Flashlight Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

Camping, power outages, emergencies and survival situations: With so many times when you'll need a flashlight, it's smart to have a few on hand. Different flashlights are right for different situations, and there are just a few things you should know about how to buy flashlights. This flashlight buying guide was designed to help you evaluate your options and choose the flashlights that are right for you.

Buying a Flashlight:

Flashlight Buying Guide

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  • LED flashlights:

    LEDs, light emitting diodes, are one of the biggest innovations in the world of lighting ever. LEDs have been around for decades, but they weren't used much in daily life because they were inefficient for years and, until a few years ago, were only available in colors like blue and red. However, we now have white LEDs, and they have found their way into all different types of lighting, especially flashlights. A few years ago, LED flashlights and LED headlamps were only available in very low output models, but now they rival the brightest incandescent flashlights. A LED flashlight is a good choice if you want a rugged flashlight since LEDs are more durable than incandescent bulbs, and they also last longer relative to output than incandescent flashlights.

  • Incandescent flashlights:

    Incandescent flashlights use a gas-filled bulb with a filament in it to create light. That may sound a little complex, but incandescent flashlights are the common flashlights you've been using for years and years. Incandescent flashlights have lost some ground in recent years to LEDs, but they have a number of advantages that may make them the right choice for you, depending on your circumstances. One of the main advantages of an incandescent flashlight is that it is inexpensive; manufacturers have had a long time to reduce production costs on incandescent lights. If you want a decent quality emergency flashlight to have on hand, an incandescent light is a good choice. While they use batteries more quickly than LED flashlights, incandescent flashlights, especially ones with halogen bulbs, can produce just as much light as an LED flashlight.

  • Tactical flashlights:

    Tactical flashlights are high-powered flashlights that are designed to fit into a bracket on an assault rifle. Tactical flashlights throw a highly focused beam and can withstand the extreme force of a firing rifle.

  • Headlamps:

    Headlamps were once only used by spelunkers, miners and die-hard outdoorsmen, but they've become so small, efficient and easy to use that they make a great addition to anyone's glove compartment or tool drawers. Nearly all headlamps produced now use LEDs. LEDs are more compact and require less power than incandescent bulbs, which means that LED headlamps have small lamp bodies and small battery packs that hold a few AAA batteries. Headlamps can give you a chance to enjoy hobbies in the outdoors like hiking or biking after the sun goes down.

  • Mechanically powered flashlights:

    Some manufacturers offer flashlights that don't have batteries at all but instead use electricity generated by turning a crank, squeezing a lever or even shaking the flashlight. These types of flashlights make great additions to emergency kits or can even be nice to have simply because you never need to worry about changing the batteries.