6 things to think about before buying a new flashlight
A flashlight is important. Especially during the darkest months of the year, it’s pretty damn useful to have one. Some of you will like a big one, others a small one, and maybe a couple of you will like something in between. We aren’t here to judge you for choices, instead we are simply going to help you make the best choice possible. We will do that by helping you answer 6 key questions . . . (if you want a really in-depth flashlight guide, then it’s definitely also worth you checking out our Complete Flashlight Buying Guide).
Is your light for everyday use? For walking the dog? For hunting? For use as a security guard? All of those examples will require a slightly different sized light.
If you want a flashlight to be carried with you nearly every single day, you will want a smaller flashlight, one that will clip into your pocket or attach to your keys. The flashlights will be nice and easy to carry, however, you will often find that they generally aren’t as powerful and aren’t as durable as their larger cousins. It’s a trade-off.
If you are after a little bit more power, you are likely to need to go up in size. That can be good and bad, it purely depends on you and your circumstances. Always get an idea of how big is too big, and straight away cut them out of your search, because if it’s too big for you to use, you won’t use it and that’s just a waste. Luckily our website allows you the narrow down your search by size 😉
Generally there is a positive correlation between size and weight. Weightier flashlights tend to be more robust, and brighter (not always though). Weight is important to some people, and not to others. Remember that weight doesn’t always mean better and more powerful, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s not a bad one to follow.
The number of battery options for flashlights is pretty incredible, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So you need to break it down . . .
1) Disposable or rechargeable? Disposable batteries are much cheaper and more readily available, however, they generally have a much shorter burn time and you’ll have to carry more of them.
2) Alkaline or Lithium? Alkaline batteries are much more readily available than lithium and are much cheaper. However, lithium has one really significant benefit, and that is that the power will not continuously drain from the battery even whilst the flashlight isn’t being used. This will result in much longer run times, and reduced power wastage.
USB rechargeable or charge via external charger? Some flashlights come with integrated battery packs which allow you to charge them up via USB, others will simply use rechargeable batteries that you’ll need to recharge using an external charger. There is no right or wrong answer, it’s simply a case of what you’d prefer.
Generally the more lumens the brighter your light. Other factors do come into play such as bulbs and reflectors, but really if you don’t want to spend hours trying to work out the best bulbs and reflectors, then lumens is a good measure.
For outdoors use, you will want a flashlight that puts out a minimum of 150 lumens. 150-300 lumens and you are looking at a general camping multi-purpose type flashlight. 300-700 you are looking at a more tactical style flashlight, and 700+ you are looking at big levels of lighting, perfect for looking over large areas, and being able to pick out objects in greater detail from further away.
To spot or to flood?
Flashlights designed to ‘spot’ or ‘throw’ are geared up for longer beam distances. This means if your flashlight is a spot specialist, you will be able to see further in front of you, however the downside is that the beam is much narrower so you won’t be able to see a large area at once.
Flashlights designed to ‘flood’ are exactly the opposite. With flood beams, you have a really wide angle of light, but the mean distance is reduced. This will be really useful for some people and not so much for others.
If you aren’t sure, or think both will be beneficial, then there are flashlights that are able to do both. There are quite a few of them too, so your choice isn’t limited.
The list of extra features for flashlights is pretty long, too long for this post (we have included as many of them as possible in our in-depth ‘Ultimate Flashlight Buying Guide’). What you do need to consider though is whether you need any extras or not. Some flashlights have lots, some have a few, others have none. Everything from SOS and strobe modes to coloured lights, anti-roll rings and tail switches.
Each feature on a flashlight has a use, some though will be undoubtedly more useful to you than others. Just remember to think about how you want to carry the flashlight, what it will be used for, and how long you’ll be using it. That will give you a good idea of how to narrow down your search!