For times when your power goes out unexpectedly, an emergency repair arises after sundown, or a project has you working in hard-to-see spaces, a reliable and readily available flashlight is a must-have. Gone are the days of searching high and low for batteries—which, ironically, usually occurs in the dark. Rechargeable flashlights have longer-lasting batteries and use powerful LED bulbs that produce light output nearly 75 percent stronger than traditional battery-powered incandescent flashlights. They’re sleeker, too, and often made of waterproof and drop-resistant materials.
Features to Consider
Lumens measure the strength of a bulb’s light, or its overall brightness. Theoretically, the higher the number of lumens, the stronger the light will be, though factors such as reflector shape and lens determine how far and wide that light is cast. Meaning, the light with the most lumens may not case the brightest light. Still, if you’ll be focusing your rechargeable flashlight’s beam on a concentrated area, such as under the hood of your car, you won’t need as many lumens as you would if you were lighting up a large work area. To light up large, open environments, like a campsite, we recommend a flashlight with a minimum of 1,000 lumens, as LEDs are brightest when first turned on but can dim as they warm up.
Just because your flashlight is rechargeable, and you no longer have to worry about stocking the right-size batteries for emergencies, doesn’t guarantee it’s always charged. It’s up to you to keep your rechargeable flashlight juiced. With this in mind, take into consideration what you’ll use your flashlight for and how often you think you’ll use it before deciding how much battery capacity you think you’ll need. Battery capacity is measured in milliamp hours (mAh), which measure electric power over time. Sub-1,000 mAh batteries can be found on our more portable picks and offer a shorter battery life. The sweet spot for all-day battery life is about 3,000 mAh. And anything over 5,000 mAh is often used to power stronger lights for hours at a time. Another feature to look for in a rechargeable flashlight is whether or not it offers different power modes. Low or eco settings, for example, might suffice for smaller jobs and will extend battery life, while higher modes can drain a battery much quicker. Manufacturers often list claimed battery life for different modes.
Elemental Protection Ratings Explained
Lastly, most flashlights come with an Ingress Protection (IP) rating, which is a measurement of the level of solids and liquids that can get into the flashlight. You’ll see this as IP followed by two numbers. The first number indicates solids, with 1 being protection from an object greater than 50mm, like a hand, and 6 indicating that the flashlight is fully impenetrable by grit and dust. The second number represents the flashlight’s protection from liquids, with 1 indicating something like a vertical rainfall and 8 being full submersion in water, greater than 1 meter, for more than 30 minutes. If either of these numbers is replaced with an X, it means that the flashlight either offers no protection or has not been tested.
How We Selected
We researched seven expert sources such as GearJunkie and Wirecutter, compared more than 50 top-selling models, and used our own testing data here at Popular Mechanics to build a list of the best rechargeable flashlights. We then narrowed down our pool of expert-picked products based on light output, battery life, and unique features to cover a wide variety of use cases from daily carry to recreational activities to emergency scenarios. These are the rechargeable flashlights we recommend.
Anker Bolder LC40
Battery Capacity: 3,350 mAh
Protection Rating: IPX5
During our hands-on testing of the best flashlights, we awarded the Anker Bolder LC40 the accolade of Best Value for its long battery life and consistent lumen output over time. Its narrow beam pattern results in a focused illumination that punches above its weight class to travel as far as rivals with higher lumen counts. While advanced features like adjustable zooming are absent, the Bolder LC40 masters the basics by providing a powerful light source and straightforward single-button operation. The grab-and-go simplicity makes the LC40 a reliable choice in any scenario.
Sequential clicks on the power button cycles the flashlight through its five lighting modes, with functions that range from low to high power and strobing patterns. An IPX5 rating ensures the LC40 can handle heavy rain, but its protection against solids has not been tested. It’s important to note that this is water-resistant, not waterproof, so you’ll want to hold on tight to the anti-slip grip around bodies of water. The extra-long handle and scalloped bezel are shock resistant and built for striking (think: breaking a car window in an emergency).
Fenix PD36R Rechargeable Flashlight
Battery Capacity: 5,000 mAh
Protection Rating: IP68
While the Fenix PD36R earns style points for its lightsaber-esque looks, its biggest draws are best-in-class power and reliability. The included 5,000 mAh rechargeable battery has the highest capacity of any other flashlight on the list, yet charges quickly through a USB-C connection—just 10 minutes provides up to five hours of power.
Intermittent use of the 30-lumen eco mode can allow you to go months without charging the PD36R. At the maximum setting (or turbo mode), the PD36R puts out a blinding 1,600-lumen beam for up to three hours, making this flashlight ideal for outdoor after-dark activities, such as camping.
The PD36R is a high-end tactical flashlight, and as such is shock-resistant as well as both fully dust- and waterproof—the flashlight can be submerged in up to 6.5 feet of water for 30 minutes. At $100, the PD36R is the most expensive flashlight on our list, but it’s worth the splurge if you want a flashlight that you’ll have for a long time.
- Bright 1,600 lumen
- 5-hour charge takes 10 minutes
- Fully dust- and waterproof
Easy to Charge
Olight S2R II Rechargeable Flashlight
Battery Capacity: 3,200 mAh
Elemental Protection: IPX8
The high-quality Olight S2R II comes with a magnetic charging system that attaches to the tail cap and uses a three-color power indicator light to display the flashlight’s current charge.
The 1,150-lumen maximum setting can brighten up a path 440 feet ahead of you for up to 2.5 hours. At the lowest of five modes, a 0.5-lumen light can provide up to 60 days of battery life.
Its short and light body is easy to grip yet can take a drop or be submersed in up to 2 meters of water. The included double-bend stainless steel pocket clips make it easy to attach the light to your backpack, pocket, or hat brim with the lens orientation pointed in any direction. It also comes with a pouch and lanyard.
