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The Best Pocket Flashlights for Everyday Use

Flashlights are incredibly useful, but they’re not much good if they’re too bulky to have on hand when you need them.

best pocket flashlights
Staff, Courtesy of Streamlight

The problem with flashlights is that you don’t always know when you’re going to need one. Instead of carrying around a full-size flashlight or handheld work spotlight, a pocket flashlight would be a much more practical choice. The compact size of these handy little tools make them comfortable to carry in your pocket all day, and be readily available for when you lose your phone between car seats, need to search for a dropped screw underneath a work table, or have to inspect for insect or water damage. Most also use a pocket clip that can be used to attach the light to the brim of a hat, leaving both hands free to work.

What to Consider

Although all our picks are relatively compact, there is still a bit of variance in length, so make sure you have a good idea of what size you want your light to be. If you want your light to be attached to your keychain for maximum convenience, you’ll probably want to go as small as possible, even though you’ll probably be sacrificing some brightness in doing so. But if you want something a little easier to hold onto and maneuver around, a longer model is more convenient.

If you'll be using your flashlight around water, you’ll want to play close attention to the water-resistance specs on any potential flashlights. Most will have an IPX rating that you can use to see how it holds up against certain water conditions. If a model does not have an IPX rating and still says it's waterproof, we recommend that you assume that it won’t hold up especially well against moisture.

The overall light output of a flashlight is another thing to think about when choosing a flashlight. The brightness of the light is measured in lumens, and although there are some other factors that contribute to the overall brightness—like beam settings—you can use the lumen number as a rough comparison tool.

How We Selected

I've been using small pocket flashlights for years, and they have been invaluable when it comes to working in low-light areas. Depending on how you want to use them, and what you’re comfortable carrying around, some will work better than others. Because of this, I did my best to include a range of sizes, from tiny 2-inch keychain options to larger 6-inch versions. Since your specific application may affect the frequency that you’re able to charge it, I added options that take old-fashioned lithium batteries as well as rechargeable options that can be charged using a USB cable.

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Budget-Friendly Option
Hatori Super Small Mini Flashlight

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 150
  • Length: 3.55 inches
  • Power: AAA battery
  • Running Time: 2 hours
  • Water Resistance: N/A

Despite the low cost of this Hatori light, it still offers the basic needs of a pocket flashlight. 

Its 3.55-inch length is perfect for sliding into your pants or coat, and the handy clip allows you to attach it to the bill of your hat, or in a front shirt pocket. It is powered by a single AAA battery—which is not included—so recharging isn’t possible.

This light does not offer any IPX waterproof ratings, so you may want to consider another option if you plan on using it around moisture or in rainy weather.

  • Low price
  • Durable aluminum case

  • Battery not included
  • Not IPX rated
Best Compact Option
Olight i1R 2 EOS Flashlight

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 250
  • Length: 1.73 inches
  • Power: Rechargeable
  • Running Time: 15 minutes on high / 6 hours on low
  • Water Resistance: IPX8

Don’t let the tiny size of this flashlight fool you, its 1.73-inch length still packs a punch, delivering a 250 lumen light beam. We were most impressed by the recharging ability of a light this tiny, which can be easily charged via micro USB without having to disassemble the casing. 

It does lack a power cord, but if you already have a supply of micro USBs at home, this probably won’t be a dealbreaker. Its simple operation doesn’t require any buttons or switches to deal with either, you simply twist to power it on, and choose between the low or high light setting. 

  • Compact size
  • Simple to use

  • Does not include charging cord
Best Lightweight Option
Uniclife Mini Pocket Flashlight
$8.99 (31% off)

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 12
  • Length: 1.6 inches
  • Power: Removable battery
  • Running Time: 12 hours
  • IPX Rating: N/A

Having a flashlight attached to your keychain is the best way to ensure you always have it with you, but the bulk and weight of most flashlights make this application uncomfortable. 

These Uniclife lights weigh just .2 ounces, and their flat profile allows them to take up minimal room in your pocket. 

