Best Survival Flashlights – 2020 Top Picks Reviewed

| Last Updated: January 14, 2022

As the name suggests, survival flashlights are essential for dangerous situations. From helping you find a missing item in your bag to illuminating your way back to the campsite, it is a crucial part of every survival kit.

You never know when you might need a flashlight, so it’s better to keep one with you at all times.

However, with thousands of models available today, choosing the best flashlight is no easy task. To help make your decision easier, the following are some of the best survival flashlights. So, feel free to read on and find one that best suits your needs! 

Comparison of the Best Survival Flashlights

  • Provides 260 lumens on High mode and 13 lumens on Low mode
  • Includes a removable pocket clip, a nylon holster, and an anti-roll face cap
  • Powered by two 3-volt CR123A lithium batteries, the Streamlight is the best overall unit on our list
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  • Dual power source makes the Streamlight 90540 the runner-up on our list
  • Lexan lens with silicone anti-scratch coating is attached with a heavy-duty bezel
  • Provides 175 lumens with 405m beam distance on High mode and 60 lumens with a 237m beam distance on Low mode
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  • Three different modes of use make the J5 the best for the money
  • Can be powered by a 14500 rechargeable battery or a single AA battery
  • 300 lumens LED produces an intense beam that can light a distance of up to 600 feet
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  • Cree XP-L 1000 lumen LED has a lifespan of 50,000 hours
  • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with premium type III hard-anodized finish
  • Powered by two 3V CR123A lithium batteries or one rechargeable Li-ion battery
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  • The Mini LED flashlight produces a bright output of 300 lumens
  • Can be powered by NiMH, lithium 14500, and AA-size alkaline batteries
  • The aluminum model has three special modes – Low, Hi, and Fast Strobe
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How Can a Survival Flashlight Be Used?

A survival flashlight can be used for several different things. Some of the most common uses include:

Providing Light in Emergency Situations

If the power inside your home goes out or your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road, a survival flashlight effectively provides the light you need. With the right model, you can even choose between soft ambient light and a bright light.

Better Night Vision

Flashlights are designed with different colored filters that provide different types of lights. Red filters ensure better night vision, green filters are perfect for hunting at night, and blue filters provide the best light output for reading maps at night.


Survival flashlights can also come in the form of billy clubs. Even individuals who keep other means of protection, such as pepper spray or firearm, consider survival flashlights to be a useful make-shift weapon, as they are capable of delivering a powerful blow to both animals and humans during an attack.


Some models are built with strobe patterns that can be used to signal for help. Whether you’re trying to flag down another vehicle during an emergency or find a search party, the strobe patterns help you find help quickly. 

What Makes a Flashlight Great for Survival?

While there are several different models, there are certain features that make a flashlight great for survival. Some of these include:

Type of Battery

Most flashlights run on AAA or AA batteries, but some models are also powered by 9-volt, C, or D batteries. However, survival flashlights are usually powered by lithium batteries as they do not leak, making them better for long-term storage. They also work better in cold conditions. Also, make sure that the survival flashlight you choose has a minimum battery life of eight hours at 50 lumens.


A survival flashlight will most likely be exposed to extreme conditions. That’s why it’s essential that the model you choose is both impact-resistant and waterproof. A waterproof IPX-4 flashlight provides basic water resistance, but if you want a unit that can be fully submerged in water, then it should be IPX-7 or 8.


A quality survival flashlight should either be manufactured with metal or a combination of intense rubberized plastic and metal.  It’s advisable to purchase a flashlight made with anodized aluminum. Metal protects the sensitive electronics, ensuring that the unit functions properly whenever it’s needed. Rubberized flashlights can also withstand abuse and are able to absorb the impact of being mishandled, making them the perfect survival tool. 

Review of the Best Survival Flashlights

It’s important that you purchase the best flashlight you can find. But with thousands of models available, choosing the right one is often a difficult and time-consuming task. To help make this decision easier, the following are reviews of some of the best survival flashlights. So, read on and find the model that suits you best! 

Best Overall: 
Streamlight 88031 ProTac 2L 350


  • Innovative design allows easy one-handed operation
  • Multiple modes make it suitable for different situations
  • Compact size makes it extremely lightweight and easy to carry around
  • C4 LED technology ensures extreme brightness and a 50,000-hour lifetime
  • Anodized aluminum construction and impact-resistant tempered glass lens make it durable and reliable


  • A bit small for some users
  • Weak and low-quality pocket clip

What Recent Buyers Report

Almost all the people who invested in the Streamlight agree that it’s an absolute hit! Users were particularly impressed by its brightness and also liked the fact that it’s small, lightweight, and programmable. However, some customers reported receiving a model that stopped charging after only a few weeks of use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

While the Streamlight 88031 comes with several great features, its bright and powerful LED technology is what makes it the top unit on our list. Boasting a shelf life of ten years, the C4 LED technology ensures maximum light output throughout its life. Furthermore, the model features a run time of 50 hours on low, six hours on strobe, and three hours on high.

