When you’re preparing for any kind of emergency, a flashlight is always one of the first things on the list. For good reason. When the power goes out and the sun goes down, seeing is going to become much more difficult without light (that much is obvious)
However, having a flashlight in your EDC, can also be super useful, and I would argue almost as useful as a knife in your pocket. While a flashlight may not get used every day it is certainly an essential piece of gear. One that should be in all of your kits.
When it comes to choosing a flashlight, it can almost feel overwhelming (just like picking a knife), there are so many options and features available, it’s hard to know what to choose.
To save you some time and effort, I have put together a list of features and considerations for you, along with a few recommendations to help you decide which flashlight on the market is best for you.
Prepping Resource’s List of Best Survival Flashlights
1. Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight Review
Bright, simple, and reliable, Fenix continues to advance the technology of both portable and outdoor illumination. The PD35 Tac – a favorite of many EDC enthusiasts comes in at just 6 inches long and weighs only a few ounces.
- 1000 lumens in Turbo Mode
- Waterproof up to 30 minutes in 6.5ft of water
- 50,000 hour LED bulb
- Takes rechargable batteries
But don’t be fooled by the size of this flashlight, the PD35 is capable of emitting 1,000 lumens with its turbo mode, and has a maximum distance of 656 feet.
The PD35 is a favorite of many EDC enthusiasts for a reason. Along with its impressive lumen output, it features an anti-toll aircraft-grade aluminum body and is even waterproof to 6.5 feet for 30 minutes. Making it possible to handle even the toughest of conditions.
This flashlight features a 50,000 hour LED bulb and will take either rechargeable batteries or no-rechargeable CR123A lithium batteries.
2. Streamlight Protac 2L Tactical Flashlight Review
For those that are on more of a budget, allow me to introduce the Streamlight Protac 2L. This flashlight is a real performer, and it’s under the 50 dollar price point.
- Weighs 2.8 ounces with batteries
- 260 Lumens
- Waterproof up to 3ft for 30 minutes
- Includes pocket clip and belt holster
It is incredibly lightweight (2.8 ounces when loaded with batteries) and is just 5 inches long and outputs an incredible 260 lumens. Making this flashlight a great alternative to the Fenix PD35 for budget-conscious preppers.
The Streamlight Protac 2L has an aluminum body and is even waterproof up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. While you may not be able to take the flashlight swimming (who does that?) working out in the elements should be no problem.
One of the best features of this flashlight is the fact it has a simple tail-switch, allowing the flashlight to be turned on simply by pressing the tail switch. Making one handed use a breeze. The flashlight takes 2 CR123A batteries (included), and also includes a removable pocket clip and belt holster.
3. Nitecore P12 Review
The saying good things come in small packages, appears to be true. Like the 2 previous flashlights mentioned above the Nitecore P12 is a super great flashlight that is lightweight and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand or shove in a pocket.
- 1200 Lumens at 260ft
- Multiple modes including strobe, SOS, and beacon
- Waterproof up to 6ft
- Impact resistant
This flashlight offers an impressive maximum 1200 lumen output. Roughly 20 percent more than the PD35 and runs just a few dollars cheaper than the PD35. The Nitecore offers four light levels – high, medium, low, and lower. Along with offering various modes including strobe, SOS, and a beacon mode for signaling.
Much like all our other flashlights so far this flashlight is waterproof up to 6 feet, and is also impact resistant, making it great for people who demand more out of their flashlights.
4. Thrunite Archer 2A Review
If you are in the market for an all-around general purpose flashlight, check out the Archer 2A from Thrunite.
- 500 Lumens at 118yds
- Water resistant up to 1.5m
- Ultra lightweight at 1.7oz
- Offers 5 modes, Firefly, low, medium, high, and strobe
This flashlight features a maximum output of 500 lumens with a beam distance of 118 yards – more than enough for a stroll through the dark woods.
The Archer 2A features an aircraft grade aluminum body, water resistance up to 1.5 meters, and weighs a mere 1.7 ounces. This flashlight definitely offers one of the best bang for your buck deals, and makes for a great entry level EDC flashlight, or just a general purpose flashlight.
