On a full moon night with a cozy fire roaring, it might be possible to get around camp without any additional light. At least to find a stick to roast marshmallows and take care of business when nature calls, that is. But when you are ready to pack up for the night, want to review a trail map for the next day’s hike, or can’t find your water bottle, it helps to have a good camping flashlight.
In our view, the Nitecore MH12SE stands out as the best camping flashlight overall. Nevertheless, we’ve assessed eight other top camping flashlights and included a comprehensive buying guide to assist you in selecting the one that suits your needs best.
Table of Contents
- Which model is the best camping flashlight of 2023
- How to choose a good flashlight for camping?
- Should you take a lantern, headlamp or flashlight camping?
- Best Camping Torch: The Verdict
At A Glance: Quick Recommendations
“With multiple light settings, rugged durability, more than one battery and charging option, and compact size, the MH12SE is an excellent investment and especially ideal for backcountry camping and hiking.”
Fenix UC35 Rechargeable Flashlight
“One of our favorites for its 800 hours of light at one lumen – perfect for long hours of reading!”
Maglite Mini Pro 2
“This is the perfect camping flashlight to stow away in your first aid kit or camping tote for those moments when you unexpectedly need an extra light.”
“All-around versatility at a low price point makes this a solid option for camping and hiking.”
Anker Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight
“Compared to most camping flashlights, this option is amazing value and a great low-budget flashlight.”
ALPS Mountaineering Spark 240
“Fully waterproof and shockproof, the Spark 240 has a compact aluminum body at 6.5 inches long.”
Coleman OneSource 1000
“The OneSource can also charge other devices, like smartphones, even while the light is on.”
Surefire E2T Tactician
“One of the most compact flashlights out there. The lightweight body of the Surefire E2T is also durable and waterproof.”
“The PD36R features an impressive 115 hours of light at 30 lumens and a dual-beam setting that can be set to a flood or spotlight.”
Which model is the best camping flashlight of 2023
To help you find the right camping flashlight for your needs we’ve tested and shortlisted the following LED flashlights below.
- Nitecore MH12SE
- Fenix UC35
- Maglite Mini Pro 2
- Coast G55
- Anker Bolder LC90 LED
- ALPS Mountaineering Spark 240
- Coleman OneSource 1000
- Surefire E2T Tactician
- Fenix PD36R
Nitecore MH12SEEditor’s Choice
The Nitecore MH12SE is a true ticker of boxes and comes out on top as our favorite flashlight. It’s fully waterproof and shockproof, rated up to 1800 lumens, and has a range of 405 meters. It can also run for up to 1500 hours on a low-light setting.
The MH12SE is even more impressive when you consider its size. At only 3.53 ounces and 5.5 inches long, it’s compact and lightweight enough to easily fit in your pocket while night hiking.
The only drawbacks to this flashlight are a lack of adjustable beam and higher price. Still, with multiple light settings, rugged durability, more than one battery and charging option, and compact size, the MH12SE is an excellent investment and especially ideal for backcountry camping and hiking.
- Battery type: Rechargeable
- Battery life: up to 300 hours
- Lumens: 1800
- Beam distance: 4050 m
- Awesome battery life
- Multiple light modes
Bottom-Line: A highly portable, compact, and reliable flashlight that packs a serious punch!
Fenix UC35Runner Up
The Fenix UC35, comes in second in our review and features six light settings, including a strobe function. With a tough aluminum exterior and a lifetime guarantee, the Fenix is an excellent choice for those who are hard on their gear and willing to invest in rugged equipment that is made to last.
On the lowest brightness setting of just one lumen, the UC35 also lasts up to a whopping 800 hours.
Fenix flashlights have a massive fan following, and with good reason. The brand’s flashlights are known for being virtually indestructible. This durability comes at a higher price point but gives you great value.
Battery type: rechargeable
Battery life: up to 800 hours
Beam distance: 266 m
- Long battery life
- Wide range of light output
- Virtually indestructible
- A bit pricey
Bottom-Line: A powerful flashlight with an incredibly long-lasting battery and versatile settings.
