Best LED flashlights?
July 9, 2008 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Best LED flashlights?

After having yet another cheap flashlight bite the dust, I have decided to replace all of our old flashlights with LED ones. However, the range of choices is daunting. Does anyone have recommendations for good, reasonably priced all-purpose LED flashlights?
posted by Irontom to Shopping (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

I have these and they are great:
posted by WWJB at 8:48 AM on July 9, 2008

posted by nitsuj at 8:50 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Since you already have old flashlights, you might consider buying LED conversion bulbs for them instead of all-new flashlights.
posted by OilPull at 8:55 AM on July 9, 2008

Nightstar shake-up flashlights. 30 second shake = 20 minutes of light. No batteries ever again.
posted by symbollocks at 9:03 AM on July 9, 2008

Petzl headlamps. My Tikka Plus is the first flashlight I reach for. If you've never had a headlamp, give it a try.
posted by chairface at 9:05 AM on July 9, 2008

Seconding OilPull's suggestion. LED replacement bulbs will save your batteries and reduce all that waste from throwing flashlights away.

If you're sold on buying new flashlights, MagLite makes LED flashlights now too. I'm happy with mine.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:06 AM on July 9, 2008

Get something with the new SSC P7 LED. It's basically four of the Q5 LEDs mounted on a single die. It says they're rated at 900 lumens, but it's closer to 500-700 in real life.

The prices vary depending on the driver that's used with them. You'll spend a little more to get different modes (sos, strobe, low/med/high).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2008

I got a pair of Luxeon L2's at Sam's Club. They are the most unreal flashlights I've ever seen, much less as LED's. They're tactical-bright. Crazy, insane bright. Light up my entire backyard bright. 90 Hours of light on 3 AAA's, indefinite bulb life. 1500 lumens or something unreal. I really like them because the on button is a switch in the end of the light. I think I paid $27 for the pair.
posted by TomMelee at 9:19 AM on July 9, 2008 is always my first stop for consumer research.

My favorite flashlight was made by Elektro Lumens, but they have a limited and always-changing selection of custom-assembled ones, so it's hard to recommend a particular model.
posted by jbrjake at 9:22 AM on July 9, 2008

Ask here. And don't buy DX if you are worried about them breaking. I use Fenix lights.
posted by fake at 9:24 AM on July 9, 2008

I bought one of these off ebay the battery last a long time and its crazy bright for its size
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 9:33 AM on July 9, 2008

Seconding the headlamp idea. Using a normal flashlight is quite annoying after you've become used to having both hands free. I have a Petzl Tikka XP and it is quite versatile. It has a diffuse and spot lighting mode and 3 different illumination levels, as well as a momentary "boost" mode.

For area lighting, I use a Black Diamond Apollo LED lantern. It's bright, compact, adjustable, and just about the best product of its type I've used.

I keep a Petzl e+LITE in my car in case I ever have to service it in the dark.

Whatever you end up buying, you should look into using low self-discharge rechargeable batteries such as the Sanyo Eneloop. They keep their charge much longer in storage and you never have to throw away flashlight batteries again.
posted by strangecargo at 9:41 AM on July 9, 2008

Response by poster: Just to clarify, we've got headlamps that we use for camping. These would be for general household use. The kids like to play flashlight tag, too...
posted by Irontom at 10:16 AM on July 9, 2008

It hasn't been updated for a year, but jbrjake's recommendation of Flashlight Reviews is sound. It has a ridiculous amount of interesting information.
I'd say that if you're focused on quality, buy a Fenix. Don't worry too much about which particular LED brand or type to get as they will all be ridiculously bright (maybe too bright) and energy efficient. If you're more interested in cost, just buy what Sams or Costco has to offer or the DX lights already linked to.
posted by madh at 10:25 AM on July 9, 2008

I bought aN LED flashlight and loved it. When I went to change the dead batteries, I found that the cheap Chinese lead-acid batteries has leaked and ruined it. I had to throw it away. Don't let this happen to you!
posted by Daddy-O at 10:59 AM on July 9, 2008

Depends on the form factor. If you want the little button keychain flashlight, get a Photon. I prefer the AAA battery size, for that go with Fenix or Arc.

I've done the NiteIze 2xAA maglight led conversion and it works fine, but the head doesn't fit on as well afterwards.
posted by jefftang at 12:50 PM on July 9, 2008

I have an Inova X5 and I absolutely love it. Very bright, fits in your pocket, and can take a beating if you drop it or knock it around. I like the twist mechanism switch more than having a press button and you can turn it on/off with one hand (unlike a mini maglite). At $30 a pop you probably won't be buying a bunch for flashlight tag, but you won't regret having one around the house for general use.
posted by puritycontrol at 1:39 PM on July 9, 2008

Your choices are limitless and totally dependent on what you are willing to spend and what you need it to be able to survive. Surefire, as linked upthread, are fantastic. They are beautifully designed and will last forever. They also can cost several hundred dollars. Inovas are also excellent, but there are often several kinds of LEDs used in a single product line (the X1 has had three different LED types since it first came out, all have wildly different brightness, beam shapes, and only someone familiar with the minute differences can tell just from looking at the light itself.) But beyond that, they make a fine product and would be a good choice.

If you are just looking for cheap and good, I'd actually recommend checking out the new MagLite LED lights. They are all 3watt, so they are bright. They use standard battery types (D, C, AA), so you aren't paying a premium for CR123 3 volt batteries.

I've also recently picked up an Energizer 3watt from Target for about $20, and I love it. Despite owning about 30 or so (I kinda collect them) other LED lights, it's the one I use all the time now.
posted by quin at 2:28 PM on July 9, 2008

Seconding Fenix Flashlights. I have the P3D-Q5 and it's easily as bright as a 2D maglight, yet it fits comfortably in my jeans pocket. I never leave home without it. About $65 on Ebay.
posted by Dorri732 at 2:29 PM on July 9, 2008

This guy has a lot of very in depth reviews of led flashlights.
posted by tallus at 3:22 PM on July 9, 2008

That guy is also a Mefite.
posted by quin at 3:30 PM on July 9, 2008

I read this review and went out and bought one at the local Harbor Freight the next weekend. It is all they claim.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:06 AM on July 10, 2008

Also agree with the above Surefire suggestions. Hardcore flashlight.
posted by tarthur at 6:34 PM on July 21, 2008

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