Best flashlight: our picks for the best LED torch to buy

T3’s roundup of the best handheld light sources available to buy this holiday season

LED’s may have been around since the ’60s, but the innovative technology has still to show its age - just look at how many products continue to use LEDs as part of their design. LED torches are one such corner of the market, providing bags of luminescence in both formidable and pint-sized form.

Thing is, the market is swamped with torches, flashlights and searchlights, so where do you even start? To make your life easier, T3 has scoured the LED realm for the best pocket torches and brought you ten of our absolute favourites. Let there be light...

Following on from last year’s LED torch roundup was always going to be a challenge, mainly because we had to choose from such a strong collection of innovative light-giving gizmos. 

From headband devices designed to illuminate your nighttime runs to industrial-sized searchlights strong enough to blind the moon, we were spoiled for choice. So for the 2016 edition, we were tasked with upping our game and collating an ever more impressive lineup.

Best flashlight: our pick of the top LED torches to buy

Luckily for us here at T3 Towers, 2016 has been an amazing year for artificial light sources and we’ve gathered together some of our absolute favourites. There’s also a few familiar faces from 2015, proving they’re just as good as they were 12 months ago.

So which torches really lit us up this time around? The Fenix PD32 Tactical Edition was easily one of our favourite candidates, a finely tweaked model that builds on the brilliant design of its 2014 and 2016 versions. 

The Tactical iteration adds in extra durability (a must for use outdoors in conditions where it might be dropped or knocked about) and an impressive 1,000 lumens of luminescence. All that digitally tracked light is down to its 18650 Li-ion battery, and you can even switch between multiple modes depending on your lighting needs.

It’s also going to cost you little more than £50, which is a steal considering the power and features you’re getting in one package. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good justifications for changing your needs and opting for a smaller/larger/more expensive option.

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Take the Eagtac MX25L4C, for instance, with its price tag of just over £200. Sure, it’s certainly pricey for a torch but you’re getting nearly 5,000 lumens of powerful beam in seriously slimmed down design.

Or maybe you’re looking for something a little more specific, such as the headband-tied Petzl Reactik+ (a follow-up to the great Tikka RXP)? Being able to utilise a powerful LED light source on your head makes nighttime runs and dog walk in the dark a lot less daunting. 

Or how about something a little chunkier, with a serious industrial feel? Then perhaps the Sidiou Group LED Searchlight 18650 is for you with its special handle, extra-durable design and 8,000 lumen beam.

The 10 best LED torches of 2016

Fenix PD32 Tactical Edition

Fenix’ LED wonder gets a tactical update

+ Powerful 18650 Li-ion battery

+ 37 hours of use on lowest setting

- Less than two hours on highest

When it comes to picking up a torch with serious features for around £50, you can’t go far wrong with the Fenix PD32. The 2014 and 2016 Editions were impressive enough with their 900+ lumens, but with the Tactical Edition that brightness is upped to 1,000 and it makes all the difference.

Its digitally regulated output maintains that powerful brightness throughout its use, while a stainless steel side switch enables you to select a handy Outdoor mode as well as plenty of other luminescence setups. And with the power of one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery keeping it going, you’ll rarely run out of brightness.

Price: £47 | Buy Fenix PD32

Goalzero Lighthouse 250

Turn night into day on your next camping trip

+ Easy-to-use crank system

+ USB charging ports

- Not the brightest

A LED torch we like so much we even included it in last year’s roundup, the Goalzero Lighthouse 250 is easily one of the most essential bits of kit you could take on a camping trip today. As well as being relatively compact and light, this handy LED light source can be charged via the crank located at the top or via USB back at home.

Those USB ports also work the other way, enabling you to charge your smartphone or wearable direct from the torch (although this will probably drain its charge pretty quickly). At only 250 lumens this is pretty low on the brightness scale, but it does the job of lighting a camp just fine.

Price: £72 | Buy Goalzero Lighthouse 250

Sidiou Group LED Searchlight 18650

Lighten up the night with this super beam

+ 8,000 lumen beam

+ 1,000 metre lighting distance

+ Extremely durable

- Quite pricey

Do you need a torch that offers both a powerful beam and a durable body that’s designed to take the rough and tumble of outside use? Well, sounds like you need the Sidiou Group LED Searchlight 18650, which offers a whole 8,000 lumens of luminescence and a solid aluminium shell.

The flashlight comes with LEDs that will last for an estimated 100,000 hours and a CREE XM-LT6 emitter that will keeps working for hours with barely any drop in brightness. This one’s especially popular with outdoor photographers.

