What Is The Best EDC Flashlights? We Look At 5 Contenders
Choosing The Best EDC Flashlight
Before we decide what the best EDC flashlight is, let’s understand what EDC actually means. EDC is the abbreviation for ‘Every Day Carry’. So an EDC flashlight is one that you can and would be wanting to carry every day. So why should you be looking for in the best EDC flashlight? Apart from the obvious, such as the ability to find things in the dark, especially important if you live in an area where you are prone to experiencing blackouts, an EDC flashlight is useful as a self-defence tool.
The best EDC flashlight for your needs has to have one overriding criteria; will you be able to have it with you at all times? No matter how amazing a flashlight is, if you can’t carry it at all times, then it is not a true EDC flashlight. It can have great battery life, shock resistance, water resistance, brightness etc, but if you don’t have it with you when you need it, then it is a useless tool. Ultimately the best EDC flashlight is the one that fits in with your lifestyle. Let’s have a look at some main considerations you need to keep in mind when choosing the best EDC flashlight.
Size: The best EDC flashlight for your needs has to be the right size. Ask yourself how you plan on carrying an EDC flashlight. Will you keep it in a holster or on your belt? Perhaps in your pocket or purse? There are even some lightweight flashlights that can be worn on a keychain or lanyard. Naturally, with some options (such as on a lanyard) you’ll want the lightest flashlight possible as you don’t want a heavy flashlight weighing you down. For us, when we look at EDC flashlight options, we want a flashlight that easily fit in the palm of our hands. If it is much bigger than that, it will likely be too large to comfortably carry it around as an EDC device
Battery life: The battery used is going to be an important factor to consider when choosing an EDC flashlight. This is not so much a separate consideration as it is a follow-on from the size consideration. The size of a flashlight is very much tied to the size of the battery. Micro flashlights (the smallest on the market) tend to use watch type batteries. Larger flashlights will use AA, AAA CR2 or CR123A batteries. Consideration needs to be given on availability of batteries. Naturally, AA and AAA batteries can be found almost anywhere. Other batteries are less widespread, for example watch batteries might only be sold in mainly specialist stores. As a rule of thumb, the specialised batteries will give you a higher performance, but will be less available in your area. General batteries will give you less performance, but will be available in most stores. Then there is of course the consideration to use rechargeable batteries, which will be more expensive to initially buy, but can save you money in the long run as you do not need to keep replacing batteries. For us, the best EDC flashlight takes quality rechargeable batteries that has a long life-span.
Self-defence situations: The best EDC flashlight should give you a self-defense option. There are 2 ways to use an EDC flashlight in self-defence situations; as a means of disorientating your would-be attacker, and as a striking tool. If you choose to have an EDC flashlight that needs to disorientate an attacker, you need a flashlight that has a lumen factor of 120 or above. Lumen, abbreviated to lm, is a measure of the total amount of visible light to the human eye from a light source or lamp – the higher the lumen value, the brighter the light source is to the human eye. On the other hand, if you wish to have an EDC flashlight to use as a possible striking tool, larger, heavier flashlights are recommended.
Durability: As mentioned before, carrying a flashlight every day will put it through some considerable wear and tear. There’s no point in a flashlight that doesn’t work when you really need it to because it could not withstand you carrying it every day. Depending on what your typical days are like, you need to look at aspects such as shock resistance, water resistance and lens that are scratch resistant and shatterproof.
Materials: The best EDC flashlight options tend to be made from anodized aluminium, with some made from titanium or stainless steel. Stainless steel is extremely strong, and ideal for those who spend time in harsh environments, but it is also the heaviest material. Titanium is as strong as stainless steel, but 45% lighter, so this is ideal for anyone who needs a tough flashlight, but will carry it in such a way that lightness is key. Aluminium is the most common material, as it is a nice middle ground. It’s half as strong as titanium and stainless steel, but strong enough for most people to carry every day, the lightest out of all the materials, and the most cost-efficient.
Shock resistance: Being shock resistant is an important criteria when looking for the best EDC flashlight. Carrying an item every day means it is prone to being dropped. The best EDC flashlight options use LED lights now instead of incandescent bulbs, as they are shock resistant, as well as having a longer lifespan and being cheaper. If you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, or in environments where you are expected to be at a height, look at flashlights that mention ANSI FL1 standards. This is an impact resistant assessment where the flashlight is dropped onto cured concrete from a defined height, and it has been proven to still work, and has no breaks or cracks.
