bright backpacking flashlight

Best Backpacking Flashlight: 2019 Top 10 Picks, Buying Guide, and Reviews

Nowadays, flashlights are more than a light source in areas without power connections. For example, other than using it to find your way in the dark, you can also use it to send an SOS message in case of an emergency. As such, a proper flashlight should always be at the top of your packing list.

Whenever you go backpacking, it is essential that you take a flashlight with you. However, similar to other items you’ll take with you, it is critical you get one that meets all your needs.

Types of Flashlights

Rechargeable vs. Non Rechargeable Flashlight

If you opt for a USB rechargeable flashlight then you also have to invest in a powerful power bank. This is to recharge your device should it run out of juice while you are on your camping trip. Don’t forget to carry your micro USB cable.

For those that use the single use battery, always carry an extra pack of batteries should the current pair run out.

Tactical Flashlights vs. Non-Tactical

Tactical flashlights are synonymous with extra-long handle and scalloped-bezel designed for striking. Additionally, they are usually bigger than the non-tactical types. For outdoor activities such as camping or backpacking, it is best to go for tactical.

Top 10 Best Backpacking Flashlights

Reviews of the Best Backpacking Flashlights

1. OxyLed LED Tactical Flashlight

The OxyLed LED is a re-chargeable LED and super bright Tactical Flashlight. The flashlight weighs 178 grams and measures 5.31” (Length) x 1.57” (Diameter), small enough to fit in your pocket.

It features five adaptable light modes namely; High, Medium, Low, Strobe, and SOS. SOS is capable of delivering an impressive 900 lumens when on the high beam setting.

Switching between the various modes is pretty simple, all you need to do is give the switch a very light press while it’s on.

Aside from that, the OxyLed LED Tactical Flashlight also comes with a zooming feature. So, you can easily adjust from a narrow beam to a wide beam as you best wish depending on the surroundings.

The flashlight is built using aluminum alloy material -tough enough to take a hit without breaking apart. It’s finished off with an anti-abrasive coating.

Another impressive feature is that this flashlight has a water-resistant level of IPX-6, meaning you can use it in heavy rain.

Next on, it is fitted with premium quality rechargeable 18650 Li-ion battery. The battery takes 4 hours until full charge and is capable of running up to 6 hours under the high beam mode.

Other extra features include an attached lanyard for securing the flashlight on your wrist. An instruction manual. AC charger including base, and a single 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery to get you started.

Pros

  • The different light modes and adjustable zoom feature make it a good flashlight for use in different surroundings.
  • Long lasting battery.
  • Durable build.
  • Impressive water resistance.
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • It lacks a beam focus feature.

2. Olight S1 Baton 500 Lumen Compact EDC LED Flashlight

As a lightweight pocket flashlight, the Olight S1 Baton doesn’t disappoint even one bit. The torch weighs slightly over 1 ounce and measures 2.4” long x 0.83” in diameter.

Nonetheless, despite its miniature size, this pocket flashlight packs some pretty decent features.

The Olight S1 Baton is blindingly bright with a stunning 500 lumens capable of lighting through an entire football pitch thanks to its ultra-far 120-yard beam throw.

Other than that, you can tweak the brightness levels to your liking using its silicon switch located on the side.

You can use its on/off button to select between a strobe mode an additional four levels of brightness. Under its brightness modes, you can opt switch between .5 lumens on moonlight mode which is significant enough to be used as a nightlight.

Next on, you have the 8 lumens on low, 80 lumens on medium and the 500 Lumens on high.

This flashlight is powered by a single CR123A battery capable of running for close to one and a half hours when at high-level brightness.

It has a pocket clip so you can hook it up on your cap also and turn it into a head-mounted flashlight (great for hands-free use).

Another excellent feature is its sturdy build and antiroll design capped off with an IPX8 water resistant rating which makes this flashlight ideal for outdoor camping.

Pros

  • Impressive brightness and throw.
  • Antiroll design.
  • Sturdy and durable build.
  • An impressive IPX8 rating.

Cons

  • Cannot finetune beam focus.
  • It lacks an SOS mode.

3. Fenix E05 Flashlight

The Fenix E05 is incredibly small measuring 2.61 inches long and 0.59 inches diameter and weighing a paltry 0.42 ounces without its battery. It is easily portable. You can choose to hook it up on your key chain or carry it in your bug or pocket.

This flashlight is powered by a single AAA battery which is not only cheap but also readily available.

Additionally, the battery packs enough juice to enable the Fenix E05 to run for long hours while on high-level brightness. That’s not all you can switch between its three levels of light. There is the high output mode at 85lumens, mid at 25lumens and the low at 8lumens.

