A flashlight is an absolute must for hiking, even if you have zero intention of staying out after dark.
However, sourcing the best hiking flashlight available in 2021 is no easy task; that’s why I’ve stepped up to the challenge.
From lightweight and long-lasting flashlights to durable and hardy flashlights, I’ve reviewed a whole range and guarantee there’ll be one to suit your needs.
Keep reading below to see my consolidated list of best backpacking flashlights, along with the pros and cons of each.
By the end of this article, you’ll have all the knowledge required to purchase an indispensable piece of hiking kit!
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- TOP 8 Backpacking Flashlights in 2021
- Why Do You Need a Hiking Flashlight?
- Things to Consider
- The Bottom Line?
TOP 8 Backpacking Flashlights in 2021
Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight
Review: The Goal Zero Torch 250 is a solar-powered electronic flashlight that features a USB charging port.
Other impressive features include a red light SOS setting, a hand-cranked light, and the ability to charge two phones using the USB port.
However, one of my favorite things about this flashlight is that you can save on power by using the half-bright mode.
Depending on which setting you use, you can get anywhere between 7 – 48 hours of consistent run time.
That said, when you do run out of charge, the solar panels are a little time consuming to reboot the flashlight.
- 7-hours run time at 250 lumens.
- Beam distance of 300 meters with multiple light options.
- Built-in USB charging cable.
- USB slots don’t have caps on them, so if dropped dirt can easily enter the charging port.
Fenix PD35 V2.0 Flashlight
Review: The Fenix PD35 flashlight is, in my humble opinion, one of the best ultralight backpacking flashlights on the market.
With the ability to knock out 1000 lumens, this compact flashlight casts light up to 250 meters!
Not only that, but the flashlight is also simple to operate and has five different brightness settings.
The Fenix PD35 also has an inbuilt power management system, so as the battery begins to drain, the flashlight automatically decreases the amount of brightness available.
One thing I would note is that the flashlight is extremely bright when on full charge and full power. Avoid shining in fellow campers’ eyes at all costs.
- Multiple lighting modes for all occasions!
- 5 hours of run time with a 250-meter beam distance.
- Lightweight material with good grip.
- It can get a little warm after using it for a prolonged period of time.
Klarus G35 Dual Switch
Review: The Klarus G35 Dual Switch has four light levels, two strobe modes, and a one-touch turbo mode. To power the flashlight, you can either use one 18650 battery or two CR123A batteries.
As for durability, the flashlights scratch-resistant lens makes it less prone to damage, and the whole casing is impact resistant up to one meter.
Another beneficial feature is that the on / off switch is located on the flashlight tail. The switch location prevents you from turning the torch on or off by accident when holding.
- 1000-meter beam distance is more significant than your average torch.
- Dual-side switches allow for easy one-handed use.
- Made using lightweight aluminum and is water-resistant.
- Used largely as a searchlight, so is a little extreme for hiking.
Ledlenser MT14 Flashlight
Review: The rechargeable handheld Ledlenser MT14 is a powerful, high-performance flashlight perfect for the outdoors.
The flashlight provides just over 190 hours of light from one single charge, takes 4-hours to charge to 80%, and has a USB port for easy electric charging.
What else is cool about the Ledlenser? I love many features, but the rapid focus technology, which allows a crystal clear focus on distant objects, is pretty cool.
As is the smart transportation lock to prevent you from turning the light on in your bag and wasting energy.
Whatsmore, Ledlenser offers a five-year warranty with every purchase, so if this flashlight doesn’t live up to your expectations, you’ve got peace of mind that you’re covered.
- Lightweight thanks to the high-grade aluminum material.
- Quick charging feature.
- 9 hours running time and 320-meter beam distance.
- Overheats a little after prolonged use.
Olight S1R II Flashlight
Review: The OLIGHT S1R II is a funky flashlight for the modern camper. With an innovative textured body perfect for a solid grip, this flashlight is both easy to hold and easy to use.
Other highlights include the magnetic USB charging cable and port, a high discharge rate battery, and a three-color power level indication system.
As for brightness, the OLIGHT knocks out 1,000 lumens with ease. What’s the catch?
Some users noted that the OLIGHT S1R’s single switch makes the flashlight over-complicated, though this doesn’t hinder its performance.
- It’s waterproof!
- Textured handle allows for a solid grip.
- USB charger is compatible with other rechargeable flashlights.
- Only has a 1.5 hour run time and a beam distance of 145-meters.
Klarus XT11S Tactical Flashlight
Review: The Klarus XT11S is a cutting edge flashlight and is the 4th generation rolled out by Klarus.
Features include a low-light strobe, an SOS strobe, and a straight two strobe that produces 11000 lumens. While the Turbo setting is cool, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to use it on a camping trip.
As for charging the Klarus XT11S, make use of the USB cord and wall adapter and refer to the nifty battery remaining indicator found on the flashlight body.
The beam length on this flashlight is pretty impressive too, as it stretches well over 300 meters.
- Features a clever temperature control technology.
- Has an SOS setting.
- Has a side switch lock function.
- Overheats when used at 1100 lumens after about an hour.
Rofis R3 Cree Flashlight
Review: The Rofis R3 Cree flashlight is a little different from the flashlights mentioned above for one big reason; it has a rotating head!
The head and body can be adjusted to a 90-degree angle with the flick of a wrist, transforming the way you hold the flashlight while hiking.
Another perk of the Rofis? It’s multifunctional and can be used as a headlamp.
Whatsmore, the flashlights anti-reverse design prevents you from accidentally shoving the batteries in the wrong way and damaging the body’s interior.
- Magnetic charging port and base.
- 5 hours of running time at 194-meters.
- Adjustable angled head.
