Best camping flashlights
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What to know beforehand
We have tested over 400 flashlights and headlamps, and each has been run through our extensive battery of tests, including runtime, output, and beam distance measurements. We test flashlights to help you make an informed decision on the best flashlight or headlamp to fit your needs.
Unlike the authors of most of the “Top 10; or “Best” lists you will find on the internet, our team has collectively owned and reviewed hundreds of flashlights with decades of experience. Many of those Top 10 lists are written by people with little knowledge of flashlights or first-hand experience with them, evidenced by their very poor recommendations (no, that 1,000,000 lumen zoomable flashlight you see on Amazon is not a great flashlight). Below are our recommendations for the best rechargeable flashlights on the market.
What makes a good camping flashlight?
Before you jump right into our recommended flashlights, whether you’re taking a day trip to the lake or embarking on a week-long escape, the following is some information we’ve compiled to assist in choosing the right flashlight to take into the wild. Some things to consider before buying your next camping light:
Some things to consider before buying your next camping light:
- If possible choose a light that uses rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Many lithium ion battery lights have onboard charging so you can charge them on the fly.
- If you choose an AA or AAA or D-size flashlight, use rechargeable NiMH batteries like Panasonic Eneloops or IKEA LADDA
- Don’t store batteries in your flashlight for long periods
- Get a 12V USB car charger, so you can charge the flashlight on the road
- Some flashlights incorporate 2-way charging, which allows you to charge your devices using the flashlight’s battery
- Try to recharge all your batteries at least once a year to keep them in good condition
- Pick up a diffuser so you can use the flashlight as a lightbulb or lantern. A diffuser spreads the light into a wider area and softens the light, which is great for low-light activities. You can also use a translucent plastic cup
- Choose a flashlight with a low output low mode. The lowest modes should be below 5 lumens which will help the light last multiple nights on a single battery or charge
- For added versatility, choose a flashlight with a magnet built in the tailcap so you can stick it to metal objects
- Most lithium battery-powered flashlights have a Beacon mode. This mode will blink once every few seconds and can help a rescuer to locate your position if you get lost
- Avoid a camping flashlight with camouflage colors or you may lose it in the woods
- Keep in mind: two is one, and one is none
The flashlights listed here are ones our team has run through our comprehensive battery of tests for runtime, output, and beam distance. We also have a list with some of the best camping lanterns, in case you were looking for that.
Best tiny flashlight for camping
The best flashlight is the one that you have when you need one. And to increase the likelihood of having a great flashlight with you, all the time, is by EDC-ing. If you don’t like carrying an extra flashlight in your pocket at all times, just get a keychain light, that is hardly bigger than your pinky.
Nitecore Tini 2
|Output||1 – 500 lumens (we measured 458)|
|Features||USB-C Rechargeable, 5 modes, available in titanium, stainless steel and aluminum|
|Battery configuration||Built-in 280mAh|
The Tini 2 is a great light to take on a camping trip due to its size and weight. Plus, no need to fiddle with changing batteries. All you need is a cell phone charger with a USB type C cable and you’re good to go. The Tini 2 packs a lot of output in a tiny package, ideal for stowing as a backup light, and with a 1-500 lumen output range, it’s very versatile.
It’s available in titanium, aluminum, or stainless steel, and in our testing, we found the SS and Ti models have an almost identical runtime to the aluminum version. At turn on, it was able to reach 471 lumens, which dropped to 458 lumens in 30 seconds. After 10 minutes, Turbo mode was down to 190 lumens. The lowest modes have very long runtimes. Check out our full review of the Nitecore Tini2
Best AA flashlight for camping
Olight i5R EOS
A very compact and versatile flashlight with a quirky battery.
|Output||2 modes: 15 and 350 lumens|
|Features||2.4V battery included, only 2 modes, runtime up to 35 hours|
|Battery configuration||1AA / special 2.4V battery|
The Olight i5R Eos is a great little flashlight that uses Alkaline (in a pinch: see our warning on using Alkaline batteries) or NiMH and even lithium primary AA batteries, so you’ll really never be without a power source. Olight includes a very interesting 2.4V battery able to produce 366 lumens. You can use it for 2 hours in high mode. We didn’t test low mode, but it is supposed to run for 35 hours, at roughly 15 lumens. In case of emergencies, you can simply replace the 2.4V battery with any AA battery. It’s Olight, so it will be dependable and give years of trouble-free operation.
