Best EDC Flashlights – Full 2020 Buyer’s Guide With Reviews

Tactical waterproof

Whether you are out hunting, training for tactical scenarios, or just want a compact light source, EDC flashlights are the ideal option for you. Modern models are very bright and have good beam distances to be useful in a variety of situations. With advancements of LED and battery technologies, they are also getting much more compact than they were before, making them quite pocketable. In this guide, we will go through the best EDC flashlights and see which are the top models in their respective categories.

A good flashlight is characterized by its lumens and beam properties, as well as its size. Typically, the most diverse models have around 400-800 lumens which are capable of illuminating up to around 300ft in pitch black conditions. In terms of sizing, look for models that are up to 3 inches long. Anything longer than that works against the main point of an EDC (Every day carry) flashlight. Let’s start with the model that I think is the definite winner this year based on its price-to-value ratio, beam performance, and overall quality…

ThruNite Ti3 EDC Cree XP-G2 R5 Flashlight

Our Rating: (5/5)

ThruNite is one of the leading brands when it comes to flashlights. Their Ti3 series of EDC flashlights is one of the best price-to-value deals out there right now since it is fairly cheap and also super potent.

The feature of the Ti3 that leaves the strongest impression is its build quality. The metal body is IPX8 waterproof of up to 2 meters (6.5 ft) of water for up to 1 hour. It is also impact resistant for drops as high as 4ft. That covers most drops from your pocket or slightly higher. The clip it has on its side is good to hold on to your pocket, hat, or other parts of your clothes. It also has a key ring to be attached to your key chain which will come in handy especially considering the size of this EDC flashlight. It is 2.76 inches long and 0.55 inches in diameter. It also weighs just 0.42 oz making it one of the lightest models on this list.

In terms of illumination, the Cree XP-G2 R5 LED light provides a 120-lumen beam that can go as far as 50 meters in pitch black conditions. The beam can be adjusted from natural white to cool white and it has 3 power settings (low, medium, high). While these lumens aren’t too much, the way they are focused is good enough for most close-quarter uses. Still, for such a small AAA-battery powered flashlight, this is quite impressive. That, for many, might be considered its biggest and only downside, especially when put side by side with some other (bigger) EDC flashlights which put out close to 800 lumens at their beam.

Pros

  • Very durable construction
  • Twist-switch design
  • Very small and lightweight
  • IPX8 waterproof
  • Impact-resistant up to 4ft
  • 3 light modes

Cons

  • Some people might need more lumens for stronger illumination

Olight I3T EOS EDC Flashlight

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Olight I3T EOS EDC Flashlight is a strong contender to most ThruNite models since it brings the same level of affordability to the table combined with excellent performance and compact sizes.

The body of this flashlight is made of composite plastic and aluminum alloy. The design features a double helix which allows for a better, sturdier grip. There is also a metal clip on the site which is almost as long as the flashlight and is quite sturdy. The whole unit is 3.5 inches long and 0.59 inches in diameter putting it somewhere in the middle for an EDC flashlight. It weighs 1.4 oz which isn’t really that bad.

The TIR optic lens here really amplifies the light coming from the LED resulting in a well-distributed and balanced beam. Unlike some other lights, this one doesn’t have a highly concentrated beam in the middle and an aura around it, but rather creates a well-lit circle. There are two modes – one that puts out 5 lumens and a max one which goes as high as 180 lumens. You can toggle between those two with the button at the back of the body. Everything here is powered by a 1.5V AAA battery which comes with your package. You can put a NiMH rechargeable battery if you want but make sure you get one with a good mAh rating in order to get improved battery life. With a solid battery, the 180 lm beam can go as far as 60 meters, although that easily drops with the drop in battery quality and life.

The downsides of the Olight I3T are linked to poor build quality for some units as well as the clip being weak.

Pros

  • Decent lumens and beam distance
  • Fairly compact and light
  • Alumium body
  • TIR optics lens
  • IPX8 rating

Cons

  • The clip isn’t very strong
  • The on/off button tends to malfunction

Lumintop Tool 2.0 EDC Flashlight

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Lumintop Tool 2.0 EDC flashlight is yet another very good contender to the well-known brands. It uses a slightly different LED light in the face of the Cree CPL-HD. This one has a significantly shorter lifespan of 50,000 hours (instead of the typical 100,000 for the Cree XP-G2 models) but has one pretty unique feature, which we will discuss further down.

