The Best Keychain Flashlights to Carry With You
Got a light? Always be prepared for sudden dark situations with one of these quality keychain flashlights.
BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
- BEST OVERALLNitecore TUP 1000 lm Small FlashlightCheck Latest Price
- HONORABLE MENTIONMecArmy X3S Copper/Brass Mini Keychain EDC FlashlightCheck Latest Price
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCKMeco Mini Keychain FlashlightCheck Latest Price
If you’ve ever fumbled with your keys in a lock because the porch light went out or stumbled around in the dark due to a blown fuse, you’ve wished for a flashlight on your person—instead of in that drawer somewhere. Sure, these days folks rely on their phone flashlight, but in an emergency, you might not want to waste the charge to illuminate your way. Invest in the best keychain flashlight, though, and you can shine a brighter light than that from your cell phone and keep it handy wherever you bring your keys. Read on to learn what to look for in a keychain flashlight and why the seven models below rate as some of the best in their respective categories.
- BEST OVERALL: Nitecore TUP 1000 lm Small Flashlight
- HONORABLE MENTION: MecArmy X3S Copper/Brass Mini Keychain EDC Flashlight
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Meco Mini Keychain Flashlight
- MOST COMPACT: Olight I1R 2 Eos 150 Lumens Rechargeable Keychain
- MOST DURABLE: EverBrite 150 Lumens Tiny Rechargeable LED Flashlight
- MOST VERSATILE: WOWTAC W1 Rechargeable EDC Flashlight
- BEST RECHARGEABLE: NITECORE TINI 380 Lm USB Rechargeable LED Flashlight
Features to Look for in the Best Keychain Flashlight
Consider these key features when shopping for a keychain flashlight.
Lumens (lm) is the unit of measurement for the total amount of light visible to the human eye. This measurement can also be described as the brightness produced by a light source. The higher a lumen rating of a keychain flashlight, the more visible light it can create, and the brighter it will appear.
To choose a lumen rating for a keychain flashlight, it helps to understand and compare it to the level of lumens various common products produce. For example, the average 60-watt residential lightbulb produces 800 lumens. An 800-lumen flashlight, however, would appear brighter because the light is directed in a narrow beam, like a car headlight. The high-beam headlights on a car produce about 1,200 lumens, but because it’s a focused beam, it appears much brighter. A smartphone flashlight only produces between 10 to 20 lumens, though specialized phones may be capable of reaching 100 lumens. Now that you know some common lumen counts, you can decide how bright you want your keychain flashlight to be.
Keychain flashlights commonly use a combination of an LED and a reflector to create a powerful beam of light. The reflector, which is a cone made of metal or shiny plastic, surrounds the LED bulb to reflect light out in a concentrated beam. Reflectors are either smooth or have the texture of an orange peel.
- Smooth reflectors are designed to reflect a focused beam that reaches a further linear distance than an orange peel reflector, for a narrower, cleaner beam of light.
- Orange peel reflectors are used to reflect light out in a wider area than smooth reflectors, allowing them to create a broader beam at a shorter distance. In general, orange peel reflectors are better for keychain flashlights as their applications more commonly demand a broad light over a far-reaching light.
Rechargeable vs. Disposable Batteries
Keychain flashlights have two primary power sources: rechargeable batteries and disposable batteries.
- Rechargeable batteries are more cost-effective if your keychain flashlight will be getting a lot of use—you’ll buy far fewer replacement batteries over time. Rechargeable batteries in keychain flashlights are a smaller version of the lithium-ion batteries in your cell phone. Depending on the model, the flashlight can be plugged into a USB port on your computer, placed into a designated charger, or plugged directly into the wall for a quick recharge. Rechargeable batteries don’t have the same risk of rupturing that some disposables have.
- Disposable batteries are great for a keychain flashlight that is only used in emergencies because the batteries will not often need to be changed. They cost less initially but will require frequent replacements if the keychain flashlight is used regularly. Alkaline disposable batteries are acceptable for short-time use, but they can rupture and leak if they get overheated. To avoid this issue, only use lithium batteries to power your keychain flashlight, especially if you intend to store it for an extended period of time, such as with a survival kit.
The light produced by a keychain flashlight extends out a specific maximum distance from the head of the flashlight depending on its design. Known as the “beam throw,” it is commonly measured in feet. Beam throw is increased by using a smooth reflector, a high-lumen bulb, and a narrow flashlight head to focus the beam of light into a tighter area. This allows a greater amount of visible light to be concentrated farther away from the flashlight so that it appears brighter. However, as the beam increases in concentration, the area that can be illuminated becomes more narrow.
One major benefit most keychain flashlights have over cellphones is durability. Keychain flashlights come in a wide variety of outer casings ranging from light plastic to aircraft-grade anodized aluminum, which is both lightweight and impressively resistant to damage. You can also find keychain flashlights in hard plastic, steel, copper, and brass, though metal casings tend to be more expensive than plastic.
Water-resistance is another factor when it comes to keychain flashlight durability. You’ll want your keychain flashlight to be ready in any type of emergency, among a few other tools, including floods and heavy rainstorms, as well as situations of accidental submergence. Find a waterproof or at least a water-resistant keychain flashlight to ensure you will still have light even if the unit is exposed to water.
Our Top Picks
These keychain flashlights are some of the best available, based on the above buying factors, price, effectiveness, and reputation.
