After essential basics such as a wallet, keys, phone, and knife, finding the best EDC flashlight is an important element of developing your every day carry kit.
Having a good flashlight can improve survivability in many situations in addition to it being highly useful in day-to-day circumstances.
With the right EDC flashlight, you’ll never get caught in the dark!
There are a lot of EDC flashlights on the market, and it can be confusing to find the best flashlight for your EDC kit. We will help your search by showing our Top 10 and give our picks for the best overall, entry level, and mid-level EDC flashlights.
We will also discuss what qualities to look for when choosing your EDC flashlight for your needs including features, lumens, beam types, switch variations, and more.
Note: If you are new to the concept of EDC (Every Day Carry), you may want to check out my article here, which explains the basics and will help you design your first EDC kit.
Best Overall EDC Flashlight: Fenix PD35
With a scorching 1000 lumen output, the Fenix PD35 is practically a lightsaber. That level of illumination is effective for tactical usage and any basic task that you could throw at it. This lumen output is even more impressive given the flashlight’s sub-$100 price tag. The Fenix PD35 has 6 output options for outstanding versatility and weighs in at only 3oz.
If having a reliable, extremely bright light is essential to your EDC kit, this is the one for you.
Best Mid-Range EDC Flashlight: Olight S10
The Olight S10 is a compact powerhouse. Its tiny size (2.7 x 1.9 inches) and minuscule weight (2.4 oz) make it ideal for a lightweight EDC kit. The Olight S10 packs 320 lumens into this tiny package and can cycle through its 5 pre-programmed modes of high, medium, low, moonlight, and strobe.
All that versatility stuffed in a tiny package makes this flashlight an easy choice at approximately $50.
Best Entry-Level EDC Flashlight: Fenix E12
The Fenix E12 is a gem in the entry-level EDC flashlight field. It is reasonably priced in the sub-$30 range and produces 130 lumens in a compact package that makes it perfect for a keychain light. Add the versatility of running on a single AA battery, and you have a real winner for a basic every day flashlight.
Flashlight Features: How to Choose the Best EDC Flashlight
Whatever EDC flashlights you consider you should be aware of these basic qualities when determining which one is best for you.
Most flashlights will describe how many lumens the light produces in their packaging or product descriptions.
Understanding lumens gives you an excellent way to perform an apples-to-apples comparison of the most basic function of an EDC light which is providing illumination.
A lumen is the unit of measure of the total amount of visible light produced by a source. Basically, how bright the flashlight is. The more lumens it can produce the brighter the beam will be.
Basic flashlights are usually 10 lumens, and high-end search and rescue lights can be over 18,000 lumens.
Typically, EDC flashlights will be in the 50-1000 lumen range but consider how you are likely to use your light to help determine how many lumens you really need.
Since the invention of the flashlight, incandescent bulbs have been shedding light into the dark corners of our lives. However, in recent years, LED (Light Emitting Diode) flashlights have begun to take over this role. LED lights are particularly favored for every day carry kits because they offer greater efficiency, better battery consumption, greater brightness, and far better impact resistance than old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.
Choosing an LED based bulb for your EDC flashlight is a no-brainer at this point.
Most commercially available flashlights use either AA or CR123 batteries. While AA is the tried and true old guard, the CR123 is a more recently available challenger.
- AA Batteries for your EDC Flashlight – AA batteries have been around for many years and are a reliable source of power for many gadgets. AA batteries are based on alkaline cell technology that is tried and true. AAs are typically cheaper and more widely available than newer batteries as well as being a smaller diameter and longer in size.
- CR123 Batteries for Your EDC Flashlight – CR123 batteries are based on lithium cell technology and can provide greater energy storage and output allowing for a brighter, longer lasting flashlight in most cases. CR123 batteries are however more expensive and less readily available than AAs, and although they are shorter in length, they have a wider diameter. Because of this, flashlights using CR123 batteries are typically more compact but fatter than ones using AAs. CR123 batteries are also typically lighter (.6oz for CR123 compared to .9oz for AA) which can result in a lighter flashlight overall. Lithium cell batteries also provide higher performance in cold temperatures.
So, which battery is best? It depends on what you are looking for.
If you want a light that uses a battery that is more readily available in a survival scenario, AA is probably best for you. If performance and weight reduction are paramount to you, CR123 is the way to go.
Generally speaking, for an EDC kit, where the availability of batteries isn’t really an issue, CR123 is a nice option.
As with most EDC gear, keeping things compact is essential.
No one wants to carry anything heavy or bulky with them as part of their every day carry kit.
The best EDC flashlights can typically provide a high amount of illumination while staying under 4″ long. The trade-off for having a tiny EDC light is that you will have less space inside to fit a battery so you may sacrifice some power if you choose an ultra-compact flashlight. This is an important trade-off to consider, and you will have to strike a balance when finding the best EDC flashlight for you.
You never know what conditions you will need to use your EDC flashlight in. However, if you may need illumination in the rain or during a flood, having a light that is not waterproof is about as useful as not having one at all.
Most quality lights will be rated as waterproof or at least water-resistant. Flashlights are typically rated using an IPX code which identifies water resistance testing and capabilities (see the chart below).
