a tiny fraction of their job. Point of fact, a good EDC flashlight is a tactical tool, a self-defense item, a beacon for emergencies, a compatriot in a fight, and a life-saving window breaker.
Why Carry an EDC Flashlight
Nearly every smartphone on the market today has a flashlight built right in, and that’s plenty for ordinary use. The trouble with that is ordinary situations aren’t all you encounter, and the light on a phone is limited. Plus, you can’t weight your fist with your phone. It’s cumbersome to wave around when changing a tire or working under a car hood with limited visibility. A phone won’t help you get through a window in an emergency, nor will it run for days, providing light in the more dire of circumstances.
A phone is a great multi-tool, but like any multi-tool, the diverse usage leaves gaps in specific performance. We know that your pockets are bulging, so we suggest a keychain light for basic use, and then a sturdier, tactical-grade job for your glovebox. If you need help choosing, let our 17 best everyday carry flashlights brighten your path.
Bearing the distinction of being the smallest flashlight in the world, the Bullet is your basic keychain light, but roided out like a home run hitter. Aircraft grade aluminum makes it resistant to rust, to wear, and to breaking when the going gets tough. At a scant 6 grams, it won’t add appreciable weight to your EDC loadout, so carry with confidence. Purchase: $10Buy now
A little long in the tooth, the E12 is a bargain stalkers dream. Using a single AA battery it dishes out 130 lumens in an aircraft-grade aluminum body that’s just 4-inches long. IPX-8 rated, you can use this for quick dives, or escaping from your submerged car should your ex cut your brake lines in an attempt to cash in on the insurance.
Streamlight 88031 ProTac
If you’re alive, there’s a ProTac that will suit your needs and your price requirements. Each one has an unbreakable clip, an impact-resistant lense, and an unassuming size. Loads of choices when it comes to holsters or lanyard carrying, and any kind of battery or output you might need let you get just enough light without waste. Purchase: $26-$98
EagleTac was an easy flashlight brand to write off, with their middling PN20a, but the D25AAA shows that they were just saving up for a killing stroke. On the tailcap sits a rare earth magnet that latches on to metal and doesn’t let go, making the 155 lumen LED a work lamp lurking in the body of a penlight. Purchase: $33
Tec Accessories Pixel
The ability to lay this flat without worrying it’s going to go rogue and roll away is manna from heaven. Add in that the frame is fully stainless steel and it carries a 25 lumen output without breaking the two-inch mark, and the Pixel becomes a serious bantamweight contender. Purchase: $36
Foursevens Preon P1
6 disparate modes leave you with a lot of options, but if you want to make it simple, there’s also a user-programming feature that lets you create the light you want and the light you deserve. The knurling along the frame makes it a tough one to drop, especially if you’re holding it crossed with your sidearm. A feature that’s very welcome in the market. Purchase: $40Buy now
A tiny titanium body ensures that the MecArmy will outlive you no matter how much abuse you want to throw at it. Using a CREE XP-G2 LED that’s on the bleeding edge, the 130 lumen output is striking, and the ability to recharge the light thanks to a tiny MicroUSB means less waste and more reliability in a pocket-sized package.
Sog Dark Energy DE-01
SOG is best known for their budget-friendly tactical knives, but the Dark Energy proves that their R&D team can do more than hack and slash. A sunken clicker provides total control and minimizes accidents, while the stubby body keeps size and heft to a minimum. If you’re headed into the wilds, rest easy knowing this is also fully IPX-7 rated for battling the worst of the world. Purchase: $49
Olight S1 Baton
A pocket powerhouse that screams along at a scorching 500 lumens, the Baton uses a Cree XM-L2 CW LED complete with a clever PMMA TIR lens that enhances the accuracy of your light, for less dispersion to either side. A magnet makes it a work light, and the 6061-T6 aluminum build helps it live up to its name for use as an effective battering tool that disappears into your fist. Purchase: $50
Prometheus Lights Beta-QRV2
It fits on a keychain, but the quick-release function means it doesn’t have to stay there. Nor does it come off by accident, leaving you alone in the dark. Behind the dressy nickel, brass, or copper build is a Nichia 219 CRI LED that pops without sacrificing space. Purchase: $59
Surefire Titan Plus
Believe it or not, the fact that the Titan is nearly impossible to destroy isn’t what’s best about it. Instead, the unusual internal reflector creates a wise beam throw that runs off nothing more than a AAA battery. The peak 300 lumen variety is not only shockingly bright, but covers an impressive area that little can escape. Purchase: $50-$88
Peak LED Solutions Eiger
Take your pick of anodized aluminum, stainless steel, or the incomparable patina of brass, and you’re only starting to see the options available. You can also get a color-rich CRI bulb, as well as cool and neutral white options. Complete adjustment capacity thanks to the Quantum Tunneling Composite technology gives the Eiger bragging rights as the highest output AAA battery everyday carry light you can find. Purchase: $50-$65
5.11 Unisex TMT L1
5.11 makes some of the best gear on the planet, and they do it right in the United States, giving them a leg up for those who like to shop locally. You’ll get 212 lumens worth of power on high, and plenty of long-running strobe options should you find yourself stranded out on Route 66 during a blackout. Purchase: $70
Fenix PD35 TAC 1000
Fully 1K worth of lumens that can go for a couple of football fields, the tactical edition of the PD35 is clearly made with uniformed professionals in mind. A specialized mode changes how the whole piece operates, giving you more control from the base for handling in conjunction with your weapon of choice. Purchase: $82
FourSevens Bolt Mini
In a land where click-buttons can accidentally run your battery down, the bolt action on/off switch is a nice change of pace. A slip won’t accidentally hit the power, but accessing the many modes of the CREE XP-L HD LED is still executed with elegance. This is part of a collaboration with Fellhoelter and Tuff-Writer, so be assured that it brings the best of the collective bunch. Purchase: $90
Surefire E1D Defender
A truly tactical marvel, this is as much window breaker and combat light as it is an EDC piece. Moderate bezels on each end slide out around your hand for adding a little spice to your self-defense combinations, and the choice of either 300 or 500 lumens gives you brightness options depending on your mission requirements. Purchase: $155-$199
HDS Systems EDC Rotary
Though this can be a budget-drainer, there’s loads of value to be had with the Rotary. First, it uses a combination of click and twist interfaces that provide perfect control of your beam width and quick access to the multiple modes. Add in the ability to work with almost any battery or charger, and you’ve got a bug out bag light with the soul of a Swiss Army knife. Purchase: $269