Best Rechargeable Flashlights
How many times in your life have you thought to yourself, “man, I could really use a flashlight?” Whether you enjoy camping or hiking, work in tight spaces a lot, or even endure a power outage, there are many reasons to why you may eventually need one. But, this guide is not going to look at any old type of flashlight. Nope, instead, this is going to focus solely on rechargeable models. Whether they need to be charged via a USB port or require special rechargeable batteries, all types qualify for this list. And, as you will see, there are several highly-impressive options out there that are loaded with features and some that can really endure a beating.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 2.25 hrs of research
Can adjust from wide to a narrow beam
Features five different output settings
Designed to be tough and reliable
- Anker Tactical
- Fenix RC11
- Olight SR52UT
- Streamlight Protac HL5-X
- ThruNite TN32
- Streamlight Strion HL
- Maglite RL1019
- Streamlight Pro Tac HL-X
- Stanley Fatmax
- Olight XM-L2
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST RECHARGEABLE FLASHLIGHTS
1. Anker Tactical
Can adjust from wide to a narrow beam
Features five different output settings
Designed to be tough and reliable
For older folks, it can be a bit complicated to operate
What is amazing is this combines sensational technology at an affordable price. In this modern day and age, that is a combination that is becoming increasingly rarer.Read more
Not only can you switch between five different intensity levels (from low to high and strobe and SOS) but you can also adjust the beam from wide to narrow. On top of the fact that this is a pocket-friendly compact design, the anti-slip finish fits well into your hands and offer comfortable ergonomics.
For the price, the craftsmanship is astounding. First off, the body is made of extra-hard anodized aluminum to resist chipping and scratching and secondly, the entire device is waterproof per IP65 standards.
This is advertised to sweep light over the length of two football fields (which would be roughly 660 feet). And, at its highest setting, this can output 900 lumens of light.
In around six hours, this can be recharged. And, while the battery life will depend on the intensity level, this can run for up to six hours on medium.
No, this is not on the top of this list due to the price. It is at the top because of its quality. But, it just so happens that it is not expensive. What a value this is.
2. Fenix RC11
It is waterproof per IPX-8 standards
There are five brightness levels
A low-voltage warning system is built-in
The side button needs to be held to be turned on
No matter how you want to assess the RC11 from Fenix, it excels in virtually every area possible. One minor (and it really is minor) annoyance prevents this from taking the top spot, though.Read more
Specific technology has been implemented to prevent the RC11 from overheating, which is nice. In addition to this, there are five different lighting modes (turbo, high, medium, low and eco). Even for slightly smaller hands, this is going to be a great fit for most people. Plus, the texture enhances your grip when handling.
The RC11 is built like a rock and is as solid as ever. Additionally, the body is waterproof per IPX-8 standards (which means it can actually be submerged in water).
At its maximum, this can deliver 1000 lumens of light with a 208-yard throw. This is with turbo mode and if you needed it, this can deliver light from a great distance.
In theory, you could run this for up to 135 hours (but that would solely be in eco mode). The battery life is significantly decreased when using this in either high and turbo.
Wow, is this impressive or what? This is not only referring to its straight-up performance but also because of its features and its impeccable waterproof rating.
3. Olight SR52UT
The system prevents improper battery installation
Designed with hard anodized aluminum
Can deliver a far and bright beam of light
Could be more design features integrated
Good luck finding much wrong with this next model. In addition to sporting impressive specifications, the SR52-UT is also built like a beast with hard anodized aluminum.Read more
Olight designed their SR52-UT model with three different brightness levels (plus a strobe mode). The modes include low, medium and high. As for comfort, not only does the texture allow you to grip this easier but the body is designed to allow for enhanced heat dissipation (for better breathability).
As with many other top-end flashlights in the world, this utilizes a hard anodized aluminum body that will resist chipping and scratching.
When you need it, this can produce the goods. At its peak, the SR52-UT can emit 1100 lumens of light with a beam distance of 800 meters.
