Best EDC Flashlights for Everyday Carry

The Best EDC Flashlights

Flashlights are just as important an EDC item as your wallet or a good pocket knife.

I’m sure that if you don’t carry a flashlight with you right now, you think that you don’t need one. That’s how I used to think.

But ever since I got an EDC flashlight, my opinion changed. Now I won’t go anywhere without at least a keychain light.

You don’t notice how often a flashlight would be useful until you carry one.

Still need some more convincing? Read on for some examples.

Already want an EDC flashlight but don’t know which one to get? Look a little further down for my recommendations!

Why You Should Always Carry a Flashlight

dark spooky forest at night illuminated by flashlight
Without your trusty flashlight, this path would be pitch black. Can you safely make it back to camp in the dark?

You already carry a lot of gear that is only used occasionally.

A pocket knife? Useful, but I don’t use mine every day.

Your driver’s license? Unless I’m buying “old-fashioned tooth disinfectant,” that’s rarely used.

However, you will run into darkness every single day. There is a 100% chance you will encounter the dark every 24 hour period.

Whether you’re in the city or tromping around the bush, when the sun goes down, you need artificial light.

dog pooping yard doggy landmine why carry flashlight at night
You’ll find Fido’s present while walking your date home

Having a flashlight can make your life much easier after darkness falls. A simple example is a keychain light that illuminates your vehicle’s lock so you can open it without hassle.

Or perhaps you need to avoid doggy landmines while walking in the dark.

Even with the sun up, shadows can make life difficult.

Simple tasks such as digging around in your closet can benefit from handheld light.

If you need to work on your car’s engine, even at noon, some of the components will be in shadow. Use a light!

You might need a light even in your own kitchen.

Perhaps you got too vigorous while washing your hands and your wedding band fell off your hands, bounced out of the sink, and rolled under the fridge.

Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen!

I whipped out my flashlight and found that sucker within moments. Without my light, we would have had to blindly grasp in the grimy dark for that ring.

Also, some people use a flashlight as a potential method of self-defense.

A bright light can disorient a would-be attacker, especially when strobing.

Why Not Use My Smartphone Flashlight?

In this era of smartphones with a camera flash and flashlight app, why buy an EDC flashlight?

smartphone flashlight short flood throw poor edc flashlight
Phones are better at lighting up faces than they are at practical use

Smartphone flashlights can provide emergency light, but they have many disadvantages.

Phones are unwieldy compared to a cylindrical flashlight. They are easier to drop and less durable than a flashlight when you do drop one (and you will!).

The light is shone in flood pattern, which does not throw the light forward any real distance.

Flood lights can be fine, but smartphone lights are too-floody and not bright enough to be usable except at really close distances.

Plus, modern phone batteries are notorious for not lasting a long time. You only make that worse by using it as a flashlight.

And finally, good luck using your phone’s light in the rain!

It’s always a good idea to use the best tool for the job. In this case, a flashlight is that best tool.

Important Features of a Good EDC Flashlight

Not all flashlights are good everyday carry material.

Those fifty-cent lights from the discount store may be able to shine a beam, but I’ve seen them die from the lightest of knocks. You want something better.

Here are several criteria to keep in mind when considering buying an EDC flashlight:

Ease of Carry

There are three basic types of EDC flashlights, based on their size and how easy they are to carry.

tiny keychain flashlight easy to use everyday carry light small and compact
If you can’t carry one of these around with you, your pants must be tight enough onlookers can read the mint date on the coins in your pocket. That penny was made in 1963.

Keychain flashlights are small enough to hang out with your house and car keys and therefore will almost always be able to be there for you. Even if you do not want to carry a big ol’ light in your pocket, I recommend a keychain light!

Next up are pocket flashlights. These are small and thin enough to hide in your pocket without annoying you. If you carry a pocket knife, you can fit one of these as well.

Sometimes they have a pocket clip as well, which can ensure that they won’t escape when you sit funny.

The largest EDC category flashlights are medium flashlights that are about 4 to 6 inches long. Comfortable in the hand but large enough to be noticeable in your pocket.

