If you live in the city or even a build-up town, you will probably be acclimatized to the sheer abundance of streetlight that is available. But this means that you might underestimate the true thick levels of darkness that you can find once you’ve left the city limits.
Because when you go backpacking, once you hit the trail or the wood, you’ll be more than a little unnerved by how pitch black it really is.
Needless to say, considering the number of unseen creatures there are in the wilderness, your mind will undoubtedly be racing thinking about all the things that can be crawling and scuttling their way towards your tent.
That’s where a flashlight will be indispensable to you, helping you to shed some much-needed light to scare away the birds and beasts of the forest.
Not only that, doing even the simplest tasks in pitch black will be next to impossible, no matter how familiar you are with camping and your equipment.
If your tent collapses in the middle of the night during a rainstorm and you don’t have a flashlight, you won’t be able to erect your tent and run a risk of hyperthermia by sleeping exposed in the open.
But what are the best flashlights currently out there for camping enthusiasts new and experienced? What features and technology can you expect from even the most basic backpacking flashlight? How much can a decent flashlight be looking to set you back in terms of price?
Well, backpackers of the world need not worry about their next nighttime excursion, because we’ve got a list of some of the best backpack flashlights currently available in the online marketplace.
Then we’re following that up with a buyer’s guide to help shed some light on the necessary features of a flashlight, as well as some frequently asked questions.
Top 4 Best Backpacking Flashlights
OUR TOP PICK
Our first flashlight weighs less than an ounce and is a very versatile model that has both a tilting head and a clip for you to attach to your backpack or your jacket.
On the highest power setting, you can use this flashlight for 45 minutes, but when set to low it can last you up to 22 hours, which is ideal if you want to use it for consecutive days - introducing the Nitecore Thumb 85 Lumens USB keychain Light.
With the option of being able to clip your flashlight to any surface, you can keep your hands free to tackle difficult tasks such as setting up the tent or chopping wood to get a fire going. You can also angle the direction of the light towards whatever task you happen to be doing.
Power is very important for a flashlight, and this one certainly delivers on that front.
This flashlight can last up to 22 hours on the lowest power settings, with 3 different levels of brightness to choose from, allowing you to offset the illumination with the power-saving capabilities.
Coming with a rechargeable battery, if you can find a charging port between campsites, then this flashlight will be able to last you for days.
With the tilting head and the clipping features, this flexible unit is a must-have for any backpacking adventure, especially if you predict that you’ll be doing a lot of difficult tasks in low lighting.
You can charge this flashlight on any USB charging port. You can even charge it using the juice from your mobile phone if you have to!
The full charge of the flashlight only lasts 45 minutes on full beam, which might not be appealing for someone who wants maximum illumination for tricky tasks that last longer than 45 minutes.
Our next flashlight also has a miniature keyring attachment as well as a clip that you can use to attach your flashlight to a bag, your pocket or the sleeve of your jacket.
You can even adapt your baseball cap into a headlamp, so you can easily focus on your nighttime tasks hands-free - introducing the ThruNite Ti3 Lumens LED Flashlight.
This is another very compact and very lightweight flashlight option. You can easily store this one along with your other camping essentials and it won’t contribute greatly to the overall weight of your backpack.
The entire length of this flashlight is 2.8-inches by 0.6-inches and weighs 0.48-ounces, perfect for the camper who prefers to travel light.
Unlike some of our other models, this flashlight operates using AAA batteries, which come included with the flashlight.
It is capable of producing a light level of 120 lumens. It also comes with 3 lighting modes, including a strobe light, which you can use to alert people to your position if you’ve requested help.
The price - this flashlight is incredibly affordable and provides the user with a lot of features for their money. You should not skimp on a quality flashlight, as cheaper models with fewer features might leave you stranded.
This flashlight can be attached to many diverse surfaces, from sleeves to jacket lapels or tent entrances. The more surfaces this allows you to illuminate, the better.
If you expect to be doing a lot of heavy-duty tasks in low lighting, then you’ll be wanting to consider this option, as it frees up both your hands, which is essential for things like tying knots and building a fire.
The fact that this is not rechargeable might be a major negative for some backpackers, although there aren’t any power sockets in the woods anyway, so it might not be an issue for you.
Our next flashlight gives the best in lighting performance, coming out as the very highest-rated for nighttime hiking.
The battery life lasts 69 hours when the settings are put on ultra-low mode, with numerous strengths of beam that includes a strobe, which can be used to frighten predators or alert people to your location - introducing BYB F20 LED Tactical Flashlight.
