Beyond food and water, there is nothing more important in a survival preparedness context than having proper illumination. So many people spend countless amounts of time and money to make sure that they have the right survival gear at hand but then make the mistake of saying “a flashlight is a flashlight.”
The truth is, having a flashlight that is properly designed for emergency preparedness use can be the difference between a safe outcome and a tragedy. If you’re looking for the best survival flashlight, here’s what you need to know.
Last update on 2020-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- 1 Simpeak Hand Crank Solar Powered Emergency Rechargeable LED Flashlight
- 2 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight High Lumens LED 18650 5000mAh
- 3 ThorFire Solar Flashlight Hand Crank Solar Powered Rechargeable Flashlight IPX6
- 4 CVLIFE Tactical Flashlight LED Light
- 5 Streamlight 90502
- 6 What Should You Look For in a Survival Flashlight for Emergency Preparedness?
- 7 Conclusion
It is important to realize that the requirements for a proper survival flashlight or an EDC flashlight are starkly different than the requirements for a survival light. For a tactical light, maximum brightness and durability are often the priority. In contrast, EDC lights often put size efficiency at a premium. In contrast, survival lights fulfill a different role. One of the main limitations of a survival light is having a reliable source of power. You simply cannot rely on an old handful of AA’s to still be charged in your ditch bag when you need them.
The Simpeak Emergency light places reliable power in a position of priority. Not using its built-in rechargeable battery, the Simpeak can be charged using two methods. If you have enough time, this light can be recharged passively with its built-in solar panel. Or, if time is of the essence, you can use the hand crank. Traditionally, I considered hand cranks on flashlights to be somewhat of a gimmick. However, this light may just have changed my mind. The power ratio of this flashlight is far superior to most that I have tested. A single minute of cranking this light will provide ten full minutes of illumination. It seems that technology has finally made this option practical.
Beyond the abundant power options, the construction of this light makes a lot of sense for an emergency preparedness context. The body of the light is impressively rugged, and the carabiner in a nice touch. While this is not the brightest light in the world, it is clear that the designers of this light knew what was needed for a preparedness item.
- Rechargeable multiple ways
- Rugged construction
- Built-in carabiner
- Not very bright
This rechargeable flashlight is an excellent survival light in some ways. Yet, it has enough drawbacks that I can’t wholly recommend it for everyone. In the positive camp, this is an exceptionally bright flashlight. At 1,200 lumens, this light has no problem turning the night into day. Further, this survival flashlight has an adjustable beam focus. This is a feature that is overlooked all too often. With its variable focus, this light is fantastic for providing light for detailed work or general-purpose floodlighting. Finally, the controls are waterproof and easy to use. So far, so good.
However, there are two primary issues with this light that give me pause. First, although it is USB rechargeable, the cord to recharge it is proprietary. Rather than being a standard micro USB or USB Type-C, the manufacturers opted for a 3.5mm port. Thus, if you lose the cord, you’re out of luck. Finally, this light doesn’t have a pocket clip. Although this may seem like a minor grievance, maintaining proper organization during a survival situation is crucial. Having a pocket clip goes a long way towards keeping a light close at hand.
- Extremely bright
- Adjustable focus
- Proprietary charging cable
- No pocket clip
For a survivalist product, the difference between good and great is often in the details. The ThorFire Solar flashlight is by many accounts an excellent survival flashlight. Like the SimPeak, it features both hand-crank and solar panel charging options. It also follows a similar form factor as the SimPeak. Had I never reviewed the SimPeak, I would not hesitate to recommend the ThorFire. Yet, given their similarities, the nod of approval is aimed in the direction of SimPeak.
The hand-crank of this light worked exceptionally well. The mechanism was smooth and quiet and the grip was comfortable. In my informal testing, a minute of cranking seemed to net about 12 minutes of illumination. Thus, the hand crank actually outperformed the competition somewhat. However, the solar panel was less successful. The ThorFire’s solar panel was somewhat smaller and seemed to charge much more slowly. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal.
The primary issue I found with this flashlight is the ergonomics. Rather than a standard cylinder, this light is shaped akin to a bar of soap. I found it somewhat awkward to hold and aiming it became uncomfortable eventually. Unlike the SimPeak, this unit does not feature a carabiner, which would have gone a long way towards solving the ergonomics issue.
The key advantage of this particular light is the waterproof rating. While the SimPeak is waterproof, it is not formally certified. In contrast, the ThorFire carries an impressive IPX6 certification, meaning that even prolonged dunks in the drink won’t pose a problem. In short, if you know you’re likely to encounter a lot of damp situations, this may be a good option for a crank-light. Otherwise, you’re better off with the SimPeak.
- Crank works great
- IPX6 Certified
- No carabiner
- Uncomfortable to hold
Every so often, I will hold an item in my hand and ask myself “how can they make such a high-quality product for so little?” This became a common question in my mind while using the CVLIFE Flashlight. While it is not made by one of the large makers in the market, the sheer value of this light is rather staggering. The body of the light itself is coated aluminum and feels extremely solid. For its size, this is an extremely weighty light. The finishing, knurling, and threading all felt top not. This light makes an excellent first impression.
