Historically the flashlight has been powered by alkaline batteries. But these are relics from a time when little thought was given to the ramifications of throwing everything away. In our more enlightened day, we want things that can be used over and over and the rechargeable flashlight is a great example of that environmentally friendly ethos. They cost more than old fashioned flashlights, but they also produce stronger, clearer light and last many times longer. So here they are, the best rechargeable flashlights for 2019.
The Best Rechargeable Flashlights
The Fenix PD35 Rechargeable Flashlight is a mid-sized, tactical 1000 lumen flashlight with full-sized features. It comes with 2 rechargeable 3V CR123A lithium-ion batteries, has an anti-roll body with knurling around the midsection to ensure a solid grip and a convenient clip for attaching to belt, pocket or molle webbing.
The shell is fashioned from tough, aircraft grade aluminum and is waterproof to IPX 8 standards. There are 3 different illumination modes – low, turbo, and strobe – accessed through the single activation button and a low battery indicator as well. The cherry on the cake is the scalloped bezel that provides effective self-defense capabilities, especially when used in concert with the strobe feature. All in all the PD35 is an outstanding rechargeable LED flashlight and our runaway Best Choice.
LED lifespan of 50,000 hours.
Two EdisonBright lithium-ion batteries.
A true waterproof flashlight.
Low voltage reminder light.
Weight: 3.1 oz.
- Weight7.2 ounces
The Streamlight 74751 Strion can be recharged up to 1,000 times and sports an LED bulb that’s rated to 50,000 hours while producing 500 lumens under max power. It boasts a water resistance rating of IPX 4 and a zoom feature that allows you to project light 200 meters down the road or trail.
The Strion is impact resistant up to 2 meters and uses a lithium-ion battery that can be fully recharged in only 3 hours. The long, slender shape with its ribbed and knurled midsection is ideal for gaining a firm hold and the Borofloat high-temperature glass lens provides clear, clean light in any conditions.
LED bulb lasts 50,000 hours.
Rechargeable up to 1,000 times.
Impact resistant to 2 meters.
Water resistant shell.
Weight: 5.3 oz.
- Weight5.3 ounces
The Anker Bolder kicks out 900 lumens of clear, glare-free illumination at max power and projects it up to 1,000 feet down the road or trail. It features low, medium, high, strobe and SOS settings and will burn bright on medium for 13 hours. The battery will accept up to 1,000 charges and the LED bulb is rated to 50,000 hours.
The LC90 is highly water resistant and can be used with impunity in the heaviest downpours. That makes it an outstanding choice for EMTs and other first responders who answer the call of duty regardless of the weather. At just over half a pound it’s light enough for long term use and, should you need it, there’s also a scalloped bezel for self-defense purposes.
900 lumens at max output.
Projects light up to 1,000 feet.
High, medium, low, strobe and SOS settings.
Water resistant with IP65 rating.
Weight: 10.6 oz.
- Weight4.3 ounces
There are compact flashlights and then there’s the Olight S1R EDC Rechargeable Flashlight. Not only does it weigh a scant 1.7 ounces and kick out an impressive 1,000 lumens at max power but it’s literally small enough to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. This is compact, modern emergency technology at its best.
The IMR 16340 lithium-ion battery can be recharged 1,000 times before it needs replacing. There’s a power indicator to let you know the state of your battery. The body features textured milling to promote a firm grip and the 2nd-gen TIR optic lens produces a clear, strong beam that cuts through the thickest fog and illuminates the most formidable darkness.
Ultra-small rechargeable flashlight.
Max output 1,000 lumens.
Tri-color power indicator.
Knurled body for outstanding grip.
Weight: 1.7 oz.
- Weight1.76 ounces
The Stanley Fatmax is one of the few recognizable brand name products on our list and is true to that company’s long-held reputation for quality. It’s a handheld rechargeable flashlight that kicks out 920 lumens, holds a charge for up to 12 months and permits 7 hours of continuous operation in low power mode.
STANLEY FATMAX SL10 Rechargeable Flashlight is sturdy as the day is long, features multiple carry options, can be recharged 1,000 times and has a collapsible stand that allows you to set it near your work site and free up both hands. While there are only two modes (high and low) keep in mind that this is a work light, not a tactical flashlight. Ideal for carpenters, electricians, HVAC contractors and more.
Max output of 920 lumens.
7 hours runtime on low.
AC and DC charging.
Convenient pistol grip.
Weight: 2.2 lbs.
- Weight2.2 pounds
Our second list entry from Streamlight is another high performance LED rechargeable flashlight that is an invaluable addition to your glove compartment, toolbox or survival kit. The 75458 is shock resistant to 2 meters provides a rubberized non-slip grip, features a 3.6V Ni-MH battery that will accept up to 1,000 charges and will kick out 800 max lumens.
The anodized aluminum shell is water resistant and tough as nails, the LED bulb is good for 50,000 hours (that’s 20 years even if you used it every day), and the runtime of 2.5 hours can be extended to 5 hours on low power. The battery recharges fully in 7.5 hours via USB or 4 hours using 12V DC input.