The design here is pretty solid and so are the resistances the flashlight has. It can withstand impacts from up to 5 ft and is IP68 rated. That means that it can be submerged in water 6.6 ft deep and is also dust and dirt resistant. It can also function in quite a wide range of temperatures from -4 to +131 degrees Fahrenheit. The dimensions are fairly big here, measuring 0.73 inches in diameter, 3.52 inches long, and 0.83 oz in terms of weight. While that isn’t super small it still is small enough to easily fit this flashlight in your pocket.

Remember that Cree CPL-HD LED? Its unique feature is that it can put out the whopping 650 non-diminishing lumens which are almost class-leading for all the EDC flashlights on the market. That is only possible if you power the flashlight with a 14500 cell, however. the AA battery cannot put out as many lumens but can power the flashlight for up to 60 hours on its low mode. The battery indicators on the tail of the flashlight work with a 14500 cell only.

Pros

  • Four lighting modes
  • Super durable
  • Impact-resistant for up to 5ft
  • IP68 waterproof and dustproof
  • Not that expensive
  • Up to 650 lumens (with 14500 cell)

Cons

  • For its maximum potential, you need to buy a 14500 cell
  • Tech support isn’t very responsive
  • The sides are very abbrasive

ThruNite T1 Cree XHP50 Rechargeable EDC Flashlight

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

As I mentioned earlier, ThruNite is one of the top dogs on the EDC flashlights market. That is the main reason this is their second entry on this list in the face of the T1 Rechargeable flashlight. It is very small, fairly small, and by far the brightest one on this list which might come as a surprise to some people that only judge it by its size.

The body of this flashlight is made out of plastic composite materials making it very light. Unfortunately, the rechargeable battery inside does add quite a bit of weight, making the total weight of the unit 1.6 oz. It is 2.7 inches long and around an inch in diameter making it rather thick than long which actually makes it easier to hold despite its short size. Everything on this unit is IPX8 rated which is on par with the rest of the industry.

The ThruNite T1 uses a Cree XHP50 LED which paired with their lenses and orange-peel reflectors can put out 1500 max lumens that are focused on a beam that reaches up to 335 ft. That illumination is powered by an 1100 mAh rechargeable battery (3.7V 18350 cell). The high-discharge performance of that battery at 10 Amps is what allows it to power the LED up to those 1500 lumens. That battery is charged via a micro-USB cable. The beam is also quite wide rather than concentrated making it ideal for outdoor uses like camping and hunting.

One of the most notable downsides to this EDC flashlights is that it is quite a bit more expensive than some other models even from the same brand. It is also made out of plastic which won’t be by everyone’s taste.

Pros

  • Very small
  • 1500 max lumens
  • Up to 335 ft beam distance
  • Rechargeable battery
  • IPX8 rated

Cons

  • Fairly expensive
  • Made out of plastic
  • Battery runs out fairly quick

Olight S2 Cree XM-L2 EDC LED Torch

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Olight S2 LED Torch is one of the most feature-rich and well-built models on this list but is also the most expensive one. With its premium design and abundance of functionality, it is a great choice for anyone that camps and hunts a lot as well as mechanics that need to see in tight dark spots.

The overall construction here is on par with all the premium models on the market, even taking it a step further. Everything here is solid and built well with metal being the predominant material used all around. In terms of the size it is slightly more than 4 inches long and 0.91 inches in diameter. As you might’ve already guessed, this is slightly bigger than the rest of the models here but it still easy to put in your pocket and carry around. Considering this thing has a 18650 cell inside, this size is quite impressive.

For its illumination, the Olight S2 uses a Cree XM-L2 EDC LED which has a max lumen output of nearly 1000 and a max distance of around 450 ft. One unique feature this EDC flashlight has is its modes. It can toggle between 950 lumens, 400 lumens, 80 lumens, and 10 lumens. It also has 2 additional special models – 0.5 lm moonlight mode, and a strobe mode at 10Hz. The 950 lumens mode is called “turbo mode” and the flashlight only allows you to use it for 2 full minutes and then it starts dialing things back a bit mainly to preserve the internal components from overheating. You can also use the flashlight in its timer modes by clicking once for a 3-minute illumination mode and clicking twice for a 9-minute one.