The bottom line is if you are looking for a flashlight for EDC purposes and it is not listed as being waterproof, move on to an option that is.
Body Construction Material
A metal body flashlight will be tougher and be able to take more abuse than a plastic one. Having a durable flashlight is important it will likely receive some knocks, drops, and bumps as you carry it every day.
Selecting a metal flashlight will result in a longer lasting tool that is functional when you need it.
As with any item on your EDC list you want something that provides the greatest utility at the lowest weight. No one wants to be carrying around an anchor in their pocket, purse or EDC bag. When selecting the best EDC flashlight for your kit, you can keep weight down by choosing a small light or one made of lightweight materials such as aluminum or titanium. Selecting a flashlight with a CR123 type battery is another way to save weight. Look for a flashlight that weighs less than 5 oz to keep your pockets light.
- Adjustable beam – Having an adjustable beam significantly increases the versatility of your EDC flashlight. Being able to choose to illuminate a wide area when conducting a search and then changing to a narrow beam for signaling or tactical scenarios will make sure your EDC light meets any need you may have.
- Flashing/Signaling Capabilities – Some flashlights come with multiple modes available beyond the ability to shine a plain beam. While this may not be a feature you think you would need, flashing and signaling capabilities can come in handy. Both are invaluable when trying to signal for help or to communicate at a distance in the dark.
Just about any quality EDC flashlight will have some attachment options. Attachment options usually include a pocket clip, lanyard loop, carabiner clip, or keyring. Make sure whatever option the EDC light you choose is compatible for how you intend to carry it.
Even the best EDC flashlight will bring frustration if you can’t carry it that way you want.
Like the attachment option, make sure the switch your EDC flashlight uses is compatible with the way you intend to carry it. Most importantly make sure that the switch, twist collar, or button, is reliable and will not turn on while in your pocket or bag. Nothing is worse than opening up your bag and seeing the weak yellow glow of a flashlight with a dying battery right when you need to use it.
Parting Advice: How To Pick The Best EDC Flashlight For Your Needs
As you can see, there are a lot of options out there when trying to find the best EDC flashlight.
Remember the basics of finding a reliable light that is comfortable to carry around with you on an everyday basis.
Don’t skimp on quality and look for features that match your specific needs.
Feel free to refer to our favorite EDC flashlights as options for your kit:
- Best Overall EDC Flashlight: Fenix PD35
- Best Mid-Range EDC Flashlight: Olight S10
- Best Entry-Level EDC Flashlight: Fenix E12
Want Even MORE Info On Building Your EDC Kit?
Another cornerstone of any EDC kit is a knife. Read our guide to choosing the best knife for your EDC kit.
If you are looking for even more information on how to build your ultimate EDC kit you can check out my book, The Every Day Carry Guide. It is a comprehensive manual that will teach you:
- How to be prepared at all times – no matter where you are
- How to build your first EDC kit from scratch
- How to refine an existing kit to make it more effective
- How to pick the best gear to realistically make you more prepared
- How to assess threats and risks in your everyday life
Do you have a favorite EDC flashlight that you recommend? Are there any particular features that you look for when finding the best EDC light for your needs? Please let us know in the Comments Section below!
11 comments on “The Best EDC Flashlights – Our Picks and How to Choose”
Hey Chris, just wanted to say what a quality site you have! I am super impressed with the amount of effort was put into this article.
In terms of the best EDC flashlight, I really like the SureFire flashlights. They are a bit more expensive, but think they offer good quality.
Hi John, Thanks for the tip! Surefire does make some great lights. Glad you like the article, I will keep up the effort!
Great article and well written. Couldn’t have had better timing to see this, as I am looking for a new EDC light and want the best information possible to make an informed decision. Thanks for taking the time to write this! Look forward to reading more of your work.
Thanks Cam, glad you found my article valuable. Let me know which one you decide on!
Wow this is a great article with lots of good information. You did a great job of making the information clear and easy to understand with your graphics. I have been looking recently at some of the Eagletac lights for EDC use, like the D42C clicky. I really like the look of the pd32 though…
Hello, nice info
for my situation I use the surefire A2 aviator incandescent,
The A2 is a sweet flashlight, thanks for suggesting it!
Im new to the world of edc. It’s over whelming to pick something that best suits an individual for they’re personal needs. So many choices to choose from. (Pros and cons) I realized the pen I bought is easy to get locally, (fisher space pen) but I have to order ink cartridges because I want fine point, blue ink. The compact size is important to me.My next pen I purchase is gonna have a fine blue cartridge that I can buy any where in the world. Thank you for helping me narrow my search down for a flashlight.
Glad you liked the article! I know the wealth of choices out there can be overwhelming, I hope it helped!
My Maglite has bad threads on the End Cap and the lite needs to be replace, B4 the SHTF DISASTER EVENT. I need to get an EDC Light if I knew the prices??? Thanks Commander Dave Cecil in da PI.
Thank you for such an informative article and I just purchased your book and am currently reading it. Very well written and exactly the guide and 411 that I was looking for! Please take care & stay safe! God Bless!