Light is something we take for granted until the lights go out. In a surprising number of accidents and disasters, the power can go out, as can lighting that depends on electricity. This is where a large ghost light can attract attention and be effective, even in the dark.

We tested many different brands of flashlights to find the best one for an emergency situation. There are thousands of flashlight models, but with a little research we were able to narrow the field quickly and identify quality equipment quickly. Versatility, power, usage time and battery type are all factors that set the best flashlights apart from the rest of the competition. If you want a good quality, versatile flashlight for all situations, one of our prepper flashlight recommendations will do the trick.

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The best popper lantern

LED GearLight S1000 Flashlight

Powerful, robust and versatile

GearLight’s S1000 is a sure thing in terms of performance and durability, usually sold at a much higher price.

*Price at time of publication; check for price changes or clearance sales.

The GearLight S1000 is well above its weight class. For $9 each, you get an adjustable LED zoom flashlight that produces up to 800 lumens with a maximum range of 300 meters. The aluminum housing is 15 inches long, making it lightweight – the flashlight weighs just 5 ounces (without the housing). The flashlight is not waterproof, but thanks to the O-rings it is almost waterproof. With standard AA batteries, the flashlight’s output is just under 400 lumens, but the versatile battery case allows for both power and high availability. It also lasts at least 10 hours with a new set of AA batteries.

GearLight also makes flashlights and headlamps, but the S1000 is the California company’s workhorse with more than 35,000 reviews online. You can find the best flashlight on the market, but not at this price. If you need more run time, an outlet, or a projection distance, you can always upgrade, but you’ll find that in terms of performance and value, this flashlight is the best frontrunner for survival kits and bags.

Eveready LED Flashlight

Budget flashlight

Ready for LED flashlight

Cheap, proven, durable

Your basic emergency lantern, improved for LED power, but still available at a very low price.

*Price at time of publication; check for price changes or clearance sales.

Red and blue emergency lights are back – and better than ever. They are still very inexpensive and run on the included D batteries, but they are now 15 times more powerful with LED lights. They have an impressive operating time of 5 days, and the LEDs use less power than last year’s models you remember. It’s pretty easy to fill with D batteries, and if you keep the batteries in a flashlight, you’re good to go.

These lanterns will not impress your friends or family, but simply do their job.

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Retroactive flashlight

Olight Perun Mini LED Flashlight

Compact, powerful and extremely durable

This small flashlight packs a lot of power into a small waterproof case, making it a favorite among operators.

*Price at time of publication; check for price changes or clearance sales.

The Mini LED flashlight from Perun is one of the most advanced small flashlights you can find. The lamp is fully sealed and waterproof. A magnetic charging cable that fits into the bottom of the lamp is used to charge the 550 mAh lithium-ion battery. You can attach it to your bag or gear with the included clip, or to the Velcro attachment on the holster – which is very convenient because the light can be rotated in the holster so you can aim. The light emits 1000 lumens, has a range of 100 meters and lasts 4.5 days – all that power in a package that is less than 3 inches and less than 2 ounces.

Olight is constantly improving LED flashlights, tactical mounting lights, headlamps, etc. Their catalog is constantly growing – if it’s a light that needs to be equipped with high-powered LEDs, they probably will.

Everything we recommend

The flashlights we compared

Our research narrowed the field down to some of the candidates we tested: Eveready, Nitecore, Olight, GearLight, Maglite, Streamlight, Surefire, and more. This allowed us to eliminate flashlights that just didn’t offer value for money. Finding the best value and a solid budget was much easier than our decision to upgrade. There were many low-priced options, but usually the low price was accompanied by low quality. A few exceptions quickly stood out.

At higher (upgrade) prices, there were still many options from well-known quality brands, so performance and versatility became a more important factor. The Maglite was once the de facto flashlight for emergency situations, but it seems to be out of business. The advent of LEDs has flooded the market with competition, and new major brands have emerged.

What to look out for

The best award-winning flashlights have some important features you should look out for:

  1. Value
  2. Lumen and throw
  3. Turnaround time
  4. Battery type
  5. Versatility

Below we will break down what each means for a great lantern. If you find the right mix, you can find a great lantern without breaking the bank.

Flashlight in an underground concrete bunker. The best flashlight in an emergency is the one you carry.

Value: costs vs. benefits

There are a lot of expensive lanterns that are fantastic. If you won the lottery, you could get them for all your appliances. For the rest of us in the real world, we need to think about what we are really getting for the price of a flashlight.

A sturdy and inexpensive flashlight is a good choice for occasional use in a survival kit. Of course, you don’t want a cheap flashlight that will let you down in an emergency, but there is a tipping point where you can easily overpay for a flashlight. That’s why our upgrade kit is small enough to be an EDC – if you have to pay a lot of money for a flashlight, you have to use it often and get paid.

Lumen and throw

The performance of a flashlight is the most important criterion for distinguishing waste from useful material.

Lumens is a measure of luminous flux. Flashlights range from 20 lumens to 3500 lumens (car headlights with high-intensity discharge have a brightness of 3000 lumens). Flashlights have really improved in recent years, but in most cases this type of current can drain the battery quickly.

