What makes the “best” flashlight? There are specialty lights available for a wide range of applications, but the perfect all-purpose flashlight combines compact size, durability, and above all, a bright beam of light. All four of our favorites utilize LEDs (light emitting diodes) which are energy efficient for maximum battery life as well as extremely durable.
Here is our round-up of the best led flashlights of 2011:
EagleTac P100C2 LED Flashlight
The Eagletac P10 C2 is a perfect everyday light for everything from household use to outdoor adventure. Measuring just 5″ long, the P100’s anodized aircraft-aluminum case is completely weatherproof and dunk-proof, and features a shock mounted lens and battery housing. The EagleTac’s pair of CR123 batteries deliver 55 lumens of light from the Cree XP-E diode for up to 8 hours, or 220 lumens in “turbo” mode with a simple twist of the head.
I own the P100, and I’ve been extremely happy with its performance. The EagleTac’s only shortcoming, according to Amazon reviewers, is its shortened batterly life when used with rechargeable cells. Overall, reviewers praise the construction and brightness of the EagleTac light, awarding it 4.5 stars.
Pelican 2360 LED Flashlight
Lithium batteries deliver great performance, but some users like the convenience of good old fashioned AA’s, so we’ve included the Pelican 2360 in our list. Its bright 95-lumen output is more than enough light for most applications, and a machined aluminum body provides dunk-proof water resistance and solid durability. Runtime is limited to around 2 hours, but the AA format means that rechargeable batteries like Sanyo’s Eneloop are easily swappable.
Simply put, reviewers love the Pelican 2360, which earned a 4.7 out of 5 stars at Optics Planet and a perfect 5 out of 5 at Amazon. Users praised its high performance and affordable price tag, as well as the LED’s superior life compared to similar xenon lights.
The Pelican 2360 LED flashlight is available at Amazon for $35.92.
SureFire 6PX Pro LED Flashlight
Simply put, SureFire is a legend in the flashlight world. And although their lights aren’t a bargain, they offer serious performance and high-end quality construction. An anodized aluminum body and impact-resistant polycarbonate lens help the 6PX stand up to the bumps and bruises of heavy use, and gasket seals keep the weather out. Clicking the tail switch cycles through low (15 lumen) and high (200 lumen) settings, and the pair of CR123 batteries keeps the SureFire blazing for up to 45 hours on its low beam.
Reviewers from REI give the SureFire 6PX Pro an excellent 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only drawbacks cited are the lack of a lanyard ring and adjustable beam focus, but users love the light’s durability and low/high settings.
The SureFire 6PX Pro flashlight is available for $79 from REI.
Fenix TK35 LED Flashlight
The Fenix TK35 is the biggest light in our list, both in size and power. It offers six brightness options, which is a good thing: on the highest mode, its Cree XM-L LED throws a whopping 820 lumens of light (serious overkill for anything but technical outdoor usage). It has other handy features besides blazing brightness though, including two flash modes, a signal function, and a waterproof anodized casing that houses its four CR123A batteries.
GearJunkie.com, a popular outdoor equipment blog, listed the Fenix in its “Best in Show” awards from the 2011 Outdoor Retailers convention. And Amazon.com flashlight reviews give the TK35 a perfect 5 star rating for its power and compact size compared to full size competitors like the “D-cell” Maglite.
The Fenix TK35 LED flashlight is available for $109.95 from Amazon.