Welcome to T3's guide to the best torch (or flashlight, if you prefer) right now. Torches are one of those things you don't tend to think about buying, but is incredibly useful in a range of situations – whether that's trying to navigate a campsite at night, walk your dog on a dark winter's evening, or find the fuse box in a power cut. Keyring torches are also handy for illuminating your car door or front door if you can’t see clearly enough to insert your keys.
Read on for our pick of the best torches available. If you're going to invest in just one flashlight, there are a few things to consider. Does it need to be waterproof, so you can use it outdoors in all types of weather? Might you need to use it for long periods, in which case it might be smart to go for something lightweight? Will you require a variety of lighting modes for different situations? And what about power – are batteries fine, or do you want something rechargeable? 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 your whole tent, 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, or your 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.
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 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.
LED Lenser, like Olight, has a raft of great flashlights for a range of outdoors and everyday use, but none are more fun or usable on the regular as this one. The PX4 Pen Torch is sheer genius. Clip it onto your belt or shirt pocket, or stick it in your backpack, and you will have an immediate source of light should the power cut out.
Ok so it doesn’t actually double as a pen like you know James Bond’s would, but it’s just the ticket for using as a nifty little inspection light. Also break it out for nighttime reading when camping. Use it on the lowest setting (10 lumens) and it will run for up to 20 hours.
The PX4 Pen Torch isn’t rechargeable, sadly, so it does require batteries, but it is splash-resistant so – like many of the other models in our best torches buyer’s guide – can be used in the rain without issue. Buying it as a gift? That’s handy, because it comes in a presentation box.
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.
If you’re after something pocket-sized and easy to travel with – and you have no use for industrial-level illumination – the Life Systems Intensity 370 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. Able to be adjusted according to what you’re using it for, the beam can be narrowed and widened, which isn’t something normally found on flashlights.
Very bright when concentrated and able to light-up subjects from well over 100ft., the Intensity 370 has five handy brightness modes, including a flashing SOS mode for safety. It’s also easy to travel with, not because of its compact size, but because it uses two AA batteries. The 60-hour battery life is reassuring, though if you intend to use it on full brightness it would be wise to travel with a couple of spare batteries at all times.
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.