The projection distance of a flashlight is a factor of lumen output, the shape of the reflector cone and the type of lens that affects the distance the flashlight’s beam will reach. Some flashlights have a range of up to 500 meters. Universal flashlights have a “zoom” bevel that allows you to change the beam width and projection distance.

Turnaround time

Run time is an expensive word for how long a flashlight is used when it is on. It is usually directly related to battery capacity and light output. A good burn time is a few days, some flashlights can even last a few weeks.

Battery type

Batteries are one of the most nuanced decisions you can make when choosing a predecessor for a flashlight. There are two main paths you can take:

  1. Replaceable: cheap, easy to store and more in case of emergency (AAA, AA, C, D are the main types of batteries)
  2. Rechargeable: This is an excellent, expensive, and reusable emergency solution when combined with charging capabilities such as solar panels or generators. Typically, lithium-ion batteries or other advanced technologies are used for longer and more stable operation.

To further delay the discussion, you can always turn to rechargeable and replaceable batteries, such as eneloop.

Versatility

There are many ways to make a flashlight more versatile, but these are a few:

  • Water resistance / impermeability
  • Drop/shock resistance
  • Clips/Holsters/Connectors
  • Lens color filter
  • Conversion to flashlight or headlamp
  • Zoomable bevel
  • Multiple shutdown modes
  • Status Lights

There are also special flashlights available that are suitable for training and survival, for example:

  • Flashlight/radio/charger combination
  • Mechanical burners (rotating, shaking or spinning)
  • Socket for emergency lighting
  • Pin lamps
  • Lighthouses

These specific fires are not included in this review but will be addressed in future reviews.

Why flashlights are important for survival.

The list of emergencies that can cause power outages is almost too long to list. We will list a few anyway:

  • The hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Flooding
  • Earthquake
  • A fierce storm
  • Wildfire
  • A heat wave
  • Collapse
  • A coastal event (such as a tsunami)
  • Space Weather (as CME)
  • Volcano
  • Nuclear Accident
  • Electromagnetic pulse (EMP)
  • A nuclear strike
  • The usual attack

The list is long, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. To learn more about all the common threats and how they are taken into account in your risk assessment, check out our TrueRisk analysis. As you can see, the likelihood and impact of these events vary widely, but your ability to survive each event may depend on your willingness to make a mistake.

Flashlights can help you see in the dark, but you can also use them to give signals, and some models can even be used to generate heat. They are a versatile tool in their own right, and in an emergency it can even be reassuring to have light nearby.

With all the threats that a power outage brings, flashlights are a known priority for preparedness. It’s pretty hard to do anything in the dark, so a flashlight is just a reasonable tool for emergencies. If that’s not enough for you, the Red Cross, FEMA, CERT, all of these organizations agree that it’s important to prepare independently and that every family should have an emergency plan that includes flashlight kits.

Who needs a flashlight?

Flashlights are an important tool in work preparation. Everyone can benefit from being able to see in the dark, especially in emergency situations.

The flashlight is an integral and essential part of these kits:

Whatever threat you face, it’s a good idea to have a flashlight handy.

How we evaluate products: We do extensive research before selecting the best products to review. We consult with experts in the field to better understand what makes a good device. Hours and hours are spent in field testing under stressful conditions. We set performance criteria and evaluate each tested product impartially. You can support us with our independently selected references, which allows us to earn commissions at no additional cost to you. After our discussion, some of the points discussed are included in our documents.

Sources and References

An objective look at the best popper flashlight is useless without sources and references. We have relied on their book knowledge, as well as our practical military experience and our spirit of preparation.

Hunter, K. und Conrad, J. und Willis, A. Visible light communication using a digital camera and LED flashlight. IEEE SOUTHEASTCON 2014, Lexington, KY, 2014, pp. 1-5. (Quelle).

Lenk, R. und Lenk, K. Practical LED flashlight design. in practical LED lighting design , IEEE, 2016, pp. 135-160 (Quelle).

Brooks, M. (2003). The Zombie Survival Guide: A complete defense against the undead. Three Rivers Press. (Paperback, Source).

Concluding remarks

A flashlight may seem like a simple piece of equipment, but a flashlight that is reliable and effective in an emergency can make a big difference. Whether you are repairing something at night, traveling to the site of a power outage or experiencing a power outage, you should always have a reliable flashlight on hand.

In addition to flashlights, there are many other tools to consider when it comes to lighting:

We have provided a lot of information, but as always, if you have any questions, let us know and we will be happy to help. Our research and testing has shown that the GearLight S1000 LED flashlight is the best option given its value, performance, durability and versatility. Make sure you know how to use your flashlight – don’t let it sit in your survival kit or carry bag endlessly.

Keep exploring, prepare and be safe.

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The Best Prepper Flashlight for Emergencies and Survival

Frequently asked questions

Which flashlight will last the longest?

Best Fenix LD41 Survival Flashlight – Offers the longest life of 200 hours and is powered by four AA batteries. This flashlight weighs 6.7 ounces and can be carried in a pouch (included) for easy access.

What is the most powerful flashlight?

The 8 best lanterns of 2021

What is the best flashlight?

Top 7 portable emergency lights in the test – Torchspot

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