Pros

  • 4 regular and 2 special lighting modes
  • Up to 950 lumens
  • Up to 450 ft beam distance
  • IPX8 waterproof
  • 66061-T6 hard-anodized aluminum body
  • Runs on rechargeable batteries

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • The 950 lm mode doesn’t last more than 2 minutes
  • The battery isn’t included

RovyVon A1x Small EDC Flashlight

Our Rating: (4/5)

Lastly, I wanted to talk about the RovyVon A1x EDC flashlight. It is the smallest EDC model on this list and has a few quicks and features which are worth mentioning, as well as a few disadvantages.

First of all, this model uses a Cree XP-G3 S5 LED which is similar to the ones used in most ThruNite flashlight models. It puts out 550 lumens at its maximum setting which is fairly surprising for the overall size of this unit. Speaking of its size, it measures 2.38 inches in length and 0.61 inches in diameter.

The power here comes from a 330 mAh Li-polymer rechargeable battery that charges up through a micro-USB cable. Around the button, there is a light indicator which flashes blue when the flashlight is charging and is solid blue when it is fully charged. On a single charge, this battery can last up to 30 hours on its lowest of 5 modes. On its 360 lm mode, it lasts up to 1.5 hours and then gradually dims for 95 minutes. On its high mode (of up to 550 lumens) it can last up to 1.5 hours and then 75 more minutes of continuous dimming.

The body isn’t very durable and shockproof but it is IPX5 rated meaning it can handle a little water. Thanks to its lightweight design it is also fairly resistant to drops, even from higher heights.

Pros

  • 5 different modes
  • Rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
  • Comes with a stainless steel keyring and a USB cable
  • Super compact
  • Fairly priced
  • Max 550 lumens

Cons

  • Durability isn’t very high
  • The battery doesn’t last very long on the highest mode
  • The power button can be hard to press

EDC Flashlights Buyer’s Guide

There are a few things that you need to learn before starting to cross-shop between different EDC flashlight models. The first and most important thing is to clearly distinguish what an EDC flashlight is and how it differs from other normal flashlights. Let’s talk about that now…

What is an EDC Flashlight?

Everyday carry (EDC) flashlights are compact light torches that are meant to be carried around in your pocket without being too bulky. Don’t be fooled by their size, however, as most modern models are quite potent and can get as bright as 1500 lumens! Most models, however, fall into a more moderate range of lumens right around 400-800 which is good enough for most tasks. Typically, models rarely exceed 3 inches but there are some slightly bigger ones which offer similar practicality with improved performance.

Reasons To Own One

While some occasions might seem like an obviously good time to have a flashlight in your pocket, others aren’t as obvious. Here are a few scenarios in which an every-day carry flashlight might help you a lot:

  • If you are looking under your desk at work for something you dropped
  • Looking for things under your car’s seat or in your car’s engine compartment
  • Finding your way in a dark hall or a movie theatre
  • In power failure situations during the day
  • Looking for that oil leak in your car’s engine compartment
  • Fishing in the dark
  • Night-time hunting

While these aren’t the only occasions you will be needing your flashlight in, they are good examples of when having a small, pocketable flashlight will actually help you out.

Features To Consider Before Buying

pocket flashlight

Despite being small, these types of flashlights have quite a lot of features to compare them by. Some of the most important ones are:

  • Lumens
  • Beam properties
  • Dimensions
  • Batteries
  • Water and impact resistance
  • Additional features
  • Price

Lumens

Lumens are the most important metric in any type of flashlight, especially the smaller ones where lumens really matter. A “lumen” is a unit that measures the visible light emitted from a source for a set amount of time. The sign for lumens is “lm”. To get a better understanding of them, a typical 60-Watt incandescent bulb has around 800 lumens of brightness. Still, with flashlights, the same lumens will be far more effective due to them being focused in a beam of light.

Most small EDC flashlights have between 100 and 600 lumens which are quite a lot even by modern standards. While they have different beam properties, those lumens will typically be enough to illuminate distant targets in the dark and more than enough for close-quarter illumination. Some models take things a step further with “turbo modes” that put out close to 1500 lm.