Another top feature is its broad beam lens that keeps the beam even for close up lighting.

The flashlight is built using premium quality aluminum alloy similar to other full-sized tactical flashlights under the Fenix E series.

One interesting about the Fenix E05 design is that it doesn’t have a button. In its place is a twist switch feature where all you have to do is turn its head, and there will be light.

This flashlight is fitted with a Cree XP-E2 LED with a lifespan of 50000 hours a mark of its durability. Besides that, this device is water-resistant to IPX-8 standards capable of lasting for 30 minutes under water.

Pros

  • Ergonomic build.
  • Rugged and durable design.
  • Excellent waterproof ratings.
  • Lightweight and easily portable.

Cons

  • It lacks a clip, thus not great for handsfree usage.

4. Anker Super Bright Tactical Flashlight

The Anker Super Bright is an all-metal Tactical Flashlight designed with a unique extra-long handle and scalloped-bezel designed for striking.

Aside from this feature, this flashlight still delivers high output and is an excellent gadget for outdoor activities.

To start us off, the torch is fitted with premium quality CREE LED that delivers up to 900 lumens at full brightness with a throw of approximately 1000ft.

It also has five adjustable light beam settings: High, medium, low, strobe, and SOS. Aside from turning the flashlight on/off, you can also use the switch to select between the five lighting modes.

There is also a zoom slider adjustment that tweaks the beam pattern from a broad ray into a narrow-focused beam.

Anker Super Bright is shipped alongside a superior rechargeable 3350mAh battery. It only takes 6 hours for the battery to be charged fully after which it can last up to 6 hours at medium-beam mode without a drop in the brightness levels.

Rainy days? No worries, with an IP65-rated water resistance this flashlight can be used under heavy rain. In addition, it will illuminate exceptionally well in freezing temperatures, so don’t be afraid to carry it during your ice fishing expeditions.

Its rear frame is well designed to allow the flashlight to stand on its own for hands-free use. You need to find a stable surface and convert your flashlight to a night lamp.

Pros

  • Excellent brightness.
  • Adjustable zoom feature.
  • Sturdy metal build.

Cons

  • It is probably a little bit heavier.
  • Low water resistance rating.

5. Nitecore Tip

Nitecore Tip features an attractive design which is unique for a flashlight. Design and build aside, this flashlight weighs 0.83 ounces with its battery included and measures 2.39” × 0.96” × 0.54” small enough to be carried in your pocket or hooked up on a key chain.

It delivers up to 360 lumens with four brightness modes and a maximum beam distance of 81 yards. On its top frame are two buttons; A power button and a mode button. The mode button is used for selecting through different beam settings (Turbo, high, mid, and low).

Other than the four brightness modes, the Nitecore Tip also offers the daily mode and constant on mode.

The daily mode has a 30-second auto-off timer for battery conservation while the constant on mode gives the user total control (to switch on/off).

A built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers the Nitecore Tip. It also has a USB charging port for simple charging. At full charge, the flashlight can stay on for up to one and half hours at 150 lumens. On lower modes, it can run for over 46 hours.

Another great feature of the Nitecore Tip is its removable clip. This comes in for handsfree usage. Additionally, it also acts as a switch cover to prevent accidental activation.

The Nitecore Tip flashlight is shipped alongside; A LumenTac USB charging cable, metal key ring, and a multipurpose clip.

Pros

  • Excellent design and build.
  • It comes with a handy clip.
  • Great for handsfree use.
  • Built-in USB charging port.
  • Excellent brightness mode options.

Cons

  • It lacks an adjustable beam and zoom feature.
  • Not water resistant.

6. Maglite XL200 LED 3-Cell AAA Flashlight

Well, despite its small size, Maglite XL200 offers a rich array of functions. It weighs around 3.52ounces and its small enough to fit in your pocket.

You can switch between its four different light levels (On, Nite Lite, Strobe, and SOS) by pressing the button placed on the rear of the flashlight. What’s more appealing, the torch will remember your previous setting, once you turn it on it’ll switch to the previously set mode.

Another impressive feature is you can tweak the rate of your strobe beams by holding the switch and rotating your wrist.

Additionally, under the Nite Lite mode, the brightness dims down after a period of inactivity but then comes back to full light when touched or moved. There is also a lockout feature to prevent accidental activation.

The flashlight is powered by three AAA alkaline batteries capable of lasting for up to two and a half hours with the torch at full brightness mode. It has a throw distance of 138metres.

With every purchase of the Maglite XL200, you’ll get a lens holder, an antiroll device, pocket clip, and three AAA cell premium alkaline batteries.