1. BEST OVERALL: Nitecore TUP 1000 lm Small Flashlight
The Nitecore TUP 1000 lm Keychain Flashlight, which weighs in at 1.88 ounces, checks all the boxes for a superior product. It boasts a whopping maximum brightness of 1,000 lumens for a directed beam that’s equal in lumens to a regular car headlight (not a high beam), and it can be set to five different brightness levels, visible on an OLED display.
The robust body of the keychain flashlight is made of durable aluminum alloy which makes it impact resistant up to 3 feet. Its battery can run for a maximum of 70 hours, and it can be charged using the built-in micro-USB port, which has a rubber covering to help protect it from moisture and debris. And if you prefer a long beam of light, the smooth reflector helps throw the powerful beam up to 591 feet.
2. HONORABLE MENTION: MecArmy X3S Copper/Brass Mini Keychain EDC Flashlight
Keychain flashlights are usually touted for their 193-foot beam throw, or for being waterproof at up to 6 feet underwater. The MecArmy X3S Brass Keychain Flashlight has both, plus a clean, 100 percent brass finish that really makes it stand out. Orange peel reflectors keep the beam somewhat close, but with 130 lumens of brightness spreading out, you can see a wider area. The keychain flashlight weighs a mere 0.63 ounces, is impact resistant up to 5 feet, and can easily be recharged with a mini-USB port located under the light’s head in just one hour.
3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Meco Mini Keychain Flashlight
It’s hard to beat the price or convenience of these 10 identical keychain flashlights in one pack—so you’ll want one in every room and will feel free to give them out as party favors, too. Each keychain flashlight weighs only 0.49 ounces, produces 45 lumens of light (four times as bright as most smartphone lights), and uses an orange peel reflector to produce a moderate maximum beam of 25 feet. The plastic keychain flashlight uses disposable batteries that can be changed with a precision screwdriver; however, with 10 in a pack and a battery cost that is higher than the units themselves, many users report disposing of the flashlight when it’s spent and just grabbing another.
4. MOST COMPACT: Olight I1R 2 Eos 150 Lumens Rechargeable Keychain
The Olight I1R 2 Eos Keychain Flashlight is as compact as you can get without sacrificing utility. It weighs just 0.46 ounces (less than two household keys), so you won’t even feel it on your keychain. It delivers a maximum brightness output of 150 lumens and uses an orange peel reflector for a wide beam capable of reaching a maximum beam throw of 131 feet. The rechargeable flashlight can be fully charged in 75 minutes using the built-in micro-USB port.
The water-resistant unit can be submerged up to 6 feet without damage and is made from impact-resistant aluminum alloy.
5. MOST DURABLE: EverBrite 150 Lumens Tiny Rechargeable LED Flashlight
At a hefty 3.2 ounces, this keychain flashlight may be noticeable in your pocket, but its weight is due to aircraft-grade aluminum with a premium type Ⅲ hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish. This durable finish makes the keychain flashlight impact resistant at up to an impressive 32 feet, and its tight seal means it’s water-resistant against rain, sleet, or snow for use in any weather.
The Everbrite Tiny Rechargeable Keychain Flashlight produces 160 lumens of brightness and can be used for up to 10 hours before needing a recharge using the micro-USB port. A smooth reflector allows the beam to reach an impressive distance of 295 feet, so you’ll never struggle to see what is in front of you.
6. MOST VERSATILE: WOWTAC W1 Rechargeable EDC Flashlight
Let there be light in a host of situations! This versatile little number boasts a built-in magnetic tailcap for hands-free mounting that’s especially helpful during automotive repairs; if no metal is available, you can mount the keychain flashlight with its dual-direction clip. The 2.06-ounce keychain flashlight recharges with a micro-USB port and reaches a maximum brightness of 562 lumens.
Despite its orange peel reflector for a more dispersed beam, the beam throw still reaches up to 413 feet. Designed for use in almost any conditions, the Wowtac W1 Rechargeable Keychain Flashlight is made of an aluminum alloy and black anodized surface finish that can be fully submerged at up to 5 feet and is impact resistant to a fall of about 5 feet.
7. BEST RECHARGEABLE: NITECORE TINI 380 Lm USB Rechargeable LED Flashlight
The Nitecore TINI USB Rechargeable Keychain Flashlight can be easily recharged for a maximum runtime of 60 hours using the micro-USB port and included cable. The integrated power indicator will let you know when it’s time to recharge, taking the guesswork out of keeping the flashlight ready for use.
The orange peel reflector delivers a beam throw of 210 feet and produces a brightness of 380 lumens, making it ideal for any emergency situation, camping, or simply locating your locked front door in the middle of the night. The 0.47-ounce keychain flashlight is constructed from durable aircraft-grade aluminum and has minor water and dust resistance.
FAQs About Your New Keychain Flashlight
Check out the answers to some commonly asked questions about keychain flashlights.
Q. What is a keychain flashlight used for?
Keychain flashlights are versatile tools helpful in emergency situations like a power outage, or even disorienting an attacker using the strobe function. They can also be used for more common purposes, like illuminating a keyhole or locating a lost object under a piece of furniture or vehicle. Of course, you’ll want to take a keychain flashlight camping to find your way back to your tent at night.
Q. What advantages does a keychain flashlight offer?
Keychain flashlights have several advantages over cellphones or bulkier pocket flashlights, with the most obvious being their weight. Some keychain flashlights weigh less than 0.5 ounces and can barely be felt on your keychain.
Despite their small size, keychain flashlights can emit up to 1,000 lumens of brightness, while the typical smartphone can only produce 10 to 20 lumens. Keychain flashlights are also far more durable than the average smartphone light, and are often built with greater impact resistance than a smartphone casing due to their light yet sturdy construction.