Extra-heavy small flashlights fit in this category as well, because you do not want to feel like you’re carrying a black hole in your pants.

I recommend having one of these bigger flashlights available, even if they are not always on your person. I keep several in my truck and one in a bag which goes almost everywhere with me.

You can fit one in your pocket if you are comfortable with the size and weight, or perhaps clipped to your belt. They are also excellent for purses.

Lumens/Candela/Intensity

For an EDC light, you want as bright a light as possible. Especially if there is a low power mode to save battery when you don’t need that much light.

Flashlight output is often measured in lumens, sometimes in candela. Lumens represent the total amount of light given by the flashlight.

Candela refers to how bright the light is at the source. Sort of like how horsepower measures the output power using a number of horses, candelas measure the output of light using a number of candles.

In both cases, the higher the better for our purposes.

Some flashlight manufacturers give both measurements and others only one. Lumens are more commonly seen in product specifications.

Battery Type

hand crank emergency flashlight for use when the power goes out
I do recommend these for emergency purposes, but not for EDC!

Flashlights always seem to be a little more power hungry than they should be.

A good EDC flashlight will either use a commonly sized battery or will be rechargeable.

If the flashlight requires expensive, funky batteries, then when it dies, good luck finding new batteries quickly!

Keychain flashlights often use watch batteries. Pocket flashlights frequently use AA or AAA batteries. Larger EDC flashlights will often use a battery such as the 18650.

Avoid those emergency flashlights which you can shake or crank to charge the battery for EDC.

They are not very bright and can take a long time before they are usable. They’re good for emergency kits because they last forever and don’t need external charging, but you want to carry something better on your person.

Environmental Resistance

Often, you’ll need light when the area around you is unfriendly toward electronics, such as rain or dust.

A good EDC flashlight will be dustproof and waterproof. Typically this is achieved with o-ring seals and tight tolerances all around.

What use is a flashlight that fizzles out at a little moisture?

Durability

This is the primary reason to use a quality light rather than a cheap flashlight.

XT11GT and XT12S underwater testing ipx8 30 minutes waterproof resistance
Good EDC flashlights, such as the Klarus XT11GT and XT12S, can be used no matter how much water is in the air!

A good flashlight will be shockproof and have a rugged shell, so even if you drop it onto concrete the light will continue to shine.

Cheap lights are made with cheap metal and poorly-soldered electronic that will break and fail from the constant jostling your stuff goes through as you move about on your day.

Quality flashlights are made from thicker metal and have more durable electronics. They also use shockproof LEDs and often have a system in place to regulate the current to the LED so it doesn’t overheat and cause damage to itself or the batteries.

Spend a little more now and you’ll save a lot of grief later.

Best EDC Flashlights

ModelMax LumensMax Battery LifeRatingPrice
Klarus XT11GT2,000170 Hours4.2$$$

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Acebeam X8025.00052 Hours4.4$$$$$

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RovyVon Aurora A35502.5 Hours4.8$$

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Streamlight MicroStream452.25 Hours4.4$

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Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA35014 Hours4.4$$

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SureFire Titan Plus3007 Hours4.2$$$

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Klarus XT12S1,600200 Hours4.8$$$

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Klarus XT11GT – Best LED EDC Flashlight

Product Specsklarus xt11gt best edc flashlight for everyday use

  • Lumens: 2000 to 10
  • Modes: Turbo, High, Medium, Low, Strobe, and SOS
  • Battery: 1x 18GT-IMR, 1x 18650, or 2x CR123A
  • Battery Life: 0.8 to 170 hours
  • Dimensions: 5.59″ long x 1.37″ wide
  • Weight: 4.58 oz without battery
  • Accessories: Charging cable, lanyard, spare o-ring, battery, holster, pocket clip

See full specs

Overview

The Klarus XT11GT is a medium-sized EDC flashlight which uses a fancy version of the 18650-style battery to output up to 2,000 lumens!

That battery is rechargeable using the built-in micro USB port. There is a battery level indicator, too.

