Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

9 simple tips you need to buy the best EDC flashlight

One of the most useful parts of my EDC (Every Day Carry) kit is my flashlight. I have quite a few flashlights, some better suited than others for various uses (especially since I discovered these cheap little workhorses that I keep buying) but not all flashlights are really all that good to carry in your pocket every day. [TL;DR shortcut: this is the flashlight I carry every day right now.]

Because you may not be able to find exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll need to compromise here and there on things, based on your needs and budget. Because an EDC flashlight MUST be easy to carry, it may not be the best survival flashlight but if it turns out you’re in a survival situation and it’s the only light you have, you’ll be glad you thought it through.

My 9 tips to buying the best edc flashlight/torch

  1. Get an end power button instead of side button (must-have)
    • Because I keep my keys and a small space pen in the same pocket as my flashlight, lights with side on/off buttons tend to get switched on quite often. Unless it’s dark out, I don’t usually notice this has happened until I feel my leg getting warm. Because of this, I’ve found the batteries in these flashlights don’t last as long.
    • Side on/off buttons are especially bad if the mode cycle button is also on the side, or as in the case of the last light I bought, if the USB cover feels just like the on/off button so you can’t tell which one you’re pushing right away (this one died after a year even though I didn’t use it much due to the stupid thing constantly being on in my pocket). Definitely do not recommend that one.
  2. Look for a good waterproof rating (must have)
    • Flashlights are rated by the IP code to tell you how well they’re protected against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures. Basically, the code is listed with numbers in the code in order as IP (dust rating, waterproof rating, crushability, and other). Check the link for specifics on what I mean and more ratings. If it’s not rated for any of them, they either leave it blank or put an X in the spot if there are ratings after that spot. For example, IPX7 means it hasn’t been rated for solid intrusion or mechanical impact, but has a liquid ingress protection rating of 7 [Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion). Test duration: 30 minutes – ref IEC 60529, table 8. Tested with the lowest point of the enclosure 1000 mm below the surface of the water, or the highest point 150 mm below the surface, whichever is deeper.]
    • For my purposes, I really need an IPX8 (to use on a sailboat) but will accept an IPX7.
  3. Make sure it uses rechargeable 18650 or AA battery (or hopefully both) – (must have)
    • This one is a toss-up but I’ve chosen to go with a light that uses a rechargeable 18650 lithium battery instead of AA because they have over twice the voltage and lots more amp-hours. These lights should also accept two CR123a batteries instead but they aren’t rechargeable.
    • The biggest problem with 18650 batteries is that you won’t be able to find them very easily. AA batteries are pretty much in every home in the Western world and every grocery/parts store. The second biggest problem is they’re quite a bit larger, meaning a larger flashlight in your pocket. You may prefer an AA flashlight over an 18650 one.
  4. Ensure it’s small enough for your pocket (must have)
    • The best flashlight in the world is useless if you don’t have it on you when you need it.
    • A light with a single AA battery should be no problem but anything bigger may be more difficult. If you’re going to use a case on your belt, it isn’t that big of a deal.
  5. Get a reliable flashlight (must have)
    • I ALWAYS check Amazon first to get a quick gauge on whether something is a good deal or has problems. After that, unless I’m buying a cheap flashlight, I always check the Candlepower Forums (which also help me understand all the lumen/throw/whatever mumbo-jumbo) or the Flashlight Forum.
  6. Get one with a USB connection on the case (must have)
    • Some of the flashlights I’ve seen that use the 18650 don’t have a USB connection. This is good for waterproofing but it means that you’ll need to have a dedicated charger for your battery or get 18650’s that have a USB connector on them instead.
    • Pay attention to how the port is sealed. Some covers come off very easily and will soon be lost, making it no longer waterproof. Some of the covers are really flimsy.
  7. Don’t get one with only one brightness setting (must have)
    • This may not seem important, but it really is. I don’t need all the SOS or tactical blinding flashy stuff but you need to at least have a dim mode and a bright mode, and preferably at least a middle brightness mode. Once your eyes are adjusted to the dark, the last thing you need is to blind yourself with 1000 lumens.
  8. You need a strong housing (must have)
    • Unfortunately, most flashlights I’ve seen don’t bother to use the IP code for this part, so I usually just look for a metal housing that’s considered ‘tactical.’
  9. Only consider an LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulb
    • Something like a CREE XM LED or better is good.

