Best Flashlight for Camping & Backpacking Trips

Best Flashlight for Camping 

ThruNite Archer 2A V3

ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Cool White 500 Lumens AA LED Flashlight

The sheer laundry list of features packed into the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 is a veritable no-brainer choice for our overall winning model. From a power standpoint, offering a solid 500 lumens of light focused into a 2912 cd intense beam that extends 108 m, this is one bright flashlight.

In terms of convenience, you can carry this flashlight around your neck via the included lanyard or slip it onto your pockets with the detachable clip. You’ll barely notice the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 flashlight in your pack, weighing 48 g and is only 0.87″ thick.

This flashlight also comes equipped with a Cree LED XP-L V6 bulb that has a run time as short as 96 minutes for the bright mode up to a whopping 28 days for the firefly mode. The ThruNite Archer 2A V3 flashlight is durable with an IPX8 waterproof rating and a 1 m impact resistance.

Bottom Line: The ThruNite Archer 2A V3 flashlights provide plenty of lighting power, multiple convenience features, and the longest maximum battery run time out of any other option on our list.

The Best Camping Flashlights of 2020

Let there be light! We take the ambiguity out of choosing the best flashlight for your next camping trip with our in-depth review of the top models on the market!

Brian Connelly
Last Updated: May 31, 2020

Looking for the Best Camping Flashlights?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • What are the important features to consider
    • Reviews of nine of the best camping flashlights
    • Our unbiased #1 pick for the best camping flashlight

One of the most significant risks when camping is tripping or otherwise injuring yourself out in nature without an easy way to get serious medical attention if necessary. This risk increases markedly when the sun sets, and you lose your natural light source. As camping safety should be paramount, a good flashlight will help.

While lanterns and torches are great options, flashlights not only provide light to prevent injury but also help you in a multitude of other ways. Of course, camping flashlights require a different set of specs than traditional flashlights you might use at home with different types for different campers.

That is why we put together our list of the nine best camping flashlights, highlighting what each entry does well (and what it does poorly). We also provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you know which features work well for different types of camper.

How to Choose the Right Camping Flashlight for Your Needs

Brightness Levels & Beam Distance

This is easily one of the more important qualities to consider when choosing a camping flashlight, though you often only need to reach a certain level of brightness for most situations. While most brands will advertise the brightness in lumens, this does not tell the full story.

You also want to consider how focused or intense the light is, given in candelas (though some brands favor lux). 

It is also worth noting the beam distance which can help to navigate a dark trail or looking for lost gear at night.

Light Modes

Most flashlights come with at least three different settings of light intensity (low/medium/high) to provide the proper amount of light needed without blinding you in an enclosed space like your tent. 

Often manufacturers offer a couple of other different light modes that can be useful depending on your circumstances.

One of the most common and useful light modes commonly included in camping flashlights is a strobe or SOS setting that can be used to signal rescue teams or other party members. While less common, a lantern mode provides a significant amount of light across a more substantial area without it being too bright.

Weight & Size

The overwhelming majority of camping flashlights are compact and lightweight to make them easy to carry in your pocket. Even if you drive a vehicle and park it right next to your campsite, it is always good to keep a flashlight handy, and a lightweight, compact profile makes it easier to do so.

Battery Type

By and large, most camping flashlights use either a single AA or AAA battery, which makes finding and purchasing a replacement easy. Of course, if you want to bring replacements with you just in case, you ultimately add more weight to your carrying pack– a problem for backpackers.

Some flashlights also help save you money and maintenance by coming equipped with a rechargeable battery that often uses a USB port. 

Lastly, there are a few options out there that can be recharged by a solar panel or, if you want to go “oldskool,” are powered by a manual hand crank (useful as a backup in emergency situations).

Battery Run Time

So long as you keep up with the power reserve of your batteries and are careful about which setting you use, the battery run time should not be too much of an issue. On the other hand, if you need to use your flashlights for many hours at a time, the batteries duration becomes increasingly important.

There is no real standard run time for flashlight batteries with some of them lasting a little as 6 hours, and some of them lasting as long as a month. That said, the light setting heavily impacts a flashlight’s run time with few models that can run on the highest setting for more than a handful of hours before needing a recharge or replacing the batteries.

Durability & Water Resistance

When you look at flashlights, one number/acronym you’ll want to take a look at is the Ingress Protection Rating (IPX). This rating will give you an idea of the water resistance the device has – we would recommend that you look for products with a minimum rating of IPX4.

Another factor that might be important, especially if you are a backpacker or trekking, is impact resistance, providing some protection in case you drop the flashlight. 

Ultimately, you should also look for flashlights made from durable materials with anodized aircraft-grade aluminum, which provides not only a sturdy exterior but also rust and corrosion protection.