Water resistance: If you expect your EDC flashlight to come into contact with water, looking at the level of water resistance a flashlight has is important. An aspect of the ANSI FL1 standards is the IPX rating, which you need to look out for when buying an EDC flashlight. A flashlight that states IPX4 means that it is splash resistant (ideal for those simply worried about their flashlight being exposed to rain). IPX7 will mean that a flashlight can be submerged in up to a metre of water for up to 30 minutes. IPX8 will mean that a flashlight can be submerged to a depth of more than a metre continuously, and still works perfectly.
What Is The Best EDC flashlight?
So what is the best EDC flashlight on the market today? We’ve reviewed 5 popular models. We will go through size, ease of use, luminosity, and performance in order to decide the best EDC flashlight!
Streamlight 88031 Protac Tactical Flashlight 2L with White LED Includes 2 CR123A Lithium Batteries and Nylon Holster
The first flashlight on our list of the best EDC flashlight options comes from Streamlight. This tactical EDC flashlight uses 2 CR123A batteries (lithium batteries included) and is made from anodized aluminium with an impact-resistant tempered glass lens. It boasts 50,000 hour lifetime LED light, and three modes; momentary, variable intensity and strobe. With the O-Ring seal it has an IPX7 rating for water resistance, which means it can withstand being submerged in water by up to a metre in depth for up to 30 minutes. It comes with a removable pocket clip that the manufacturer’s state is unbreakable, an anti-roll face cap, and a nylon holster. Brightness is at 250 lumens in high mode (and 13 lumens in low mode). It is also only 4.7 inches long (and 0.8 inches in width) which makes this a compact EDC flashlight. This is a fantastic EDC flashlight with easy and fast handling; simply use the rubber push-button tactical tail switch – easily handled with just one hand. The strobe mode is perfect for causing disorientation when faced with an attacker. The Ten-Tap programmable switch allows you to select one of three different programs; factory default is high/strobe/low, but you also can choose high only, or low/high. This flashlight is also impervious to shock as it has been tested from a 2 metre height.
As would be expected when looking at the best EDC flashlight options, we found it difficult to fault this EDC flashlight. The pouch could have been a little bit sturdier as we don’t feel it offered much protection. A molded nylon pouch would be preferable. Also, another minor issue was the counter-intuitive switching system. Click once and it comes on in high mode. Three clicks will get you the strobe mode, and five clicks will get you the low mode. It seemed a bit baffling that the manufacturers would choose the low mode to be the last mode instead of the first mode. However, this is a very minor issue. All-in-all, a fantastic, robust and lightweight EDC flashlight. So if you need a really tough flashlight that can take some hard knocks, this is possibly the best EDC flashlight for your needs.
Coast HP1 Focusing LED Flashlight
This EDC flashlight uses 1 AA battery (battery not included – choose from alkaline, NIMH rechargeable, 14500 lithium or lithium-ion, or carbon zinc) and is made from aluminium that has been anodized black. The aluminium is rust and corrosion resistant, whilst also offering impact and water resistance. Brightness is at 220 lumen maximum for up to 171 metres, although it’s worth noting that you will only achieve this with Li-Ion (lithium ion rechargeable) batteries. You should be able to achieve 96 lumens with alkaline batteries, 66 lumens with NiMH, and 193 lumens with Li-Ion batteries, so we think 220 lumen is a bit of a stretch, but 193 is still very respectable. Dimensions are 4.1 inches in length and 1 inch in width, making it a very compact EDC flashlight. It also boasts a patented Pure Beam Focusing Optic System, which is a system that allows this flashlight to shape the light into useful beam patterns, whilst also making it easy to adjust from spotlight to floodlight. It comes with a removable metal clip so you can clip it onto pockets and keep with you wherever you go.