5 hours runtime on low.
LED with a 50,000-hour lifespan.
3.6V Ni-MH battery.
Impact resistant to 1 meter.
Weight: 12.8 oz.
- Weight2.2 pounds
The Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight is handsome, tough as nails, can be recharged hundreds of times and will send 944 lumens of clean clear LED light 700 feet down the road or path. There are 4 power modes – low, medium, high and strobe – it’s certified IPX 8 for water resistance and there are integrated self-defense features as well should you find yourself beset by weasels.
This tactical flashlight is the kind of product that restores your faith in technological progress and is versatile enough to appeal to everyone including hunters, EMTs, homeowners, police, tradesmen and everyone in between. With Pelican’s lifetime guarantee, it’s a true no-lose proposition.
Max output 944 lumens.
Max effective reach 700 feet.
3 LED colors (white, red, green).
Illuminated battery level indicator.
Weight: 10.4 oz.
- Weight2.2 pounds
The ThruNite TN32 High Power Flashlight is a premium rechargeable LED flashlight that produces a high output 2,000-lumen beam that it can project an incredible 1.5 kilometers – just short of 1 full mile – down the road. That kind of power is simply unprecedented and makes it easily the brightest rechargeable flashlight on our list.
The TN32 uses a CREE XHP35 LED and a 7.2V high capacity battery to produce that night piercing beam. To get you back up to speed once the battery is depleted there’s a built-in fast charging system with ThruNite ITC tech to prevent overheating. And just in case someone tries to take your TN32 from you there’s also a scalloped bezel you can use to talk them out of it.
Max output 2,000 lumens.
LED bulb with a 20-year lifespan.
Fast charging – 2.8 hours.
Scalloped bezel for self-defense.
Weight: 1.7 lbs.
- Weight1.73 pounds
The COAST HP3R Rechargeable LED Penlight takes convenience to a whole ‘nother level. It’s compact and light enough to slip into your shirt pocket yet powerful enough to project its 245 lumens a hundred yards down the trail or roadway. The HP3R can be powered either by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or by 2 AAA alkaline batteries.
You don’t need any particular excuse to pick up this small rechargeable flashlight. The fact is necessity will find you if you keep one with you. Whether it’s providing light to change a flat tire, to look for your keys in the bottom of your bag, to find the circuit breaker that needs to be reset or to light the way around the campground, the HP3R will answer that call.
Rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Optional alkaline battery backup.
Max output 245 lumens.
LED bulb with 50,000 hour life.
Weight: 1.7 oz.
- ModelLumen Penlight
- Weight1.76 ounces
The final item on our best rechargeable flashlight list is the RL1019 from Maglite. This is a stylish, mid-sized LED flashlight that produces up to 643 lumens and has an estimated run time of 37 hours on low power mode. That’s one of the best run times in the industry.
The RL1019 is IPX 4 water resistant, (which means it has no fear of the rain) and it also drops resistant to 3 feet. On full power and with the zoom function engaged it will project a focused beam up to 1,500 feet down the road. The RL1019 is certified by the National Tactical Officers Association, weighs less than a pound without batteries and is more than 12 inches long so it has some self-defense capability too.
Max output 643 lumens.
Projects beam up to 1,300 feet.
Low power runtime 37 hours.
Impact resistant to 3 feet.
Weight .8 lbs.
- Weight3 pounds
Rechargeable Flashlight Buying Guide
How We Choose The Best Rechargeable Flashlights
Many of us are outdoor types and homeowners who are well aware of the virtues of rechargeable flashlights. So this is a product familiar to our core group of product experts. That said we looked at dozens of different rechargeable flashlights to come up with our list and considered everything including:
- Customer Reviews
Features To Look For In A Rechargeable Flashlight
Light Type - It’s hard for some to understand why anyone would still make incandescent flashlights when LEDs are so technologically superior. But the reason incandescents are still made has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with the bottom line. They’re just cheaper to produce and buy than LEDs. The fact is until we’re all well-off there will still be those who can’t afford to spend $50+ on an LED flashlight.
Run Time - The run time of your rechargeable flashlight is a function of the battery. Not the bulb. The bulb will last for decades, but different batteries wear down at different speeds. Always compare battery runtimes on different flashlights before buying.
Recharge Time - Like the run time the amount of time it takes to recharge the battery on your flashlight will vary depending on the battery. On average though it will likely take anywhere from 3-10 hours +/- to fully recharge the battery and about an hour or so to get about an hour of low-intensity use out of the flashlight.
Light Output - Lumens are the total amount of visible light produced by a source, in this case, the bulb of the rechargeable flashlight. The lumen is considered the most accurate measure of light output and is the defacto measuring scale used for the rechargeable LED light today. It’s a pretty straightforward system where a 1000 lumen flashlight produces twice as much visible light as 500 lumens. The light output you need will depend on how you intend to use the flashlight.
