A good-quality flashlight is an important addition to any hiking or backpacking adventure. In fact, it’s imperative for survival. It can keep you safe if you engage in cave exploring or nighttime walking. When you camp at sunset, it helps immensely with the setup. It can even be used to read maps when you’re exploring a particularly difficult trail. What’s more, it makes for an extremely useful device for signaling. This is especially true when you’re in a difficult situation and need to draw the attention of your rescue team. Good hiking flashlights are not just bright but also easy to carry and use. Another quality of a great flashlight for hiking and backpacking is that they’re durable. This is an obvious one; the great outdoors are rough, and you need a flashlight that can, well, rough it alongside you.
Perhaps hikers and intrepid travelers will agree, that having a reliable flashlight is nothing short of a bright idea! So, we’ve put together a list that is perfect for any adventure activity that has you staying outdoors in the dark. Here are the 13 best flashlights for hiking.
How to choose the best flashlights for hiking
No matter whether you’re a single-day hike or multi-day ones, a flashlight is a must-have camping accessory. That said, there are some important factors you need to consider, which are listed below.
Types of flashlights
The commonest flashlights are the handheld kind. Not only are they simple to use, but they ensure a long battery life sans adding any bulk. They’re compact, and impact and water-resistant at least partially. If they have straps, then they can even be improvised as hanging lights. They’re limited only by the fact that they need to be carried in the hand. Secondly, we have headlamps which are a hands-free concept of the basic flashlights. The design is a simple headband with a light that is adjustable, lighting up the way forward. While it isn’t exactly enjoyable to wear for long, it leaves the hands free for navigation in the dark.
The third kind is backpack clip-on lights. These can be clipped to the shoulder and draw power from a battery pack. While they do come with the added weight, they also work as hands-free flashlights. Finally, there are lantern-style lights that are usually used for illuminating a larger area. They’re perfect for keeping light-shy fauna away and for setting up camp.
Weight and size
One of the biggest considerations when looking for the best hiking and backpacking flashlight is its weight and size. Typically, the best ones are lighter and smaller in size. When it comes to size, the largest is the handheld size, while the smallest is as small as a keychain!
Most hikes have wet walking, and it’s inevitable that your flashlight will get wet. Whether it’s a puddle or an unexpected shower, your flashlight will come in contact with water. IP codes measure resistance levels in flashlights. There are three common levels – IPX4, IPX7, and IPX8. Flashlights with IPX4 rating can get dripped in water, but cannot handle submerging. IPX7 flashlights can endure being submerged in 1-meter-deep water for half-an-hour sans damage. IPX8 is the highest level of waterproofing available in flashlights. Such flashlights can be submerged in a meter of water for up to four hours.
Usually, flashlights larger in size can hold batteries with longer lifespans. So, finding the right LED flashlight is about the right balance of battery life and size. Most flashlights use common batteries. Only the backpack clip-on lights use rechargeable battery packs with integrated batteries.
Olight S1 Baton 500 Lumen Compact EDC LED Flashlight
The Olight S1 Baton LED Flashlight is one of the smallest and lightest flashlights, and will not disappoint you on your hiking trip. While it weighs just over an ounce, the intensity of its light beam is spectacular. Its size allows you to slip into your pocket easily, freeing up much-need space in your backpack. At the same time, it can produce a whopping 500 lumens on its highest setting. And although the beam cannot be focused, the flashlight has a throw of 360 feet.
If you’re an experienced camper, then you’ll love that you have three brightness levels to choose between. In addition, it even has a strobe mode and a moonlight mode, where it gives out only 0.5 lumens. Powered by a single CR123A battery, the flashlight can go around 1.5 hours on high setting and as long as 6 hours on the mid-level setting of 80 lumens.
When it comes to exteriors, the flashlight has a handy clip attachment for attaching it to your belt, cap, bag, or even clothes. That way, your hands are free up to a certain extent. The design is textured and rugged, giving you a good grip even in slippery, wet conditions. An IPX8 water-resistant rating rounds up the impressive list of features.
- IPX8-rated durable design.
- Pocket clip allows for hands-free movement.
- Has both strobe and moonlight modes.
- Extremely lightweight and portable.
- No SOS Mode.
- The beam is not adjustable.
