Best Flashlight for Camping

 Next to your RV or tent, a flashlight is probably the most important piece of equipment you will need when heading into the wilderness to go camping. A flashlight will not only provide you with a good light source for camping activities like cooking and midnight bathroom breaks, but it can also act as a survival tool if need be. 

The best flashlight for camping must provide several vital functions while you are in the wild, including offering a good light source, being tough and durable, being easy to carry, and having long-lasting battery life. 

1. Exploring by night 1
A flashlight will not only provide you with a good light source for camping activities. 

So, what type of flashlight should you get for camping? This will depend on your need and the environment in which you plan on using the flashlight. How much light do you need? How long do you need the flashlight batteries to last? Are you looking for a lightweight, pocket-friendly flashlight or something bigger?

Let’s take a look at some of the best flashlights for camping and what they have to offer.

What are the Most Important Functions of a Flashlight?

A flashlight is an essential everyday tool that can be used for a variety of activities, including camping. If you are heading out into the great, wide yonder, a good flashlight is an invaluable tool that provides you with several benefits.

1. Provides a Source of Light

Having a good light source while you are camping is essential. A flashlight not only lights up paths and trails, helping you to avoid roots, rocks, and holes that can cause trips, falls, and injuries, but also offers light for camping activities like pitching your tent, cooking in the dark, and finding the bathroom at night.

2. Light source 1
Flashlights provide a light source while camping.

2. Emergency Signal

A flashlight can be used for signaling for help in emergencies. If you become separated from others on a hike or have a fall and are injured, you can use the flashlight as a beacon for help.

3. Self-Defense Weapon

It can also be used as a weapon of self-defense. Wild animals are usually drawn to campsites by the smell of food, and a flashlight with a bright beam can be used to startle or temporarily blind any creatures lurking in the dark and hopefully scare them off. It can also be used as a blunt weapon if needs be.

4. Saves your Phone Battery

In today’s world, our smartphones tend to rule our lives, and while your phone may be the one thing you want to leave behind when heading into the quiet of the wilderness, it’s a good idea to take it along in case of emergency. And to save the battery for that very reason, a flashlight is a good tool to have to prevent you from using your phone as a light source and draining the battery.

3. Reading 1
A flashlight is a good tool to have to prevent you from using your phone as a light source and draining the battery. 

What are the Most Important Features to Look for in a Flashlight?

When it comes to finding a great flashlight for camping, there are a few aspects to take into consideration ranging from brightness and battery life to size and durability. The most important features of a good flashlight for camping include:

  •         Brightness
  •         Battery Life / Run Time
  •         Battery Type
  •         Durability
  •         Weatherproof / Water-Resistant
  •         Size
  •         Light Modes

The main function of a flashlight is to channel light to an area to see it more clearly in the dark, therefore the two most important features would be the output of light or lumen rating and the beam distance.

Brightness / Light Output

This is the most important factor of a good flashlight and you want one that provides enough light for your needs. The brightness of a flashlight is measured in lumens. Lumens (lm) are a measure of the total amount of visible light to the human eye that is emitted from a lamp or light source in all directions. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light.

Flashlights have lumen ratings that range from 100 in basic models to 300 in high-tech models, however, the best flashlights for camping should produce between 160 and 200 lumens. This will give you plenty of light for navigating the wilderness in the pitch dark, providing light for camping activities, and scaring off any unwanted intruders.

Some flashlights have different modes of light that provide low, medium, and high levels of brightness. A low light setting is good for finding something in your tent as you don’t want to waste too much battery power or blind yourself looking for objects in a small, closed space. Higher settings are best used in an outdoor setting when you need brighter light or a greater beam distance.  

Beam Distance

The beam distance of a flashlight is equally important as the lumen rating or brightness of the light. The beam distance is how far a light will reach and a 100-yard beam distance will usually allow you to see 100 yards in front of you.