5. J5 Tactical V1-Pro Review
If you are looking for just a cheap flashlight to keep around the house, or throw in one of your many emergency kits, look no further than the J5 Tactical V1-Pro.
The popularity of this flashlight is hard to debate, and it’s easy to see why. The flashlight offers an insanely low price point for a tactical flashlight, while still offering an impressive 300-lumen output and a beam distance of 600 feet.
Just like all the other flashlights mentioned this flashlight will fit easily into the palm of your hand or in a pocket with eases. Powered by a single AA battery this flashlight is super lightweight (just 2.3 ounces) and is water resistant. Though it should not be submerged.
Designed to be tough, stand up to just about anything you could throw at it, and an impressive price point, the V1-Pro from J5 Tactical offers probably the best deal of any of the flashlights mentioned in this review.
How to Choose a Survival Flashlight
Size and Weight
When selecting a flashlight for your bug out bag, every day carry, or a get home bag, 2 of the major factors for any piece of gear are size and weight.
Weight and size are especially critical for EDC. Too large or too heavy and you won’t want to carry it with you.
Large flashlights like a traditional maglite are great for your home or basecamp, but become burdensome if you have to carry them all the time.
Be sure that when you are selecting a flashlight you consider where this flashlight will go.
Another major consideration when selecting a flashlight is what kind of batteries it takes. Ideally in your emergency kits you will want to carry spare batteries with you, but that can become burdensome if you have to carry 5 different types of batteries, or if the flashlight takes a special kind of battery.
Flashlights that take AA or AAA batteries are a good choice. If they are rechargeable that is even better.
During a prolonged grid down scenario, simply having spare batteries may not be enough. You should consider alternative options for power such as crank or solar.
USB rechargeable flashlights have also become a thing in recent years. With the proliferation of external battery packs, a USB powered flashlight may not be a bad idea.
When it comes to buying a flashlight, brightness is primarily what you buy a flashlight for. And in almost all cases brighter is better.
Brightness is measured in lumens. 45 – 150 lumens is the preferred amount for prepper flashlights. However, it should be noted that the higher the brightness, the more drain it will have on the batteries.
Also if you intend to use a flashlight as a possible defense weapon, you need at least 100 lumens to blind your would be assailant.
Material and weatherproofing
The last thing you need to consider when purchasing a flashlight for your bug out bag or everyday carry is what is the flashlight made out of, and is it durable?
If you intend to EDC your flashlight you must make sure that it has a decent weatherproof rating. The higher the IPX rating the better off the flashlight will be when it comes to water.
Typically flashlights are made from either anodized aluminum or plastic. Both have their own pros and cons. For instance Aluminum conducts cold, heat, and electricity, while plastic does a better job of insulating extreme heat and cold.
However, metal tends to be more durable than plastic, and will typically stand up better to various forms of damage, such as dropping it.
Again if you intend to use the flashlight as a self defense option, metal is a much better choice than plastic.
In addition, to all the other features listed, an important feature to look for is if the flashlight offers more modes than just on.
Most flashlights designed for tactical and survival use will offer various modes such as strobe, beacon and sos.
SOS and beacon modes are fairly similar in nature. Both are good for signaling, especially in a survival situation. While the strobe mode will act just like a strobe light and can be used defensively to conceal or misdirect attackers or to even disorient a person.
When it comes to flashlights, you will almost certainly need one eventually. A flashlight is like a knife in a lot of ways, it’s not always needed, but when it is you’re glad you have it.
When it comes to choosing a flashlight that is reliable, rather it’s just to see in the dark or it’s a full blown SHTF situation, there are a number of things you should keep in mind when selecting a flashlight.
Some things to keep in mind include: Battery type, runtime, material it is made out of, brightness, size, and weight.
Questions you should ask yourself include: How often will you use it? How long will you need it to run? How will you be able to keep it running in a grid down scenario? Is it comfortable to carry every day?
Flashlights may be an everyday item, but just like any other piece of gear special considerations should be made when selecting one.
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As always thanks for reading and remember to keep on prepping.