Nitecore EC11 900 Lumens Brightest LED Flashlight
If you’re looking for a flashlight that can literally fit into the palm of your hand, the Nitecore EC11 LED Flashlight is your friend. It weighs just less than 1.6 ounces (45.3 grams) and is less than three inches in length! Despite its ultralight, compact size, this backpacking flashlight is surprisingly powerful and beams out a whopping 900 lumens at its maximum capacity.
Moreover, it uses an IMRT8350 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and is, thus, one of the most powerful mini flashlights. Both the power and mode switches are on the side and easy to access. What’s more, you can choose from five varied brightness levels, as well as SOS and strobe functions. So, you get a range of light intensities in one flashlight. That, coupled with a light throw of 620 feet means that it can literally light up an entire campground!
When it comes to its build, the light is made from aero grade aluminum alloy. This material has an anti-reflective coating and is military-grade, ultra-clear mineral glass. A handy clip on the side allows you to clip the flashlight to your bag or clothes, allowing for hands-free use. In addition, the flashlight has a waterproof rating of IPX-8, so you can take it on all kinds of water adventures as well. Coupled with an impact resistance of 1.5 meters, and you have something indestructible in the palm of your hand.
- Clip attachment.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Impact and water-resistant
- Good beam throw.
Jetbeam 1 MK Cree XP-G2 LED Flashlight
The Jetbeam 1 MK is designed especially with outdoor use in mind. No matter whether you go hiking in the summer or winter, this flashlight is suitable to use in all conditions. The durability of this flashlight is excellent. The exterior is made from aero-grade aluminum alloy, while the glass is toughened with the help of ultra-clear mineral glass. So, not only is it impact-resistant up to a meter, but it also has a waterproof rating of IPX-8. Despite its compact size, the flashlight offers three brightness levels with the highest light intensity of 480 lumens. Moreover, it also has an excellent throw, the maximum being a whopping 426 feet. Due to effective power management, it also has a maximum runtime of 100 hours in mid-intensity mode.
If that wasn’t enough, the flashlights have a battery reverse protection feature. So, even if you accidentally insert the batteries the wrong way, there’s no chance you’ll damage the flashlight. Lastly, a SKYBen USB light is included with the flashlight kit.
- Excellent quality and build.
- Three brightness levels.
- USD SKYBen light included.
- Some users have reported that it’s not as bright as expected.
It’s no surprise that headlamps make for one of the best gifts for travelers, as they’re so useful for hands-free use. If you’re looking for a hands-free flashlight with more light, then the Fenix HL60R is a perfect choice. The nifty product is one of the best flashlights for hiking and comes in two striking colors – Desert Yellow and Black. What’s excellent about the headlamp flashlight is that it sits securely on the top of your head.
It features a single side switch as well as a second strap. Not only is the light made from high-grade aluminum, but it also features top-grade Type III anti-abrasive and hard-anodized finishing. Moreover, it’s equipped with IPX8 technology. All these combined make the headlamp flashlight extremely durable and perfect for water-based fun and activities.
Likewise, the Fenix HL60R radiates a maximum light of 950 lumens, thanks to the Cree XM-L2 T6 Neutral White LED technology. Aside from four brightness levels, it also includes night-vision red light. This is extremely helpful if you’re going on a night hike or exploring dark, underground areas. With CR123A and 18650 Li-ion batteries, the flashlight can run on its brightest setting for as long as three hours.
- Four light settings and a night vision mode.
- Since its waterproof, it’s ideal for water-based adventures.
- It’s much heavier than other flashlights.
Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC40 Flashlight
Who says quality has to be expensive? Check out the Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC40 Flashlight, which is a lightweight, compact option that performs excellent and isn’t heavy on the wallet either. At its highest setting, this flashlight gives out the brightness of 400 lumens. Moreover, the flashlight has five modes, which include a helpful SOS and strobe one. This allows you to save your battery by opting for different modes according to your walking/camping environment. A handy clip on the side is great for attaching the light to your bag or clothes for hands-free access.
What powers this light is an excellent 3350mAh rechargeable battery, which is included along with the light. What’s more, when used on the medium-beam mode, it can power the flashlight for up to 20 hours! So, even if you count three hours of nighttime walking, the light can run without being recharged for at least five days. Additionally, the Cree LED bulbs have a lifespan of 5,000 hours, so you’ll never have to worry about replacing the bulbs! Finally, the light packs all this in a shock-resistant aluminum body that is water-resistant to boot. An easy-grip handle with anti-slip finish allows you to hold the light securely, no matter what terrain you’re on.
