The best emergency flashlights
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- → Best emergency flashlights for at home or in your emergency kit
- → Best emergency flashlights for in your car
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Emergency flashlights: what you need to know
Before we jump into our recommended flashlights for emergency situations, I’d like to take a minute and explain what you have to take into consideration.
Back in 2011, I (Marco) lived in Tokyo, when the big Tohoku earthquake hit Japan. I’m not 100% sure if I already had an emergency kit ready or not, but at least I remember seriously looking into one after that event. Unfortunately enough, many of these emergency kits get neglected after a while, so will the flashlights inside these emergency kits. I’m 100% sure that most of the emergency lights in Japan at that time used incandescent light bulbs instead of LED, and used D-size batteries.
How do I know? Well, the day after the earthquake most D-size batteries were sold out, even though there were still plenty of AAA and AA batteries available!
Unfortunately, Alkaline batteries are the worst batteries to keep in your emergency bag. Why? Because they leak, especially if kept inside a flashlight. A better solution is: lithium batteries. CR123A batteries can be stored for 10 years without a problem. Rechargeable batteries like NiMH and Lithium-Ion are also a much better option. Especially, Panasonic Eneloop AA and AAA batteries, since they keep their charge for a long time!
Some dos and don’ts:
Dos (and tips, recommendations)
- Lithium batteries (CR123A, Lithium-Ion etc) can be stored for a very long time.
- 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 NiMH batteries
- Store batteries outside the flashlight
- Store the emergency kit in a dark, dry, and cool place
- Have a 12V charger ready, so you can charge the batteries in your car or with a car battery
- Get a USB charger, so you can charge on the road, or anywhere with a USB connector (laptop, car, train, boat etc)
- Get at least 1 emergency flashlight that accepts multiple kinds of batteries (different sizes and/or different voltages) because you have more chance finding a battery that will work
- 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)
- Get a solar charger that can charge NiMH batteries and Lithium-Ion batteries
- Get a flashlight with long runtimes (the lowest modes should be below 5 lumens to last multiple nights on 1 battery)
- If you have to choose, choose a flashlight running of AA batteries instead of AAA batteries because they are only slightly larger but have 3 times the capacity.
- When an AA flashlight stops working with a rechargeable AA battery (like an Eneloop) try using an Alkaline battery at the lowest mode, because they can provide energy at lower voltage than rechargeable NiMH batteries
- If you have enough space in your kit, add an AAA flashlight (for the cases when all other batteries are sold out)
- Get a flashlight with a magnet in the tailcap, so you can stick it to anything made of metal
- 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
- Add some glow in the dark tape to your flashlight
- Add tritium vials that can glow up to 10 years without the need to recharge
- If you have still some space left, include a headlamp in your emergency kit
- Two is one, and one is none
- Never, ever, keep a bunch Alkaline batteries for emergencies
- Don’t keep Alkaline batteries stored inside a flashlight
- Don’t store batteries in flashlights with an electronic switch (electronic switches drain the battery)
- Don’t use the flashlight in the highest mode to conserve battery
- Better stay away from Anduril based flashlights because you can accidentally enter a programming mode or mess up the user interface.
Great emergency flashlights for at home
I will choose a few flashlights that we reviewed and performed really well and are multi-functional. They are also great to have in your car. But the ones mentioned for your car have a few extra options.
Manker E03H II
|Max output||0.5 lumens – 200 lumens|
|Features||Magnetic tailcap, headband, flashlight, standing, colored filters|
The Manker E03II does a few tricks on why it can be seen as a great choice for emergencies. First of all, it accepts Alkaline, NiMH, lithium, and NiCad AA batteries. So whatever you can find on the shelves in the size of an AA battery should work.
Secondly, the E03H has a magnetic tail cap and includes a head strap. In emergencies where you need both hands, you can use the headband or magnetic tail-cap.
Thirdly, its lowest output mode is adjustable, so you can set it as low as you want. This will increase its runtime considerably, and the user interface is easy enough so you don’t need to worry about forgetting how to enter certain modes.
For these reasons is this one of the most useful AA flashlights for emergencies.
Thrunite TC20 v2
|Output||0.3 lumens to 4000 lumens|
|Features||Reaches far, takes multiple batteries, easy UI, USB-C charging|
|Battery configuration||26650 (and therefore should fit 21700, and 18650 batteries|
The reason why I mention this flashlight is twofold.
First of all, it’s because of the type of battery it accepts. A 26650 type flashlight can also accept other types of batteries. Nick (one of our reviewers) reviewed the Thrunite TC20v2 and measured the included battery at 69.3 millimeters. It’s not unlikely, that it also accepts flat top 21700, 20700, and 18650 batteries, besides 26650 batteries.
Besides the battery type, it includes a built-in USB-C charger so you can charge any lithium-ion battery with a 5V USB plug. This could even be in your car, or with a solar charger.
On top of that, the TC20v2 can throw very far. So you can use it for signaling and locate people or objects in a distance. And in combination with a cheap diffuser, you can use it as a candle with a very long runtime.
Sofirn BLF LT1
|Max output||5-570 lumens|
|Features||Rechargeable, 360-degrees lantern, portable, USB-rechargeable|
It’s great to have a flashlight at hand when you are alone, but using a lantern is even nicer when you are with more people in 1 area. The Sofirn LT1 is an LED lantern with a USB-C charger built into it.
One of the most important things when it comes to emergency flashlights it the runtime. The worst thing that can happen to a flashlight in an emergency situation is running out of power. Having a built-in USB-C charger, you can always charge up the batteries with any USB power adapter. This can be from a laptop, your car, or a 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, it’s also very handy for your emergency kit.
What do you have to keep in mind looking for a flashlight for emergencies?
There are a few things you have to keep in mind. Besides the obvious reason for a great location, you better look at the following: 1. Is it rechargeable? 2. If not, what batteries does it use? 3. Can you use the flashlight without holding it in your hand? 4. How long will it last on 1 set of batteries? 5. Can you use it for signaling?
What are the best batteries for emergency flashlights?
Depending on the type of flashlight you have, you better choose rechargeable batteries that have a long shelf life. Think about Panasonic Eneloop AA or AAA batteries. If you have a lithium-ion-powered flashlight, you don’t have to worry too much, but you better remove the battery from the flashlight during storage.