An issue we noticed with this flashlight is that the black coating (the aluminium has been anodized black) scratches off rather easily. It is very easy to adjust from spotlight to floodlight, but we found that the LED light had no reflector, so the ‘throw’ isn’t as good as it could be. The manufacturers also don’t state how impact and water resistant this flashlight is (no IPX rating) although they do state it has been tested and rated to ANSI FL1 Flashlight Standards, and they do offer a lifetime warranty. Additionally, there is a hole to fit a lanyard on, but we were stumped finding a split ring that would fit through it. If you plan on wearing this EDC flashlight on a lanyard, keep this in mind, as you will have to find a tiny split ring to fit through the hole. Lastly, although the manufacturers state you can use any AA battery (alkaline, NiMH, carbon zinc, lithium or Li-Ion batteries), we found that using Li-Ion batteries meant that after about an hour of use, the flashlight can get very hot and needs to be turned it off so that it does not melt the plastic lens. Keep this in mind if you want an EDC flashlight with a high lumen factor but also envisage needing a flashlight that will operate for longer than an hour. Having said all that, this is good little EDC flashlight that can be bought for under $10 – bargain! So if you are on a budget, then this is the best EDC flashlight for you.
ThruNite® TN12 2014 Edition 1050 Lumen Single CREE XM-L2 U2 LED EDC Flashlight
If you are looking for a robust flashlight that you can truly use everyday, this is the best EDC flashlight option. This EDC flashlight uses either one 18650 rechargeable battery, or two CR123A batteries (does not come with batteries). Maximum output is a blinding 1050 and it uses one of the highest performing LED lights, the XM-L2 U2. It is made from aircraft-grade aluminium with a hard-anodized finish that is anti-abrasive. Dimensions are just over 5.6 inches with a width of 1 inch, making it the longest flashlight on our list, but still very compact. It has 5 modes which give you different brightness levels; 0.3 lumens, 20 lumens, 280 lumens, 800 lumens, and 1050 lumens. The higher the lumen, the less run time you will get from your batteries (1585 hours at the lowest ‘firefly’ mode of 0.3 lumens down to 90 minutes using the ‘turbo’ mode of 1050 lumens). It also has a strobe mode at 1050 lumens which only takes one second to turn on – perfect for self-defence situations. It boasts an ultra-clear glass lens with has been treated with an anti-reflective coating, giving a superior beam, and a smooth reflector which gives a perfect beam and throw. Additionally, it has a reverse polarity protection design which protects the flashlight from improper battery installation.
Handling is easy; simply press the tail switch gently to give a momentary beam, or keep pressing until it clicks to turn it on to constant (press again to turn light off). When the light is on, you simple press the side switch to circle through the different lumen outputs. Strobe can be turned on after you have switched the flashlight on to constant and then by holding the side switch for a second. One press on the side switch will then turn off the strobe back to general light.
This is a very robust EDC flashlight, boasting an IPX8 rating, which means it is waterproof when submerged beyond a depth of 1 metres continuously, and has been tested to be impact resistant from a drop of 2 metres. This is the flashlight to choose if you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors and don’t want to worry about your flashlight letting you down. It also boasts extras that you’ll be hard pushed to find elsewhere. For example, it has a ‘firefly’ mode at 0.3 lumens. For anyone who does not spend much time camping, or out in the wilderness, it’s hard to understand why there would a 0.3 lumens option. But for anyone who spends time outdoors, this level of brightness is similar to moonlight, and is perfect for reading maps or guiding the way through terrain without blinding yourself. You can also choose between cool white and neutral white light (most manufacturers do not give you a choice). Cool white is more reliable for self-defence in the dark and serves as a ‘guiding star’. On the other hand, neutral white is gentler and protects the eyes. The choice is yours, depending on what you want to use this flashlight for. It comes with a stainless steel clip to clip onto pockets, belts or anywhere you want to clip it on to, spare O-rings to ensure your flashlight stays completely waterproof, a sturdy holster for protection to protect your flashlight, and a lanyard – complete piece of mind that you can carry this flashlight however you want.
We found it almost impossible to fault this flashlight. At under $50, it’s an absolute bargain when you take into consideration the many different uses you can get from it. It can even stand on its tail – we envisage many uses for that. The only very minor issue we had was that we found with certain brands of CR123’s, the flashlight would turn off on its own after about a minute on the ‘turbo’ (1050 lumen) mode. This didn’t happen with all CR123’s we tried, and didn’t happen with any 18650 batteries. Also, when using an 18650 battery, we couldn’t find any difference between the high (800 lumens) mode and the turbo (1050 lumens) mode. Using CR123’s however, the turbo mode was definitely brighter. Having said that, even at 800 lumens, this flashlight is very bright, so we didn’t really care all that much. It is the best EDC flashlight for anyone who worries that their lifestyle is too ‘rough and ready’ for an EDC flashlight to handle – it’s practically indestructible.