The antiroll device and pocket clip make it possible to use the flashlight handsfree. For those that fancy colored strobe lights, there is a colored lens set.

Pros

  • Lightweight and neat decent.
  • An antiroll device comes in handy for hands-free use.
  • It has a lockout feature to prevent accidental activation.
  • Simple to operate with memory.

Cons

  • It lacks a beam adjustment feature.
  • Low water resistance rating.

7. Wowtac A1S BSS TAC LED Flashlight (Atactical A1S)

The Wowtac A1S (also produced by Atactical as Atactical A1S) is a tactical flashlight weighing 7.2ounces and measuring 5.5″ x 1″. As of any tactical flashlight, it features a rugged build and boasts of an IPX-7 water resistance rating. Making it an ideal for use in different outdoor activities.

The flashlight comes with a customized Cree XP-L V6 LED, with a brightness of 1150 Lumens and a throw distance of 240 yards. Aside from that, it has four different light (High, Strobe, Medium, Low) levels which you can select from depending on your surroundings or instead needs.

The on/off switch is placed on the torch’s rear. There is also a side button for selecting different brightness modes, which is a pretty decent feature once you know how to work it around. Another top feature is the memory function. With this, the torch will light up on the last selected mode.

Its neat design makes it easy to slide into your camping bag or pocket. The clip is also a useful feature as it also doubles up as an anti-roll device making sure you can se the flashlight handsfree. Other additional features include; A micro-USB rechargeable battery, a bezel, and red lens cover.

Pros

  • Compact design for easy portability.
  • An impressive IPX-7 water-resistance rating.
  • Memory feature eliminates the need to reset the flashlight each time.
  • Durable thanks to the customized Cree XP-L V6 LED.

Cons

  • A little bit heavier.
  • The mode selector switch can be a little tricky to operate.

8. ThruNite Ti3

If you are looking for a lightweight and powerful AAA-powered flashlight, then the ThruNite Ti3 is what you should go for.

It weighs only 0.35 ounces (battery not included), a first look you’ll probably mistake it for a lip balm due to its small size.

It is built out of aluminum alloy and features a rugged but compact design capable of withstanding a fall without taking any damage: the ThruNite has a maximum brightness of 120 Lumens and a throw of 50 meters.

You’ll get four brightness modes; Strobe, High, Medium, and Low. There is no switch on this, in its place is a twist feature that turns on the flashlight. Additionally, you’ll still use the same twist feature to flip between the different light modes.

The Ti3 also has a memory feature that lasts for up to 10 seconds. If you switch it off and later switch it on within 10 seconds, it will pick up on the previously selected mode.

Other additional features of this flashlight are; An attached key ring and a pocket clip that can also be used for hat brim attachment, quite useful for handsfree use.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Durable build.
  • A pocket clip is a useful addition for handsfree use.

Cons

  • No batteries included.
  • Cannot be used in heavy rain or underwater.

9. Energizer Night Strike Compact Light

Energizer has made their mark in developing excellent and high-quality electrical devices and their Night Strike compact light is no different.

Weighing 6.2 ounces and measuring 2” x 4.2” x 9.4”, this pocket-sized flashlight can also be used in emergencies thanks to its strike bezel head.

The flashlight is powered by lithium batteries and has a brightness of up to 700 Lumens coupled up with a very impressive beam throw.

Next on, it has four light modes; high, medium, low, emergency, and strobe mode. You can quickly flip between the light modes with a push of its tail cap switch button.

Next on, this flashlight has a pretty decent long runtime capable of lasting up to 35 hours on low mode.

It features a robust build crafted out from premium quality metal. The Energizer Night Strike has an IPX-4 rating meaning it can be used even in rainy weather without incurring any damage. Are you thinking about handsfree use? It is fitted with a removable pocket clip that can also be attached to your hat’s brim.

Pros

  • Rugged and compact design for durability and easy portability.
  • Excellent handle.
  • Impressive brightness.
  • Pocket clip makes it possible for handsfree use.

Cons

  • IPX-4 water resistance rating isn’t that impressive.
  • It lacks a zoom adjustment feature.

10. Nitecore Thumb

The Nitecore flashlight series features an impressive design but that not all, these flashlights also pack some pretty decent features. The Thumb weighs a mere 2.4 ounces with batteries included and is small enough to be carried on a keychain.

It has a brightness of 85 Lumens and a throw of 28 yards, three brightness levels alongside a red light. Unlike white light, the red light doesn’t hurt your eyes and is ideal for use as a night light.

On its top frame, are two buttons; One button turns the torch on and off and can also be used for scaling between the three brightness levels.

The second button is for turning on the red light.

