Best Flashlight For Camping & Backpacking Trips

Best Flashlight For Camping

ThruNite Archer 2A V3

The sheer laundry list of features packed into the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 is a veritable no-brainer choice for our overall best camping flashlight. 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 camping flashlight around your neck via the included lanyard or fit in your pocket with the detachable pocket clip. Weighing 48 g and being only 0.87″ thick the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 takes up little space in your pack.

This camping 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 light mode up to a whopping 28 days for the firefly mode. The ThruNite Archer 2A V3 is durable with an IPX8 waterproof rating and a 1 m impact resistance.

Bottom Line: The best handheld flashlight we reviewed is the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 providing 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 2021

Looking for the Best Portable 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 flashlights for camping
    • Our unbiased #1 pick for the best camping flashlight

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!

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 when the sun sets, and you lose your natural light source. As safety should be paramount, a good camping 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 doesn’t). 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 camping 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 mode 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 fit 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 camping flashlight for many hours at a time, the battery life becomes increasingly important.

There is no real standard run time for camping 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 camping 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 camping flashlights 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 your flashlight. 

Ultimately, you should also be looking for a flashlight 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 Flashlights for Camping Reviewed

ThruNite Archer 2A V3

Best Overall

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 its highest brightness settings. Even better, this camping flashlight also comes with five different lighting modes from low, medium, and high as well as a “firefly” and emergency strobe mode.

Beyond the standard specs, the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 comes with several “quality of life” features like a lanyard, detachable pocket clip, non-slip texture, and two switches to prevent accidental activation. By far, one of its top qualities 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 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 almost double the size of some of the other options reviewed.

  • 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 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 in the portability of the Fenix E12, with it being the second-lightest option on our list at only 28 g. This model is also one of the most compact flashlights we came across at only 3 ⅗” x ½.” 

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

To provide even more durability, the IPX8 is a water resistant flashlight, as well as having an 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 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, the Fenix E12 has a recessed tail switch, 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 Pick

Nite Ize NL1A-03-R7 3-in-1 Flashlight, 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 to come in as an inexpensive option and our top budget entry. Of course, the best budget flashlight needs to provide more than a low price, and this does so through versatility.

For instance, the Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 provides more lighting modes than any other model we reviewed with 7, but it is also one of the few camping 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 mode can also glow, flash, or blink out SOS in morse code.

The Nite Ize Radiant 3-in-1 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 torch 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 is one of the least powerful camping flashlights 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 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, 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 durability whilst using it for self-defense, it is made out of a sturdy aluminum alloy. On top of that, the J5 v-1 Pro Tactical 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 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 v-1 Pro Tactical flashlight provides all of this versatility. It is still an inexpensive option, even coming close to being our top budget flashlight.

On the other hand, the J5 LED tactical 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 camping flashlight also does not do as 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 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

Most Versatile

Anker Super Bright Tactical Flashlight, Rechargeable (18650 Battery Included), Zoomable, IP65 Water-Resistant, 900 Lumens CREE LED, 5 Light Modes for Camping and Hiking, Bolder LC90

Anker may not be a company known for its specialization in camping 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 flashlight’s waterproofing, which is decent at IPX65 but nowhere near the premium models we reviewed.

On top of that, this camping flashlight puts out more power than many of its competitors at 900 lumens with a 200 m beam at 6500 cd, second-best rated on our list. This is due primarily to the use of Cree XM-L2 LED bulbs 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 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 for this model – instead you can recharge the included 3350 mAh battery.

On the other hand, some people might find the Anker Bolder camping flashlight a little bit too expensive. It also does not help that this is one of the heavier models we have reviewed weighing in 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 larger and heavier than other models

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 - 21855 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 enters our list as the top premium option on the market.

The highest powered flashlight on our list, the Coast Polysteel 400R power rating at 400 lumens lends to a beam distance of 202 m and intensity at a blinding 10965 cd. Even better, it 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 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 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 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 heavier than most others

Bottom-Line: The Coast Polysteel 400R gets the most out of its components and is by far the most powerful and far-reaching camping flashlight that we reviewed, as well as the most durable.

Fenix E05

Best Hiking Flashlight

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 aims to fill the smallest niche. To that end, this may be your choice for the best backpacking flashlight 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 model either as it only has a 2 ⅗” x ⅗” profile. To provide even more value, the Fenix E05 is more durable than most, 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 is an inexpensive model.

Of course, this LED flashlight falls into the same trap as many other inexpensive models and is not that powerful. It has a Cree XP-E2 LED bulb that puts out only 85 lumens, and a short 45 m beam that is not very intense at 505 cd. It does not help either that the Fenix E05 is inefficient, 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 is a backpacker’s dream being the lightest and most compact on our list as well as being durable enough to handle rougher conditions.

Stanley Fatmax LED Spotlight Flashlight

Best Spotlight

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, these LED flashlights only have 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 uses a unique design with an unfolding handle that makes it easier to hold. 

On top of that, this 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 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 to be an expensive option. It is also worth noting that because this product 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
    • Uses 5W LED bulbs
  • CONs

    • Is more expensive
    • Is heavy and large

Bottom-Line: The Stanley Fatmax Spotlight is far more specialized 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

Best Solar

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 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 this camping 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 camping flashlights.

On top of that, as a modern company, Goal Zero understands the ubiquitousness of wireless devices, and this model comes with multiple charging ports too– the only camping flashlight we reviewed which does. Finally, the Goal Zero Torch 250 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 camping flashlight is extremely expensive. Also, to account for the solar panel and the internal electronics, the Goal Zero Torch 250 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 camping flashlight that can recharge itself and other devices on the go, the Goal Zero Torch 250 is a perfect solution.

Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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