While lumens and beam distance are the two most important functions of a flashlight, it does depend on what you require the flashlight to do. The beam distance is important if you plan on using the flashlight for night hiking or exploring caves as you will need to see into the distance.

Some flashlights have different types of beams, including:

  •         Flood (or Wide): A flood or a wide beam is useful for general camping activities like pitching tents and cooking over a fire, as well as reading and intricate, up-close work like watch-making. Flood beams are broad-scope beams that do not cover a great distance.
  •         Spot (or Focused or Narrow): Spot beams, also known as focused or narrow beams, are the best form of light for long-distance viewing. This type of beam is best for navigating terrain and hiking trails in the dark or exploring dark caves.
  •         Flood/Spot: This dual-beam type is the most versatile type of beam as it can be adjusted to cater to all activities from caving and hiking to camping and cooking.

4. Night sky 1
The beam distance is important if you plan on using the flashlight for night hiking or exploring caves as you will need to see into the distance.

Battery Life / Run Time

The battery life or the run time of a flashlight for camping is another important factor as you don’t want your light source to die when you need it most. The battery life of a flashlight will depend on the type of batteries that the flashlight uses and whether they are rechargeable or not. The battery life or run time of a flashlight is essential if you plan on doing a long night hike.

Power Source

The power source of a flashlight is an equally important factor to consider as it could be the difference between camping with light or not. While most flashlights use batteries as a power source, they are not the only way to power your flashlight.

Flashlight power sources can include:

  •         Battery-powered flashlights
  •         Rechargeable flashlights
  •         Solar flashlights
  •         Faraday flashlights

It’s a good idea to get a flashlight that offers two power source options such as battery and solar power options.

Battery-powered flashlights

Most flashlights on the market are operated by batteries, however, carrying batteries can be bulky and heavy. Rechargeable batteries are a good option as they can be charged up again and again and are more cost-effective than having to buy new batteries all the time.

Rechargeable batteries also take up less space in your backpack – you won’t have to carry packs of extra batteries – all you need is a small recharger for the car or a portable or solar charger. Rechargeable batteries are also far more environmentally friendly than regular batteries as a camper, the environment should be important to you.

Rechargeable Flashlights

A rechargeable flashlight is a good idea as it will save you money on batteries in the long run, but you will need to travel with a portable USB charger to recharge your flashlight. You can get solar-powered chargers, but if the sun doesn’t come out, you may be without light. If you have a rechargeable flashlight, make sure the campsite has a constant power outlet.

Solar Flashlights

This is a great option for saving on batteries but is very dependent on the weather. They cannot be recharged in very cloudy weather, or during the night and if you run out before nightfall, then you are stuck without the light.

Faraday Flashlights

Also known as “shake flashlights” this type of flashlight must be shaken to create a power source, however, they don’t produce a very bright light and are best as backup flashlights.

5. Solar flashlight 1

Solar flashlights are a great option for saving on batteries. SunNight Solar’s solar-powered flashlight by Sunnightsolar / Wiki Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Durability

You want a flashlight that is tough and durable and can handle bumps, knocks, and drops and that will serve you for years to come. Our flashlight should fit your needs and the type of adventures you enjoy.

If you tend to have water-based adventures, then a waterproof flashlight is your best bet, while climbing and mountainous activities will require an impact-resistant flashlight. Check the housing of the flashlight and make sure it is made well.

Weatherproof / Water-Resistant

This is an important factor to keep in mind when looking at flashlights for camping. It’s a good idea to get a waterproof flashlight (can withstand very cold temperatures, hail, snow, dust) and is water-resistant to withstand rain or being dropped into water. 

Water resistance in flashlights is measured using an IP rating system and is measured in three categories:

  •         IPX4 – water-resistant or splash-proof
  •         IPX7 – waterproof for submersion in one meter of water for 30 seconds
  •         IPX8 – waterproof for submersion in one meter of water for four hours

Portability

The size and weight of the flashlight is an important issue and will depend on your needs. Do you want something small and portable that fits your pocket, or do you want a large flashlight with plenty of handgrip space and an extra bright light source?