Fenix Flashlights E12 130-Lumen Flashlight
This EDC flashlight uses one AA battery (included with flashlight – can use alkaline or NiMH) and will give a maximum lumen factor of 130 lumens with a 289 feet reach. It has three modes; low (8 lumen), medium (50 lumens) and the high mode at 130 lumens. It is made using aircraft grade aluminium, and is rated IPX8 which means it is waterproof when submerged beyond 1 metre continuously, which makes this a robust flashlight. The aluminium is also hard-anodized with an anti-abrasive finish. It is a tiny 3.5 inches in length, making it the shortest flashlight on our list of the best EDC flashlight options, and is only 0.5 inches in width, making it the slimmest flashlight too.
Handling is simple with the tail cap switch, which controls all the functions on this flashlight; simply push the switch to turn it on and then little clicks will cycle through the different modes. It boasts a digitally regulated output and a high-efficiency total reflection lens, which mean it can maintain constant brightness and has reverse polarity protection, which protects from improper battery installation. The manufacturers back this flashlight up with a lifetime guarantee, and it comes with an extra O-ring and a lanyard.
This is a sturdy little flashlight that can handle most things that are thrown at it. It’s so small it can be carried very easily on a lanyard, though we wish it had a removable clip for anyone who wanted to clip it onto a belt or pocket. We noticed there are some issues with centring the beam with this flashlight. We found the beam to be almost elliptical, so if beam quality is important to you, this may not be the best EDC flashlight for your needs. However, for the price (under $26) you get a very robust flashlight that is tiny enough for you to carry anywhere.
Ultrafire® Cree 7W 300LM Mini LED One Mode Flashlight
This is the most budget priced flashlight on the list of best EDC flashlight options, being sold for under $5, and uses one AA battery. Despite the low price, it has a CREE Q5 Led light that has lifetime of 100,000 hours, and can achieve a lumen factor of 400 lumens. However will only be able to achieve this with rechargeable 3.7 volt batteries. It is made from aluminium alloy casing and the manufacturer’s state that it is waterproof, but do not give an IPX rating. It comes with a steel body clip to attach to pockets or belts.
The unique selling point for this EDC flashlight, according to the manufacturers, is that it’s a ‘zoomable flashlight’, which means you can adjust the focus and zoom in and out. Dimensions are 5.3 inches in length and 1.6 inches in width, making it the second longest flashlight on our list, and the widest.
We were quite pleased with how bright the light was on this EDC flashlight, but quality is an issue. The zoom function is inconsistent; we found the zoom to be tight, making it difficult to adjust the focus. It is a mini flashlight, so it does not give great coverage over distance, but we can’t fault the manufacturer for that as this was not what it was designed to do. We don’t believe it is completely waterproof, considering no IPX rating is given, so we recommend anyone who buys this EDC flashlight to think of it as ‘splash proof’. Also, the body casing feels robust, but we wonder if it would be up to any serious wear and tear. Having said all of that, for under $5, this is a great little flashlight. At this price, you can buy several of these and stash them in different bags, areas around the home……anywhere, and you’ll never be too far from a flashlight! So if you just need a cheap flashlight to keep around, this is perhaps the best EDC flashlight option for you.
Our best EDC flashlight choice:
Our reviewed list of the best EDC flashlight options range from the cheapest at under $5 to just under $50, and your choice will ultimately come down to your budget, as well as what you plan on using your flashlight for, and where you are likely to store and use it. Let’s quickly recap on the 5 best EDC flashlight options:
The Streamlight 88031 Protac Tactical Flashlight is our second most expensive flashlight, but considering how robust it is, with its anodized aluminium construction, shock resistant from a drop of 2 metres, and an IPX7 rating, this EDC flashlight will last many years. It uses two CR123A batteries, has a maximum lumen factor of 250 and a useful strobe mode to disorientate would-be attackers. It is 4.7 inches in length, and a very skinny 0.8 inches in width.