Who Will Use This Most

If you’re looking for something that’s compact and bright, but more durable than a penlight, the Streamlight is the perfect flashlight for you. Designed to meet the needs of both professionals and everyday users, the unit is ideal for security, law enforcement, working in the workshop, sporting, emergency medical services, and personal use.

Bottom Line

Offering three different lighting options, the Streamlight is surely one of the best models to have for any survival or emergency situations. Its high-quality construction ensures durability and longevity, while its innovative design makes it extremely easy to use and carry. However, the small size might not be suitable for some.

Streamlight 90540


  • Available in three different high-visibility colors
  • Water-resistant and 2-meter impact resistance tested
  • Rugged nylon polymer is extremely durable and reliable
  • C4 LED provides a brilliant, powerful light with a 50,000-hour lifetime
  • Innovative design enables users to attach it to belts and harnesses easily


  • There is no light spill
  • The light might turn off when it’s pointed down
  • Low light setting may not work if the battery is low

What Recent Buyers Report

Most firefighters who purchased the Streamlight found it to be rugged, compact, and lighter than other models on the market. Users also stated it had excellent battery life, with some even describing it as a firefighter’s standard equipment. However, some customers reported that their model stopped working after only a few months of use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The model’s ease of use is what makes it stand out from the crowd. Featuring a reduced low-profile bezel length, it minimizes snag hazards and doesn’t interfere with equipment and gear. An updated clip design further provides better attachment, while the reinforced D-ring makes sure the light consistently hangs forward. Moreover, a large rubber dome push-button actuator ensures easy operation, allowing users to control the different modes quickly.

Who Will Use This Most

Designed for use in hazardous locations, the Streamlight 90540 is the perfect option for firefighters and search and rescue teams. Since it can be easily used with gloves, it’s a good cold-weather option, as well. Lastly, it’s also ideal for law enforcement, as it can be easily linked to a strap or belt.

Bottom Line

Specially designed for use in hazardous locations, the Streamlight 90540 is a rugged, safe, and lightweight flashlight. With C4 LED technology, the model provides bright, powerful light, making it ideal for emergency situations. However, Streamlight’s quality control could be improved, as some users reported receiving low-quality flashlights.

Best for the Money:
J5 Tactical V1-PRO


  • Backed by a one-year replacement warranty
  • Quality construction ensures durability, reliability, and longevity
  • A single battery ensures more than one hour of brilliant bright light
  • Compact and lightweight design makes it very easy to store and carry
  • Detachable pocket clip allows you to attach it to a cap, helmet, or backpack


  • The on/off switch is prone to jamming
  • Aluminum body gets warm when the flashlight runs for a long time

What Recent Buyers Report

Most people who invested in the J5 stated that the flashlight worked wonderfully and recommended it to other potential buyers, as well. Users found the unit sturdy and bright, and particularly liked the fact that it only uses one AA battery. However, some customers reported that their model stopped working after only a few months of use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The J5 deserves its place as one of the top models due to its quality construction. Designed with aircraft aluminum alloy, the unit is practically indestructible. Able to work in the most extreme conditions, it can be dropped from a height of nine feet and will still perform flawlessly. The light also features an attack head that can be used as a makeshift weapon. Its skid-proof design further prevents it from rolling away when it’s dropped.

Who Will Use This Most

The J5 is a simple flashlight that can be used to scope an area or spy deep into the wilderness. This EDC unit is also ideal for home use and is extremely useful during power outages and for finding missing items in crannies, crooks, and under sofas. Since it can be easily attached to a bicycle, a backpack, or a helmet, it’s also the perfect option for camping trips and night rides.

Bottom Line

The J5 Tactical V1-PRO is a tough flashlight that provides excellent value for money. Perfect for both occasional and daily use, the unit is able to survive drops to the garage floor, while its water resistance allows you to use it in the rain. However, the on/off switch might become jammed after a few months of use.