For all the details, read our in-depth review here: https://1lumen.com/review/olight-i5r-eos/
Honorable mention AA/14500 camping flashlight
A very compact and bright dual-chemistry AA/14500 flashlight
|Output||15 to 600 lumens|
|Features||3-mode UI, TIR optic, Luminus SST20 LED|
|Battery configuration||1 AA / 14500 lithium ion|
The Skilhunt E2A surprised the heck out of us with its tiny size and big output. It’s also a very well-built flashlight, and with a rear clicky switch and simple 3-mode UI, it’s easy to use as well. It can use Alkaline, NiCad, NiMH, or 14500 lithium ion batteries, so you have a bunch of power options. On Ikea LADDA NiMH batteries we got between 5 to nearly 200 lumens, and switching to the 14500, increased it quite a bit, up to 321 on High. It’s actually capable of higher output, but the review light was equipped with a 95 CRI 4000k SST40 and max output is achieved with the 6500k SST20. The beaded TIR optic produces a floody beam with decent reach as well.
The combination of simple operation and good output helps the Skilhunt E2A make our list. Full review with all the details Here
Best camping flashlight headlamp
Armytek Wizard C2 PRO Max
|Max output||0.03 lumens – 4000 lumens|
|Features||USB rechargeable, head strap, magnetic tailcap, bicycle attachment|
|Battery configuration||1*21700 (rechargeable)|
The Amytek Wizard C2 Pro Max makes the list because it’s so versatile, has onboard charging, and produces up to 4000 lumens (well, almost). Thanks to the 90-degree head design, it can be used as a flashlight or headlamp when mounted in the included headband. The tailcap is also magnetic, so it can stick to metal surfaces, and it even has a mount that can be secured to your bike. The UI is a bit complicated, so we recommend setting it to General UI for simplicity sake. Overall, the Armytek Wizard C2 PRO Max (see link for review) is a great flashlight to keep in your car for emergencies, and a great headlamp for camping.
Some of the benefits
- This right-angle flashlight can be used or carried in different ways.
- It includes a headband so you can use it as a headlamp, so you have both hands free to
- It has a magnetic tailcap, so you can stick it to something metal like your car hood
- It has a clamp to attach it to a bike, but you can also use it to attach it to a pole or anything else
- It can be charged with a USB charger
- Whether you have a USB charger at home, in the car, RV, or anywhere. You change charge the battery inside the flashlight
- Its lowest mode is extremely low, so you have a very, very long runtime.
There are however 2 caveats.
- The UI needs to be memorized in order to use it properly. Therefore I recommend setting it to General UI, and forget about the Advanced UI
- To charge the battery you have to unscrew the tailcap 1/4 turn.. so you have to remember this, which is not easy. It’s best to keep a small cheatsheet with the UI inside the flashlight.
For all these reasons, the Armytek Wizard C2 PRO Max is a great flashlight to keep in your car for emergencies. Also, keep in mind you better get a USB car charger adapter to make sure you can always charge the flashlight.
Use discount code: Lumen15 at the Armytek store for 15% off!