The Coast HP1 Focusing LED Flashlight is our second cheapest EDC flashlight coming in at under $10. Constructed in aluminum that has been anodized black, it uses one AA battery and states it can achieve 220 lumen as maximum output, although we only managed 193 lumens using a Li-Ion battery (other batteries gave a lower lumen factor). There is no strobe function, although this flashlight can produce useful beam patterns. Beam ‘throw’ would be better if the LED light had a reflector. Dimensions are 4.1 inches length with a width of 1 inch. This EDC flashlight is sold as water and shock resistant, but we can’t find an IPX rating, or a test done for shock resistance from a height, so we expect it to be able to handle normal wear and tear, but this would not be the best EDC flashlight for anyone who spends time in the great outdoors. We had issues trying to find a split ring small enough to fit through the tiny lanyard hole, and using the flashlight for an hour on Li-Ion batteries is known to cause it to get too hot. However, for under $10 this is a good EDC flashlight for general use.
The ThruNite TN12 2014 Edition 1050 Lumen Single CREE XM-L2 U2 LED EDC Flashlight is our most expensive EDC flashlight on the list, but you really do get your money’s worth! Made from aircraft-grade aluminium with a hard anodized finish, it boasts an eye-watering 1050 maximum lumen output with an additional strobe mode as well, to disorientate attackers. It uses one 18650 battery, or two CR123A – we preferred it with two CR123A batteries, as with the 18650 battery we could not achieve the maximum 1050 lumen factor for the turbo and strobe modes. Still, even the second highest mode of 800 lumen gave a very bright light. This is an extremely robust flashlight, boasting an IPX8 rating and shock resistant from a drop of 2 metres. Dimensions are 5.6 inches in length, making it the longest EDC flashlight on our list, and it is 1 inch wide. It also has extras not usually seen on EDC flashlights, such as the ability to stand on its tail, a very low 0.3 lumen ‘firefly’ mode, and the option to choose between neutral white and cool white. Add to that the extras you get (steel clip, lanyard, holster and O-rings) and you have a flashlight that you can depend on for many years, no matter how active your lifestyle is.
The Fenix Flashlights E12 130-Lumen Flashlight is our mid-priced EDC flashlight, using one AA battery and giving a maximum lumen rating of 130 lumens. This is our tiniest EDC flashlight, being only 3.5 inches in length and 0.5 inches in width. Despite that, it is still decently robust as it is made from aircraft-grade aluminium and has an IPX8 rating. The beam is rather elliptical, with issues of being able to centre the beam, and we would have liked a removable clip with this flashlight. But this a fantastic flashlight for anyone who wants a very small option that they can carry on a lanyard every day.
The Ultrafire® Cree 7W 300LM Mini LED One Mode Flashlight is our most keenly priced EDC flashlight, costing under $5. It only has one mode of 400 lumen (although we could only achieve this with 3.7 volt rechargeable batteries). Its USP is the ability to adjust focus and zoom in/out. It is made from aluminium alloy casing and the manufacturer claim it is waterproof. With no IPX rating, we would recommend you consider this as ‘splash proof’. This is the second longest EDC flashlight on our list with a length of 5.3 inches, and our widest flashlight with a width of 1.6 inches, but still compact enough to carry around every day. Zooming in and out can be a little problematic, but for the price we can’t complain.
So which is the best EDC flashlight?
The best EDC flashlight for you depends on what you want the EDC flashlight for. If you have an outdoorsy lifestyle, the Ultrafire or the Coast HP1 will not be the best EDC flashlight options for your needs. If you can stretch to it, the best EDC flashlight for you has to be the ThruNite. It will never let you down. The Streamlight Protac is also a good flashlight to consider, although the ThruNite does outperform it in every aspect. Also, if you want a strobe function to disorientate attackers, again you need to choose between the ThruNite and Streamlight Protac. If you want the smallest possible EDC flashlight that you can carry on a lanyard, then the best EDC flashlight will be Fenix flashlight – you may forget you even have it on! Despite its size, it is still very robust and will give you many years of use.
For us, if we had to spend money on a new flashlight, the best EDC flashlight is the ThruNite TN12. This particular flashlight has been a favorite of flashlight enthusiast for some time, and the re-release of this design in 2014 only served to increase its popularity. The ability of this lamp to use multiple battery types, in addition with the attention to detail found it in its design, makes it stand out. The new featured side switch, which allows for simple toggling between modes, has transformed a great flashlight into a fantastic flashlight. Although all of these lights have something to offer, the TN12 sets itself apart in a number of ways, establishing itself as the best EDC flashlight on the market.
What Do You Think – What Is The Best EDC Flashlight?
As always, there will always be different opinions on what is the best EDC flashlight! If you have an opinion on what the best EDC flashlight is, please feel free to share your thoughts on what is the best EDC flashlight in the comments section below.