Smaller flashlights are lightweight and portable and don’t take up much space in your backpack, but larger flashlights can be brighter, have a longer beam distance, and be more durable. Look for a flashlight that does both – is lightweight, portable, easy to carry, and has a good lumen rating, beam distance, and durability.

Light Modes

Some flashlights have multiple light modes, allowing you to adjust the brightness from low to medium to high as needed. Others may offer three or more modes, including:

  •         Strobe (or Flash) mode: This mode acts as an emergency blinker and can be used in the case of emergencies. Some models may even offer a choice of strobe or flash modes with slow and fast options.
  •         Low-mode: This is the standard mode used for general camping activities like pitching tents, unpacking and packing, and cooking. This is also the best option for walking along an easy hiking trail at night.
  •         Mid-mode: The mid-mode is provided on some headlamp models to offer you more choice.
  •         High (or Max) mode: The high/max mode is best used when bright light is required.
  •         Boost (or Zoom) mode: This mode can be found on certain models only. It omits an extra-intense and super bright light beam for just a few seconds, allowing you to have a quick look at something. This mode is highly energy-consuming and drains the batteries quickly, hence the reason it is designed to last only a few seconds.

Bear in mind, multiple light modes will use more battery power, so the type of batteries you use will play a role in this factor. 

Switch Types

Some flashlights have multiple switches to allow the user to quickly operate the light in different situations. These switch types can include a tail-cap switch or a body and head/tail twist switch. A tail-cap and body switch can either be a simple on/off switch or one with different modes.

Rotating or twisting switches on flashlights are the best kind of switches if you want to prevent the light from accidentally being switched on.

Bulb Type

Most flashlights use small LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which are preferable to other bulb types as they produce stronger lights, don’t drain the battery as much, and have a higher resistance to impact.

They use a semiconductor to produce light, are also more easily adjustable than other types of lights, have lower power consumption, and have excellent durability. The technology for LED lights continues to improve every year.

6. LED flashlights 1
Most flashlights use small LED (light-emitting diode) lights. A set of LED flashlights by
Brownse10 / Wiki Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Best Flashlight for Camping

Best Overall: Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight

The Goal Zero Torch 250 is a fantastic all-in-one flashlight with multiple recharging options that doubles as a power bank. Measuring 10 inches in length and weighing 14.4 ounces, the Goal Zero Torch 250 is slightly larger than other flashlights but packs a punch when it comes to features.

It functions as a traditional flashlight, with two brightness settings and a red emergency light with a maximum output of 180 lumens, which is ideal for scanning a campsite in the dark. It also houses a series of LEDs that creates a floodlight or a lantern effect, which is great for setting up inside your tent for all-around light.

The Goal Zero has innovative integrated hooks so it can be hung from a tent pole or a tree branch and it boasts a rechargeable Li-NMC battery that offers up to seven hours of light at high intensity and 15 hours at low intensity. It can also provide 48 hours as a floodlight on a low setting. The battery can be charged by built-in solar panels, using the hand crank, or plugging it into a USB charger.

Pros

  •         Rechargeable Li-NMC battery
  •         Multiple charging options
  •         Doubles as a power bank
  •         Maximum output of 180 lumens
  •         LED lights for floodlight/lantern options
  •         Up to 48 hours of light

Cons

  •         Slightly larger and heavier than other flashlights

Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight, Lantern and USB Recharger with Integrated Solar Panel
  • Built-in solar panel, USB charging cable, and hand-crank for light anywhere
  • Multiple light options that allow to use as a 250 total lumen output flashlight, floodlight or red emergency light
  • Save on power with bright and half-bright modes
  • Long-lasting, advanced lithium 4400mAh battery and integrated USB port charges phones and boosts tablets to stay connected
  • Run Time: 7 - 48 Hours

Runner-Up: GearLight High-Powered LED Flashlight S2000

Boasting a military-grade aluminum construction and compact enough to fit into your pocket, the GearLight High-Powered LED Flashlight S2000 is a durable and touch flashlight for all kinds of adventures.