Beam Distance - Most rechargeable LED flashlights today feature the ability the project the light long distances down the road or path by engaging the zoom function. Some will throw useful light nearly a mile. By disengaging the zoom and widening the beam you shorten its effective distance to anywhere from 50 to 100 meters.
Ease of Use - All the top-rated rechargeable flashlights are super easy to use and don’t require you have any special knowledge or training. They’re flashlights. Rechargeable flashlights with several different beam choices, sure. But still just flashlights. Within about a minute you should have your rechargeable completely figured out. If anything is puzzling you simply check the manual.
Water Resistance - Water resistant is different than waterproof. Waterproof means you can drop the flashlight in the pool and forget about it. Then come back 3 hours later, fish it out and it will work as nothing happened. Not a lot of rechargeable LED flashlights are actually waterproof flashlights. Most are water resistant. This usually means they’ll survive being dropped in a puddle for a few seconds or being used in the rain. If you drop them in the pool and come back 3 hours later though, forget about it.
Size - Rechargeable flashlights run the size gamut from a few inches long to more than a foot. The size that’s right for you will depend on how you plan to use the light. If you’re just going to store it under the sink for emergencies a large flashlight is fine. If you are attaching it to your belt along with other gear you’ll want one that’s compact and lightweight.
Types Of Flashlights
Essentially there are 3 types of rechargeable flashlights: tactical, searchlight and emergency.
Tactical - The tactical flashlight is a tough, powerful, compact flashlight that often provides some sort of self-defense capability as well (like a scalloped bezel that can be used to greet the face of an aggressive weasel). They’re favored by law enforcement, EMTs, hikers and others who prize them for their combination of size, power, and versatility.
Searchlight - Searchlights are used by the military, mountain rescue teams, firefighters and more to see into places a standard flashlight can’t. They’re typically larger, heavier and produce 1,000+ lumens. Searchlights aren’t terribly popular anymore simply because many of today’s tactical flashlights cover the same bases while also providing other features.
Emergency - To an extent, any flashlight can be considered an emergency light although some rechargeable flashlights are marketed specifically for that purpose. Emergency flashlights tend to be very simple in design and don’t have the self-defense capability of the tactical flashlight. Although they too are being nudged aside these days.
Rechargeable Flashlight Maintenance Tips
Rechargeable flashlights tend to be delightfully low maintenance by nature. But there are a few things you might want to do to ensure yours is always ready to answer the call. For instance, make sure to keep the flashlight clean so that grit and grime don’t infiltrate moving parts and muck them up. Also, check the O-rings on occasion to make sure they aren’t drying out. You might consider lubricating them a bit every 6 months or so just to keep them pliable. And lastly, store your handheld rechargeable flashlight in a dry place to avoid the chance of any metal parts corroding.
Rechargeable Flashlight FAQs
Q: What is a rechargeable flashlight?
A: As the name implies the rechargeable flashlight is one that doesn’t require you to buy new batteries every time it runs out of power. You simply plug it into the nearest compatible wall socket and in relatively short order it will be fully recharged and ready to go again. The biggest benefit is obviously that you don’t have to keep buying batteries. The biggest drawback is that you aren’t going to find a lot of places in the deep woods to recharge your flashlight should you get lost and the battery dies.
Q: What is an LED Flashlight?
A: An LED flashlight is one that uses an LED bulb rather than a traditional incandescent bulb. The reasons for choosing an LED flashlight over a standard flashlight are numerous and include the fact that the bulb is likely to outlive you, that it produces a much higher quality beam than any incandescent bulb can hope to, that it can project that light effectively for hundreds of feet and that it uses only a fraction of the energy required by an incandescent bulb. In 2019 there is really no excuse for not having a rechargeable LED light.
Q: Should I always go for more lumens?
A: Lumens are a measure of brightness and certainly, if you are a mountain rescue worker or firefighter, there is a strong argument to be made for going with the max lumens you can find. But if you intend to only use the flashlight around the house to find things in the basement or find your footing should the power go out there’s really no need for 1200 lumens. A more modest 250-500 or so lumens should provide all the light you need and then some.
Q: Is there a way to prevent shortened battery life?
A: By avoiding unnecessary charge/discharge cycles and using a compatible charging device you can help prevent premature aging of your rechargeable battery. Also, don’t charge the battery (unless you have to) if the temperature is approaching 100 or below 32 Fahrenheit. In addition, dropping the flashlight can damage the battery, so always keep a firm grip on your light. Finally, if you’re not going to use the flashlight for a while don’t put it away fully charged as this could damage the battery.
Q: Are rechargeable flashlights waterproof?
A: Some are and some aren’t. As a general rule, the best rechargeable flashlights tend to be waterproof or at the very least highly water resistant. To the point that you can use them in driving rain and it won’t harm them. A rechargeable intended for home use may also exhibit a high degree of water resistant but may not be a truly waterproof flashlight. So if you drop them in the pool they may not emerge intact. If being waterproof is important to you make sure you check the specs before buying.