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The Best Camping Flashlights Reviewed

ThruNite Archer 2A V3

Best Camping Flashlight

ThruNite Archer 2A V3 Cool White 500 Lumens AA LED Flashlight

The ThruNite Archer 2A V3 is one of the more complete camping flashlights on our list with high marks across the board and no significant flaws, making it our top overall option we encountered. For example, 500 lumens is not the most powerful we saw, but it is still above average and also comes with a surprising 2912 cd intensity rating.

This combination of total light output with intensity provides the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 a substantial 108 m beam distance on the flashlight brightest setting. Even better, this camping flashlight also comes with five different light modes from low, medium, and high as well as a “firefly” and emergency strobe effect.

Beyond the standard specs, the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 flashlight comes with several “quality of life” features like a lanyard, detachable clip, non-slip texture, and two switches to prevent accidental activation. By far, one of its top qualities of this flashlight is the Cree XP-L V6 LED bulb, which allows for a run time anywhere from 96 minutes for the high setting to 28 days for the firefly setting.

Granted, all of these features are not necessarily cheap, and the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 flashlight is a moderately expensive model, though it still provides excellent value for what you pay. On top of that, this camping flashlight is 6.1″ long, which is o

  • PROs

    • Long battery life
    • Is more powerful
    • Is IPX8 water resistant
    • Only weighs 48g
  • CONs

    • Is more expensive
    • Large size – 6.1″ long
Bottom-Line: The ThruNite Archer 2A V3 camping flashlight comes with an excellent range of specs that meet or exceed industry standards and more features than almost any other option we reviewed.

Fenix E12

Best Value

Fenix E12 Flashlight Pocket-Sized bright flashlight 130 Lumens

Fenix is a company that specializes explicitly in flashlights, which allows them to provide all-around solid options that may not wow too much, but neither do they disappoint. A great example of this is with the Fenix E12 flashlight’s portability, with it being the second-lightest option on our list at only 28 g. This camping flashlight is also one of the most compact products we across as well at only 3 ⅗” x ½.” 

The Fenix E12 flashlight is more durable than some of its competitors, with a type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish running along the aircraft-grade aluminum.

To further provide even more durability, this flashlight is IPX8 water resistant, as well as impact resistance up to 1 m. The Cree LED XP-E2 bulb also offers a run time of 40 hours for the low setting, 6 ½ hours for the medium setting, and 1 ½ hours for the high setting– both of which rank near the top of our list.

Granted, likely a big part of that lengthy run time comes down to the Fenix E12 flashlight not being one of the more powerful models on our list, putting out only 130 lumens in an 88 m beam with only 1936 cd intensity. On top of that, this is another flashlight with a recessed tail switch but missing alternative switches or carrying accessories to make using it easier.

  • PROs

    • Long battery life
    • Is more durable
    • Is IPX8 water resistant
    • Is a cheaper option
  • CONs

    • Not the greatest brightness
    • Not the easiest
Bottom-Line: The Fenix E12 may not necessarily jump off of the page with any particular spec leading the charge, but it covers most of the bases reasonably well and mostly hovers around the middle of the pack.

Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 LED Mini Flashlight

Top Budget Flashlight for Camping

Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 LED Mini Flashlight, 80 Lumen Flashlight, Lantern, Signal Light in One, Blue

The Nite Ize offers a wide range of different quality camping gear at excellent prices, which allows the Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 flashlight to come in as an inexpensive option and our top budget entry. Of course, a great budget camping flashlight needs to provide more than a low price, and this flashlight does so through versatility.

For instance, the Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 flashlight provides more light modes than any other model we reviewed with 7, but it is also one of the few flashlights on our list that can be used as a proper electric torch. Both the flashlight and lantern modes can engage a high and low setting, but an additional red light can also glow, flash, or blink out SOS in morse code.

The Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 flashlight is another highly portable flashlight with a 4 ½” x 1 ⅕” compact profile and a decent 77 g weight. Made from machined aluminum, this flashlight also comes with a lanyard loop for even easier portability and can stand upright without support.

Of course, all budget-friendly options come with costs somewhere down the line, and the Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 flashlight is one of the least powerful models we reviewed, It only puts 80 lumens in a 50 m beam with a 625 maximum intensity. It also does not help that this is one of the least water resistant models on our list with an IPX4 rating, though it does still have an impact resistance of 1 m.

  • PROs

    • Has a lantern mode
    • Has 11 settings
    • Compact size & weight
    • Is less expensive
  • CONs

    • Not that powerful
    • Not that waterproof
    • Poor battery life
Bottom-Line: The Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 flashlight is not only an inexpensive option, but it provides further value with a lantern mode and an additional safety light that can flash or signal SOS for help in emergency situations.