Powered by four AA batteries, the flashlight can provide an ultra-wide beam for up to 10 hours on low power and is water and weather resistant. The high-powered flashlight can be dropped from up to 10 meters and still survive due to its military-grade aluminum construction, and it comes with a lanyard for hands-free usage.

Pros

  •         Powerful bright light
  •         Sturdy construction
  •         Able to withstand drops
  •         Has a solid, weighty feel
  •         Adjustable beams

Cons

  •         Short battery life
  •         Difficulty switching between modes
  •         It might be too bulky for some users

Sale
GearLight S2000 LED Flashlight - Super Bright, Powerful, Mid-Size Tactical Flashlights with High Lumens for Outdoor Activity & Emergency Use
  • BRIGHT - The S2000 is GearLight's biggest and brightest flashlight. Its ultra-wide beam effortlessly illuminates an entire backyard, and has double the lumen output as other tactical flashlights.
  • DURABLE - This high-powered flash light is virtually indestructible. Made from military-grade aluminum, it's also water-resistant and strong enough to survive a 10-foot drop.
  • MID-SIZE - These flash lights are big on power, but still compact enough to fit in your backpack, survival bag, or glove compartment. Ideal for outdoor adventures and preparedness.
  • VALUE - This emergency light comes with (1) S2000 flashlight, (1) AA battery holder (batteries not included), (1) lanyard, and (1) user manual.
  • SIZE - Measuring ‎7.5 x 1.3 x 1.3 inches, this heavy duty tactical flashlight works great as a hiking or camping flashlight. They're also great flashlights for emergencies outdoors or at home.

Best for Off-Grid Camping: Maglite Mini PRO

If you are looking for an old-school flashlight that is powered by batteries, then the tough little Maglite Mini PRO is your best bet. One of the world’s best-known flashlight brands, Maglite is a good choice if you want a sturdy and tough flashlight that can be used when camping off the grid and access to charging devices is limited.

The Maglite Mini PRO is a compact, rugged and inexpensive flashlight measuring just over six inches in length and weighing just 4.2 ounces. It has a highly durable, weather-resistant aluminum body with a diamond knurled handle for a comfortable grip and comes with a convenient nylon belt holster.

The flashlight’s LED bulb provides a respectable 272 lumens of brightness, and it boasts an adjustable beam focus down to a powerful spotlight that will project for up to 535 feet. While it doesn’t have the battery life of other rechargeable flashlights (it has a 2.5-hour battery life), it is powered by a pair of AA batteries which are light and easy to carry.

Pros

  •         Convenient for backcountry and off-grid camping
  •         Lightweight and compact
  •         Weather-resistant
  •         Diamond knurled handle for comfortable grip
  •         Nylon belt holster

Cons

  •         Runs on batteries – non-rechargeable
  •         Short battery life

Maglite Mini PRO LED 2-Cell AA Flashlight with Holster Black - SP2P01H
  • This product adds a great value
  • Product is highly durable and very easy to use
  • Superior Quality Craftsmanship with Weather-Resistant Seals, Aluminum Body, & Diamond Knurled Design
  • Offers a powerful projecting beam that adjust from spot to flood with the turn of the head
  • Renowned for its quality, durability, and reliability

Best for Durability: Fenix UC35 Rechargeable Flashlight

Constructed from solid aircraft-grade aluminum, the Fenix UC35 Rechargeable Flashlight is a tactical, pocket-sized, compact flashlight and one of the toughest flashlights for camping on the market. Housed in a dust- and waterproof casing, the flashlight can be immersed in water up to two meters deep. It runs on a 3500 mAH Li-ion rechargeable battery and has five light modes with up to 800 hours of light time on the lowest setting.

