Listening to the crackling campfire and watching its dancing flames. Falling asleep under the stars. They’re the things I love most about camping. They’re also things I can do without that flashlight I’m so careful to pack each camping trip. However, all the other things that I don’t love so much about camping (like washing the dishes and fixing broken guy-lines) make having a good camping flashlight essential. And, of course, there are a load of unexpected occasions when a strong beam from a reliable camping flashlight really comes in handy.
Those times when you stayed out to watch the sunset and now have to find your way back to your tent in the dark. The nights when you drank too many cups of cinnamon tea before tucking into your sleeping bag. It’s times like these, stumbling about and stubbing your toe in the darkness, when you wish you’d brought a flashlight. Not to mention their importance in emergency situations. I don’t mean to over-egg your perfectly cooked camping omelette, but having a good flashlight to hand could be the difference between life and death when things go awry.
Hopefully, you’re convinced and your next question is; which flashlight should I buy? Well, you’ll probably find plenty of options at your nearest superstore, but if you want a flashlight that you can really depend upon then these are our top picks.
- The best flashlights for camping (non-rechargeable)
- The best rechargeable flashlights for camping
- What to look when choosing a camping flashlight
Summary of the best camping flashlights
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|MagLite ML300LX LED Flashlight||Drop and water resistant (IPX4)||406m||625||$$$$|
|ALPS Mountaineering Spark 240 Flashlight||Fully waterproof and shockproof (IPX7)||120m||240||$$|
|Maglite Mini Maglite Pro 2 AA LED Flashlight||Shock resistant||140m||226||$|
|Anker Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight||Water and shock resistant (IP65)||200m||900||$|
|Nitecore MH23 USB Rechargeable Compact Flashlight||Fully waterproof and shockproof (IPX8)||300m||1800||$$$|
|Fenix UC35 Rechargeable Flashlight||Waterproof and dustproof (IP68)||266m||1000||$$$|
|Goal Zero Flashlight Tool||110||$|
|SureFire P2X Fury Dual-Fuel Tactical Flashlight||Extreme resistance to abrasion and corrosion||315m||1500||$$$$|
The best flashlights for camping
Battery type: 3 x D-Cell Alkaline Battery (not included)
Runtime: High: 16 hours. Low: 77 Hours. Eco: 117 Hours
If you’re looking for a flashlight with an ultra-long runtime then look no further than the Maglite ML300LX. There are two versions — two cell or three cells — the larger of which can run on the eco setting for over 100 hours! The batteries are removable too, so if you’ll be out in the dark for an extended period you can carry spares.
This Maglite flashlight isn’t the cheapest on the market, however, it’s certainly durable. Its casing is made from a tough anodized aluminium with weather-resistant seals. Plus, its quick click button and quick twist beam focus are simple to operate in the dark. The maximum light output is 625 lumens which are considerably lower than others on this list. However this is still plenty for most campers.
- Long runtime
- Durable materials
- Efficient battery use
- Available in two sizes
- Lower light output
Eco-friendly: We like this the Maglite MX300LX has an ECO setting meaning that its far less energy consuming than other flashlights. It does take disposable batteries but eco-conscious campers can choose to purchase rechargeable batteries for this flashlight.
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Battery type: 2 x AA (included)
Runtime: High: 5 hours. Low: 15 hours. SOS/Strobe: 10 hours.
When you’re looking at waterproof flashlights the Spark 240 from ALPS Mountaineering is a sensible choice. It has four lighting settings, High/Low/SOS/Strobe, and a beam width which adjusts from 15 to 75 degrees with a simple twist. It can deliver a strong 240-lumen beam for up to 5 hours, but the real selling point of this compact flashlight is its rugged exterior. The Spark 240 is fully waterproof and shockproof. It can even survive being submerged in water, up to 1 metre in depth, for up to 30 minutes. On the low setting it offers a reasonable runtime, too.
