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The 9 Best Flashlights For Camping
As anyone who has gotten to their campsite a little later than expected and tried to set up their tent in the dark will tell you, a good flashlight is one of the most important items to pack for any camping trip. It’s right up there with cold beer and a cooler to keep it in.
Lucky for us all, there are a lot of great camping flashlights to choose from. Whether you’re looking for something lightweight and compact you can toss in your backpack or a heavy-duty flashlight with maximum illuminating power, you have options.
But there’s also a lot of cheap junk crowding store shelves and every corner of the Internet. A flashlight is one piece of equipment you can’t afford to have fail on you. You need to know you can rely on it when it goes dark.
These are the nine best camping flashlights you can always rely on.
1. Olight S2R Baton II
The Olight S2R Baton II has just about everything you could want from a pocket flashlight. It’s powerful, lightweight, and compact, making it perfect for camping, hiking, and fishing trips, as well as everyday carry.
This flashlight has three modes and at its brightest puts out an impressive 1,150 lumens. It has a twist-on and off design and is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery. You can charge the battery magnetically through the tail cap charging cable, which connects to any USB port.
One of my favorite features of this flashlight is the pocket clip. It’s located near the head of the flashlight instead of the tail and is designed to clip onto any baseball cap, transforming it into a makeshift headlamp.
The Olight S2R Baton II has a water-resistant outer casing. It weighs just 3.47 oz and measures a little shy of 4” long. It’s just the right size to slip into your pocket, backpack, or glove box until you need it.
2. Streamlight Stinger LED Flashlight
You might ask yourself, why spend well over $100 for a flashlight? It’s a fair question. Is it worth it? Well, the Streamlight Stinger LED Flashlight is a good example of what you get when you get your money’s worth in a high-end flashlight.
The Streamlight Stinger LED Flashlight has a shock-proof C4 LED light, which is virtually indestructible and offers a 50,000 hour lifetime. That’s over 2,000 days of powerful, brilliant light. The charger plugs into any standard wall outlet or your car’s cigarette lighter.
Optimized electronics provide a consistent beam throughout the battery’s lifespan, so the light doesn’t dim as the charge runs out. The battery gives you 1.5 hours on the high (800 lumens) setting, or five hours on the low (200 lumens).
The Streamlight Stinger is relied upon by folks whose lives and livelihoods depend on illumination – firefighters, EMTs, search-and-rescue teams – because it can take a beating and keep shining. The anodized aluminum casing is waterproof and impact-resistant.
3. Anker Bolder LC90
An excellent budget-friendly camping flashlight, the Anker Bolder LC90 is about the best rechargeable flashlight you’ll find in its price range. It performs well in cold weather and rainy conditions and runs on a Lithium-ion battery. USB cable for recharging is also included.
With a CREE LED that emits up to 900 lumens, this is a highly adaptable flashlight. It has five settings (high, medium, low, strobe, and S.O.S.) that make it a great camping companion.
The Anker Bolder LC90 makes a great signal light in an emergency. It’s also perfect for finding your way back and forth from your campsite to the bathroom, which is, realistically what most of us use flashlights for when we’re camping.
At 6.2 oz, the Bolder LC90 is reasonably lightweight flashlight, but its 6.22″ length makes it a little chunky for backpacking or everyday carry. Still, it’s great for car camping situations in which weight and size aren’t an issue.
4. Maglite ML50L LED Flashlight
Useful for camping, hunting, route finding, and outdoor adventures of all kinds, the Maglite ML50L produces up to 611 lumens with its powerful LED bulb. It has five settings, including battery-saving Eco Mode and a handy momentary-on setting.
It’s a small but substantial light with an aircraft-quality aluminum casing that resists moisture and corrosion. The Maglite ML50L LED Flashlight is not rechargeable, however. It runs on three standard C-cell Alkaline batteries.
That might be a downside for some, but there are plenty of outdoor situations in which carrying a few extra batteries is a lot easier than finding a place to plug in. Besides, this flashlight gives you up to 153 hours of battery life on Eco Mode, which is no small feat.
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5. Fenix PD35 TAC Flashlight
The Fenix PD35 TAC (Tactical Edition) flashlight is one of the most powerful and adaptable lights in its relatively dainty weight class. It’s 5.4″ long and weighs 4.7 oz. That’s on the larger end of what you might want for everyday carry, but it’s perfect for camping or even backpacking
This is also an incredibly versatile little flashlight. The Fenix PD35 TAC offers six output levels ranging from the eight lumens low setting to 1,000 lumens at full “turbo beam” power.