– Turbo: 1000 Lumens (2 hr 15 min)

– High: 350 Lumens (4 hr 10 min)

– Med: 150 Lumens (10 hr. 40 min)

– Low: 50 Lumens (28 hr 10 min)

– Moonlight: 1 Lumen (800 hr)

– Strobe: 1000 Lumens

Other features of the Fenix UC35 Rechargeable Flashlight include a boot-up battery level indication and low-voltage warning function; digitally regulated output for maintaining constant brightness; reverse polarity protection to protect from improper battery insertion; an anti-reflective coating on the glass of the lens, and a tactical tail switch that features instant activation.

The Fenix UC35 Rechargeable Flashlight has a beam distance of 266 meters and the beam can also be set to the spot of the flood. The flashlight comes with an EdisonBright BBX3 charging cable carry case.

Pros

  •         Anti-roll and anti-slip body design Durable design
  •         Six light settings including strobe
  •         Exceptional battery life
  •         Beam distance of 266 meters
  •         Lifetime guarantee

Cons

  •         Expensive

Fenix UC35 V2.0 2018 USB Rechargeable 1000 Lumen Cree XP-L HI V3 LED Flashlight with, 3500mAh Rechargeable Battery, USB Charging Cable and EdisonBright Cable Carry case Bundle
  • 1000 Lumen max utilizing Cree XP-L HI V3 LED with lifespan of 50,000 hours
  • Tactical tail switch features instant activation
  • 5V/2A Micro USB rechargeable, included rechargeable Li-ion battery
  • Powered by one rechargeable Li-ion battery (included) or two 3V/CR123A Lithium batteries
  • Bundle includes EdisonBright BBX3 battery carry case.

Best Head-Mounted Flashlight: BioLite HeadLamp 330

The BioLite HeadLamp 330 is a head-mounted flashlight that allows you to keep both hands free while hiking, setting up camp, or cooking over a campfire. Head-mounted flashlights, also known as headlamps, are great for reading in the dark.

The BioLite HeadLamp 330 is a nifty, rechargeable headlight with a small battery compartment at the back and a flat LED light at the front which sits snugly against the forehead. The slimline design of the LED light prevents the headlamp from bouncing around while walking and the headband is made from stretchable, moisture-wicking fabric so it’s comfortable and easy to put on.

This head-mounted flashlight is super lightweight, weighing just 2.4 ounces, and boasts a maximum output of 330 lumens. At its highest setting, the battery is good for 3.5 hours, and the lowest setting can provide weaker light for up to 40 hours. It can be recharged from a mobile phone via a Micro USB cable.

Pros

  •         Lightweight and compact
  •         Slimline design
  •         The stretchable, moisture-wicking headband
  •         Maximum output of 330 lumens

Cons

  •         Fairly short battery life when on high power

Sale
BioLite HeadLamp 330 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light
  • The ultrathin 3D molded housing sits flat on your forehead. That means no bounce, no slip. By integrating our electronics into the fabric, we pack all your lighting into an ultra-thin facing that is designed to fit as seamlessly as a contact lens.
  • Moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry for any activity and the rechargeable battery means you can leave the alkalines behind.
  • Max Output 330 Lumens, Adjustable Front Panel, Red Night Vision Included
  • 40 hours of battery on LO, 3.5 Hours on HIGH, Recharge Via Micro USB.
  • HeadLamp 330 is made from high-quality moisture-wicking band that keeps your forehead comfortable and dry during activity. Best of all - no abrasion points. The easy-adjust clips also take the guess work out of right-sizing your band.

Best USB-Operated Flashlight Tool: Goal Zero Flashlight Tool

Small, compact, and weighing only two ounces, the USB Flashlight Goal Zero Tool is small enough to carry in your pocket while hiking or enjoying the outdoors. The small flashlight plugs into any standard USB port such as a portable power bank and is also compatible with the Goal Zero Switch 10 Recharger.

The flashlight has a three-watt white LED that provides a bright 110 Lumen light and flood beam with an adjustable focal point.