- Adjustable beam
- Waterproof casing
- Compact size
- Comparatively short run time
Battery type: 2 x AA (Included)
Run time: 2.5 hours average
In terms of pocket-sized flashlights, the Mini Maglite Pro 2 is one of the most compact models on this list. Despite that, it still emits a respectable 226-lumen beam which extends for up to 140 metres. The beam can be adjusted from spot to flood by twisting the head. Though the stated runtime is rather short, users confirm that it will last far longer than the predicted 2.5 hours without changing the batteries. In terms of durability, its anodized aluminium casing is corrosion and water resistant. It’s also shock-resistant up to 1 metre. This flashlight may not have all the technical features of other models on this list but the Mini Maglite Pro 2 is certainly a reliable and super compact flashlight for camping.
- Compact design
- Tough exterior
- Affordable price
- Short runtime
- Only one lighting setting
Best rechargeable flashlights for camping
Battery type: 18650 rechargeable (included)
Runtime: Up to 13 Hours
The Anker Bolder LC90 is one of the best flashlights for camping on our list. Not only does it come with a very affordable price tag, but it also has a wide range of lighting settings and a reasonable battery life. With five different lighting settings (Low/Medium/High/Strobe/SOS) and a zoomable beam, the Bolder LC90 is suitable for anything from night hiking to camp cooking. On full brightness the 900 lumens LED beam should stretch for almost 200 metres.
The tough aluminium casing is both water and shock resistant, too. Our only criticism is that the double cell battery and larger than average handle does make it bulkier than other flashlights on this list, however, it should still squeeze into your coat pocket! Overall, we think the Bolder LC90 is one of the best flashlights for the money.
- Multiple lighting settings
- Strong build
- Affordable price
- 18 Month Warranty
- Battery is not removable
- Slightly bulky
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Battery type: 2 x 3500 mAh 8A 18650 (Included)
Runtime: Maximum 300 hours
The Nightcore MH23 is the most compact rechargeable flashlight on this list. It weighs in at just 3.39 oz and fits snugly into the palm of your hand. It’s also fitted with a pocket clip and comes with a lanyard, holster, and a plastic battery case. Its size doesn’t limit its power, however. The Nitecore MH23 has a maximum output of 1,800 lumens, reaching nearly 300 metres — even more impressive is its 300-hour runtime! The five lighting settings are controlled by one button and offer an even wider range than the Felix UC35; 1,800 lumens on High and 1 lumen on Low.
This flashlight is also waterproof up to 2 metres and 1.5 meters shock-proof. When it’s time to recharge we like that this flashlight gives you the option to charge by USB or change the batteries. The Nightcore MH23 is compatible with C123A batteries as well as normal 18650 batteries.
- High light output
- 5 lighting settings
- Various charging/battery options
- Very compact
- Lighting beam is not adjustable
Battery type: 3500 mAH Li-ion Rechargeable (included)
Made from a solid aircraft grade aluminium, the Fenix UC35 is one of the toughest flashlights for camping on the market. The exterior is dustproof and waterproof for up to two metres. Its 1,000 lumen LED lights also pack a powerful punch. Manufacturers claim that on high the beam will reach 266 metres. What we really like about this USB rechargeable flashlight is its range of five lighting abilities, plus a strobe setting. Set to low, the light output is just 1 lumen reaching only 10 metres, making the UC35 ideal for seeing short distances in the dark or searching for something in your backpack. The beam can also be set to spot of the flood. The Fenix UC35 certainly isn’t a budget option. However, the product does come with a lifetime guarantee and 5-year limited repairs guarantee. The package also includes a removable lanyard, body clip, and two O-rings.
- 6 lighting settings
- Durable design
- Long-lasting battery
- Lifetime Guarantee
- Higher price tag
Battery type: Attach to separate USB charger
Weighing only 2 oz, the USB Flashlight Tool from Goal Zero is something you can carry in your pocket on any hiking trip or outdoor adventure. Rather than carrying a bulky battery, the Goal Zero Flashlight Tool plugs into any standard USB port, such as the one on a portable power bank. Alternatively Goal Zero sell a Switch 10 Recharger which pairs with this product. The 3-watt white LED provides a bright 110 Lumen light and flood beam. Although the light output and beam only have one setting, the focal point is adjustable.