On the body of this model, there is a USB port and it is used for charging. This is very convenient as it makes it very versatile when you need to provide it more juice.
Not enough can be said to describe the brilliance of this design. If you are serious about your needs, then you need to think deeply about investing in the SR52-UT.
4. Streamlight Protac HL5-X
Designed with a ten-tap programmable switch
The rubber grip is fantastic
Can achieve incredible brightness levels
Charging the batteries is more of a hassle than it should be
Streamlight has designed some of the best flashlights the world has ever seen and their ProTac series is arguably their best. This model, which is the HL5-X, is perhaps the best example of the company’s greatness.Read more
This design is a bit different. Streamlight designed their ProTac model with a ten-tap programmable switch and it allows you to switch between three different programs. One really nice feature of this model is the rubber sleeve as it not only adds thermal insulation but also an improved grip when you are handling it.
Let’s just say the HL5-X is built to last. It is waterproof down to one-meter, impact-resistant for one-meter and also designed with anodized aluminum.
As some users have claimed, this is wicked bright. When used at its highest setting, this can deliver 3500 lumens of light.
You can prolong the life of this battery for up to 11.5 hours (at its lowest setting). Or, if used in one of the higher modes, it will last around one to three hours on a single charge.
The fact that this is not in the top three of this list says a little something. After all, on virtually any other list, this would easily be top three (maybe even top two).
5. ThruNite TN32
The performance is incredible
The build quality is up-to-par
Overheating is not going to be an issue
Pretty large and bulky
Turbo mode can’t be instantly accessed
Without question, this is known for its performance. As it is a thrower, the beam of light it achieves is incredible and can reach distances of up to 1550 meters.Read more
All in all, there are seven different light modes you can switch between (which is really impressive). But, it would have been nice to be able to switch instantly to turbo mode. Though this is not a dealbreaker, as you can see from the photos, it is a bit bulky and large. As such, it can tiresome to hold it for extended periods.
Most reviewers have agreed that the build quality of this design is great. In fact, it is actually specially designed for self-defense and military situations.
As mentioned, this lives and dies with its performance. It is able to reach 1550 meters and emit 2000 lumens of light. That combination is utterly fantastic.
Thanks to the built-in fast-charging system, this can be recharged in less than three hours. As for the battery pack, it has a capacity of 6800mAh.
ThruNite is not fooling around with their design here. It is pretty simple; if you need a rechargeable flashlight that can deliver insane brightness and coverage then you need this.
6. Streamlight Strion HL
Features an anodized aluminum body
Rated to be waterproof per IPX4 standards
Offers three intensity modes
Some buyers have had longevity issues
The Strion HL from Streamlight is not nearly as bright as their other offering on this list but it still delivers the goods and should satisfy the needs of most consumers.Read more
While this is not overflowing with design features, it does offer three intensity modes (in addition to a separate strobe mode). To ensure a more secure grip, this has been outfitted with a knurled body. As with most Streamlight flashlights, this is going to be comfortable to operate.
The Strion HL has been tested with a two-meter impact-resistance rating and this is thanks to its anodized aluminum body. Also, this sports a waterproof rating of IPX4.
As opposed to some of the other options on this list, the 500-lumen max rating of this is actually low. Still, it is quite bright and can cover 200 meters of beam distance.
Overall, the battery life is okay. Even on low, this is only going to last around three to four hours on a single charge. It could be improved, let’s just say that.
In regard to technical specifications, this is admittedly a bit limited. Of course, do not act as if this is incapable of delivering bright light as that is simply not the case.
7. Maglite RL1019
It is both compact and sleek
Ideal for rugged use
Can adjust from spot to flood
A few users claim it is still not as well-built as others
Due to the fact that the RL1019 is National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) certified, it can be used in the military or law-enforcement fields.Read more
In addition to the multiple intensity modes you can switch between, this also gives you the ability to adjust the beam from spot to flood with a 1/4-turn of the head. Due to the sleek nature of the handle, this is incredibly comfortable to hold for longer periods of time.