Pros

  •         Compact size and lightweight
  •         Adjustable focal point
  •         Works with any USB port

Cons

  •         Only one lighting and beam setting
  •         Not a standalone product

Goal Zero USB Flashlight Tool
  • Intended for use with switch 10 recharger
  • 4 hours of run time with switch 10
  • 110 lumen, White, 3W Cree LED light
  • Weighs Only 2 ounces

A good flashlight is an essential part of your camping gear and it is important to find one that suits your needs, so you have enough light when it’s required the most. Whether you are going camping with the family for a weekend or heading into the mountains for a week-long sojourn away from civilization, a good flashlight can make or break your trip. A great option is to find a rechargeable flashlight that has a bright light, multiple light settings, is weather and water-resistant, and durable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are lumens?

Lumens (lm) are a measure of the total amount of visible light to the human eye that is emitted from a lamp or light source in all directions. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light will appear; the lower the lumen rating, the dimmer the light will be. Also, a light with a high lumens rating will consume energy at a higher rate than a light with a lower lumens rating. The best flashlights on the market will have lumen ratings of 250 and higher.

What is beam distance?

Beam distance is an equally important feature in a flashlight i.e., how far the light will reach. A flashlight with a beam distance of 300 feet will allow you to see 300 feet in front of you in good conditions, while a 400-foot beam length will allow you to see 400 feet away.

While lumens and beam distance are the two most important functions of a flashlight, it does depend on what you require your device to do. If you want to light up the immediate area in front of you for working, cooking, and looking at something closely, then the lumen rating is important. If you want to see further away like on a hiking path, in a cave, or down an alleyway, then the beam distance is important.

There are three basic types of light beam used in flashlights:

  •         Flood (or Wide): A flood or a wide beam is useful for general camping activities like pitching tents and cooking over a fire, as well as reading and intricate, up-close work like watchmaking. Flood beams are broad-scope beams that do not cover a great distance.
  •         Spot (or Focused or Narrow): Spot beams, also known as focused or narrow beams, are the best form of light for long-distance viewing. This type of beam is best for navigating terrain and hiking trails in the dark or exploring dark caves. 
  •         Flood/Spot: This dual-beam type is the most versatile type of beam as it can be adjusted to cater to all activities from caving and hiking to camping and cooking. 

The best flashlights on the market have good lumen ratings and beam distances, so keep an eye out for those features when shopping around.

What is the best rechargeable headlamp?

The best rechargeable headlamp has several features that make it stand out above its competitors. It will have at least 250 lumens of light; a variety of beam types and a good beam distance. It will also be compatible with rechargeable batteries and a USB recharging port and will have a run time of between 12 and 55 hours.

What is better – battery-operated flashlights or rechargeable flashlights?

Some flashlights run on AAA or AA batteries, some models run via a rechargeable USB port, and some models use both batteries and USB. The type of flashlight will depend on what the lamp will be used for.

Rechargeable USB flashlights are ideal for people who like hiking or trail running in the early mornings or evenings so they can be recharged when needed. Flashlights that use both batteries and USB are better options for backcountry camping or hiking so if the batteries die, there is an option for recharging the headlamp with a portable charger.  

Flashlights are designed to work with a variety of batteries and it’s a good idea to check what type of battery your choice of flashlight uses as this can affect the run time of the lamp. Lithium batteries are better than alkaline batteries in cold conditions, so go for a flashlight with lithium batteries if you live in a cold climate or plan to use the headlamp in cold weather. Rechargeable nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries also perform well in cold conditions and can be used in flashlights.

When it comes to battery usage, different flashlights can hold anywhere between a few and a few hundred hours of charge, however, when idle, rechargeable batteries tend to lose power, so it’s a good idea to carry alkaline batteries as a backup in case the rechargeable batteries die in your hour of need.

Happy Camping!

Best Flashlight for Camping 1 1 Best Flashlight for Camping 2 1