- any time you want the strongest portable beam available.
- when dexterity and precision in controlling the light is important.
- being able to set down a light to work on a task.
Advances in LED (light-emitting diode) technology and battery efficiency have resulted in flashlights that are smaller, lighter and brighter than they were just a few years ago.
What is the best LED flashlight for you? This article will help you narrow your selection.
Understanding Your Flashlight Choices
The key factors to compare when selecting a flashlight:
- Light output
- Battery type and run time
- Size and weight
Flashlights range from under $20 to over $200, yet they may be the same size. What are the differences? Brightness is the biggest one. A pricier light is more powerful due to the use of advanced bulb, battery and circuitry technology. A rechargeable battery can add to the cost, as can features such as strong impact- and water-resistance, effective heat dissipation and multiple lighting modes.
Shopping in person? Check out the following:
- How does the light switch on and off? Could it be inadvertently switched on inside your pack? Or, if you plan to use it in cold conditions, how easily could you switch it on or off wearing gloves?
- Does it appear rugged enough (or, conversely, light enough) for your needs?
- How does it feel in your hand?
- Is a tool required to change batteries?
Introduced in 2009, ANSI FL1 standards for flashlights ensure that models are tested and rated in the same way. Compliance with these standards is voluntary and the manufacturers do their own testing, but most major brands now include the following performance data on their packaging.
Rated using the IPX system. Water resistance is important if using your light in the rain or around bodies of water. Three ratings are used:
Indicates an IPX4 rating, which is splash resistant from all angles, after the impact test has been applied.
Indicates a water submersion rating, also after the impact test.
IPX7 – temporary immersion: up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1m.
IPX8 – submersion: up to 4 hours at the specified depth.