What to Look for in a Survival Flashlight


On the site, I mostly talk about tactical flashlights. Specifically, I’ll look at the best tactical flashlights and let you know my overall opinions on them. However, I want to make it clear that a tactical flashlight is not exactly the same as a survival flashlight. While both will be used in extreme circumstances, a tactical flashlight can be a bit broader in terms of its features and whereas a survival flashlight has more specific features. 

Let’s start with talking about what a survival flashlight is. This is a flashlight that is prepared when an emergency strikes. Typically, you’ll want to have the flashlight ready to go along with some batteries that you can quickly equip into the flashlight. Some people prefer using survival flashlights for their bug out bags while others prefer using their EDC lights for emergencies. Generally speaking, survival flashlights are there just in case you need them. So today I want to talk about what features to look for in a survival flashlight.

LED Flashlight with High Lumen Output

It’s no surprise that you’re going to want an LED flashlight when it comes to survival. However, I wouldn’t recommend getting an ultra powerful flashlight. Tactical flashlights that deliver 4000 lumens are extremely impressive and very useful in tactical situations. However, the higher the output the more the battery will drain. By having a lower output, you can conserve the battery more which is extremely important when it comes to survival flashlights. We’ll talk about batteries in a bit, but when it comes to survival flashlights, I would recommend finding a light that delivers somewhere between 700 to 2000 lumens. It’s a large range I know, but it really depends on what type of flashlight you want and what kind of batteries you want to equip with the flashlight. 

streamlight protac 90 right angle flashlight

Survival Flashlight with Multiple Modes

Another important feature to consider is multiple outputs. An LED flashlight that features multiple modes gives you more versatility in different situations. For example, the lower modes can allow you to be stealthier and draw less attention to yourself. Along the same idea, lower modes also help to conserve the battery which is a very important aspect to consider with any survival flashlight.

I highly recommend finding a survival flashlight that features a moonlight mode. I already discussed this in a previous article about moonlight modes so I don’t want to get into detail, but a moonlight mode is typically 5 lumens or less. Moonlight mode on LED flashlights have extremely long run times. I’m talking days, weeks, and sometimes even months. To give you an idea of how long of a runtime you can get with a moonlight mode, just check out the Olight M2R tactical flashlight. With its 1 lumen output, it has a maximum runtime of 50 days! 

Best Batteries for Survival Flashlights

Now we’re on to what some may argue is the most important part of survival flashlight and that’s the battery. For most of my articles, I tend to review tactical flashlights that run on lithium ion batteries. However, a lithium ion battery is not necessarily the best battery to go with when it comes to a survival flashlight. This is because lithium ion batteries drain over time whether they’re in use or not. You have to maintain them by charging them up every few months or so. How often you need to charge it really depends on the size of the lithium-ion battery you’re using. Generally, smaller batteries are going to need to charge a bit more frequently I’ve noticed.

best aa flashlights

On the other hand, alkaline batteries, nickel metal hydride batteries, and lithium batteries all have really good shelf lives. You don’t have to worry about them draining overtime the same way you do with a lithium ion battery. The downside is that they are disposable and aren’t as powerful, but you really don’t need a super powerful flashlight like we discussed before. So it may be to your benefit to get a survival flashlight that can run on AA batteries or CR123 batteries.

Another good reason to use lithium batteries or alkaline batteries is because these batteries are fairly easy to come by. You can’t always go to a convenience store and pick up an 18650 lithium-ion battery. However, almost everyone sells alkaline batteries. These are very common batteries for electronic devices. If an emergency happened, you may prefer having easily accessible batteries in your light rather than batteries you may need to purchase online.

Compact LED Flashlight

Finally, I strongly recommend going with a compact flashlight that’s easy to either carry in your pocket or clip onto a belt. You want a survival flashlight to be portable and easy to carry. It doesn’t need to be a small pocket flashlight, but something that’s not going to weigh you down would be great. So for example, steer clear of the Acebeam K75 searchlight and the like. They deliver a lot of power and are extremely impressive, but they’re going to be cumbersome to carry around. This is especially true in an emergency where you may already be needing to carry other things such as food, water, and other survival tools.

nitecore ea45s 1000 lume flashlight

My recommendation would be to get an LED flashlight that’s somewhere between 5 to 6 inches in length give or take. This size will be great for clipping on to your pocket or carrying onto your pocket or backpack. Oftentimes this size of flashlight will come with a holster. So if your pockets aren’t big enough or you just prefer a more secure way to carry the flashlight, you have the holster.

Some of the Best Survival Flashlights

surefire tactician led flashlight

A few flashlights I would recommend as survival flashlights would be the Nitecore EA45S and the Surefire Tactician E2T-MV. The Nitecore EA45S runs on four AA batteries, delivers 1000 lumens, is 6.5 inches in length but is quite slim, and has a 1 lumen moonlight mode. The Surefire Tactician E2T-MV runs on two CR123 batteries, delivers 800 lumens, is 5 inches in length, and has a 5 lumen low mode. Both flashlights would be great for survival lights and they differ quite a bit. You can also check out my article discussing the best AA flashlights of 2020.