In situations like searching for the fuse box in a power outage or checking your car’s stalled engine in the dark, a handheld flashlight is an essential piece of gear. Recent advancements in rechargeable battery technology have made flashlights even more convenient tools.
Rechargeable flashlights come in a variety of sizes, battery types, brightness levels, and capabilities, ranging from pocket models to large, powerful spotlights capable of signaling aircraft. Use this guide for essential shopping considerations, and to see why the following products are among the best rechargeable flashlight models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Maglite RL1019 LED Rechargeable Flashlight System
- RUNNER-UP: GEPROSMA Super Bright Most Powerful Handheld Spotlight
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ENERGIZER LED Tactical Flashlight
- BEST ULTRA BRIGHT: AlpsWolf Rechargeable Flashlight
- BEST POCKET: Vnina Rechargeable Flashlight with Magnet
- BEST TACTICAL: Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL 750 Lumen
- BEST SPOTLIGHT: GOODSMANN Rechargeable Spotlight Waterproof Flashlight
Types of Rechargeable Flashlights
Most rechargeable flashlights fall into one of three categories: pocket, tactical, or spotlight. Pocket flashlights are small and convenient for everyday use, often including lanyards, key chains, or other attachment options. Tactical flashlights serve multiple functions, while spotlights are ultra-bright and easy to control.
Read on to learn more about these types, to help you determine which category of rechargeable flashlight suits your needs best.
Pocket flashlights are excellent choices for everyday carry because they are small, lightweight, and convenient. But beware: Not all pocket flashlights guarantee durable, long-lasting performance.
Pocket flashlight designers place diminutive size at a premium, so small models cannot typically accommodate the heavier batteries that provide extended use between charges. What’s more, some manufacturers sacrifice the durability of sturdy materials like alloys, metals, and synthetic plastics to opt for flimsier plastics instead.
The best rechargeable flashlight for pocket carry combines build quality, durability, brightness, and battery power with compactness and convenience.
Tactical flashlights trace their origin to military and police organizations. They’re usually designed to military-grade specifications and constructed from durable materials. Tactical flashlights are bright for their size, illuminate large areas, and are useful in many situations. Some offer functionality beyond that of a traditional flashlight, such as having a strobe light mode.
Tactical flashlights are an attractive option for campers, police officers, soldiers, hikers, and anyone else who needs a bright, durable flashlight that packs well in a hiking pack or toolkit.
Spotlights are ultrabright, capable of a highly focused beam, and typically do not cast light any wider than 45 degrees. They are easy to control and point, often incorporating a pistol grip for enhanced ease of use.
Large designs house heavier batteries, making spotlights the best rechargeable flashlight option for trekking, camping, boating, survival, and other activities with long periods between charging sessions.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rechargeable Flashlight
Each of the three main flashlight categories includes lights of varying design and intended use. Battery type, size, weight, light output, beam distance, and charging time are just a few features that considerably impact the flashlight’s life span and user experience.
Size and Weight
Flashlights range in size from a few inches to several feet and in weight from a few ounces to several pounds. Consider the intended use of your flashlight. Would a pocket flashlight serve better, or would you get more use out of a spotlight? A pocket flashlight may be convenient, but models made of heavier material may be more durable.
Keep in mind that batteries are one of the heaviest components of flashlights. Adding more batteries provides extended life at the expense of extra weight. A heavy flashlight is not necessarily brighter than a lightweight one, but it may have a longer battery life.
Here’s a rundown of the battery types available on rechargeable flashlights:
- Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries offer high amounts of energy in lightweight packages. Li-ion batteries will last from 450 to 700 life cycle charges. These batteries can explode if they come in contact with water, so they are not the top choice for outdoor use.
- Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries operate in temperatures from -5 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and endure between 500 and 800 life cycles. They have a higher capacity than NiCad and a smaller capacity than Li-ion batteries.
- Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) batteries work well in extreme environments, provide bright light, and have the longest life span of about 700 to 1,000 life cycles. But NiCad batteries suffer from a phenomenon called the “memory effect,” in which they lose their maximum energy capacity if repeatedly recharged after being only partially discharged, as though the battery “remembers” the smaller capacity. To prevent this problem, fully discharge and charge NiCad batteries once a month.
Lumens are a standard unit of measurement used to denote the amount of light a rechargeable flashlight emits. A high lumen rating indicates a high light output, while fewer lumens translates to dimmer light. Consider the intended operating environment for your flashlight when choosing an appropriate lumen rating.
Flashlights also emit beams of different sizes, and some offer adjustable beams and dimness settings for more efficient use. Spotlights tend to skew toward a narrow, focused beam of light, while tactical flashlights offer adjustable beams that illuminate vast swaths.
Beam distance measures the distance at which the flashlight beam will produce the light of a full moon. Manufacturers sometimes note beam distance on the packaging and in specification information. The distance a flashlight can project light depends on the battery source, mode, and overall capability of the flashlight.
Models across all three types offer choices for focusing the beam over a distance. Some flashlights include more efficient eco-modes that allow for extended periods of dimmer light. Lower power modes may reduce the flashlight’s ability to project light in favor of conserving battery power.
Many flashlights include adjustable pieces that manipulate the size and distance of a beam. Consider the distances at which you hope to use the flashlight to determine which beam distance works best for your needs.
Run time refers to how long a flashlight can provide light. Some flashlights include dimming modes for extended periods of dimmer light.
The industry measures run time in milliamp hours, or mAh capacity; mAh indicates the storage capacity of the battery. Higher mAh ratings translate to longer run times. A flashlight with a higher mAh may not be brighter than a lower one, but it will last longer.
While batteries have become more efficient, they still don’t last forever. Charging methods, which vary from model to model, include USB cable, charging cradle, removable batteries, or even solar power.