The great thing about this light is that it can run on one rechargeable 18650 battery or two CR123A batteries. So it’s a rechargeable flashlight if you prefer; but if you find it easier to carry extra batteries than to locate an outlet, you have that option too.
6. Stanley Fatmax LED Spotlight Flashlight
When a dainty little pocket-sized flashlight just won’t cut it, there’s the Stanley Fatmax LED Spotlight. This is a big, rugged flashlight with a 10W ultra-bright LED and rechargeable lithium-Ion battery. AC and DC charging adaptors are included.
This thing is pretty huge (“not for backpacking” would be a serious understatement) but it’s great when you need a hefty, heavy-duty light that delivers a whopping 2,200 lumens of raw illuminating power.
The battery will stay charged for up to 12 months. Throw the Stanley Fatmax LED Spotlight in the trunk of your car, and it’ll be there when you need it. It’s perfect for emergencies or for when you roll into your campsite after dark and need light to pitch your tent.
7. SureFire PLR Stiletto Multi-Output LED Flashlight
It doesn’t take more than a glance to see that the SureFire PLR Stiletto isn’t your average flashlight. But it’s not just an eye-catching design. Beneath its Star-Trek-esque exterior is a powerful light that will serve you well in any emergency.
With a flattened profile that fits comfortably in hand or pocket, this flashlight has two separate switches. The thumb-activated primary controls the low (five lumens), medium (250 lumens), and high (650 lumens) settings. The tactical switch on the rear activates high output and tactical strobe
The SureFire PLR Stiletto Multi-Output LED Flashlight has a high-performance LED capable of projecting a wide floodlight (great for getting your bearings at night). The light also has a battery gauge, so you can see how much juice is left in the rechargeable battery.
8. ALPS Mountaineering Spark 240 Flashlight
Made with the adventurer in mind, the ALPS Mountaineering Spark 240 Flashlight is ideal if you’re looking for something lightweight and reliable, but aren’t too concerned about maximum brightness.
Output on the high setting is a perfectly adequate 240 lumens. The flashlight has four modes, and the tail switch has enough resistance that it’s not likely to turn on by accident in your pack or pocket. The Spark 240 runs on two AAA alkaline batteries.
Its weight (including batteries) is just 4.6 oz, so it’s perfect for backpacking or car camping. The waterproof aluminum casing is designed to keep water out for 30 minutes at a depth of one meter, so it’s sure to make it through any rainstorm unscathed.
9. NEBO Big Larry 2
With a unique and adaptable design, the NEBO Big Larry 2 is essentially two flashlights in one. In addition to the 200 lumens top light, it has a 500 lumens front-facing COB LED light.
For practical purposes, that makes it ideal as a handheld flashlight, but also as a work light. The Big Larry 2 has a strong magnetic base that firmly adheres to a metal workbench (or the hood of your truck) for hands-free lighting.
The NEBO runs on three AA batteries, which give you up to eight hours of runtime. It’s not the most efficient camping flashlights on the market, but one of the most uniquely useful. Carrying a few extra batteries is a small price to pay for utility.
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Flashlights can be classified in countless ways – size, brightness, intended use, type of light bulb, type of battery – which makes categorization difficult. The best flashlights for camping tend to be LED flashlights with multiple output settings. Some run on standard disposable batteries (often AA or AAA) while others are rechargeable.
The brightness of the flashlight (measured in lumens) is among the most important factors for consideration. Most camping flashlights emit anywhere from 100 to 1,000 lumens (for comparison, a 40-watt incandescent bulb produces about 450 lumens). Flashlights with multiple brightness settings are ideal for camping.
The durability and level of water resistance are also important considerations, especially if you intend to use a flashlight outdoors. Size and weight are also worth taking into account. If you plan on taking a flashlight backpacking, you’ll want something very light and compact, but for car camping, you might prefer a larger, more substantial flashlight.
There are great flashlights to fit virtually any budget. A lot of the best camping flashlights are priced in the $40 to $70 range, but you can also find decent entry-level flashlights for less. You often get what you pay for, so try to spend according to your needs.