J5 Tactical v-1 Pro

Best Tactical Flashlight for Camping

J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight - The Original 300 Lumen Ultra Bright, LED Mini 3 Mode Flashlight

J5 is a company that focuses primarily on flashlights but specializes in everyday gear that can be used tactically as a means of self-defense. For the J5 Tactical v-1 Pro flashlight, this comes down to the design of its tactical attack head which features a ridged and rigid design suitable for hand to hand combat.

Even better, to ensure that you do not have to worry about the durability of this flashlight while using it for self-defense, it is made out of a sturdy aluminum alloy. On top of that, the J5 Tactical v-1 Pro flashlight is one of the most impact-resistant models on our list with an impact rating of 2 ¾ m.

It is also easier to carry around this flashlight thanks to its 4 ¼” x 1 ⅛” compact profile and its slightly lighter than average weight of 90 ⅔ g. What is even more surprising is that the J5 Tactical v-1 Pro flashlight provides all of this versatility. It is still an inexpensive option, even coming close to being our top budget model.

On the other hand, the J5 Tactical v-1 Pro flashlight pays for this value with its power as the 300 lumens provided is closer to the bottom of the list than it is the top– though it is not one of the least powerful models we saw. This is also not a flashlight that does well in inclement weather as it offers a water resistant rating of only IPX4.

  • PROs

    • Has an attack head
    • Is more portable
    • Is 2 ¾ m impact resistant
    • Is less expensive
  • CONs

    • Low brightness levels
    • Not very water resistant
Bottom-Line: The J5 Tactical v-1 Pro flashlight is one of the few flashlights we found designed to assist with self-defense in hand to hand combat that also made it a point to provide a build quality that can handle the abuse.

Anker Bolder LC90

Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight, Pocket-Sized Torch with Super Bright 900 Lumens CREE LED, IPX5 Water-Resistant, Zoomable, 5 Light Modes, 18650 Battery Included

Anker may not be a company known for its specialization in flashlights, but it does offer a wide range of solid electronics that do most things pretty well, making it a decent mid-tier option. An excellent example of this is the Anker Bolder LC90 flashlight’s waterproofing, which is decent at IPX65 but not near the premium models we reviewed.

On top of that, this flashlight also puts out more power than many of its competitors at 900 lumens and a 200 m beam at 6500 cd, most of which are the second-best ratings on our list. This is due primarily to the use of a Cree XM-L2 LED bulb encased in an anodized aluminum body that resists rust and corrosion better than most of its competition.

As if that were not enough, the Anker Bolder LC90 flashlight is exceptionally versatile, reaching second place on our list in terms of light modes with 3 standard beams and strobe and SOS effect. Even better, you do not have to worry about replacing the battery in this flashlight – instead recharging the included 3350 mAh battery.

On the other hand, some people might find the Anker Bolder LC90 flashlight a little bit too expensive. It also does not help that this flashlight is one of the heavier models we reviewed at 300 g and not nearly as compact as some of its competitors at 6 ⅝” x 1 ⅝”.

  • PROs

    • Is more powerful
    • Has 5 light modes
    • Is more durable
    • Has a rechargeable battery
  • CONs

    • Is more expensive
    • Is a larger and heavier flashlight
Bottom-Line: The Anker Bolder LC90 rechargeable flashlight does so many different things exceptionally well; the somewhat modest price increase is more than worth it with a combination of excellent durability and plenty of light.

Coast Polysteel 400R Rechargeable Flashlight

Premium Pick

Coast Polysteel 400R 400 Lumen Rechargeable Waterproof LED Flashlight, Accessories Included

Coast is one of the oldest and most experienced companies on our list, and though their focus has changed throughout the years, their dedication to providing the best products remains unchanged. As such, it is no wonder that the Coast Polysteel 400R flashlight enters our list as the top premium option on the market.

A perfect example of this is the Coast Polysteel 400R flashlight’s power rating, which might seem only okay at 400 lumens but tops our list both for beam distance at 202 m and intensity and a blinding 10965 cd. Even better, this flashlight is more durable than most of the competition, thanks to a stainless steel body and a poly-nylon wrap.

This means that you do not have to worry about the flashlight rusting, nor will it slip from your grasp in wet conditions. Of course, even if it were to slip from your grasp, the Coast Polysteel 400R flashlight has the largest impact resistance we reviewed at 3 m and is IPX8 waterproof as well.

That said, all of these list-leading specs come at a price, and the Coast Polysteel 400R flashlight is an expensive model– even if you get a combination of some of the top specs we found. It also does not help that the 106 g weight makes this a heavier model, though the 5 ½” x 1 ¾” is still compact enough to carry around without issue.

  • PROs

    • Powerful beam
    • Is IPX8 water resistant & 3 m impact resistant
  • CONs

    • Is more expensive
    • Is a heavier flashlight
Bottom-Line: The Coast Polysteel 400R flashlight gets most out of its components and is by far the most powerful and far-reaching flashlight that we reviewed as well as the most durable.