Manufacturers use different charging techniques, and many batteries require specific chargers that don’t work with other brands. Consider the future location and use of your rechargeable flashlight when selecting the charging method.
“Waterproof” and “water resistant” are not synonymous terms. To know how deep into water you can take your flashlight, learn its IP (for “Ingress Protection,” aka “International Protection”) rating. The IP rating indicates how much immersion in water the device can bear:
- IPX0: no water protection
- IPX1: protection from dripping water
- IPX2: protection from vertically dripping water
- IPX3: protection from sprays up to 60 degrees
- IPX4: protection from splashing water in any direction
- IPX5: protection from water jets in any direction
- IPX6: protection from powerful water jets
- IPX7: protection in water up to 3 feet (1 meter)
- IPX8: protection when immersed in water over 3 feet
IP rating is a critical consideration for marine or outdoor flashlight usage, but some level of IPX protection is beneficial for standard home and auto applications as protection against water damage.
Our Top Picks
Picking the best rechargeable flashlight may require some research, but we scoured the market to find quality models with solid features. Check out this list of rechargeable flashlights for emergency use.
The Maglite brand has long been popular in the law enforcement community for sturdy construction, reliable function, and bright light. This set includes four RL1019 rechargeable tactical flashlights, powered by NiCad batteries with wall and car chargers. Stretch run time with an eco-mode setting of 66 lumens or crank it up to full power at 643 lumens for a brighter, shorter light. A quarter-turn of the head adjusts beam width from spotlight to full flood along with outdoor, law enforcement, and military/tactical modes.
The RL1019, which is constructed from durable aluminum alloy, weighs 2 pounds. The flashlights are IPX4 water-resistant, drop resistant, and certified by the National Tactical Officers Association for use by law enforcement.
For a quality rechargeable spotlight—especially for outdoor and marine use—consider this GEPROSMA model. The spotlight is a waterproof marine unit capable of generating 6,000 lumens. It includes a red and blue strobe mode for emergencies and charges its 10,000 mAh batteries via USB cable.
Its aluminum-alloy body is strong and IPX5 waterproof rated. One full charge on the included lithium-ion batteries provides 10 hours of run time on the brightest settings and 30 hours on the dimmest.
If in the market for a reasonably priced tactical flashlight, check out this 300-lumen ENERGIZER LED Tactical Flashlight. Made from aircraft-grade alloy metal, it’s IPX4 water-resistant. Four light modes include strobe settings and eco-mode for up to 35 hours run time on a NiCad battery.
Compact and portable, this flashlight is a solid choice for toolkits or survival gear. It’s lightweight, durable, bright, and long-lasting (though it does not provide the amount of light associated with larger spotlight-type flashlights).
When ultrabright light is required, this AlpsWolf spotlight delivers an impressive 1,200 lumens. It boasts a 20-hour standby mode and different light modes that stretch run time. It’s not a pocket flashlight, but it works well for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities that may demand bright light. Its unique design can project light in two directions at once. The two included lithium-ion batteries are charged via USB cable.
Though brightness is its strong point, this AlpsWolf flashlight is constructed of plastic. While it claims to be waterproof, closer investigation reveals an IPX4 rating, which means it’s splash-proof but cannot defend against immersion. This ultrabright flashlight walks the line between a convenience model and security equipment for its potential wilderness application.
For dependable flashlights that are easy to carry, consider this set of two lithium-ion powered models that weigh a mere 10 ounces and measure only 6.5 inches long. They are IPX5 water-resistant, claim a high lumen illumination (but don’t specify by number), and include an adjustable focus, making them good to go when walking the dog at night or taking an impromptu camping trip.
While these Vnina flashlights can be charged with a typical USB charger, they include a magnetic base that charges while facilitating convenient storage. A built-in magnet adds versatility to the pocket flashlight’s placement and use.
For a tactical flashlight to rely on in a host of situations, this Streamlight ProTac may be a good choice. The 750-lumen tactical flashlight powers LED bulbs with lithium-ion batteries. Its three selectable programs include strobe light modes suitable for signaling or self-defense. The beam distance is 270 meters, and run time is 18 hours.
The Streamlight ProTac has touch programming technology that allows the operator to change the flashlight mode between high, low, and strobe with a tap of the finger. It boasts an anodized aircraft aluminum body with an IPX7 water-resistance rating.
To be prepared in all sorts of situations, including watery emergencies, consider keeping this GOODSMANN model close at hand. The rechargeable spotlight delivers 4,500 lumens up to 480 meters, or about 1,575 feet. The manufactured housing is constructed of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, or ABS, material for improved impact resistance and structural strength.
This marine spotlight weighs 1.64 pounds, and lithium-ion batteries recharge through the included home adapter and car charger. It comes with a carrying case for easy storage. Three modes of lighting allow the operator to choose the brightness level.
FAQs About Your Rechargeable Flashlight
For quick access to even more important info on the best rechargeable flashlights, check out the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Q. How many lumens should a good flashlight have?
Lumen rating varies with application, but a flashlight that offers between 500 to 2,000 lumens will cover everything from making it to the bathroom at the campsite to search-and-rescue operations.
Q. Are rechargeable flashlights waterproof?
Some, but not all models, are waterproof. Check the packaging, manufacturer’s specs, and instruction manual for information on your rechargeable flashlight’s IP rating and resistance to water. Don’t forget the difference between “waterproof” and “water-resistant.”
Q. How long do rechargeable flashlights last?
The function life of a rechargeable flashlight depends primarily on two factors: battery life and build quality. Heavy-duty external hardware may be limited only by the battery’s life cycle. That said, you can expect a rechargeable flashlight to last at least a year.