4. Fenix PD35 TAC 1000


  • Water-resistant up to 6 and 1/2 feet for 30 minutes
  • Reverse polarity protection prevents improper battery installation
  • Low-voltage reminder alerts you when battery replacement is needed
  • Compact and lightweight design makes it easy to conceal and carry around
  • Wide variety of lighting options make it suitable for several different visibility requirements


  • Batteries run out too fast
  • Charger has to be purchased separately
  • Users cannot adjust the light or narrow the beam

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers were extremely satisfied with the Fenix and recommended the light to other people, as well. Users loved its compact and lightweight design and were particularly impressed by its brightness and build quality. However, some customers were disappointed with the wrist strap and did not like the placement of the button that changes between modes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Fenix PD35 primarily stands out to us because of its strong beam power. Equipped with six different lighting modes, the LED provides around 1000 lumens of power and boasts a lifespan of approximately 50,000 hours. With a beam that spans up to 656 feet, the unit ensures an impressive performance in harsh environments as well.

Who Will Use This Most

The Fenix PD35 is the perfect flashlight for survival purposes. Ideal for security and law enforcement, outdoor use, and professional use, the Fenix delivers powerful and reliable illumination for a wide range of situations.

Bottom Line

All in all, the Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 is a well-built flashlight that provides extreme and reliable illumination. Boasting a sturdy construction, the waterproof and slip-resistant model is perfect for any serious outdoorsman. However, the charger will need to be purchased separately.

5. UltraFire 7w 300lm Mini Cree LED Flashlight


  • Versatility makes it convenient to use
  • Quality construction ensures durability and reliability
  • Water-resistant casing and skid-proof design make the unit last long
  • Compact and lightweight design makes it extremely easy to carry and store
  • Adjustable focus allows you to brighten areas both from a great distance and up close


  • The unit does not have an IPX rating
  • The unit gets hot if it’s left on high mode

What Recent Buyers Report

Most buyers were happy with the UltraFire and stated they would not hesitate to purchase the unit again. Users found it to be extremely handy and were particularly impressed by its build quality and price. However, some customers reported receiving defective models that provided less than 100 lumens.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Since the UltraFire is one of the best models available, there are several reasons  it stands out to us. Firstly, it’s inexpensive, reasonably durable, and bright. Manufactured with aluminum alloy, the flashlight is water-resistant and boasts a good battery life. With LED technology, the unit also lasts longer than older models.

Who Will Use This Most

As the clip can be attached right to your belt, the UltraFire is perfect for mountain hikers and rock climbers. It’s also ideal for hunting, camping, law enforcement, and military purposes. These models can also be kept in vehicles for regular and emergency use.

Bottom Line

To put it simply, the UltraFire Mini Cree is an inexpensive, small, single AA battery-powered LED flashlight that features an adjustable focus. Ideal for hunting, camping, and cycling, the unit provides an output of 300 lumens. However, it gets hot if it’s left on high mode for a long time.

Why Should I Get a New Survival Flashlight?

As mentioned above, having the right flashlight is extremely important, especially when the sun goes down. Some reasons for purchasing a new flashlight include:

Better Illumination

Older flashlights were designed with incandescent bulbs, but LEDs have finally taken over. Outperforming incandescents on all measures, light-emitting diode-based models are brighter, tougher, and more battery efficient. They’re also more durable than incandescents and don’t break easily when used in outdoor applications.

Durable and Shock-Resistant

A must-have feature for every survival tool, these are also designed to be shock-resistant. If a model has passed the ANSI FL1 standards, it means it’s able to take a beating. Usually, a shock-resistant flashlight will have an LED bulb.

Beam Features

An extremely useful feature, an adjustable beam makes a survival flashlight pretty versatile. The feature allows you to illuminate a wide area for travel or search applications, or reduce it to a narrow beam for signaling and tactical purposes. You can even hang the light from the the top of your tent as a makeshift lamp.  

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

There are several different factors you should consider before purchasing a survival flashlight. Some of these include:


Different models have different brightness levels. If you need a survival flashlight, it’s advisable to choose one with between 45 and 200 lumens. Perfect for camping, general outdoor use, hiking, and tactical applications, a 200-lumen model provides the right brightness level for every survival situation.

It’s also advisable to choose a unit with multiple brightness settings. This feature enables you to adjust the brightness according to your needs, allowing you to save power, as well.


Make sure the flashlight you purchase is portable and can easily be packed into your survival kit. You should also consider the weight of the model. It’s advisable to choose one that weighs eight ounces or less. Size is also an important factor, with the ideal size being shorter than eight inches.

Function and Features

As the name suggests, survival flashlights are specifically designed for use in survival and emergency situations. That’s why it’s essential that the unit you choose has built-in emergency features. Emergency strobes are one of the most common built-in features, with the SOS strobe being the most useful strobe pattern.


Survival flashlights are more than a simple source of light, they’re a lifesaving device as well. Along with providing ambient or bright light with the right diffusers and filters in an emergency, some flashlights can also be used as a makeshift weapon for self-defense. There are hundreds of excellent options available, so make sure you read the aforementioned reviews to find one that best suits your needs!