Beyond the mere appearance, this light doesn’t disappoint in terms of features. It uses a rear-mounted button mounted in a proud orientation, my preferred arrangement. This makes the light easy to toggle without having to orient it in your hand. That switch will toggle five different modes: four light levels and a strobe mode. Having multiple light output levels is a nice feature that a lot of companies overlook. However, the ability to use a low level to maintain night vision or a high level for tactical work adds to the versatility of this flashlight. The strobe is a nice touch too I suppose, albeit I’ve never found the need.
CVLIFE packed this light with a myriad of thoughtful details. Around the lens, the body of the light protrudes to be used as a glass-breaker, making this an excellent multi-tasker survival tool. Further, this light features one of the best pocket clips I’ve ever experienced. Anyone who reads my reviews regularly will know that pocket clips are often a point of contention for me, and this one truly impressed me.
My only complaint with this light is the battery situation. It uses a standard 18650 lithium battery, which makes it easy to buy extra batteries or a replacement cell. However, the light does not have internal charging. Rather, CVLIFE included an external battery charger, much like a power drill. This works but isn’t the most convenient solution, especially for a survival context. However, if you can get past this potential hurdle, this is a great option for a survival light.
- Rugged construction
- Glass breaker tip
- Requires external charger
As a general rule, the more specialized the tool the higher the price. Then Streamlight 90502 is no exception. I make no qualms about stating that I’m a huge Streamlight fan. In fact, my personal EDC light is a Streamlight Stylus. That said, the 90502 left me scratching my head. The form factor of this light is unlike any I’ve experienced before, almost looking like a miniature railroad lantern. The intent of this shape is to be clipped into a jacket, typically for a firefighter or policeman. Essentially, it is designed to work as a headlamp for your body. While I’m sure this light is excellent for that purpose, that is simply not a use case that many people will encounter.
Despite its specialized form factor, you can’t question the quality of this light. You could drop this light off a building and I have the utmost confidence that it would keep trudging along unaffected. This light is bright, too. They claim it only puts out 175 lumens, but my testing revealed that this is likely a very conservative estimate. Let’s just borrow a term from Rolls Royce and say the power is “adequate.”
The issue with the 90502 is that it’s a very expensive light with a limited audience. Unless durability and convenience make price no option for you, then other options will do the job well enough. However, if you demand the best, you may be forced to consider the Streamlight 90502.
- Incredibly rugged
- Very bright
- Great ergonomics
- Very specialized
What Should You Look For in a Survival Flashlight for Emergency Preparedness?
With the wealth of options and features within the survival flashlight market, it can be difficult to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Luckily, there are a few key features that can help you decide. Here’s how to find the best survival flashlight.
Look For Recharging Options
In a survival context, the best flashlight in the world is of little use if the battery dies. There are a few options here, and your preferences and context will dictate which is the best. Many preparedness enthusiasts like to use a crank or solar-powered light, as they offer unlimited free power without external sources.
This is a valid option, but I also find that an easily swappable battery can be almost as useful. Regardless, make sure you find a flashlight that uses a standard battery and a non-proprietary plug. The cord is often the first part of a flashlight to die, so you don’t want a bad cord to be the end of your flashlight.
Multiple Brightness Options Can Be Useful
There is some debate among survival experts about whether having multiple light settings on a flashlight is truly necessary. Some consider it to be an unnecessary complication, but I tend to be in the pro camp.
Survivalism can find you in a myriad of circumstances, so versatility is key. In a lot of contexts, a flashlight can simply be too bright. If you are working on something detailed or trying to maintain your night vision, it is nice to know you can dim your flashlight.
Arguably the single most important feature for a survival light is durability. It’s impossible to predict every circumstance your flashlight will encounter, so you want to buy one that is ready for rough treatment.
A recessed lens will go a long way towards making sure a cracked light doesn’t put you out of commission. Plastic or aluminum is a personal preference, but in either case, make sure to get a light that can survive a scuffle or two.
Depending on the situation you find yourself in, your flashlight may end up clipped to your body or in your hand for quite some time. Thus, make sure you find a flashlight that is comfortable to use for long periods.
A few ounces can make a big difference after navigating a trail for many hours. The other aspect to consider in this category is how easy it is to keep track of the light. At a minimum, a proper flashlight should have a pocket clip or carabiner. You need to know where it is when you need it.
Working through the top rated flashlights on the survival market was an extremely interesting exercise. Unlike other categories of lights, there is a wealth of variety in the form factors, features, and characteristics of survival lights.
Every company has their spin on the concept. For a survival light, being the brightest flashlight isn’t the goal. Rather, being the most versatile, capable, and durable light is what makes for the best product.
With this considered, the light that is going in my personal ditch bag is the SimPeak Emergency Light. Its combination of power options, durability, and exceptionally approachable price made it the winner of this roundup.
- 1. Emergency Army Green Hand Crank Torch, Built-In Rechargeable battery, conveniently generates power for more than 10 minutes’ lighting by 1 minute’s crank (basing one speed of two round per second).
- 2. Solar panel as a back-up powering method absorbs all kinds of light, such as strong and medium sunlight, lamp light and more.
- 3. Ergonomic and rugged design is comfortable and secure to grip in hand. Perfect for daily, emergency and outdoor lighting.
- 4. The built-in durable carabiner securely clips to your backpack, ideal for outdoor activities.Portable Size for out door use:124x45x32mm/86g.
- 5. What you get: 100% Brand New Simpeak Hand Crank and Solar Flashlight, user manual, unprecedented 2-year worry-free and 24 hours customer service.
Last update on 2020-06-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API