The BYB is very compact and lightweight, making it the perfect addition to your backpack. It also comes with a clip that will enable you to attach it to your bag or your tent or even your own body for those tricky double-handed tasks.
The anti-slip handle will also ensure that you have a sturdy hold on this flashlight, which is important for when you encounter wet conditions, even when wearing gloves.
The flashlight itself is water-resistant too, so you won’t have to worry about dropping it in a puddle, just fish it out and carry on!
The 800-lumen Cree light power will ensure that you have great performance for hours and hours, which will be important if you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere.
With waterproofing capabilities, this is the ideal flashlight for adverse conditions such as mountains, rivers and streams.
The different settings can be used for things such as alerting people to your whereabouts, seeking out certain densities of wood or simply getting you through a long trail in the dark woods over a long period.
Made from high-grade aluminum, this torch can also withstand a lot of drops and scrapes, which will be inevitable when out in the wilderness.
The price - this one might set you back a little more than some of the other models of flashlight on this list, although with an increased price comes an increased level of quality.
Our final flashlight is one that is very compact and lightweight, giving off a 400-lumen brightness that will certainly help you illuminate even the thickest, darkest woods.
It is also able to stay powered for 20 hours on a full charge, meaning that you can be liberal with its use and not have to worry about it cutting out overnight - introducing the Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC40 Flashlight.
This model comes with a rechargeable battery, its Cree LED light bulb able to last an impressive 5,000 hours, which will give you the added relief of not having to worry about replacement light bulbs.
The flashlight also has a water-resistant, easy-grip handle that is anti-slip, so you’ll be able to wield it in wet conditions with little hassle, while the firm grip means that you won’t have to worry about dropping it.
There are 5 power modes you can put this flashlight in, which include high, medium, low, strobe and SOS. This is a flashlight that will help you out of a potentially life-threatening spot.
With a range of different settings, you can conserve the battery life in your flashlight, which will be very useful when you're running low but still need to get the tent set up in dim lighting.
This flashlight operates at very high power, allowing you to illuminate the fiddly tasks that you might come into contact with when you’re out in the sticks.
With an optional clip that will allow you to attach the flashlight to your backpack or jacket, you can be sure that both your hands are still free to remove obstacles from your path or search for wood fuel.
The battery life on this flashlight is formidable, it will last you multiple trips without having to charge it, although we recommend that you do so whenever you can!
The design of this flashlight might be too small for a lot of users, especially if they plan on carrying a lot of gear and worry that it might get lost.
Best Backpacking Flashlight Buying Guide
There’ll be many things that an avid camper will be wanting to consider when buying a durable and reliable flashlight: build quality, battery life, weight and power are some of the most important attributes.
They could make all the difference between a successful and disastrous backpacking trip.
What Is The Size And Weight Of Your Flashlight?
Most experienced backpackers will know that they’ll always want to be saving space and weight, especially if they already have a tent, food and waterproof items to lug around in their pack already.
Pick a smaller, more compact flashlight for your journey, so you won’t feel exhausted before you get to the campsite.
How Durable Is Your Flashlight?
Backpacking trails in the woods or mountains can be rough experiences, the likelihood of you dropping your flashlight is high.
This is why you’ll want a one that is made from resilient materials such as aluminum, steel or carbon fiber.
We recommend carbon fiber flashlights, as they are durable and will save you a lot of weight in the long run.
Is Your Flashlight Waterproof?
When in the great outdoors, you should be prepared to expect all weathers - rarely does the climate stay the same!
If you are planning on wading through rivers and streams, you should factor in leakage into your backpack, so make sure that your flashlight will be able to resist that extra water.
Look for the flashlight’s IPX rating. A flashlight that is rated IPX8 will be fully waterproof, you could submerge it in the nearest river and it would still work!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Brightness And Throw For A Flashlight?
The brighter your flashlight is, the better it will serve you in dark conditions.
Lithium batteries cast a light of somewhere between 800 and 900 lumens and have the best light throw. You can pick rechargeable batteries if you don’t fancy replacing them with disposables every few weeks.
You can either have a short and wider beam or a narrow, long and focussed beam. It all depends on whether you need to illuminate more close up items or fewer items that are further away.
What Types Of Battery Can You Buy For Your Flashlight?
There are a few main types of flashlight battery, the type you purchase will depend on price, power and how disposable they are.
- Disposable alkaline batteries - these are the cheapest and most available batteries, although they run out very quickly.
- Rechargeable alkaline batteries - more or less the same as disposable, but you will save more money in the long run by simply recharging them in between trips.