A few additional features I’d like to have but aren’t critical:

  1. Laniard holes
    • Because I use my light at night on a sailboat, or when up on the mast, the last thing I need to do is drop my light. This also allows you to hang your light on something if you need to.
  2. Stands up on its end
    • This one isn’t critical but it’s quite useful to be able to stand up your light and point it up at the ceiling to give you more of a lantern effect, especially if your power goes out at night.
  3. Removable and good-quality clip
    • I don’t ever use a clip on my light unless I’m clipping it to the bill of my hat or something but it is nice to have in some cases.

Best EDC flashlight I’ve found so far (with mini review)

So at the moment, I’m currently carrying an Eastshine RT25 CREE XP-L HI flashlight. I decided to take a chance on it because it had several features I was looking for (and I needed a replacement for the TA-50 that just died). I’m still looking for a better flashlight though and will let you know when I find it.

Here are the positives:

  • It’s waterproof rated to 2m (rated as IPX8)
  • It has a maximum of 1000 lumens and a minimum of 1 lumen (although lumen measurements in general are quite nebulous).
  • It does use an 18650 battery and has a USB connection on the case
  • Has the power button on the end instead of the side
  • Can stand vertically on its end
  • Lanyard and loop holes
  • Has a good number of nice reviews,
  • Variable brightness (through 4 levels)
  • Removable clip
  • Belt holster
  • Strong metal case (rated to 1.5m drop but also seems like you could drive over it with your car).
  • It fits in my pocket fairly well and has never come on accidentally

Here are the negatives:

  • Expensive (I don’t mind spending more if I’m getting more, but it needs to be worth it). It’s certainly not the most expensive flashlight on the market by any means but more than I wanted to spend.
  • A little large for my pocket if I’m wearing certain shorts but no problem with jeans.
  • The Amazon link to the light I have is spelled Eastshein instead of the correct Eastshine but Amazon is pretty good for settling problems.
  • The controls are not very intuitive:
    • The instructions are also not very clear but they do explain things. When you first get the flashlight, it won’t turn on. You might assume that the battery just needs charged, but the problem is really that there’s a small plastic disk inside on the end of the battery that needs to be removed. The biggest problem though (if you don’t read the instructions) is that the flashlight won’t charge properly unless you plug it in and then turn it on. Yes, you have to turn the light on to get it to charge. Problem is, the light won’t actually light to tell you it’s on if you plug it in first, it just changes the mode button light blinking frequency. Just turn the flashlight on first and then plug it in to get it right. Per the instructions: “You can charge the flashlight only when it is turned on, then the red indicator will blink slowly every 2 seconds, Or else, you can not charger it successfully and red indicator will blink rapidly” Ummm. What?
    • Switching modes between tactical mode and outdoor mode is simple enough with instructions but you won’t remember how to do it later.

So would I buy this one again or vouch for it? Meh, it’s too expensive for not being the perfect EDC flashlight for most people. It seems to do what I need it to do.

For now, I’d say just buy the much cheaper CREE Tactical light that uses either AA or 14500 batteries until you find the best EDC light for your needs, which may be the same light I now carry.

I thought I’d add this image for those of you who share on Pinterest.
Thank you for all of you who’ve been doing that!

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About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. I have recently thought about EMP. I am looking for a flashlight that will work after an EMP. I have also ordered a keyed lock to replace the digital keypad on my Winchester Gun Safe. What are your thoughts

  2. The flashlight has the switch on the side not the end!

  3. I’ve been carrying the Nitecore TIP for the last year and have been LOVING it. It’s small and rechargeable. I went for a long time following the ‘AA battery policy’ (every device I have has to be AA powered), but the TIP changed my mind. Great features, durability, compact size, and a wider throw than many other EDC lights.

  4. I bought some throw aways there good for whereever you are and got a box of cheap battery AAA s I dont like to use a lite at nite why tell people where you are even the snakes will find you. make camp before dark scout it out a little. use a red rag over it will help. sorry Iam a person that dont like china crap. hey you you were in the new york times now I got you breakfast too oh well.

  5. michael j julson says

    currently using the Fenix E12. it uses 1 AA battery, has 3 brightness modes with 130 lumens on high. it is very small and fits in my pocket easily and usually carry it in a loop on my Leatherman Wave pouch

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