Looking for the best torch (or flashlight, if you like)? We're here to illuminate you. A torch might not be something that you put a lot of thought into buying, but it's something that's really useful to have to hand in any number of situations, from getting around a campsite at night without tripping over guy ropes to walking the dog in the evening or finding the fuse box or some candles in a power cut. Whatever your requirements, you'll find the best torch to meet them below.
Before you plump for the first good-looking torch you see, ask yourself a few pertinent questions. Do you need it to be waterproof so that you can use it in any weather? Do you want something lightweight that'll fit in your pocket or even on a keyring, or would you prefer something heftier with better lighting abilities? Are you okay with a basic beam or would you like something with a range of lighting modes? And are you after a battery-powered torch or a rechargeable option? Our list includes options with all these features and more besides. For more buying advice, head to the bottom of the article for our tips.
If you're on the hunt for something to illuminate a large area, you'd be better off picking up one of the best camping lanterns (these will create wide arcs of light), and if you need to go hands-free, try our guide to the best head torches. Otherwise, head down for a selection of the best torches to sling into your hiking day sack, kitchen drawer, car or campervan, to ensure you're never left in the dark.
- Browse our pick of the best tents for camping
- Make sure you're kitted out with a pair of the best hiking boots
- Stay dry with one of the best waterproof jackets
The best torches to buy now
Olight is a serious name in the world of flashlights, and the best torch right now is the Olight S2R Baton II. This compact flashlight is a great all-rounder, offering five different levels of brightness – the maximum being 1,050 lumens, which is plenty bright enough for illuminating your path outside at night and for shining a light on specific areas. It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery, and a traffic-light indicator so you'll never be caught running out of juice unexpectedly. This design is rugged enough for pretty much anything you'd throw at it on an outdoor adventure. It's waterproof (IPX8 rating), and Olight promises you can drop it from up to 1.5m without breaking it. Finally, there's a dual pocket clip that you can use to attach it to whatever you want to, for easy-access storage or when you want to go hands-free.
We know what you're thinking – if you're going to spend this much on a torch, you'll want serious bang for your buck. Luckily, that's exactly what you get with the Maglite ML150LRX, which throws out a whopping 1,082 lumens, a compact design, and a beam range of 458 metres – plus a highly sought after five-star rating from the US National Tactical Officer's Association.
The matte black finish makes this one of the more stylish torches on the market, and it's also incredibly easy to charge – you'll need just 30 minutes to boost it to 80 per cent power. We're also fans of the brilliant charging cradle (which can be used with the included the 12 V car adaptor), which hugs the torch tightly even when upside down, so you can continue to power up whether you're bouncing around in the back of a safari jeep or hunkering down in a remote mountain refuge. The icing on the cake is a 10-year warranty and an ultra-rugged exterior made from high-strength aircraft aluminium. One slight downside here is the water resistance rating – this is IPX4, which means it'll be resistant to water splashes from any direction, but won't withstand a sustained spray.
The best budget torch around is the Duronic Hurricane LED torch. It offers an impressive range of features for such a low price tag: short of inflating your air bed or helping put up your tent, this torch can does pretty much everything. To start with, it's not only a handheld torch but a powerful lantern, thanks to transparent sides and a sturdy handle that allows it to be dangled from hooks, branches or tent poles. There's no chance of the lights going out, either – charge it quickly via its USB port or simply crank the handle for emergency lighting. One minute of cranking will give you 15 minutes of light – more than enough time for that dash to the toilet or a quick wildlife-spotting foray into the woods. You can also use the torch to charge your iPhone, and the beacon setting, which produces an incredibly bright, red flashing light, offers peace of mind if you're concerned about a camping-related calamity.
When you first hold this mini flashlight in your hand, you’ll have a hard time believing it can throw out as much light as it does. Well, we’ve used the S1R II Baton when camping and walking at night and can testify as to how bright it is – 1,000 lumens at full whack. The light beam is precise too, stretching out to a maximum distance of 145 meters, which is ample when you’re traipsing to the toilet block at night or coming down from the trail after dark. It’s very lightweight too, and is easy to grip, thanks to a texturised ‘milled’ body, even if you’ve built up an admirable sweat adventuring.
Olight’s rechargeable mini light is the perfect pocket torch for when you need to keep pack weight down yet still require a powerful light source for a variety of scenarios. It comes with a removable stainless steel clip, so you could attach it to belt, jacket or the outside of your backpack for fast retrieval.
