One of the most useful parts of my EDC (Every Day Carry) kit is my flashlight. I have quite a few flashlights, some better suited than others for various uses but not all flashlights are really all that good to carry in your pocket every day. [TL;DR shortcut: this is the flashlight I carry every day right now.]
Because you may not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll need to compromise here and there on things, based on your needs and budget. Because an EDC flashlight MUST be easy to carry, it may not be the best survival flashlight but if it turns out you’re in a survival situation and it’s the only light you have, you’ll be glad you thought it through.
My 9 tips to buying the best edc flashlight/torch
- Get an end power button instead of side button (must-have)
- Because I keep my keys in the same pocket as my flashlight, lights with side on/off buttons tend to get switched on quite often. Unless it’s dark out, I don’t usually notice this has happened until I feel my leg getting warm. Because of this, I’ve found the batteries in these flashlights don’t last as long.
- Side on/off buttons are especially bad if the mode cycle button is also on the side. If the USB cover feels just like the on/off button so you can’t tell which one you’re pushing right away (this one died after a year even though I didn’t use it much due to the stupid thing constantly being on in my pocket). Definitely do not recommend that one.
- Look for a good waterproof rating (must have)
- Flashlights are rated by the IP code to tell you how well they’re protected against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures. Basically, the code is listed with numbers in the code in order as IP (dust rating, waterproof rating, crushability, and other). Check the link for specifics on what I mean and more ratings. If it’s not rated for any of them, they either leave it blank or put an X in the spot if there are ratings after that spot. For example, IPX7 means it hasn’t been rated for solid intrusion or mechanical impact, but has a liquid ingress protection rating of 7 [Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion). Test duration: 30 minutes – ref IEC 60529, table 8. Tested with the lowest point of the enclosure 1000 mm below the surface of the water, or the highest point 150 mm below the surface, whichever is deeper.]
- For my purposes, I really need an IPX8 (to use on a sailboat) but will accept an IPX7.
- Make sure it uses rechargeable 21700 battery
- This one is a toss-up but I’ve chosen to go with a light that uses a rechargeable 21700 lithium battery instead of AA because they have over twice the voltage and lots more amp-hours.
- The biggest problem with 21700 batteries is that you won’t be able to find them very easily. AA batteries are pretty much in every home in the Western world and every grocery/parts store. The second biggest problem is they’re quite a bit larger, meaning a larger flashlight in your pocket. You may prefer an AA flashlight over an 21700 one.
- Ensure it’s small enough for your pocket (must have)
- The best flashlight in the world is useless if you don’t have it on you when you need it.
- A light with a single AA battery should be no problem but anything bigger may be more difficult. If you’re going to use a case on your belt, it isn’t that big of a deal.
- Get a reliable flashlight (must have)
- Get one with a USB connection on the case (must have)
- Some of the flashlights I’ve seen that use the 21700 don’t have a USB connection. This is good for waterproofing but it means that you’ll need to have a dedicated charger for your battery.
- Pay attention to how the port is sealed. Some covers come off very easily and will soon be lost, making it no longer waterproof. Some of the covers are really flimsy.
- Don’t get one with only one brightness setting (must have)
- This may not seem important, but it really is. I don’t need all the SOS or tactical blinding flashy stuff but you need to at least have a dim mode and a bright mode, and preferably at least a middle brightness mode. Once your eyes are adjusted to the dark, the last thing you need is to blind yourself with 1000 lumens.
- You need a strong housing (must have)
- Unfortunately, most flashlights I’ve seen don’t bother to use the IP code for this part, so I usually just look for a metal housing that’s considered ‘tactical.’
- Only consider an LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulb
- Something like a Luminus LED or better is good.