After essential basics such as a wallet, keys, phone and EDC knife, finding the best EDC flashlight is an important element of developing your every day carry kit. Having a good flashlight can improve survivability in many situations in addition to it being highly useful in normal everyday circumstances. There are a lot of EDC lights on the market and it can be confusing to find the best EDC flashlight for your personal needs. Here we will help your search by showing our Top 10 and give our picks for the best overall, entry level, and mid level EDC flashlights. We will also discuss what qualities to look for when finding the best EDC flashlight for your needs including features, lumens, beam types, switch variations, and more.
Best EDC Flashlight: Our Top 10
EDC Flashlight Basics
Whatever EDC flashlights you consider you should be aware of these basic qualities when determining which one is best.
How Many Lumens Does your EDC Flashlight Need?
Most flashlights will describe how many lumens the light produces in their packaging or product descriptions. It is important to know what this means as it is a great way to perform an apples-to-apples comparison of the most basic function of an EDC light which is providing illumination. A lumen is the unit of measure of the total amount of visible light produced by a source. Basically, how bright the flashlight is. The more lumens it can produce the brighter the beam will be.
Basic flashlights are 10 lumens and high end search and rescue lights can be in excess of 18,000 lumens. A typical EDC flashlight will be in the 50-100 lumen range but focus on what you are likely to use your light for when deciding how many lumens you actually need.
What is the best type of lamp for your EDC flashlight?
Since the invention of the flashlight incandescent globes have been shedding light into the dark corners of our lives. However in recent years LED (Light Emitting Diode) flashlights have begun to take over this role. LED lights are particularly favored for every day carry kits because they offer greater efficiency, better battery consumption, greater brightness, and far better impact resistance than old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.
What is the best battery type for an EDC flashlight?
Most commercially available flashlights use either a AA or CR123 battery. While the AA is the tried and true old guard the CR123 is a more recently available challenger.
AA Batteries for your EDC Flashlight
AA batteries have been around for many years and have been a reliable source of power for a great many gadgets. AA batteries are based on an Alkaline cell technology that is tried and true. AA’s are typically cheaper and more widely available than newer batteries as well as being a smaller diameter and longer in size.
CR123 Batteries for Your EDC Flashlight
CR123 batteries are based on Lithium cell technologies and are able to provide greater energy storage and output allowing for a brighter, longer lasting flashlight in most cases. CR123 batteries are however more expensive and less readily available than AA’s and although they are shorter in length they are a wider diameter. Because of this flashlights using CR123 batteries are typically more compact but fatter than ones using AA’s. CR123 batteries are also typically lighter (.6oz for CR123 vs .9oz for AA) which can result in a lighter flashlight overall. Lithium cell batteries also provide higher performance at cold temperatures.
Which battery is best?
This depends on what you are looking for. If you want a light that uses a battery that is easily scavengable in a survival scenario AA is probably best for you. If performance and weight reduction are paramount to you CR123 is the way to go.
What is the best EDC flashlight size?
As with most EDC gear smaller is better. No one wants to carry anything heavy or bulky with them as part of their every day carry kit. The best EDC flashlights can typically provide a high amount of illumination while staying under 4″ long. The tradeoff for having a tiny EDC light is that you will have less space inside to fit a battery so you can lose some power in finding the smallest possible flashlight. This is an important tradeoff to consider and you will have to strike a balance when finding the best EDC flashlight for you.
Tough as nails
If you are carrying this light with you every day it will get its fair share of bumps and drops as time passes. Because of this it is important to find a well-made light that can stand up to real life use. Buying a cheap light that looks fancy may impress some people but having a reliable workhorse will pay off when the time comes to use it in a survival scenario.
Best EDC Flashlight: Overall Pick
With a scorching 850 lumen output this light is practically a lightsaber. That level of illumination is effective for tactical usage and any basic task that you could throw at it. This lumen output is even more impressive given the flashlight’s sub-$100 price tag. The Fenix PD35 has 6 output options for outstanding versatility and weighs in at a paltry 3oz. If having a reliable, extremely bright light is essential to your EDC kit, this is the one for you.
Best EDC Flashlight: Mid-Range Pick
The Olight S10 is a compact powerhouse. It’s tiny size (2.7×1.9 inches) and miniscule weight (2.4 oz) make it ideal for a lightweight EDC kit. The Olight S10 packs 320 lumens into this tiny package and can cycle through its 5 pre-programmed modes of high, medium, low, moonlight, and strobe. All that versatility stuffed in a tiny package makes this flashlight an easy choice at the $50 price point that it generally retails for.
Best EDC Flashlight: Entry Level Pick
The Fenix E11 is a gem in the entry level EDC flashlight field. It is reasonably priced in the sub-$35 range and produces 115 lumens in a compact package that makes it perfect for a keychain light. Add the versatility of being able to accept AA batteries and you have a real winner in a basic light.