This model is surprisingly durable. They’re powered by a pair of CR2016 watch batteries, which provides up to 12 hours of continuous use.

  • Includes set of five
  • Low price
  • Easy to use

  • Low lumen output
  • Only one brightness setting
Best Heavy-Duty Option
Mini Maglight

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 97
  • Length: 6 inches
  • Power: Two AA batteries
  • Running Time: 11 hours on high / 32 hours on low
  • Water Resistance: IPX4

I've been using Maglight products for years, and this pocket-sized mini light has become a staple in my tool belt. 

Its .5-pound weight is heavier than our other options, and the 6-inch length is the longest, but if you prefer a light with a bit more bulk, this would be a great choice. It's constructed of durable aluminum, and impact-resistant up to 1 meter, so its rugged enough for frequent use. 

It also comes in a hard carrying case with room for spare batteries, which is always a nice perk.

  • Rugged construction
  • Respected brand
  • Batteries included

  • Not rechargable
  • Relatively low lumen output
Best for Maximum Brightness
Coast XP11R Flashlight

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 2,100
  • Length: 6 inches
  • Power: Rechargeable battery
  • Running Time: 5 hours on high / 37 hours on low
  • Water Resistance: IPX4

This Coast model would be a great choice for those who want a compact flashlight with the power of a full-sized version. Its turbo mode produces 2100 lumen, but if you want to save some battery life, you can switch over to the low mode of 75 lumen. 

This light also offers some flexibility when it comes to power supply, and can accept either traditional lithium batteries, or the included rechargeable battery that can be recharged via USB charging cable. Its 6-inch length and textured handle also make it easy to maintain a secure grip while you use it.

  • High lumen output
  • Rechargeable battery

  • Relatively expensive
  • May be too bulky for some
Best Overall Option
Streamlight 66601 Flashlight

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 250
  • Length: 3.87 inches
  • Power: Rechargeable USB
  • Running Time: 1.5 hours on high / 3.5 hours on low
  • Water Resistance: IPX4

This Streamlight flashlight is on the higher end in terms of pricing, but its durability and USB charging capabilities could be worth it to the right customer. 

Its aluminum housing makes it nice and durable—with an impact rating of 1 meter—and also slides open to conveniently reveal a protected charging port. Its push-button activation makes it quick and easy to turn on, and also to switch between low and high power modes. 

All the openings are protected with rubber o-rings, and thanks to an IPX4 rating, should be fine to use around moderate water splashes.

  • Durable construction
  • Easy to use

  • Expensive
Best Keychain Option
Streamlight 73301 Flashlight

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 325
  • Length: 2 inches
  • Power: Rechargeable
  • Running Time: 20 minutes on high / 1 hour on low
  • Water Resistance: IPX4

The .05 pound weight and 1/2-inch width makes this flashlight another great choice for those who prefer a slim profile as opposed to a cylindrical shape. The fact that this tiny light can produce a maximum 325-lumen output is what impressed me the most about this option, which is higher than most other lights on this list. 

It also features both a carabiner-style hook for attaching to a keychain, and a pocket clip for use on your pants or ball cap. Its 20-minute runtime on the highest power setting could be too low for some users, though.

  • Slim design
  • Convenient charging mechanism

  • Low running time
Best for Wide Beam Applications
Dorcy 230 Pocket Flashlight

Key Specs:

  • Max Lumen: 200
  • Length: 6.89 inches
  • Power: Two AAA batteries
  • Running Time: 1.5 hours
  • Water Resistance: N/A

Unlike the other picks that only use a front facing beam, this Darcy light is also designed to provide a long, wide beam–perfect for lighting up wide work areas. It’s also nice and durable, with a rubber-coated handle that should absorb any damage from moderate drops and falls. 

The magnetic base makes it even more versatile, and allows you more opportunities to mount it to metal components and work with both hands free. Its pocket clip also allows you to attach it to a front shirt pocket and angle the wide beam directly into your work area.

  • Wide beam coverage

  • Low run time
  • No recharging capabilities
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