Price: £47 | Buy Sidiou Group LED Searchlight

Petzl Reactik+

Never get lost in the dark again

+ Very comfortable fit

+ Reactive lighting mode

- Could be brighter

Last year we featured the versatile Tikka RXP with its reactive lighting mode and comfortable design, so it only seemed fitting we feature its follow up in the 2016 edition. If you’re looking for an LED flashlight that straps to your bonce, keeping your hands free for nighttime runs or dark dog walks, the new Reactik+ is for you.

Much like the 2015 version, the Reactik+’s LEDs increase and decrease in luminescence depending on how dark your surroundings are, however you can now use the MyPetzl Light mobile app to see your flashlight’s battery life in real time and see how it’s performing while in use.

Price: £70 | Buy Reactik+

Olight S1 Baton

An every day carry torch with punch

+ Powerful for an EDC

+ Built-in timer

- Doesn’t fit all battery brands

- Battery life can vary

When it comes to EDCs (torches defined as Every Day Carry), it’s often hard to find models that offer a decent luminescence without taking up too much pocket real estate. Olight’s S1 Baton model thankfully fits that mold, offering a brilliant 500 lumens and 110 metres of light throw.

The Baton 1 also has a special TIR (total internal reflection) lens to keep that beam as stable and full as possible. Despite being so small, the Baton 1 also comes with lots of extra features including a timer, and strobe and flash effects. Just be careful - not all brands of battery fit its small battery compartment, so buy wisely.

Price: £43 | Buy Olight S1 Baton

Klarus XT12

Rugged, versatile and super bright

+ Waterproof design

+ Extra bright

- Can sometimes flicker

Sometimes all you need is a flashlight built for any situation, and the Klarus XT12 fits that bill to a tee. For a start it offers 930 lumens of brightness, with a maximum projection distance of 246 metres, and can even support up to 176 hours of use (if dialled down to the lower settings, that is - you’re probably only likely to squeeze about four or five hours at a higher level).

There are a few niggling issues here, the most notable being the occasional flicker that can sometimes interrupt its powerful beam. While the issue is far from a full-on strobe, it can be noticeably off putting, especially on the most powerful setting.

Price: £66 | Buy Klarus XT12

Eagtac MX25L4C

Big brightness in the palm of your hand

+ 4,800 lumen beam

+ Multiple modes and beams

- A little pricey

Much like the impressive Eagtac MX25L4C we included in our 2015 list, the next evolution of palm-sized LED flashlight from Eagtac packs plenty of punch. For a start, it offers 4,800 lumens of brightness, which is more than enough for almost any task. 

At its highest setting, you’ll get a paltry 1.6 hours of battery life, but drop it to its lowest and you’ll get over 350 hours of use.

This being a tactically-minded LED flashlight, the MX24L4C also has plenty of extra modes, including a hidden strobe and a variety of SOS beacons. Just be prepared to break the bank to add its brightness to your life.

Price: £206 | Buy Eagtac MX25L4C

Nitecore MH27 Super-Bright Camping Torch

If it’s good enough for law enforcement...

+ In-built charger

+ 1,000 lumens of brightness

- Quite chunky

- Expensive

light. It also comes with four different levels of brightness and three different colour variations, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to customisation.

Its rechargeable battery offers a good 28 hours of use on a single charge, and its beam will throw luminescence as far as 462 metres. The only downsides being it’s a little big for a torch aimed at the ‘pocked-sized’ market, as well as presenting a serious investment all by itself.

Price: £116 | Buy Nitecore MH27

Inova X03

Keeping it simple

+ 40 hours of battery life

+ Multiple beam settings

- Not the brightest

- Uninspiring design

While the Inova X03 won’t be winning any design awards anytime soon, it still offers any easy to use setup that will solve most of your light-based needs. This LED certainly isn’t the brightest one you’ll ever use at a mere 200 lumens but it’s certainly enough to pick out most details in the dark.

This lithium-powered flashlight has two settings, with both a high and a low power modes available depending on how much light you need. Still, with the lowest setting operating at a minuscule 18 lumens, we don’t know why you’d eve use it...

 Price: £25 | Buy Inova X03

Clip Strip Pocket Light

A wider spread take on an LED torch

+ Shock proof

+ Three EQ preset modes

- No focus adjustment

- Weak magnet clip

Rather than a single LED light located at the tip of the torch, the Clip Strip Pocket Light instead uses a strip of light along its edge to illuminate your surroundings. Despite its diminutive size, it’s also super bright, making it ideal lighting up a larger surface area than a regular torch.

There are some downsides - the magnet clip on the side simply isn’t strong enough and often slip, and its garish yellow colour isn’t exactly easy on the eye, but considering the bright spread of its illumination, we’re willing to forgive it.

 Price: £25 | Buy Clip Strip Pocket Light