- An easy-grip handle with anti-slip finish.
- Five light modes, including strobe and SOS mode.
- Water and shock-resistant.
- 5,000-hour Cree LED life.
- The on/off button is a little tough.
HeroBeam LED Lantern
The HeroBeam LED Lantern is an excellent example of how a flashlight-cum-camping lantern. If you’re looking for a multipurpose camping product, then there’s no better light than this one. Weighing just 1.4 pounds (0.63 kg), the lamp collapses to a compact, packable size and can easily fit into your hiking backpack. This “camping lantern” also works as a flashlight by moving the handle to the side of the device and then collapsing it.
Aside from being waterproof up to the IPX4 standard, it also comes with a reassuring five-year warranty. On the lighting front, the product has a 300 lumens rating that is more than sufficient for illuminating the path in front of you as well as for the campsite.
Since this lantern uses AAA batteries, the overall deal is inexpensive. However, we’d always recommend you to carry some spare ones with you. Overall, its versatility makes it the perfect choice for a multipurpose hiking accessory.
- Can be used as both flashlight and lantern.
- Good battery life.
- Good beam intensity and throw.
- Could be a little heavy to carry around.
Maglite XL200 LED 3-Cell AAA Flashlight
The quality of the smart controls, optics, and LEDs are what set the Maglite XL200 LED Flashlight apart from other brands. The flashlight is a backpacker’s dream; it weighs just around 3.5 ounces (99.2 grams) and is small in size, and still bright enough for camping. With a maximum output of 172 lumens, you can choose four modes – on, SOS, strobe, and night light by pressing a single button many times. Also, the flashlight remembers your last setting before it’s turned off, so you don’t have to go through the entire cycle again.
Moreover, it has a rather intuitive way to get the light to shine just right, All you need to do is press and hold the button and then rotate your wrists. If that wasn’t enough, the output dims down in the night light mode, only to go to full brightness once you touch it. So, you shouldn’t have a problem finding it in the dark, either.
At full brightness, the batteries last around 2.5 hours. Finally, an excellent beam throw of 450 feet is enough to illuminate the area around you, and then some. Rounding up the features is the lockout or safety switch, which avoids battery drain by preventing accidental operation.
- An excellent gamut of light-based features.
- Compact and lightweight design.
- The lockout feature avoids battery drainage.
- Unless you count an IPX4 water-resistant rating a con, this product has none.
OxyLed LED Tactical Flashlight
The OxyLed LED Tactical Flashlight one of the more great-value hiking flashlights. Despite a low price of just $15, the flashlight is very reliable and a solid budget option. OxyLed’s claims of a maximum brightness of 900 lumens and its real-life output are pretty much the same. The power button the back can be used to switch between five standard light modes, which include the strobe and SOS modes.
What’s even better is that it makes use of good quality Cree T6 LED which has a lifespan of more than 50,000 hours! Moreover, the battery is rechargeable and comes with a charger too. On the medium brightness setting, the light stays around for around 6 hours. That said, we’d recommend you bring some spare batteries with you anyway. The icing on the cake is the flashlight’s utterly durable exterior build. An aluminum alloy construction with an IPX6 water-resistant rating allows you to carry this pretty much anywhere.
- Affordable and great value.
- Five light modes.
- Super bright light intensity and throw.
- IPX-6 water-resistant.
- The light doesn’t remember its last setting when switched on.
Black Diamond Spot325
There’s very little that the Black Diamond Spot325 can’t do. Whether you’re hiking the trails of Europe or camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, this multipurpose headlamp-flashlight has your back.
The main feature of this lightweight headlamp-flashlight is the adjustable elastic band. Made from synthetic and breathable ventilated mesh, it has a steady, snug fit. In addition, it comes in eight colors that include the likes of red, citrus, and vibrant blue. Coming to the build, the light features two separate buttons, the lens mode, and power buttons. Moreover, the nifty lock mode keeps the light when it’s not in use. With an IPX8 water-resistant rating, the flashlight is waterproof for up to 30 minutes underwater.
Finally, we come to its lighting features. The headlamp-light sports a light beam with an output of 325 lumens. Also, it has two beam options; a bright, narrow spotlight beam or dim, wide one for proximity lighting. Plus, it has a night vision red light mode. In low mode, it can burn for 200 hours. In the highest setting, it’ll last about four-eight hours. Overall, this backpacking flashlight makes for an excellent camping accessory.