Fenix E05

Smallest Flashlight for Camping

Fenix Flashlights E05 85 Lumens Flashlight, Black

Fenix makes another appearance on our list, but instead of trying to compete with higher-end models, the Fenix E05 flashlight aims to fill the smallest niche. To that end, this might be a great choice for backpacking thanks to its feather-light weight of only 11.3 oz– less than half the weight of the next lightest competitor.

As if that were not enough, you do not have to worry about finding space for this flashlight either as it only has a 2 ⅗” x ⅗” profile. To provide even more value, the Fenix E05 flashlight is more durable than most, too, with a housing made of aircraft-grade aluminum and a type 3 hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish.

The Fenix E05 meets the highest waterproofing standards in the market with an IPX8 rating and can handle drops from up to 1 m in height. Arguably the most surprising aspect of this configuration is the fact that the Fenix E05 flashlight is an inexpensive model.

Of course, this LED flashlight falls into the trap of many other inexpensive models and is not that powerful with a Cree XP-E2 LED bulb that only puts out 85 lumens and a short 45 m beam that is not that intense at 505 cd. It does not help that the Fenix E05 flashlight is inefficient either with the AAA batteries only offering a 14 ½ hour run time on the lowest setting.

  • PROs

    • Is 2 ⅗” x ⅗”
    • Only weighs 11.3 g
    • Is IPX8 water resistant
    • Is less expensive
  • CONs

    • Not the most powerful
    • Not far projecting
    • AAA batteries offer short battery life
Bottom-Line: The Fenix E05 flashlight is a backpacker’s dream coming in at the lightest weight on our list and the most compact profile as well as enough durability to handle some of the rougher conditions.

Stanley Fatmax LED Spotlight Flashlight

Best Spotlight Flashlight for Camping

STANLEY SL5W09 Rechargeable 1000 Lumen Lithium Ion Ultra Bright LED Spotlight Flashlight

Stanley is likely the most well-known company on our list that focuses more on hand tools than anything else, but this means you often need specialized lights– like a spotlight. While this arrangement is ostensibly designed to provide lighting for dark crevices and late-night construction, it works exceptionally well for lighting trails and finding lost gear at night.

For example, this LED flashlight only has two settings, but one of those settings provides 1000 lumens, which is the most on our list, and even the low setting puts out 530 lumens. To better accommodate the spotlight function, the Stanley Fatmax Spotlight flashlight uses a unique design with an unfolding handle that makes it easier to hold. 

On top of that, this LED flashlight is the only model on our list that includes a trigger with its pistol grip to make it even easier to use. Keeping in line with this convenience trend, the Stanley Fatmax Spotlight flashlight also comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that uses a USB port.

Unfortunately, the specialized design combined with the unique functions leads the Stanley Fatmax Spotlight flashlight to be an expensive option. It is also worth noting that because this flashlight is technically designed for construction, it is extremely large at 10″ x 5″ x 4″ and heavy at 567 g.

  • PROs

    • Is easy to use
    • Has a spotlight
    • Has a rechargeable battery
    • Has a 5W LED
  • CONs

    • Is more expensive
    • Is heavy and large
Bottom-Line: The Stanley Fatmax Spotlight flashlight is a far more specialized type of flashlight than most of the others on our list, but if you need plenty of light that can be focused for searching purposes, this is the best option.

Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight

Best Solar Flashlight for Camping

Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight, Lantern and USB Recharger with Integrated Solar Panel

Goal Zero is one of the newer companies on our list, but they specialize in lighting products with a particular focus on the sustainable solar category. This not only helps prevent energy waste, but it also allows you to charge or power the Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlight in any condition– including while camping.

Even better, Goal Zero understands that the weather does not always cooperate with solar needs, so they also included a hand crank allowing you to manually charge the flashlight should you lack sunlight. If you don’t fancy spending hours cranking, you can charge the rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a USB port like most other rechargeable flashlight models.

On top of that, as a modern company, Goal Zero understands the ubiquitousness of wireless devices, and this flashlight comes with multiple charging ports too– the only product we reviewed, which does. Finally, the Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlight comes with a beam as well as a lantern mode for different types of light.

Unfortunately, solar power is not cheap– and neither are the other high-end electronic features– and this flashlight is extremely expensive. Also, to account for the solar panel and the internal electronics, the Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlight is larger than most at 10″ x 3 ½” x 1 ¾” as heavier at 408 g.

  • PROs

    • Has 3 settings
    • Can be solar powered
    • Can be manually charged
    • Can charge devices
  • CONs

    • Is more expensive
    • Is large and heavy
Bottom-Line: If you plan on camping for a week or more and want a flashlight that can recharge itself and other devices on the go, the Goal Zero Torch 250 flashlight is a perfect solution.

Last update on 2020-07-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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