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Everybody needs at least one flashlight, and no – your smartphone’s flashlight mode doesn’t count.
You can find plenty of cheap flashlights at big box stores, and some of them can be quite good. Once you’re ready to move beyond one-size-fits-all flashlights, there is a dizzying selection of brands, styles, and sizes to choose from.
I am occasionally asked for advice on picking out a new flashlight, and so I thought it would be helpful to put together a couple of my top recommendations.
I selected these flashlights based on their suitability for everyday carry (EDC), home use, travel, and non-critical work or professional use.
Readers’ questions and feedback are always appreciated! Also please let me know if you would like additional recommendations in any particular category, such as AAA, AA, CR123A, or rechargeable, and I will work to expand this post throughout the year.
ThruNite Ti3 V2 Keychain Flashlight
The ThruNite Ti3 V2 flashlight is keychain-sized that’s equipped with both a lanyard/keyring loop and a pocket clip, for convenient carry options.
It is bright, delivering 120 lumens, and is powered by a single AAA battery. It has a twist-switch and several output modes.
The ThruNite Ti3 is one of the few flashlights of this size, style, and price point, to be available in cool white (CW) and neutral white (NW) versions. This refers to color temperature, which is the tint of the light output. The NW output has a yellowish tint, while the CW is bright white.
I’d say go for the neutral white option – it’s just as bright as the cool white model, and will give you a taste for some of the variability and options in the world of EDC and enthusiast flashlights.
Generally, I prefer neutral white for close-up illumination, and cool white for distance.
Streamlight MicroStream USB-Rechargeable Flashlight
Streamlight’s MicroStream USB is similar to their popular MicroStream AAA flashlight, but with several significant upgrades.
To start, the MicroStream USB features a rechargeable Li-ion battery and micro USB charging port that allows in-tool charging.
Replacement batteries are widely available, if you want to carry spares or need one down the road.
The MicroStream USB is also much brighter than the standard AAA MicroStream. Whereas the AAA version only has one output mode (45 lumens), the USB has low and high modes (50/250 lumens).
Streamlight Stylus Pro Penlight
I keep coming back to my Streamlight Stylus Pro LED flashlights for one simple reason – I love the form factor.
The 2xAAA version has served me well, and Streamlight also offers a USB-rechargeable version that I’m not quite ready for.
The Stylus Pro is bright, durable, and convenient.
There are less expensive penlights out there, as well as pricier options, but Streamlight’s quality and performance has kept me satisfied and loyal.
Olight Baton 3 Rechargeable Flashlight
The Olight Baton 3, like the S1R II that came before it, is a near-perfect EDC flashlights.
The Baton 3 is compact, bright, and versatile. I have purchased quite a few of these for friends and family – as well as myself- and I continue to hear about how great the flashlights have worked out for their recipients.
I find Olight’s magnetic tailcap charging to be incredibly convenient, but I also understand why flashlight enthusiasts often lament the “customized” rechargeable 16340-sized Li-ion battery.
If you are patient, Olight has flash sales around once a month, with the Baton 3 occasionally included. Or, use coupon code TOOLGUYD10 at the Olight store to save 10%.
There are also “premium edition” versions of the Baton 3 that come with a rechargeable charging bank.
Surefire G2X Pro Flashlight
The Surefire G2X Pro is a dual-output LED flashlight that is powered by CR123A lithium batteries.
CR123A batteries deliver more power than alkaline batteries, they have a 10-year shelf life, and they are relatively easy to find.
Surefire flashlights are well-known for their durability, reliability, and quality.
Surefire G2X series flashlights are made with a tough polymer body and Mil-Spec anodized aluminum bezel.
The PRO version has a clicky tailcap that activates low and then high modes with 1 or 2 clicks, respectively. It also has “momentary” on function with a half-press.
I regret that I cannot upgrade my 10-year old model to a new emitter in the same way as my older G2L, but it’s still going strong. The current version of the G2X Pro delivers 600 lumens on high and 15 lumens on low, which should be perfectly adequate for most users.
There are other highly recommended CR123A-powered flashlights, but the Surefire G2X offers the best balance between features, price, and reliability.