The flashlight is made from anodized aluminum that’s dustproof, shockproof, and waterproof. You can turn it on and off underwater, which is not something you can do with most waterproof flashlights.

klarus xt11gt sale bundle with car USB charging cords and 18650 battery
Not to mention all of the accessories that come with this flashlight!

A portion of the body is knurled for grip and there is a strike bezel around the CREE XPH35 HD E4 LED’s glass.

There are five brightness modes: turbo, high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS. You get to the various brightnesses by hitting a switch on the end, a side button, or a rear lever.

You can switch the XT11GT between three control schemes: tactical, outdoor, and advanced tactical.

Tactical mode is the default mode, outdoor mode is for when you don’t need the strobe, and advanced tactical mode is for simplicity when the flashlight is mounted to a firearm.

Overall, the XT11GT is a durable, powerful, and easy-to-use (once you learn the controls!) flashlight.

I reviewed this flashlight more in-depth here.

Pros

  • Charging port
  • Many operating modes
  • Three operating buttons
  • You don’t have to cycle through the modes to get to the one you want

Cons

  • Complicated controls
  • Too large to fit in a pocket for most people
  • The lever switch is easy to activate on accident

Summary

The Klarus XT11GT is my favorite EDC flashlight, if you have the room. It’s also the best choice for self-defense and is a good rifle light, too. You can see my review of the XT11GT versus the XT12s here.

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Acebeam X80 – Brightest EDC Flashlight

Product Specsacebeam x80 soda can sized flashlight for when you want to blind someone two counties over

  • Max Lumens: 25,000 to 80
  • Modes: Turbo-Max, Turbo, High, Medium, Low, Ultra Low, Strobe, Red, Green, Blue, and Ultraviolet
  • Batteries: 4 x 18650
  • Battery Life: 1.3 to 52 hours
  • Dimensions: 4.63″ long x 2.56″ wide
  • Weight: 11.64 oz without battery
  • Accessories: None

See full specs

Overview

The AceBeam X80 is a soda can that can throw out a whopping 25,000 lumens on turbo-max mode!

It accomplishes this task using four special high-drain 18650 batteries. Unfortunately, such a large amount of light produces huge amounts of waste heat, so it can only stay on for up to one minute before the onboard electronics regulates the power down to 4,000 lumens.

acebeam x80 flashlight super bright brightest EDC LED flashlight
Check out all of those LEDs!

The body is made from anodized aluminum, knurled for grip, and is about the size of a soda can.

So, it’s not a pocket flashlight, but it will fit in a bug out bag without issue.

There is only a single button. You cycle through the modes using that button and double press it for turbo and turbo max.

There are red, green, blue, and ultraviolet LEDs for specialist uses as well.

Pros

  • EXTREMELY BRIGHT
  • Long battery life (not on turbo)
  • Many modes

Cons

  • Have to cycle through all of the modes to get to the mode you want
  • Large
  • Requires Acebeam-specific high-drain 18650 batteries to use the highest-light mode

Summary

If you need AS MUCH LIGHT AS POSSIBLE, try out the AceBeam X80!

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RovyVon Aurora A3 – Best Keychain Flashlight

Product SpecsRovyVon Aurora A3 tiny keychain flashlight light and small to go with you anywhere

  • Lumens: 550 to 22
  • Modes: High, Medium, Low, and Strobe
  • Battery: Non-removable
  • Battery Life: 0.5 to 2.5 hours
  • Dimensions: 2″ long
  • Weight: 0.496 oz with battery
  • Accessories: Lanyard, two-way clip, and USB cable

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Overview

We go from the largest flashlight on the list to the smallest, the Aurora A3, made by RovyVon.

This tiny flashlight is only 2″ long and weighs just under half an ounce, so it hides perfectly among your keys.

Then, when you hold the button down for half a second, it erupts into 550 lumens of light! After two minutes, it will step down to 65 lumens to protect itself against the heat.

You can then press the button to cycles through the modes and turn it off by holding for another half second.RovyVon Aurora A3 multiple colors red and gun gray because you can use a flashlight as a fashion accessory

It is made from CNC-machined aluminum and is IP65-rated for water resistance.