Though this is NTOA certified, drop-resistant, and water-resistant per IPX4 standards, there have been reviewers who have felt the build quality could still be improved.
Full power can yield up to 643 lumens and while that is not the highest on this list, it is still a pretty large lumen output.
To charge this system, you can do so at home or in your car (as included is a 120-volt converter and a 12-volt DC cigarette lighter adapter).
Overall, this is an excellent choice and that really goes without saying. The competition is fierce with this technology so this does not stand out too much, however.
8. Streamlight Pro Tac HL-X
You can use two battery types
Designed with an aluminum housing
Sports a removable pocket clip and holster
The battery life has been criticized
Being able to adjust the width of the beam would have been nice
It is almost easy to assume that any model from Streamlight is going to be amazing and when it comes to straight performance that is indeed what the ProTac HL-X is.Read more
Much like the other ProTac model on this list, the HL-X is designed with the same ten-tap programming. Also, the tactical cap switch allows for continuous or momentary operation. Besides offering a textured grip, the HL-X does a good job at preventing overheating (which will also help to prevent your hand from feeling clammy while holding this).
The IPX7 waterproof rating is one of the better ones on the market and the HL-X can be submerged in water. Also, the anodized aluminum housing adds impact-resistance and overall durability.
For sure, the intense beam that this produces can pierce straight through the darkness. At its peak, this bad boy can emit 1000 lumens of light.
There have been quite a few users that have claimed the battery life of this unit is garbage. That said, you can use two different battery types which is nice.
Out of all the offerings on this list from Streamlight, the HL-X is the worst. Looking at this design at saying it is the worst should tell you something about Streamlight.
9. Stanley Fatmax
Includes both DC and AC charging adapters
Shines a very bright beam of light
The collapsible stand provides hands-free operation
It is not well-balanced
The switch can be touchy
If you are looking specifically for a spotlight then you should really look into this model from Stanley. It is a part of their FatMax line of tools and it delivers the goods.Read more
Admittedly, the FatMax is a bit limited when it comes to operation modes. The user can choose between high and low and that is just about it. The good news is the pistol-grip handle offers comfortable control. The bad news is this is not well-balanced. Too much weight is in the front and it makes it top-heavy.
Though this seems to be constructed very well, it is specifically noted that it is not intended to be submerged in water.
At its core, the FatMax thrives in performance. Not only can it travel incredibly far distances but the beam of light can also reach 920 lumens in intensity.
If you were to run this on low, you could squeeze out roughly seven hours of battery life. This is shortened to just one hour if used on high the entire time.
Stanley is another seller that you know you can trust due to their history. In spite of its issues, the FatMax is another solid showing from them and a high-quality tool.
10. Olight XM-L2
Can be used as a magnet
Overheating will not be a concern
Very compact for travel purposes
Many buyers feel it is overpriced
The battery life has been criticized
At the surface, this almost appears to be a kid’s toy based on its size. But, oh boy, it is much more than a kid’s toy as it sports advanced technology in a compact design.Read more
All in all, there are three standard modes and two special modes integrated into the XM-L2. Additionally, the flat tail cap design and the magnet ensure this can be placed on magnetic surfaces. As for comfort, in reality, this may be too compact for some people. There is no getting around it, this is small and can be odd to control if you have larger hands.
Due to the aluminum alloy body with an anti-scratch Type-III hard anodized coating, this will be able to hold up to some abuse.
It is quite shocking that a flashlight of this size can deliver such high outputs of light. But, it can and can produce 500 lumens at its maximum.
You can power this unit with rechargeable CR123 batteries but be prepared to charge them quite frequently.
In large part to the size, the XM-L2 is probably not going to be many peoples top choice. But, it can pack a punch so do not question its effectiveness.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Though some models can be simple in their functionality, others can come equipped with several different intensity modes and special modes.
The key to picking the right rechargeable flashlight for your needs comes down to many factors. But, undoubtedly, one of these factors is the design features. You see, some models will come equipped with various intensity modes and also the ability to alter the beam width. Not all of them will but the more features that are integrated, the more versatile the unit can be. Let’s start with the beam width, for example.