The illumination power of the flashlight comes from three major components – the LED, the reflector, and the lens. While I won’t go too deep into reflectors and lenses, all you need to remember is that TIR optic lenses are great at evenly distributing light from the LED and the reflector. Orange-peel reflectors are also good at creating a homogenous beam. Lastly, look for LEDs that are made by Cree. Some good models are the Cree Xp-G2 and the XPL-HD.

Beam properties

In terms of their beams, flashlights can vary a lot. Beams can be super focused (dot-like) and spread-out to illuminate the widest area possible. With a fixed amount of lumens, concentrated beams work best for long-range targets, while dispersed beams are great for dark rooms and closed spaces. Some EDC flashlights like most Thrunite models have 3-6 different settings for their beams both in terms of illumination and in terms of color (natural white/cool white).

The beam distance is another important characteristic of these flashlights. Normally, a good EDC flashlight will cast its beam up to 350ft with anything more than that being exceptionally good. As with any other beam property, the distance will suffer if you put weaker batteries.

Dimensions

Closeup pocket LED

The dimensions of an EDC flashlight are one of its most important metrics. Most compact models are around 2.5 inches long and 0.5 inches in diameter. Any model that is longer than 3 inches won’t really fit in most pockets and will be too bulky to be categorized as an “EDC” flashlight. In terms of their weight, you should also be mindful of models that weigh more than 2 oz. A typical weight for such a flashlight is around 1 oz.

Batteries

Most EDC flashlights use AA batteries with a few exceptions that use rechargeable li-ion batteries. Even with regular models, however, you can put rechargeable NiMH AA or AAA batteries which have enough power to keep the lumens high. Regarding that, you will most likely notice that different batteries get different levels of illumination from your flashlight. Stronger batteries can double your normal lumens, while weak batteries can cut down the official flashlight lumens by half.

Most models can also work with a 14500 Lithium battery which does bring the most amount of lumens and highest battery life to the table but also bulks up the price by a lot. A normal maximum run time of an EDC flashlight is around 50-60 hours on a single charge/battery pack.

Water and impact resistance

The current gold standard in flashlights is for them to be IP68 weather resistant. That means a dustproof resistance for fine particles (6) and a waterproof rating (8) which indicates that the flashlight can survive in 3 ft deep water for 1-2 hours without damaging its internal components. Impact resistance for drops from around 4 feet is also vital if you want to take your flashlight literally everywhere with you. Some models won’t have official dustproof and waterproof ratings which don’t necessarily mean they aren’t weatherproof but haven’t officially tested the model which brings its price down.

Another protective feature of those flashlights is their heat-protection system. In most flashlights, medium and high settings will trigger the flashlight to tone down the lumens a bit (after a set amount of seconds) in order to cool down the internal components. That is one of the major disadvantages with EDC flashlights since the tight space inside doesn’t allow for good thermal performance.

Additional features

Some of the best additional features you should look for are clips and key rings. Those really fit well with the whole EDC theme and make it easier for you to clip them to your pocket, hat, or attach them to your key chain.

Price

Even though EDC flashlights are small in size, they can be quite expensive, especially if you go with some of the premium models. While expensive models will bring a great build quality and long-lasting performance to the table, there still might be cheaper alternatives that do the same type of job in terms of lumens and battery life. This is why you should consider your budget and then shop accordingly. After all, these flashlights have a single purpose of being bright in the dark while remaining fairly compact.

Frequently Asked Questions

What flashlights do the police use?

Police forces across the USA mostly use various Streamlight flashlight models with the most common one being the Stinger DS LED HL followed by the Strion DS HL. Both of these flashlights provide good beam ranges with high-brightness beams.

How many lumens will temporarily blind someone?

If you’re using a high-powered flashlight for your defense, anything more than 400 lumens will temporarily blind an attacker and give you some time to put distance between you two.

Why do cops hold their flashlights overhand?

This is the so-called “power position” which has a few advantages over holding the flashlight from a lower position. The main advantage is that you can shine the flashlight downwards (at vehicles or rooms) to illuminate them better while holding it facing upwards will twist your wrist uncomfortably.

Final Words

Browsing through the best EDC flashlights you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the vast diversity of models that have similar performance but different price tags. That is mainly due to some additional features that you need to look closer for. Ideally, a perfect flashlight will be fairly pocketable, have a high lumen rating with a well-constructed beam. Additionally, you can look for different beam models, keyrings or clips, water and impact resistance, as well as solid build quality.

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