The Nebo Big Larry 2 is built with workshops in mind, but we think this versatile wand-style flashlight will come in handy in a whole range of situations. As well as a clip that means it can be used like a pen torch, it includes a magnetic spot that enables you to attach it to metal surfaces to illuminate the area hands-free. The not-actually-that-big anodized aircraft-grade aluminium body is water- and impact-resistant so should withstand a fair amount of wear and tear. Unlike most flashlights, Big Larry's main light is on its side, and there are four light modes to choose from: Top Light (200 lumens), Work Light (500 lumens), Red Light (40 lumens) and Red Hazard Flasher. Head to our full Nebo Big Larry 2 review for more info.
At those times when only the widest, brightest source of light will do, draft in this affordable yet heavy duty portable floodlight torch. It generates up to 7,000 lumens, which pretty much turns darkness into daylight at the flick of a switch. So if you’re searching for something outdoors at night, this is the torch to help you find it.
The Alflash Rechargeable LED Floodlight Torch has a beam range of up to 800 meters, so not much will escape its bright glare. And it’s splash-proof, so you’ll be able to use it in the rain. Because it’s made of an aluminium alloy, it’s also shock-proof and able to withstand being thrown in the back of a truck or van. You won’t always need to use its super-bright flashlight mode, of course, which is why there are four other lighting modes to explore too. Keep it juiced via the including USB rechargeable power bank, which can also power up your phone in an emergency. Torch shoulder strap included.
If you’re after a small but affordable torch that packs a punch, the Lifesystems Intensity 370 LED hand torch could light up your life. It’s armed with a 370 lumens LED bulb, but it’s what it does with it that’s impressive. The beam can be narrowed and widened for different uses, and when concentrated it becomes very bright – able to light up subjects from well over 100ft away. There are also five handy brightness modes, including a flashing SOS mode for safety. The slim build is very pocketable and easy to hold (although we would ideally like some more grip on the handle), and it's water resistant too. This torch is battery powered and non-rechargeable, which might be a pro or a con depending on what you need it for. Head to our Life Systems Intensity 370 Hand Torch review for more info.
If you're looking for a do-all flashlight to keep in your campervan, trailer or even around the house when you’re back from your latest camping trip, look to this heritage torch brand and its classic Mag Charger LED Torch. Using the Quick-Click settings system you can easily 'click' (cycle) between modes: Full Power (643 lumens; 4 hours), Low Power (148 lumens; 17 hours) or Eco Mode (66 lumens; 37 hours). The latter boosts the torch’s runtime to 37 hours per charge. This Maglite classic has a generous beam range of 407 meters, enabling you to see a greater distance in front of you, and with its rugged hard anodised finish, and it has an IPX rating of 4, which means it's resistant to light showers.
If only a big, reliable light will do, check out the Ambertech 10000 flashlight. It’s chunky, for sure, but that’s because inside is a mighty 15,000mAh battery that works for 24 hours straight in ‘strong’ light mode. Take that down a notch to ‘weak’ mode and it goes for up to 50 hours, while in SOS flash-light mode it still reaches 60 hours.
However, there’s more to the Ambertech 10000 than those three brightness levels. It’s rated at IPX4 water resistance, it comes with a handy shoulder strap, and its six built-in rechargeable batteries can be easily topped-up via a USB cable. All of those are a bonus, however, to its core capability of illuminating from long distance. It claims that it can light-up something 1,000m away are likely fantasy, but it certainly uses its lumens well in a bright, focused beam.
How to choose the best torch for you
The best torch for you will depend on your demands, but there’s plenty of choice for those that want to upgrade from their smartphone’s weak and weedy flashlight. For example, a keyring flashlight is ideal for stashing in a bag so that you always have a half-decent source of emergency light to hand. For those willing to travel with a little more bulk, compact torches are small enough for stashing in camping kit bags and hiking backpacks. What’s more, they can pump out a lot of brightness.
For those who work outdoors and need to create an intense beam of light quickly to locate someone or something, look for a portable floodlight or a tactical torch, both of which will have a super-high lumens count for maximum brightness. The latter will be easy to attach to your clothing or bag too.
The rechargeable flashlights in our best torches list cost more than battery-operated models, but this higher cost will pay handsomely in the long run. Not only will they prevent you from constantly having to shell-out for new batteries, but you will contribute less to landfill.
Torches come in a variety of sizes, from chunky handheld floodlights to dinky keyring lights. Beam strength ranges from 10 to 7,000+ lumens, depending on the type of torch you buy, though anything over 150 lumens offers a decent level of brightness.
For outdoor adventures where you need to clearly see where you’re stepping in the dark, especially on trails and in remote rural areas, pack a torch that has 800+ lumens and ideally a range of modes including SOS or Strobe. Security guards and other outdoors workers would do well with tactical torches dishing out 1,500+ lumens, which quickly light up even the darkest areas.