You have two main beam options and they are spot and flood. A flood beam is ideal for general tasks and is a single beam while the spot beam can be condensed into a spotlight. For some users, being able to switch between the two will be essential. As for the intensity modes, these will typically range from low to high (with some have an eco-mode). But, some models will have strobe and SOS modes built-in. A strobe mode can emit regular flashes of light and an SOS mode can be used as a distress signal when you are in danger. While not all of you will require all these modes, they can come in handy if plan to use your flashlight regularly.
Flashlights will typically be used outdoors and due to the nature of the outdoor world, it is ideal if the model you choose sports an excellent build.
Let’s just say that the best flashlights out there are built to last. This pretty much goes without saying but the top-end models are not made of cheap plastic or low-quality metal. Instead, they are typically made of aluminum that has been anodized. Anodizing itself is an electrochemical process and it basically increases the durability and corrosion-resistance of the aluminum. So, the body of the flashlight will sport a tough coating and will better resist scratches and nicks.
Also, there are two key resistance ratings you need to look for. Firstly is the impact-resistance and this is basically provided to determine if the model can survive accidental drops (and it is measured in meters). Secondly is the water-resistance and this is determined by the device’s IP rating. The IP rating (which will look something like this: “IP67”) is used to determine a product’s protection against dust and water. The second number is the water rating and the higher the number, the more resistant it is. Once a rating hits around IPX7 or IPX8, the device can safely be submerged in water (for a limited time at a limited depth).
Without question, the light emitted from the device itself needs to be able to meet the needs you have.
At the end of the day, there really is no debate when it comes to the type of bulbs you should look for in any type of lighting device. It is going to be LEDs every time and even though they are not kings in every area, they dominate in runtime and efficiency. Now that that is out of the way, let’s take a look at the two main specifications that you need to look for when determining the performance of a rechargeable flashlight (or any type, to be honest).
To begin, you need to assess the lumen rating. Lumens is one of the main measurements of emitted light and without going into the specifics, it is one of the most important ratings when assessing performance. If you really want a model that can deliver ultra-bright lighting, shoot for over 1000 lumens (with some models going above 2000 or 3000 lumens). Those that are under 1000 lumens can still get the job done but anything under 100 lumens is not going to emit that much light. The other specification is the beam distance or the throw. This is how far the light is actually going to travel before it diminishes to darkness. Some of the best units will have a beam distance of over 1000 meters (which is utterly amazing), while others will be around 100 to 200 meters (which is still great).
You can have a direct output on the battery life of any model out there but certain models will naturally be designed with superior batteries.
The power source of a rechargeable flashlight is obvious and no matter how it is achieved, they all utilize some sort of rechargeable battery. So, naturally, this means that the battery life is going to come to the forefront. But, it all depends on how you use the flashlight as this will determine how long it will run. Now, before we explain that further, do note that some models will still possess batteries that offer improved efficiency.
As you might expect, the runtime of a specific unit will be based solely on the intensity level of the beam of light. Clearly, if you were to run one on high or turbo the entire time, you will not get as much life as you would if you ran it on low. And, the difference in time can be astronomical (even as much as 20 hours). So, it is advisable that you limit the amount of time you utilize the highest setting. Unless you really need the light as bright as possible, do not use it and utilize the lower modes.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
For some people, a simple design that has one or two lighting modes will be sufficient. But, let’s be honest, that will not cut it for some of you. Thankfully, there are top-end models out there that are equipped with several design features. Some will come with the ability to change the width of the beam, as well as several intensity levels. Heck, some will even sport special modes such as strobe and SOS for emergency situations.
Given the nature of flashlights, it is mandatory to invest in a model that is well-built. Anything can happen while you are operating one and they can even be used in defense situations. All this adds up to the importance of build quality and this means you need to assess the design of the body and the waterproof rating. A body that is built with anodized aluminum and a core that is waterproof can pay dividends for you.