- Casts more of a yellow glow as opposed to bright white.
Nitecore EA11 LED Flashlight
Review: At just 4-inches tall, the Nitecore EA11 is one of the smallest flashlights on the market.
Nitecore’s size hasn’t compromised on its functionality either, as this little flashlight kicks out 900 lumens and boasts a rechargeable battery.
Other perks of the Nitecore EA11 are the redlight feature, which doesn’t hinder your night vision, the dual-switch interface which is easy to use, and the five different brightness levels, which allow you to save on battery power when needed.
I did notice that when on turbo mode, this little flashlight only lasts around 30-minutes before the battery is whipped out.
- Battery voltage indicator.
- Removable stainless steel clip (multipurpose tool).
- 30-minute run time at 900 lumens.
- No focus correction on the beam.
Why Do You Need a Hiking Flashlight?
A flashlight is a valuable piece of kit to have on any hiking trip; I’d actually put it up there with the top ten things you shouldn’t hike without (for a list of my general winter hiking essentials, click here).
There are numerous benefits to hiking with a flashlight, from helping to set up camp in the dark, locating a poor trail, and warding off predators in the night.
Even if you’re heading out during the day and plan to be back well before nightfall, it’s always worth having a flashlight to hand.
Thankfully, it’s 2021, which means flashlights are no longer bulky, heavy, and battery-drainers. Today you can pick up a range of compact, bright, and long-lasting flashlights for as little as $40.
Things to Consider
Unsurprisingly, brightness levels of a flashlight are one of the first things you’re going to be looking at.
Lumens are the unit used to measure the quantity of light emitted from a light source. In general, the more lumens a flashlight has, the brighter it is.
But with all general rules, there’s always an exception or two. Be aware that the way light is reflected and directed can affect the brightness of your flashlight.
There are three different types of batteries used for hiking flashlights, and I’m going to break them down for you below:
- Lithium Batteries: These batteries are slightly more expensive as they’re well suited to colder climates and hold their charge better than alkaline batteries.
- Alkaline Batteries: These batteries are traditional batteries used for everyday items. They’re usually AA or AAA, and most are now rechargeable!
- Rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride: These batteries are becoming increasingly popular because they can be recharged using a USB cable. However, they do tend to lose their charge quicker than both lithium and alkaline batteries.
It’s 2021, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear flashlights have some nifty add on features to jazz up your hiking trip.
While these features might come across as unnecessary, they have the power to change your trip!
For instance, Red Light Mode is a handy feature that allows you to see in the dark without damaging your night vision.
Similarly, SOS Flash will enable you to signal your location without having to press a button repeatedly.
While some flashlights might pull your trousers down when stored in your pocket, others are as light as a feather.
It’s essential to check the weight of the flashlight before purchasing it.
In general, the more durable the flashlight is, the heavier it will be, though modern materials (aluminum is popular) are frequently used to help keep the weight down.
Consider whether you need your flashlight to be waterproof.
Are you always hiking in wet conditions? Are you planning to expose the flashlights to the elements?
Either way, I’d always opt for a waterproof piece of gear over a non-waterproof item!
If you don’t want to pay extra for a waterproof flashlight, water-resistant flashlights will suffice.
Most flashlights have an on/off button on the base or side of them.
Some power buttons also function as a mode changer and, if pressed multiple times, will flit through different lighting options.
Alternatively, some flashlights have separate controls for on/off and modes.
If you’d prefer to be able to turn your flashlight off quickly, consider purchasing one with multiple buttons.
A flashlight’s run time is very important, and you’ll need to look into this before purchasing one of the above.
The run time will vary based on which mode you have the torch on. Naturally, a torch on the highest mode (using the most lumens) will have a shorter run time than one using the dimmest mode (using fewer lumens).
The type of batteries used will also affect the flashlight’s runtime.
Some flashlights have a narrow, focused beam known as a ‘spot’ beam.
These flashlights are great for shining into the distance, but they don’t illuminate terrain to the side.
Alternatively, ‘flood’ beams are great at illuminating the area around you but aren’t so good at penetrating light into the distance.
How many lumens do I need for hiking?
Camping flashlight lumens tend to range from 900 lumens right up to a powerful 6000 lumens. Anywhere in between these figures would suffice for hiking.
What is the most powerful flashlight available?
One of the most powerful flashlights available is the Nitecore TM16 XM-L2 Flashlight.
I haven’t reviewed it above, as I think it’s too extreme for hiking, and it’s quite pricy. However, this little torch packs quite a punch and knocks out 4000 lumens!
What is the average flashlight run time?
Battery capacity, lumen output, wiring materials, and bulb efficiency all effect a flashlights run time.
In general, a flashlight on the lowest brightness will last for around 15 hours. In comparison, a flashlight on the brightest setting might only last for two hours.
Are flashlights impact resistant?
Some flashlights are drop-tested to a certain height, and this will be advertised on the packaging.
Similarly, if the word ‘tactical’ is used in the flashlight description, this generally means it’s durable enough to handle being dropped/ bashed.
The Bottom Line?
There you have it, the nine best-hiking flashlights available in 2021! I’d rank the Fenix PD35 V2.0 Flashlight as my favorite.
It’s an all-round performer with great brightness, good battery retention, and an impressive range.
If the size of a flashlight is of concern to you, you can’t go wrong with the Nitecore EA11 LED Flashlight. It’s so small; there’s more chance of you losing it than it getting in the way.
If you’ve reached the end of this article and haven’t quite found the flashlight for you, you might be better suited to a headlamp. Check out my review of those here.
Own one of the above hiking flashlights?
Share your review! Leave your comment below and tell me the pros and cons of your hiking flashlight from personal experience.