Best EDC Flashlight Features To Look For
You never know what conditions you will need to use your EDC flashlight in. However if it comes to needing illumination in driving rain or during a flood having a light that is not waterproof is about as useful as not having one at all. Most quality lights will be rated as waterproof or at minimum water resistant. This is typically rated using a IPX code which identifies water resistance testing and capabilities (see the chart below). The bottom line is if you are looking at a flashlight for EDC purposes and it is not listed as being waterproof, move on to another option.
A metal body flashlight will be tougher and be able to take more abuse than a plastic one. This is important as your flashlight will likely receive some knocks, drops, and bumps as you carry it from day to day. Selecting a metal flashlight will result in a longer lasting tool that is functional when you need it.
As with any item on your EDC list you want something that provides the greatest utility at the lowest weight. No one wants to be carrying around an anchor in their pocket, purse or EDC bag. When selecting the best EDC flashlight for your kit you can keep weight down by selecting a small light or one made of lightweight materials such as aluminum or titanium. Choosing a flashlight with a CR123 type battery is also a smart way to save weight. Look for a light that weighs less than 5 oz to keep your pockets light.
LED Light Source
As we mentioned above incandescent light bulbs are a thing of the past. LED lights offer a great many advantages including:
- Longer life
- Greater efficiency
- Greater brightness
- Impact resistance
The best EDC flashlights on the market all use LED technology. This is the direction the industry has been moving in for years and prices have come down significantly since the introduction of LED lights. Choosing an LED based light for your EDC flashlight is a no-brainer at this point.
We reviewed the 2 main types of batteries used in EDC flashlights but there are a few more specialized options out there as well. My choice for my EDC light is to go with CR123. The advantages as listed above are just too many not choose this one. I do however suggest stocking an alkaline (A or D sized) powered battery in a bug out bag. The reason for this is that I anticipate using an EDC flashlight for short term emergencies or get-home purposes. For longer term scenarios such as having to survive on what you can hunt, gather, and scavenge for days/weeks/months a consumable battery that is easier to find than the CR123. Alkaline batteries meet this test.
Best EDC Flashlight Battery Type Verdict:
- EDC flashlight – CR123 battery
- Bug Out Bag Flashlight – AA or D batteries
Having an adjustable beam greatly increases the versatility of your EDC flashlight. Being able to choose to illuminate a wide area when conducting a search and then changing to a narrow beam for signaling or tactical scenarios will make sure your EDC light meets any need you may have.
Some flashlights come with multiple modes available beyond the ability to shine a plain beam. While this is not a requirement when picking the best EDC flashlight for you it is a highly useful feature to have. Common flashing programs are an SOS pattern and strobe. Both are invaluable when trying to signal teammates or a search party.
Just about any quality EDC flashlight will have SOME attachment options. This may be a pocket clip, lanyard loop, carabiner clip, or keyring. Make sure whatever option the EDC light you choose is compatible for how you intend to carry it. Even the best EDC flashlight will bring frustration if you can’t carry it that way you want.
Like an attachment option make sure the switch your EDC flashlight uses is compatible with the way you intend to carry it. Most importantly make sure that the switch, twist collar, button, etc is reliable and will not turn on while in your pocket or bag. Nothing is worse than opening up your bag and seeing the weak yellow glow of a dying battery right when you need to use your flashlight.
Best EDC Flashlight Features To Avoid
Short battery life
This comes down to the lamp used being appropriate to the power source. While it is awesome for a light to shine brighter than the sun when you turn it on this appeal can easily be killed if the battery dies after 10 minutes. High quality EDC flashlights will list their typical run time in their product descriptions. Longer is better, choose wisely.
While there are some good plastics out there they are simply never going to be as robust as a metal flashlight. If you are going to be carrying this light with you EVERY DAY be sure to pick one that is constructed of materials that are tough enough to survive the day to day wear and tear so it is functional when you need it.
We have spoken above about the advantages of choosing an LED light over an incandescent. At this point LEDs are widely available enough that an incandescent light shouldn’t be on anyone’s radar for an EDC light. They are generally dimmer and cannot survive a bang or fall as well. LED all the way.
Parting Advice: How To Pick The Best EDC Flashlight For Your Needs
As you can see there are a lot of options out there when trying to find the best EDC flashlight for you. When conducting your search it it best to determine first what situations are you most likely to use your EDC light in? Do you frequently walk at night either outside or in parking garages? Does your profession cause you to encounter many low or no light scenarios? Are you just looking for a light for the just in case scenario in the back of your mind?
Figuring these questions out will help you narrow down the options. Remember the basics of finding a reliable light that is comfortable to carry around with you on an everyday basis. Don’t skimp on quality and look for features and carry options that fit with your specific needs. Feel free to refer to our top 10 picks and category winners that are listed above to get you started in your search.