You can use the included clip to attach it to a backpack or cap for hands-free use.

The battery is integral to the unit and charges to full in 45 minutes, which helps to offset the short battery life.

Pros

  • Charging port
  • Fits unnoticed on your keychain
  • Very bright for such a small size

Cons

  • Short battery life

Summary

The Aurora A3 is a nearly perfect keychain light, being small, bright, and rechargeable.

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Streamlight MicroStream – Best Penlight

Product SpecsStreamlight MicroStream best penlight flashlight small and thin can be carried anywhere

  • Lumens: 45
  • Modes: Single
  • Battery Life: 2.25 hours
  • Dimensions: 3.6″ long x 0.6″ wide
  • Weight: 1.1 oz with battery
  • Accessories: Pocket/hat clip and lanyard

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Overview

Streamlight’s MicroStream may only have a single mode that puts out 45 lumens, but it is small, efficient, and runs on a single AAA.

The tail switch button can be pressed for momentary or constant on. The clip bends twice so you can attach the MicroStream facing either direction. Or, if that clip annoys you, remove it!

Streamlight MicroStream edc flashlight with extra long lanyard hangs from your neck and tucks into your pants
The lanyard’s length is almost silly

The body is made from textured anodized aluminum and an o-ring seals the battery cover to make the flashlight waterproof.

At 3.6″ long and 0.6″ wide, and weighing just over an ounce, the MicroStream can fit almost anywhere. You’ll forget it’s in your pocket.

However, unscrupulous sellers have been selling knock-offs, so make sure you purchase an authentic Streamlight MicroStream!

Pros

  • Compact and light
  • Uses a single AAA battery

Cons

  • Only 45 lumens
  • Watch out for fakes!

Summary

If you need a small, durable flashlight that takes AAA batteries and can fit anywhere, look no further than the Streamlight MicroStream.

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Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA – Best AA Flashlight for EDC

Product SpecsStreamlight ProTac 1L-1AA best double a battery flashlight programmable with two way pocket clip

  • Lumens: 350 to 40
  • Modes: High, Medium, Low, and Strobe
  • Battery: 1x AA Alkaline or Lithium, or 1x CR123
  • Battery Life: 1.33 to 14 hours
  • Dimensions: 4.25″ long x 0.95″ wide
  • Weight: 2.4-2.8 oz depending on battery
  • Accessories: Pocket/hat clip and nylon holster

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Overview

The Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA flashlight is a flexible EDC flashlight. You can get a maximum of 350 lumens out of it with a CR123 battery or 150 with a single AA battery.

That’s a limitation of the battery design, by the way.

This means that you can load it up with a powerful battery, but if it starts to go dim while you’re away from your battery stash, you can use omnipresent AA’s just fine.

This battery versatility is matched by the ability to select three operating modes: High-Strobe-Low, High Only, and Low-High.

Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA alternate color bronze flashlight for everyday carry
The Streamlight ProTac 1L also comes in bronze for a classier look

The push-button tail switch can be momentarily held down or clicked to turn on.

The body of the flashlight is anodized aluminum, though the knurling is only on the rear end of the flashlight. It is waterproof, though not a diving light.

A two-way clip allows you to clip it onto your pocket, cap, or best friend’s ear, facing either direction.

Pros

  • Three control modes
  • Versatile battery selection

Cons

  • Needs CR123 batteries to reach full power

Summary

The Streamlight ProTac 1L-1AA is a very versatile AA-powered EDC flashlight.

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SureFire Titan Plus – Best AAA Flashlight for EDC

Product SpecsSureFire Titan Plus best AAA flashlight for EDC carry but a large and heavy keychain light

  • Lumens: 300 to 15
  • Modes: High, Medium, and Low
  • Battery: 1x AAA
  • Battery Life: 1 to 7 hours
  • Dimensions: 3.4″ long x ” wide
  • Weight: 2 oz with battery
  • Accessories: Pocket clip

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Overview

SureFire sells the Titan Plus as a keychain light. It can be used as one, but it is almost twice as long and is four times heavier than the Aurora A3.