Best affordable high power camping light
Sofirn SP36 PRO Anduril 2 with diffuser
High output quad LED flashlight with power bank capability
|Output||up to 8,000 lumens (we measured 5750 at turn on)|
|Features||Anduril 2, USB-C onboard charging and power bank|
|Battery configuration||3* 18650 batteries|
The Sofirn SP36 PRO Anduril 2 is our pick for an affordable, high power camping flashlight. On sale for about $50 with coupon, and available as a kit with batteries, it’s highly versatile and produces over 5000 lumens. Thanks to the Anduril 2 UI and infinitely variable brightness, it becomes a great tent light or lantern if you add a diffuser. The built-in USB type C charging has been upgraded from the original SP36 Pro to 5 volts 3 amps, and Sofirn added power bank capability for charging USB devices at up to 5 volts 2 amps. This means you can charge your cell phone, tablet, bluetooth speaker, or any USB type C rechargeable device (you must use a USB type C to type C cable for the power bank though). This is an extremely versatile feature when camping and away from your wall outlets! For more information check out our review of the Sofirn SP36 PRO.
Keep in mind that you can only use this light with a diffuser when you can put it down on a flat surface. There is no lanyard attachment. The other alternative is adding a strong magnet at the bottom of the tail cap so it can hang from a metal object. The diffuser is only $3.
Buy diffuser at Sofirn. But you can also buy a generic diffuser, as long as the diameter fits.
Best high power rechargeable camping light
80,000 lumen power bank flashlight with active fan cooling
|Output||900 to 80,000 lumens and 1150 meters max beam distance|
|Features||Fan cooling, USB-C 65 ot 100W onboard charging and power bank|
|Battery configuration||4* 21700 battery pack|
Newly released for 2022, the Acebeam X75 is the latest in their X-series ultra high output flashlight lineup. The new model features up to 80,000 Lumens, active cooling (a first for Acebeam), 12 CREE XHP70.2 LEDs (or optional 70.3 for added beam distance), a 4* 21700 battery back with 4250 mAh capacity and 65 or 100W USB type C charging and power bank. It’s rated for IP68 water resistance as well. It would be an excellent flashlight to take into dispersed camping sites away from electricity thanks to the power bank, and can sustain very high brightness for long periods thanks to the cooling fan.
We tested this amazing flashlight and it literally hit the 80,000 lumens, albeit very briefly.
How many lumens do I need for a camping flashlight?
Although this is a matter of preference, for most camping-related tasks, you probably only need 500 to 1000 lumens at the most. Remember that more isn’t always better, but it’s better to have extra output and not need it, than need it and not have it, so if your light of choice makes 2000 or more Lumens, go for it. These days, most of the better brands (Acebeam, Lumintop, Wurkkos/Sofirn, Fenix, etc.) make flashlights that easily produce that kind of output (and a lot more).
How many lumens does a tent light need, and what should I look for in a tent light?
This is another point open to debate, but since tent lights are used in enclosed spaces, high output isn’t needed. A tent light should produce about 200 to 300 lumens. Modern tent lights like the Olight O’Lantern, Sofirn LT1, and Wuben F5 have adjustable brightness, so you can have a little or a lot. The easiest way to use a tent light is by adding a diffuser to a ‘regular’ flashlight or a mule (a flashlight with no lens or reflector) like the Fireflies PL09MU. That way, you don’t really need a specific tent light, and you can use it for more tasks. A diffuser softens the light, and ideally, it should have a warm tint since it’s easier on the eyes.
Is 200 lumens bright enough for camping?
200 lumens could be enough. But it depends on how the beam is emitted, and what you want to use it for. I would probably aim at 500-1000 lumens for a flashlight, that you can use for multiple purposes. Also, don’t forget about a magnet in the tailcap. That could help you in certain situations.
What are some important features to look for in a camping flashlight?
Although any flashlight can be a camping flashlight, here are some features that will be beneficial when taking a light on a camping trip.
Water and dust resistance. A good camping-ready light will be IP55 or higher rated to protect it from moisture, high humidity, rain, and dust.
Long runtimes. You want a flashlight that will last for several days of intermittent use. Pick a light with a high capacity 21700, 26650, or 18650 size lithium-ion battery. A flashlight with low output modes is beneficial for increased runtimes as well.
Onboard charging. The ability to recharge a flashlight without taking out the battery is a big advantage. A rechargeable flashlight can be recharged with a cell phone charger plugged into your car cigarette lighter, or with a portable power bank.