Best Survival Flashlight
Essential for Each Emergency Kit
When your house suddenly goes black because of a power outage, or you find yourself marooned in a rain storm, or you’re simply late getting out of a meeting and have a large dimly-lighted parking lot to cross in order to get to your car . . . you want a good flashlight!
Any flashlight is probably better than none, but what is the BEST one to have?
As always, the best flashlight depends on what you need.
- Do you need a very bright narrow beam to be able to repair broken machinery?
- Do you need a wide, broad beam to show all the places where someone could be hiding?
- Do you want your flashlight to be so lightweight that you carry it all the time?
- Do you consider your flashlight to be a weapon?
- Do you need a flashlight whose batteries are easy to change – even wearing gloves?
Let’s look at the features you’ll need to consider.
Assume you will be looking at an LED (light-emitting diode) flashlight. LED flashlights last longer, weigh less, don’t get hot, and are smaller and sturdier than the incandescent lights we grew up with. Above all, they are brighter. So look for the LED description!
Light output is measured in lumens. It can vary from as low as 19 lumens, for a simple all-purpose light to wear around your neck on a lanyard, to as high as 3,000 lumens for so-called “tactical” flashlights. In our experience, the minimum you want for your survival kit is 200 lumens, and 500 or more is preferable. As you can imagine, the more power the more the flashlight costs – BUT IT’S NOT THE CASE OF A SIMPLE PROGRESSION. Be sure to comparison shop!
The reflector around the bulb determines whether all the light is focused in one narrow beam, or whether it spreads out more like a flood light. What you need the light for determines what shape beam you like.
News alert! Some LED flashlights allow you to adjust the beam by zooming in or out. Keep reading. . .!
Batteries help determine the weight of the flashlight, its cost, and its overall convenience. Having to replace batteries frequently can be a nuisance as well as expensive, but you can easily keep extras at hand. Most flashlights still use AA, AAA, C or even D cell disposable batteries. (A big flashlight with D batteries can be a formidable personal defense weapon.)
Rechargeable batteries last longer and are more convenient as long as you have recharge capability (from your computer, an electrical outlet or a solar panel, or a hand crank). These batteries do cost more.
For your survival kit, the best power source is likely to be a rechargeable battery.
The best flashlights are no longer simply on or off. As mentioned above, they may be zoomed in or out for less or more light. They may have a low beam and a high beam, both of which may be zoomed. They may have two or more modes: a solid white beam, a blinking white beam (strobe) for signaling, a blinking red beam, or even a blink pattern that sends out an SOS in Morse code.
More modes typically mean more switches and circuitry and thus more expense.
Other features you may look for include . . .
- A design with one flat side so the flashlight doesn’t roll when it’s set down on a flat surface
- Extra heavy duty or water resistant case depending on how you’ll use the flashlight
- Wrist-strap or specially designed grip
We own many flashlights, and seem to keep trying new ones.
- We like to give small, inexpensive flashlights as gifts or as rewards (“Use this to start your emergency kit!”).
- I have a couple of compact, light-weight flashlights that fit in my briefcase and purse.
- In our cars we carry large, heavy-weight flashlights that could be used to break a window as well as find a disconnected fuse or wire in the engine compartment.
- Every room in our house has a simple 200 lumen or more light tucked in a handy place. (Remember, we’re in earthquake country!)
- And finally, our recommendations for the BEST flashlights for your survival kit —
The variety pack
If you want to compare and test, the best collection of flashlights we’ve found in one kit, taking into consideration brightness, power, beam options and price, is this one:
Feit LED Flashlight Kit | 3-pack with Case | 1000, 500, 250 Lumens | Slide Zoom | Batteries Included
- The largest FEIT flashlight light switches from 250 lumens low-beam up to 1000 lumens high-beam, and has an impressive, sliding zoom as well as strobe and SOS options. (All white, no red.) This flashlight takes D batteries and is quite heavy; you’ll want to use the wrist strap.
- The middle-sized light is the one Joe is holding in the photo. (He has very big hands so as you compare sizes, keep that in mind!) This flashlight also has a low (160 lumens) and high (500 lumens) setting, the zoom, strobe and SOS. It takes C batteries.
- The small flashlight (AAA batteries) switches from 78 lumens to 250 lumens and has the zoom feature, too. (No strobe.) This one is small enough and light enough to carry in a pocket or purse.
The 3-in-one kit is heavy because it comes with all the necessary batteries. The expected life of the batteries varies depending on how high you set the power.
The one drawback common to these three flashlights – common to many – is that they are perfectly round. No non-roll feature.
We got our kit at Costco, and were glad to see it at Amazon so it’s more widely available.
The all-time single favorite
A couple of years ago we discovered this flashlight and have purchased several over the years. It’s Techlite’s 200 Lumen Master model. (Techlite has new flashlights of different power and with different design, so what I am describing here refers ONLY to the 200 model.) It’s the flashlight on the left in the photo, the one with the wrist strap.
I like its size and how it fits easily into my hand or pocket. I also feel very comfortable carrying the light in the dark, knowing that the design of the rim, with cutouts and sharp surfaces, turns it into somewhat of a weapon.
This model also has flat surfaces to keep the light from rolling when it’s placed on a flat surface.
Here’s the link; there are options there for buying more than one.
(Little Monster) High Power Techlite Lumen Master Tactical LED (Cree) Flashlight, Weather Proof, Compact Size, and Impact Resistant with Strobe Function Great as a Self Defense Tool
Check out both these recommendations and compare carefully before you buy. But get the flashlights you need – several for the house (We have one in every room.), one for each car and one for each emergency kit.
This is essential emergency gear!
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team