You turn it on by twisting the head to your desired brightness, thus necessitating two hands to operate.

So, while it can go on a keychain, to me it is a penlight that fits very comfortably in a pocket.

SureFire Titan Plus small flashlight for everyday carry waterproof and durable
I may not live in Ancient Greece but this flashlight seems to be a little small to be called a “titan!”

The Titan Plus is made from brass and polymer, not aluminum, so it is heavy-duty and can handle more abuse than lighter flashlights. This does make it a bit heavy, though.

It’s also waterproof and shockproof, as you would expect from SureFire.

If you don’t need the turbo mode then you can try the normal Titan. That flashlight is made from aluminum and only has two modes, the highest of which puts out 125 lumens.

Pros

  • Almost impossible to accidentally activate
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • Too heavy for keychains
  • Two-handed operation

Summary

If you need a small light that runs off of a single AAA, the SureFire Titan Plus will light your way.

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Klarus XT12S – Best Rechargeable EDC Flashlight

Product Specs

Klarus XT12S EDC flashlight with magnetic charger and powerful long lasting battery
Like the XT11GT, the XT12S comes with accessories such as a charging cord
  • Lumens: 1600 to 10
  • Modes: Turbo, High, Medium, Low, Strobe, SOS
  • Battery Life: 1.2 to 200 hours
  • Dimensions: 5.64″ long x 1.37″ wide
  • Weight: 4.62 oz without battery
  • Accessories: Charging cable, lanyard, spare o-ring, battery, holster, pocket clip

See full specs

Overview

The Klarus XT12S has many similarities to the Klarus XT11GT. In fact, when I reviewed the XT11GT, I reviewed the XT12S at the same time. They went head to head, and the XT11GT won.

But just barely.

The XT12S is still a fantastic medium-sized EDC flashlight. All it lacks is the button on the side and in its place, it gains a magnetic charging port.

I could gush over that charging port, and in fact, did so in the prior review. The magnetic system makes charging a breeze.

The Klarus XT12S is not as bright as the XT11GT, but it makes up for it in battery life. On low, you can expect 200 hours of usable light.

You can leave the light on for over a week and still use it for another 24 hours, and then some!

However, it does only have two control modes and lacks the versatility of that third button.

Pros

  • Can last a whopping 200 hours on low
  • Magnetic charging port
  • Many operating modes

Cons

  • Too large to fit in a pocket for most people
  • The lever switch is easy to activate on accident

Summary

If your priority is on battery life and easy charging, the Klarus XT12S shines the way.

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Top Pics

RovyVon Aurora A3 can be attached anywhere cap bag versatile small flashlight
You can even throw some Aurora A3 flashlights onto your cap, zipper pull, and anywhere else that’s handy!

Ideally, I would recommend you have three EDC flashlights available.

Get a RovyVon Aurora A3 and attach it to your keychain. Heck, get several, and sneak one onto your partner’s keychain, too!

After that, I recommend a slim flashlight to carry in your pocket. If you want as small and light as possible I recommend the Streamlight MicroStream. However, if you want something more powerful, then use the SureFire Titan Plus.

Then, get one of the two Klarus flashlights, and make sure it’s within easy reach. I keep one in my backpack.

By the way, my favorite of these flashlights for self-defense purposes is the Klarus XT11GT. It has a 2,000-lumen strobe mode, strike bezel, good grip, two tactical modes, and is sized to fit 1″ rings if you want to mount it on a firearm.

However, if your goal is to wow your friends, you need to buy the Acebeam X80. There’s nothing like 25,000 lumens out of a soda can!

Conclusion

If you get just one flashlight on this list, you will be set up with a quality light that will shine away any shadows that darken your life.

Well, maybe not figurative shadows. But an EDC flashlight can help you do certain tasks more easily, such as cross a dark street or replace a burned-out headlight in the middle of the night.

Plus, who wants to get gunk from your car’s engine bay on your smartphone?

Save your phone’s battery for other things and carry a flashlight every day!

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