Garrett Wade's Hi-Tech, High-Performance Flashlights
The best researched, most comprehensive Hi-Tech selection available to you
The essential facts about LED flashlights: Why you need them, and how we chose them for you.
The common flashlight is so familiar that no matter who we are or where we live, it seems there's always one tucked in a nearby drawer, waiting to be used in an emergency. Historically, flashlights have used small, fragile incandescent bulbs, and were weighted down by D-cell batteries that often seemed to fade just when you needed them most.
In the last few years, however, portable lighting has been undergoing a profound revolution. Low power, cool running Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have undergone dramatic technical developments in design and chip circuitry.
The result has been lighter, smaller flashlights with very powerful durable LED lights that last nearly forever (10,000+ hours) on tiny amounts of power, using just a few AA, AAA or CR123A Lithium batteries. These are incredibly bright lights (8 to 21 times the light output of common 2 D-Cell flashlights). Some can throw a strong beam many hundreds of feet, while others are small enough to slip in a small pocket. All cases are hard-anodized aircraft quality aluminum.
In order to help you find the best of this new breed, we examined and tested dozens of individual lights from US and Asia. Overall quality was very high, but we were also determined to bring you the best relative value. In the end, we selected 9 models from 5 different makers. All meet our standards, and all have earned the Garrett Wade Guarantee.
Each has specifications distinguishing it from other models, and each is a solid value. The only thing to decide is which one works best for you. Our tip: buy two, and keep one in the car. (Unless otherwise indicated, all flashlights come with batteries.)
Light Output Information
"Lumens," the best generally accepted standard, measures total light output. All our Lumen specs are based on fresh batteries. (As a point of reference, the familiar 2 D-cell incandescent flashlight with fresh batteries produces about 12 lumens.) As battery power drains, lumen output declines.
Battery quality is very important. AA and AAA batteries are available everywhere, but performance varies widely among brands.
CR123A Lithium batteries are increasingly common, but if you can't find them locally, we offer an excellent USA-made one at a good price. In general, they will last longer than AA or AAA batteries. Buy the best you can afford. The old adage that "the most expensive thing in the world is a cheap paint job" applies, in principle, here too.
The low output alternative on several of these lights gives you longer battery life: important in situations where you need just enough light to work or walk by, but also need it to last.
Group One: Fixed Focus Flashlights
This "normal" flashlight is the type you are probably most familiar with. At any given distance, the shape and size of the beam of light will be the same at all times.
Group Two: Adjustable Focus Flashlights
These differ significantly from fixed focus lights in that they feature a special curved lens that allows you (using a sliding sleeve on the barrel) to shift output in a split second from a tight spotlight to a room-filling broad beam.
The more diffuse the setting, the less intense the light, since it is spread over a wider area. This variability makes these handy in a much greater range of situations than fixed focus lights.
The models we've selected for you represent an excellent combination of benefits and value. All Adjustable Focus lights come with a woven belt-loop pouch.