The Best Survival Flashlights on the Market in 2017

What is the best flashlight on the market for emergency situations? Well, that depends on the emergency, and where you happen to be when it occurs. So I thought, rather than making a top ten product comparison guide, which are a dime a dozen, let’s take a more systematic approach to this question and consider a few different scenarios in selecting a good light source for those unexpected situations.

Survival Flashlights

In putting this list together, I tried to focus on utility and economy. Considering these things shouldn’t just have to be about zombie apocalypse survival preparation either. Situations where you need a back-up light source are a lot more common, and thus it’s a lot more practical to thinking about what kind of flashlight you might need in a predicament like a simple power outage, or car trouble in the middle of the night. Of course, should the world be overrun with the living dead, you will be prepared by default. After all, the problem in that situation is still a simple power outage.

Joking aside, the point is, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but more a practical approach to thinking about how to shop for these things. Again, top ten lists are everywhere. You can probably even find a top 10 list of top 10 lists. Rather than add to the 14 million pages of search results then, by the end of this article I’d like to either help you feel prepared for each problem you might come across where this is concerned, or at least narrow down what you’re looking for on those lists. How to think, and not what to think; if that makes sense.

Battery or no Battery?

First: a quick note on power source. Out of the three flashlights that I highlight here, two use batteries. If you’ll be storing batteries long-term, stock Lithium. The short version of the story is that Lithium has a shelf life of 10-15 years. I would keep them in a special place specifically for emergencies, and, in fact, avoid using them until you have no other choice.

#1: The Everyday Emergency Flashlight: Nitecore EA41 

$55.95 (on Amazon)

In the first, and most likely scenario, we find ourselves at home and in need of illumination. I pick this particular flashlight as your goto for a couple reasons:

It uses one of the most common battery types: AA. This is about utility and economy. In preparing for an emergency situation you want to eliminate as many variables as possible. Being stocked with your power source is an important one. And while this could go either way (because it’s a common battery you could accidentally use your last one), if one must gamble, I’d rather gamble on the thing you’re used to buying, than expecting you to remember to replace that one type of battery your flashlight uses every 8-10 years; just in case.

It has several brightness settings. This little guy sports a lot of power output, but it can also be adjusted to different levels depending on what you need it for, which also gives it excellent battery life. In fact, this is a key feature I looked for. From highest lumens to lowest, the light can last anywhere from 1 hour and 45 minutes, up to 400 hours on one set of batteries! At this price point, (and with a high of over 1000 lumens) it the most versatile flashlight I could find.

#2: The Away-From-Home Survival Flashlight: Cynergy Lifelight 

$29.97 (on Amazon)

This flashlight is practically ubiquitous on lists like this. For the purposes of this list: this is the flashlight you keep in your car (the commuter’s second home). I would also expand its uses as an outdoor backup (for instance, on a hiking trip), but the seat-belt cutter, window breaker, and rotating emergency light makes its intentions fairly obvious.

Most important here is the fact that it’s a crank light. This is what you want around once you run out of batteries and wall outlets. So you zombie apocalypse doomsday preppers: this one is for you. As far as power sources go, it lasts as long as you do. If you do have a power source though (such as an EnerPlex Kickr portable solar panel), you can save your biceps and simply charge it during the day.

I would advise actually keeping one of these handy in any place you may expect to need an emergency light source, but with this price point, I feel like we can do a little better, and cover a lot more potential locations with the third option, without breaking the bank.

#3: The Every Bag Should Have One: 9v Battery light 

$10.85+ (on Amazon)

There are actually a few brands of this one (pak-lite, BlockLite, SinoR), but this is more or less personal preference. I would encourage searching ‘9v flashlight’ and just seeing what’s on sale. This one is primarily about economy and just having a healthy supply of lights wherever you might need one. These things are so cheap that you could drop one in every kids’ backpack without breaking the bank, and that’s kind of the point.

This is actually a personal favorite. Not in terms of power (that’s what the first one is for), but just in terms of practicality and how easy they are to store in any size emergency kit. Heck, you could forget to pack a flashlight in your kit and add one of these as an afterthought. It would still fit. I also like that Pak-Lite (9voltlight.com) offers several accessories to use their little LED torches in a range of possible applications, which makes them incredibly versatile (read: high utility).

And that’s really it. Between those three flashlights, you can systematically cover yourself in most any scenario where you might need an emergency light source.

And a brief side note: I joked a little about zombie survival preparation, because it’s fun, but I also want to make sure that doesn’t detract from the importance of being prepared. The world doesn’t have to end, or become uninhabitable for something like a freak-hurricane to come crashing through your state and knock-out power to an entire county for over a week. Something which happened to me in 2012 with Hurricane Sandy. And I don’t point that out for sympathy, only to make a point that I learned from experience: a little preparation goes a long way. It never hurts to have a plan.

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