Another feature is its tiltable head that allows you to direct light to the needed direction. Next on, is a clip that enables you to hook up your Thumb on to your cap, backpack or shirt pocket for simple handsfree use.

Nitecore Thumb comes with a built-in USB charging port. The middle power indicator stays on red located on the top frame turns red during charging later on turning to green when the flashlight is at full charge.

Pros

  • Imposing design.
  • Easily portable.
  • Rechargeable batteries.
  • Adjustable head for smooth focusing.
  • Removable clip for easy handling.

Cons

  • Not waterproof.

Buying Guide

When picking out a flashlight for your camping or backpacking trips quite a lot of factors come into play.

Aside from the battery type, durability, and performance its size and weight are also vital factors that you shouldn’t assume.

Nowadays, most flashlights are fitted with LEDs which are more durable and energy efficient.

Size and Weight

The first piece of business as a backpacker or camper is to go for lightweight devices that take up the least amount of space possible.

Flashlights do come in various sizes. There are plenty of decent pocket-sized flashlights available.

Nonetheless, most cheap, pocket-sized flashlights have lesser features than their expensive counterparts. Besides, ensure to check out its build as it will most certainly affect its durability.

Battery

The type of cell does have a hand on your flashlight’s performance. When buying a cell, it is crucial you consider factors such as its power density, cost, weight, and size.

There are various battery types in the market, here is a brief breakdown of each.

Rechargeable NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride)

NiMH is an advanced energy storage technology. This battery type is quite expensive but still worth every cent. Not only are they durable but also have a decent amount of energy density for a powerful output from your flashlight.

Lithium

They pack an impressive amount of juice which translates to long lasting service and a powerful beam from your flashlight.

When purchasing lithium batteries, it is advisable you go for rechargeable ones instead of the disposable brand.

Alkaline

Alkaline batteries are cheap and readily available. Nonetheless, they have less power density thus providing service for only a short period.

You can choose between the disposable or rechargeable option. The rechargeable option can just run for a few charge cycles before failing.

Durability

Your flashlight might take a hit from an accidental, and that shouldn’t render it useless. Herein, the build quality of your flashlight comes into play.

Under this case, tactical flashlights are the best since they are built using premium quality aluminum alloy tough enough to take a hit.

Still, on the same, water resistance comes into play.

Since you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors during your backpacking trip, you probably cannot rule out the chances of getting rained on.

Flashlights with IPX4-6 ratings can be used in heavy rain. Those with higher IPX ratings can be used for few minutes underwater lighting.

Beam Type

The lens reflector does influence the output of the flashlight. There are three types available:

  • Flooded Beam: A broader beam mostly used for general camping tasks.
  • Focused Beam: It is narrower and more concentrated penetrating a longer distance, commonly used for route finding.
  • Adjustable Beam: This is available in flashlight with a beam adjusting feature.

Flashlight Performance

Most flashlights do have a detailed overview of their performance-related information printed on the packaging. Below is a short description of key performance variables.

Light Output aka Brightness

It is measured in lumens. The number may vary for different brightness levels available on the flashlight.

Throw/ Beam Distance

Usually measured in yards or meters (Read more here). It is a measure of how far your flashlight’s beam is cast. Here is a video on how to measure the throw distance of a flashlight.

 

Runtime

A measure of how long the flashlight’s batteries can last with the torch being in use.

This may vary depending on brightness levels. For example, the runtime will always be longer at low brightness settings and shorter with the torch being used at high brightness setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

My flashlight doesn’t turn on, why is that so?

Probable reasons why your flashlight couldn’t be turning on are either your torch’s batteries are dead, or it is out of charge.

Besides that, ensure that you have placed the batteries in the correct order as stipulated by the manufacturer.

What is the difference between a tactical flashlight and a regular flashlight?

Tactical flashlights are designed to be used for striking in case of an emergency. Unlike regular flashlights, they have a characteristic extra-long handle and scalloped-bezel designed for striking.

How can I adjust the beam shape of my flashlight?

For a flashlight with an adjustable beam, you can use the beam adjustment feature to finetune the beam shape to your liking.

My flashlight is producing a dim beam, why is that so?

For starters ensure your flashlight is fully charged. However, if it is not the rechargeable type place in new batteries and test it.

On the other hand, you can take it to an electrician for servicing if its warranty is expired for a routine service check.

Frequent flickering, what could be the cause?

Issues with light output usually have to do with charge or battery. However, if the batteries are new and placed right and the flashlight is at full charge then it is best you contact the manufacturer as it may turn out to be a technical hitch.

What’s the purpose of the zoom feature?

First, not all flashlights have this feature. However, for those that have it, you can use it to adjust the beam’s throw -move it closer or further away depending on the surroundings-.

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