Flashlights are, in our experience, one of the most undervalued pieces of equipment for an everyday carry ensemble. Knives, wallets, and even key rings get their day in the sun (literally), but flashlights are often relegated to an afterthought. This is a mistake. A high-lumen flashlight can provide a better view when scanning in the dark while also providing defensive capabilities in lowlight encounters.
Odds are, most of the time, you will use your flashlight to locate the spoon that dropped in the gap between the counter and the stove. However, that pocket-sized flashlight will be a saving grace when the power goes out, or the dog needs one last late-night bathroom break.
What to look for in an everyday carry flashlight
Anyone who owned a flashlight knows they aren’t all made equal. To save you time and a lot of batteries, we selected five categories to help narrow down what makes the best EDC flashlight.
Lumens / Beam Distance
Shoppers will see flashlight power listed as Lumens. A Lumen is a base measurement for light. The higher the lumen count, the brighter the light. One lumen is equivalent to the light output of one candle on a 1 square foot surface one foot away. Your average car headlights are between 700 and 1000 lumens. The higher the lumen count, the greater the range of the light too. Low lumens may work for a headlamp but won’t illuminate your front yard when looking for the sunglasses you dropped.
Unlike larger lights mounted to gear, everyday carry lights get dropped and bounced around frequently. A pocket-sized flashlight must be rugged enough to take being dropped and even getting wet from a rainstorm or a slip and fall into the pool.
The last thing anyone wants is their light to die when needed. Some flashlights run on uncommon-sized batteries where running out of power can mean long delays before you are relit. Even with standard batteries and limited use, we recommend swapping non-rechargeable batteries every few months to ensure proper function.
Size / Weight
Everyday carry products need to be small enough that you will carry them. EDC lights need to be small and light enough to effortlessly throw in a pocket or clip to a belt before heading out the door. While this may not be the go-to way to hold a flashlight, having a lightweight flashlight that you can hold in your teeth can make all the difference when involved in a two-handed task at night.
Having a warranty is a lot like choosing to carry every day. You never plan on using it, but it's nice to have when you need it. Manufacturers' warranties can range from replacement parts to furnishing a new light, depending on the claim and the way the light broke. Make sure you are using your flashlight in a manner that is in line with the manufactures specifications, and everything will work out.
10 Best EDC Flashlights of 2023
The ThruNite T1 is a compact flashlight offering multiple brightness settings. The T1 has five brightness settings from a 1500-lumen "turbo" setting to a .5-lumen "firefly." Impact-resistant and waterproof, the 45g light punches well above its weight class. A list price of under $40 is an excellent option for most budgets.
The Baton3 from Olight features an excellent combination of features that carriers want in a flashlight. With a max output of 1200 lumens and a range of 166 feet, there’s not much you won’t see with the bit of light. The power source is a custom rechargeable battery. While custom batteries can make some buyers nervous, the light charges quickly with the magnetic charger allowing users to literally "grab and go."
While the slick Beta QRv2 may not have the lumen count of some of the light on this list, it’s worth highlighting for the design and output based on its size. At .55x2.95", the light is slightly longer than the AAA battery on which it runs. Ninety lumens from a keychain-mounted light is nothing to ignore. While the diminutive light may not be everyone’s choice, it represents a great lightweight option for those looking to embrace a minimal EDC ensemble.
The Nitecore E4K is one of the brightest lights on our list. This 4.63” tall light features a CNCed aluminum body and four LEDs to produce 4400 lumens. Yes, 4400 lumens are the top setting, with a maximum runtime of 30 minutes. This high output can double as a rescue beacon should it be needed. As a bonus, the E4K runs can run on either the rechargeable batteries designed for the light or standard CR123s.
The Streamlight MacroStream is a great multi-use option, especially for carriers who work indoors and may need a moderate output light with decent runtime. On max setting, the Macrostream can produce 500 lumens for two hours. The light's S-shaped pocket clip allows it to be mounted to the brim of a ball cap, a great feature if working with your hands in a dark space.
A step up in size from the Baton3, the Warrior Mini2 is a carry flashlight designed for defensive use if needed. The light can be activated with side or rear buttons allowing carriers to hold and activate the light from different positions, like above the head. The LED lights can produce 1750 lumens at full power. One aspect that many users will like is the "safe proximity protection," where the light will automatically dim if placed next to an object. Dimming lights prevents overheating or possible damage to objects, like your pocket or backpack.
The Mini Turbo by Foursevens is a veritable giant slayer. The 2.5” 1.8oz flashlight can pump out 700 lumens on max power setting. Just like our other options for ultra-compact lights, the lumen output could be better but more than sufficient, especially when users consider the overall size of the light.
With an output of 650 lumens, the Aurora A4 isn’t a searchlight; it's an ideal work light for compact flashlight carriers. The titanium keychain light features multiple output settings and a magnetic base, so It can be mounted to a door frame or car hood when working.
The Fenix Pd25r is a well-thought-out flashlight for outdoor-minded everyday carriers. The 3.6" flashlight is water and dustproof with a double clip and machined lanyard loop to keep it accessible where ever you carry it. While the 44-minute run time on the max 800 lumens setting is impressive, the 70-hour life span on its low 5-lumen setting is most intriguing for campers and hikers needing to use a little light for extended periods.
The Wedge by Streamlight is a flashlight designed for everyday carry. Unlike the traditionally cylinder-shaped flashlights of the list, the Wedge's body shape is contoured for deep carry. The narrow profile sits deep in a pocket with minimal printing. Thumb switch activation can toggle between a 300-lumen light or THRO® (Temporarily Heightened Regulated Output), which has a 1000-lumen beam active for 35 seconds.
We hope to shed light on the subject of everyday carry flashlights. From keychain-mounted options to robust lights for duty work, there are options for every carry style. Are you looking to know more about flashlights and other EDC gear?
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