Whether you’re dealing with a temporary power outage or wrestling with a major natural disaster, you need to be able to see in an emergency. This is why having the best emergency flashlights is one of the most important steps in putting together an emergency kit. That said, any old flashlight won’t do â€” there are several factors to consider that are specific to emergency situations.
First, think about power type. It’s unlikely you’ll have access to electricity so USB flashlights aren’t typically a great option (unless they have a backup power source). Generally speaking, flashlights that run on either solar energy or regular AAA batteries are best. If you can find one that offers multiple power types, that’s even better.
Second, consider battery life. If your flashlight runs on a rechargeable battery, make sure it can hold power for at least eight hours in an emergency â€” preferably longer. If it uses regular AA or AAA batteries, buy high-quality, long-lasting batteries and keep extras in your emergency kit.
Last, think about tactical features. It’s helpful in a survival scenario to have a tool that can perform multiple tasks. Lots of flashlights have tactical features built in such as a seat belt cutter, a glass breaker, a knife blade, and even a hand-crank radio.
Below, I’ve gathered the best emergency flashlights in a variety of styles. In addition to the factors above, I considered regular flashlight features (like brightness, size, and weight) when making my selections. Take a look to find the best option for your emergency kit.
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Power type: AAA batteries (not included)
What’s great about it: These ultra-bright battery-powered flashlights, which boast a whopping 9,000-plus reviews on Amazon, are strong, durable, and water-resistant. Not only that, but they’re specifically designed for emergency situations, too. For instance, you can use the scalloped head as a weapon in a self-defense situation, and the tail switch allows for one-handed operation.
These flashlights are capable of casting light up to 1,000 feet away and offer five different settings (high, medium, low, strobe, and SOS). They’re super compact and water-resistant. Best of all, they come in a convenient two-pack so you can keep one in your home and the other in the car or in another room. The brand doesn’t specify how long they last on one set of batteries, but reviewers noted that it’s around eight hours.
One reviewer wrote: “These are great if you want to take a flashlight for you for travel or have an emergency one that doesn’t take up too much space. I took these with me on Safari in Kruger and they worked perfectly. Very bright, easy to adjust and not difficult to control with one hand. Highly recommended.”
Power type: Rechargeable batteries (included)
What’s great about it: Built with powerful LED bulbs, these plug-in emergency nightlights â€” which also come in a two-pack â€” make fantastic backup light sources when the power goes out. Plus, you can use them as everyday nightlights when you’re going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. They come with a charging stand that plugs into the wall and keeps them juiced up at all times. Then, if you need them in an emergency, you can grab them off the wall and they will stay powered for up to 15 hours. They’re bright, lightweight, and super compact.
One reviewer wrote: “The high power flashlight setting is plenty bright while the low power is perfect to use as an emergency light when conserving the battery for an all-day power failure like we sometimes have. The strobe setting also works well though you need to be creative to find a use for it. The design is high-quality, lightweight and rounded so it can be dropped on a carpet without breaking and even dropped on a hard floor without breaking. […] One of our original lights survived 4 years and the second is still going strong.”
Power type: Solar, USB, hand crank
What’s great about it: This emergency flashlight is unique because it can be charged three ways â€” solar, hand-crank, and regular USB charging. On top of that, it has a NOAA radio built in that you can use to get weather updates during an emergency. It’s ultra-compact and bright, too. Plus, it can also be used as a power bank to charge your phone or other devices. According to reviewers, the flashlight can last all night when used on its own without the radio.
One reviewer wrote: “Bought this to add to emergency kit and tested it out when I received. Very, very pleased with this compact little unit! […] Only 5″ long, great item to add to survival backpack, keep in car, and at home for emergencies. Simple and [intuitive] to use.”
Power type: Solar, USB
What’s great about it: If you’re looking for an emergency light that will illuminate an entire room or outdoor space rather than point a directed light, this inflatable solar lantern is a great choice. The ultra-lightweight, super compact gadget is fully waterproof and can be charged by either USB or placing it in the sun. Once charged, it provides illumination for up to 24 hours. It has a carry handle that can also be used as a hanging hook â€” and it deflates for easy storage when not in use.
One reviewer wrote: “Great product. Bought it for use during emergencies/power outages, but have been using it on the patio table to light up dinner. Very light weight and packable. […] I’ve been recommending it to friends and family.”
Power type: AAA batteries (not included)
What’s great about it: In addition to offering a bright, high-quality light source, this versatile emergency flashlight is chock-full of multi-purpose tools. Among the many bonus tools, it has a knife blade, bottle opener, nut wrench, and miniature scissors. It’s especially great to keep in your car because it also has a seat belt cutter and glass breaker. Plus, the head is scalloped, offering a weapon for self-defense if you need it. The illumination is bright and you can change the brightness setting between high and low. (Though, it’s not clear how many hours it last for on a single set of batteries).
One reviewer wrote: “I bought these for everyone in my family to keep in their car as a safety measure. They are small convenient and have many functions on them. I would recommend everyone get them for their loved ones for their cars.”
Power type: N/A
What’s great about them: As an alternative to a flashlight, these glowing light sticks make a great emergency light source. They’re cheap, lightweight, and easy to store in your emergency kit. Unlike some glow sticks that lose their luster quickly if you don’t use them right away, these have a five-year shelf life so they’ll be bright whenever you need them. The waterproof sticks can be activated with a quick snap and once glowing, they will cast light for up to 12 hours.
One reviewer wrote: “These glow sticks are great, and they have a million-and-one uses. I buy a box of 20 light sticks every year or two, depending on how quickly I use them. I keep them in drawers throughout my house, in case of a sudden blackout. […] They glow for a long time, and generate a reasonable amount of light. This is a “must have” item for everyone.”