- Waterproof, sturdy build.
- Burn time is between 6 and 200 hours, depending on the intensity.
- No cross strap on the headband.
Anker LC90 LED Flashlight
If illumination is what you need the most, then the Anker LC90 LED Flashlight is your best bet. The pocket-sized powerhouse radiates an impressive maximum brightness of 900 Lumens, with a throw of up to 1,000 feet! The flashlight comes with a 3350mAH battery which takes just six hours to charge and lasts another six with medium brightness.
This product is a design marvel that combines an anodized aluminum body to protect an aluminum beam reflector and a 10-W LED bulb. It’s this design that allows the light to be focused wherever you want. That, coupled with five light modes make this an excellent hiking accessory.
Besides its excellent brightness, the other highlight of the LC90 is the durability. The aluminum exterior is scratch-resistant, while the angled head and the extra-long handle makes it an excellent tool for packing a few wallops. Aside from working in low temperatures, it also as an IPX5 waterproof rating.
- Extremely portable and light.
- Super bright with a maximum of 900 lumens.
- Reliable and tough.
- IPX5 rating isn’t exceptional.
Thrunite TI3 XP-G2 R5 TORCH
The Thrunite T13 XP-G2 R5 Torch might just be one of the cheapest mini hiking flashlights out there. The size of this keyring attachment-like torch belies its versatility and intensity. If you’re a first-time hiker and are looking for something ultralight for you to navigate, this keyring torch is your best friend.
It has a nifty reversible clip attachment that allows you to it to your clothes, bag, or even clip it to your pocket. What’s more, you can even attach it to your cap and have it function as a mini headlamp. This allows your hands to be free for navigating a particularly challenging terrain or section of the hike, or if you’re in distress and want to signal.
The flashlight runs on AAA batteries and can produce an impressive maximum light of 120 lumens. Moreover, three intensity modes, including a strobe one, allow you to alter the light output to suit different conditions and save battery. Weighing just half-an-ounce (14.2 grams), this lightweight and compact flashlight is an excellent option for backpacking.
- Three light modes, plus a strobe mode.
- Great value.
- Keyring and two-way reversible clip attachment.
- Its lowest light setting is very dim.
Nitecore Thumb USB Rechargeable LED Keychain Light
The second keychain flashlight on this list is the skillful Nitecore Thumb USB Rechargeable LED Keychain Light. Weighing just 0.88 ounces (25 grams), this ingenious keychain flashlight has both a tiltable head and a clip. They allow you to adjust the angle of the clip so you can attach it to your clothes, bag, or even your pocket or belt. What’s more, if you’re wearing a cap, it can even be clipped to your head, transforming into your very own headlamp. This clip is excellent for hands-free usage and for angling the light where you exactly need it.
The keychain flashlight comes with a USD charging cable to recharge the lithium-ion battery. On low power, the flashlight will run for a whopping 22 hours. If it’s increased to full power, you can expect to use it for about 45 minutes. Finally, three brightness levels, along with a red light one, allow you to use the flashlight for everything from backpacking to reading in the dark.
- Maximum runtime of 22 hours on the low setting.
- Three light beam options.
- USB cable and charger included.
- None, really.
Wowtac A1S BSS TAC LED Flashlight
If stuff keeps “slipping” from your grip easily, then the sturdy Wowtac A1S BSS TAC LED Flashlight was designed to bore the brunt of your clumsiness. A rugged construction, coupled with an IPX7 waterproof rating and an impact resistance of 1.5 meters means that you don’t need to worry about dropping it. The compact design is perfect for slipping into your pack or your pocket, and the knurled handle ensures extra grip in your hand.
Coming to its hardware, a back and side button function as power and light mode buttons. Moreover, when it’s switched on, a memory function remembers the mode you previously selected. The clip allows you to attach it to your clothes, bag, etc., and it even has as an anti-roll feature.
With a maximum intensity of 550 lumens, the flashlight beams enough of light for backpacking. A throw of 672 feet more illuminates the trail or your campsite area. On a high setting of 200 lumens, the flashlight can easily run for five hours. That coupled with six light modes, and you won’t find a better flashlight for your backpacking adventures.
- Two-year warranty.
- Six light modes, including a “memory” function.
- Compact and lightweight.
- IPX7 waterproof rating.
- 1.5-meter impact resistance.
- The mode change button might be a little shallow.