- Double-bend pocket clips for easy carrying
- Unique magnetic charging system
DanForce Bright LED Headlamp
Battery Capacity: 7,000 mAh
Elemental Protection: IPX4
Sometimes a project requires both hands, which is when a headlamp comes in handy. While most headlamps suffer from a fixed-beam direction, DanForce’s lamp rests on a pivoting head for vertical angle adjustments. Paired with an adjustable focus, this model is more in line with a flashlight than its rivals. There are four lighting modes (up to a bright 1,080 lumens), taillights, and a red light for night vision that won’t force your eyes to adjust in dark environments.
The adjustable sweat-resistant headband is comfortable for extended use, and the lamp’s IPX4 protection rating easily fights off water splashes from all directions. If you’re a go-getter who works into the wee hours, the DanForce headlamp will help you get more tasks done in the dark.
- Adjustable lamp position
- Four light modes, including night vision to ease your eyes
- Can start to feel bulky on your head
Streamlight 66133 Stylus Pro USB Rechargeable Pen Light
Battery Capacity: 660 mAh
Elemental Protection: IPX4
The Streamlight 66133 Stylus Pro condenses a powerful 350-lumen LED into the body of a 6- x ¾-inch pen. With the click of the tail switch, you have access to either all 350 lumens in high power mode for a duration of 90 minutes or 90 lumens in low power mode for up to 210 minutes.
Its durable, military spec-tested aluminum body can handle full-on drops, splashes of water, and abrasion, yet is small enough to clip into a pocket thanks to the removable clip. One clever Amazon reviewer has even used the flashlight as a pry bar or hammer in emergency situations. Whether you’re snowboarding in the mountains or roughing desert sands, the Streamlight is designed to hold up in the most rugged conditions. Plus, its slim silhouette makes it easy to carry.
- Powerful LED performance in a compact pen
- Durable anodized aircraft aluminum construction
Coquimbo COB Rechargeable Work Lights
Battery Capacity: 3,350 mAh
Elemental Protection: N/A
These handy little work lights solve the struggle of trying to find places to prop or balance a flashlight so you can work in the dark. The COB’s magnetic base lets you stick the light to metal surfaces like your grill or car, and built-in hooks allow you to hang a work light (or two) above the area you want to illuminate, such as the ceiling of your tent. These rechargeable flashlights fold in half, in both directions, to create a 360-degree light source.
While the COB’s uses are abundant, keep in mind that its output is just 350 lumens, enough power to check if your burgers are ready to be flipped but not enough to light up a large workspace. The COB Work Lights also have no protection rating, meaning you should keep them out of the rain and avoid carelessly tossing them into a toolbox.
- Multiple support options
- 360-degree light
- Lack of protection from dust, water, and impacts
Largest Battery Capacity
Yierblue Rechargeable Spotlight
Battery Capacity: 10,000 mAh
Protection Rating: IPX4
If you need to quickly illuminate a large area, the 6,000 lumens on this rechargeable spotlight have you covered. The excessively bright beam reaches over 2,600 feet. With 10,000 mAh of power, the Yierblue spotlight can provide up to 20 hours of coverage.
Yierblue’s spotlight is also a power bank, so you can charge your devices. On the side of the primary lantern is a floodlight with its own adjustable settings. In light rain or snow, the IPX4 water resistance protects and ensures that the spotlight functions properly. Rounding out the package is a tripod capable of holding the light in place for hands-free work.
- Wide light blankets large areas
- Handy tripod
- Have to cycle through modes to turn the flashlight on or off
Best for Emergencies
LE Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern
Battery Capacity: 3,600 mAh
Elemental Protection: IPX4
In the event of an emergency, LE’s rechargeable LED Camping Lantern provides a bright 1,000 lumens of light able to travel over 1,640 feet. Indicator lights located on the bottom of the lantern display available power, so you can easily gauge the lantern’s charge. Doubling as both a light source and a 3,600 mAh power bank, the LE Camping Lantern can light your way and charge your phone at the same time.
With five lighting modes distributed amongst the front torch (full and low), left side light (full and half), and right side light (red flashing), the Camping Lantern lets you customize how you want to illuminate an area, useful for emergency scenarios as well as recreational ones, such as camping, fishing, and hiking.
- Built-in 3,600 mAh power bank
- Easy-carry shoulder strap and handle
- No impact protection against drops
Nitecore TIP SE
Battery Capacity: 500 mAh
The 2.36-inch-long TIP SE clips to your keychain and provides 700 lumens of light. It offers four levels of brightness and a max runtime of 50 hours. The 500 mAh battery uses a USB-C charging port.
Aluminum alloy encases the body for a light yet durable frame. Rated for 1m of impact resistance and element protection of IP54, the TIP SE can stand up to dust and water splashes.
- Raised buttons can accidentally activate light in your pocket
Battery Capacity: 3,500 mAh
Elemental Protection: N/A
GearLight’s S1000 rechargeable flashlight is a fully featured option that’s compact enough for everyday use and equipped with zoom, focus, and five lighting modes. Textured aluminum grips around the body make it easy to grab the flashlight. GearLight flaunts that the flashlight is both water resistant and virtually indestructible, but the company does not provide an official IP rating. While the LED bulb is rated 1,040 lumens, the manufacturer says the actual operating range averages at around 550. That’s bright enough to see in front of you but isn’t recommended for constant use in a dark outdoor environment.
You get two flashlights—both of which include a lanyard and holster—meaning you can leave one in your car and one at home. Our sole gripe with the S1000 is the fact that batteries are not included. Even with the cash you have to shell out to purchase two 18650-type rechargeable batteries (one for each flashlight), the S1000 remains a great value.
- Adjustable focus and zoom
- Tough compact design
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