- Compact size and lightweight
- Adjustable focal point
- Works with any USB port
- Only one lighting and beam setting
- Not a standalone product
Battery type: 1 x 18650 Li-ion Rechargeable or 2 x 123A Lithium
Runtime: 2.25 – 3.5 hours
The SureFire P2X Fury is a powerful searchlight contained nicely inside a very compact package. With a 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery this flashlight can emit a 1,500-lumen beam, reaching up to 315 metres, for 3.5 hours. It’s virtually indestructible too, thanks to its corrosion and abrasion resistant aerospace aluminium body and tail cap. Plus, the simple tail cap switch makes it easy to turn on in the dark. The same button allows you to turn on a constant beam or momentary beam. The main downside, however, is that the SureFire P2X Fury doesn’t have any brightness or beam settings.
- Powerful light
- Two battery options
- Strong body
- Only one brightness setting
What to look when choosing a camping flashlight
Light output is measured in lumens and the number of lumens the bulb has indicates how strong the light will be. The more lumens there are, the stronger the beam. Flashlights typically range from 10 to 3500 lumens but the upper limit is far more than you need for basic camping. A low lumen level is actually better suited to activities like evening reading, while a high lumen level would be useful for hiking at night or emergency signalling.
Beam distance is measured in metres and reflects the distance that you can effectively see by the beam of your flashlight. If you plan to use your flashlight for midnight hikes then you’ll want to choose one with a beam which reaches at least 100 metres. For use around the campsite, a shorter beam distance is usually sufficient.
Flashlights usually have a flood beam or a spot beam. However, the most versatile flashlights are fitted with adjustable lenses. The flood beam will light a wider area making it useful for lighting your camp kitchen or inside of your tent. Meanwhile, the spot beam allows the light to focus and reach a greater distance, which is necessary for walking at night. If you plan to use your flashlight for a range of activities then look for one with an adjustable beam.
Most camping flashlights are built with more than one setting. This usually allows you to choose between a lower lighting level — thereby extending the battery life — or full brightness. The best flashlight for camping will be the most versatile, which usually means a good range of lighting settings. Extra settings, such as strobe and SOS, are not essential for basic camping but can be useful in emergency situations and night hiking.
Another important consideration is how long your flashlight will run for without recharging or changing the battery. A flashlight with a greater light output will usually have a shorter runtime or a larger battery. If a flashlight has multiple brightness settings then the runtime will vary according to the chosen setting. Consider what you’ll be using your flashlight for. Long battery life is useful for bedtime reading or night activities but not essential if you will have access to power sockets and spare batteries, or if you only need to see your way to the bathroom.
Flashlights with rechargeable batteries are our preferred choice as they reduce waste and save money in the long term. If you’re out camping for multiple days, however, it’s worth choosing a flashlight that has a rechargeable battery that is removable. Just remember to pack a spare set!
Anything that’s built for camping should be reasonably tough, and a flashlight is no different. A shockproof body made from durable material such as aluminium, is therefore essential. We also look out for corrosion and abrasion resistant materials, good grip on the body, and flashlights which have water-resistant seals.
You can read more about the measure of water and dust resistance in our guide to headlamps.
Size and weight
If you’re car camping then the size and weight of your flashlight isn’t as important as it is for backpackers. That said, we still prefer a flashlight which can be tucked into a pocket. Also, bear in mind that a heavy flashlight will be tiring to carry on a night hike.
As mentioned, there is no shortage of camping flashlights that are easily available. However, making sure you have a reliable one is more important than you might realise. From the super powerful to the small and compact, there’s something for every camper on our list of the best camping flashlights in 2019.