Best car flashlights
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What to know beforehand
Before you jump into our recommended flashlights, I’d like to take a minute, and explain a few things.
Beware: Alkaline batteries are the worst batteries to keep in your car. Why? Because they leak. They don’t like the heat of your car, and will leak sooner or later. Instead of Alkaline batteries, I recommend looking at lithium batteries, like CR123A batteries, or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries like 18650 or 21700. In case you don’t want to use lithium batteries, check out the best rechargeable AA and AAA batteries: Panasonic Eneloop. Those won’t leak, and can handle a beating.
Some dos and don’ts about keeping a flashlight in your car:
Dos (and tips, recommendations)
- Store the flashlight in the coolest place in your car (don’t put it in the glove compartment!)
- Lithium batteries (CR123A, Lithium-Ion etc) are recommended and Alkaline batteries are not
- If you choose rechargeable AA or AAA batteries, buy the standard white Panasonic Eneloop batteries since they can keep their charge the longest from all rechargeable NiMH batteries
- Store the batteries outside the flashlight, if you can.
- Get a USB car charger, so you can charge the flashlight on the road, or anywhere with a USB connector in case the car breaks down
- Try to discharge and recharge batteries in your emergency kit at least 1 time a year (it also helps to spot any bad batteries)
- Get a cheap diffusor so you can use the flashlight as a lightbulb (diffuser spread the light into a wide area) which is great for at night, or a red/orange cone as a warning signal. (This could be as simple as a plastic cup)
- Get a flashlight with long runtimes (the lowest modes should ideally be below 5 lumens to last multiple nights on 1 battery)
- If you have to choose between AA or AAA, choose the one running of AA’s. AA batteries are slightly larger than AAA, but have about 3 times the capacity.
- When your AA flashlight stops working with a rechargeable AA battery (like an Eneloop) you can try using an Alkaline battery at the lowest mode, because they can provide energy at lower voltage than rechargeable NiMH batteries…again, just as a backup
- Get a flashlight with a magnet in the tailcap, so you can stick it to metal, like the hood or the body of the car
- Get a flashlight with a beacon mode. This mode will blink once every few seconds and lasts long enough for a rescuer to locate your position if you’re far away
- Get a colored flashlight so you can easily find it in your car, or outside. Don’t get one with camouflage colors…just saying
- If you have some extra space, include a headlamp in your emergency kit as well
- Keep in mind: two is one, and one is none
- Never, ever, keep a bunch Alkaline batteries in your car
- Don’t keep Alkaline batteries stored inside a flashlight, because they can, and probably will, leak
- Don’t store batteries in flashlights with an electronic switch (electronic switches drain the battery)
Best flashlight for in your car
Olight Marauder Mini
Most versatile flashlight for in your car
|Max output||100 – 7,000 lumens|
|Features||Rechargeable via magnetic USB|
|Battery configuration||1*32650 (proprietary)|
I can’t help, but say that the Marauder Mini is a great rechargeable flashlight with phenomenal performance combined with exceptional battery life. With a physical switch, you easily toggle between spot mode and flood mode, so you can have a wide and narrow beam. Both light sources have 7 modes, while you have access to 3 colored modes with 4 modes each.
And like most other Olight flashlights, its performance is outstanding. Turbo mode (L7) is approximately 6000 for 5 minutes before dropping to 2,000 lumens. And Level 6 is 3,000 lumens for more than 26 minutes before dropping to 1000 lumens. No other flashlight in this class has been able to achieve this. If you find one, let us know.
For more details, check out our Olight Marauder Mini review.
Best lantern for in your car
Sofirn BLF LT1 lantern
To work on your car, or in emergencies, this is what you want
|Max output||5 lumens -570 lumens|
|Features||Rechargeable, 360-degrees lantern, portable|
Having a lantern is nice when you are with a couple of people in 1 area. The Sofirn LT1 is an LED lantern with a USB-C charger running on 18650 type batteries.
One of the most important things when it comes to emergency flashlights is of course runtime. The worst thing that can happen to a flashlight in an emergency situation is running out of battery. Having a built-in USB-C charger, you can always charge up the batteries with any USB power adapter, from your laptop, car, or solar panel.
On top of that, you don’t really have to use 4*18650 batteries, because they are used in parallel. You can also use 1, 2, or even just 3 batteries. Not just great for your camping trip, but also when something happens and you have to stay somewhere put for multiple days.
Best headlamp for in your car
Armytek Wizard C2 PRO
Great headlamp for in your car, so you have both hands free
|Max output||0.03 lumens – 2000 lumens|
|Features||USB rechargeable, head strap, magnetic tailcap, bicycle attachment|
|Battery configuration||1*18650 (rechargeable)|
FAQ: A flashlight for car emergencies
What’s the best place to store your flashlight in a car?
Generally speaking, heat kills batteries. If you are in a location where it can get hot, never store the flashlight in the glove compartment. Even with an outdoor temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the glove compartment can get 50 degrees hotter according to some research. The coolest place is probably right underneath the seat.
What are some important features to consider getting an emergency flashlight for in your car?
Please consider the following: the color of the flashlight, the ways you carry/use it (pocket clip, head strap, magnetic tailcap, holster etc), its runtime, the battery type, if it’s rechargeable, and if it accepts multiple kinds of batteries.