When choosing a flashlight you may want to look at the design and think about how else you can use it. A large, heavy, sturdy flashlight can also be used as a defense weapon or to break glass in the case of an emergency. With any size of light, you can also use the flashlight to send SOS signals.
Other Factors to Consider
This section is not going to be too strenuous and is pretty simple, all things considered. All you really need to do is to look for a model that offers decent ergonomics and a solid grip. It is not as if you will need to hold a flashlight (in most situations) for hours on end. But, even the small amount of time you need to operate it, ensure it is equipped with an anti-slip grip and a good balance of weight. Aluminum is a popular material for its lightweight nature, as well, and this is another reason you see the metal utilized.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What do you do if alkaline batteries leak into your flashlight?
If you know anything about alkaline batteries you know that they are they can leak and cause failure to the device that they leaked into. In fact, the number one cause of failure in flashlights that are powered via alkaline batteries is that they can leak. Now, what is nice is, typically, the manufacturer of the battery itself may accept responsibility for the leaking. But, if you are going to contact the seller, which you should, then you need to be sure that the caused damage is from battery leakage.
The basic way to find out is by trying to open the battery cap. If it has corroded and can’t be opened (or if it can be opened and the batteries are swollen and can’t be removed) then leakage has probably occurred.
q: Should you carry a tactical model?
No, this was not a guide put together to discuss or even focus on tactical flashlights. But, there are some tactical models that appeared on this list as some of them will employ rechargeable batteries. Now, do not think that you need to be in the military to own a tactical model because there are actually a few benefits to owning one.
To begin, it can be a very good defense weapon. Remember how the durability was discussed? Well, the same anodized aluminum used for durability can also be used as a weapon if need be. At the same time, the intensity of the light can blind the attacker. Of course, it can also be ideal if you use your flashlight regularly as tactical models are usually built to last.
q: How do you clean the inside?
Believe it or not, you may want to take some time to clean your flashlight now and then. To clean the inside, you will first need to disassemble the device and if you do not know how to do that then you can probably find tutorial videos online. Go ahead and clean away any dirt or grime with a microfiber cloth (or any fabric that is free of lint). To reach the tougher areas such as inside the threads, you can use a cotton swab. Of course, if you do this then ensure no fibers are left inside the threads.
q: Would an EMP destroy LEDs?
This is sort of an out-of-the-blue question but it is one that seems to get asked quite a bit around the web. To answer this, though, let’s first address what an EMP actually is. It is specifically known as an electromagnetic pulse and it is essentially a short burst of electromagnetic energy. Now, an EMP can occur naturally or via man and can cause some serious damage. The question is, though, would this damage the LEDs inside flashlights?
Due to the semiconductors that are used for LEDs and the short unused leads on LEDs, it is doubtful that it would have an impact or even happen. Basically, it is not a big enough problem for it to be a concern for you.
q: How long will LEDs last?
Anyone and everyone who is knowledgeable about lighting will inform you that LEDs are the way to go. It was discussed earlier but the main reason they are highly recommended is due to their lifespan. Each LED bulb can differentiate in its lifespan but the life expectancy for one in a flashlight is going to range from 50,000 to 100,000 hours. In other words, before the LEDs actually burn out, the other elements of the flashlight will wear down. Think about a car engine that can run for over 300,000 miles. It may last but the body around the vehicle will begin to break down.
q: So, how do you clean the outside?
You were informed of how to clean the inside of a rechargeable flashlight earlier. So, it only seems right to document how you clean the outside. The outside is a bit easier; mainly because you do not need to worry about disassembling any components. With a microfiber cloth in hand, go ahead and wipe away any dirt or grime that you notice on the exterior. If the body is made up of grooves, however, it may be easier for you to use either a bristle brush or a toothbrush to remove dirt.
Past the body, you also need to clean the lens. Much like with a camera, you want to keep the lens clean at all times to ensure optimal performance. With the same microfiber cloth, gently wipe down the lens to remove any dust (you will not need to push down very hard).
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