Maglite Mini Pro 2Best Mini
The Maglite Mini is small and ultra-reliable, which makes it especially well-suited as a secondary light source.
The light is bright and cannot be dimmed to a low setting. Combined with short battery life, this means it’s not ideal as a primary light source. It is, however, durable and affordable, making it a great choice as a backup.
Both water-resistant and shock resistant, the lens can also be adjusted to either a flood or beam light. This is the perfect flashlight to stow away in your first aid kit or camping tote for those moments when you unexpectedly need an extra light.
- Battery type: 2 AA batteries
- Battery life: at least 2.5 hours
- Lumens: 226
- Beam distance: 140 m
- Water and shock-resistant
- Short battery life
- Battery-powered (a ‘pro’ for some, maybe)
Bottom-Line: An affordable, durable option that’s optimally used as a secondary light source.
Coast G55Best Value
The Coast G55 is our value pick, providing great features without breaking the bank. Thanks to three settings options of different light modes, the G55 can be adjusted to a lower light that lasts longer. As a bonus, a simple twist adjusts from floodlight to focused beam – impressive versatility for such a tiny flashlight.
This all-around versatility at a low price point makes it a solid option for camping and hiking, though still a bit of a hassle to remember (and carry) extra disposable batteries. Like the Maglite Mini, therefore, the G55 is better for basic camping needs or as a backup flashlight.
- Battery type: 4 AAA batteries
- Battery life: up to 17 hours
- Lumens: 650
- Beam distance: 198 m
- Various light modes
- Virtually unbreakable
- Only powerful enough for personal use
Bottom-Line: A versatile, budget-friendly option that’s ideal as a car camping backup.
Anker Bolder LC90 LEDBest Budget
The Anker Bolder LC90 offers a lot of bang for its buck and is the cheapest flashlight on our list. With a zoomable beam and five different settings, including a low light option and a flashing light for emergencies, the Bolder LC90 is useful for anything from a pre-dawn hike to reading in your tent. It shines up to 200 meters away on its brightest setting, meaning it offers great power for its price point.
The Bolder is also built to withstand all of your adventures and camping trips. It may be a little bit bulky, but it’s also extremely durable, and both water and drop resistant. Compared to most flashlights, this is an amazingly versatile low-budget option.
- Battery type: Rechargeable flashlight
- Battery life: up to 13 hours
- Lumens: 900
- Beam distance: 200 m
- Water and shock-resistant
- Bright LED lights
- A bit bulky
Bottom-Line: A rechargeable, durable, and affordable option with a wide range of light settings.
ALPS Mountaineering Spark 240Most Waterproof
The ALPS Mountaineering Spark 240 is an incredibly durable, waterproof, and shockproof option at a low price point.
The Spark is fully waterproof and shockproof and has a compact aluminum body measuring 6.5 inches long.
The battery life is fairly short, and it operates on two AA batteries. While the beam is adjustable, this flashlight reaches a maximum distance of 120 meters – not terrible, but not remarkable. It does offer four light modes, including two standard high and low settings and a strobe setting.
- Battery type: 2 AA
- Battery life: up to 15 hours
- Lumens: 240
- Beam distance: 120 m
- Waterproof (IPX7 water-resistant rating)
- Average battery life
Bottom-Line: A great option if price, durability, and water resistance are among your main priorities.
Coleman OneSource 1000Best Multitasker
The Coleman OneSource 1000 is part of the whole Coleman OneSource system, which is worth considering if you are an avid car camper. The lithium-ion battery can be used in a range of Coleman products, including heated camping furniture, a fan, and a OneSource lantern.
The battery can also be recharged from other OneSource batteries, wall outlets, or OneSource charging stations, and can even charge other devices, like smartphones, even while the flashlight is on.
Heftier than a pocket flashlight, the Coleman OneSource 1000 is still a reasonable 8.5 inches long and weighs just over 10 ounces. With only two settings (high and low mode) the brightness of the beam is not the most versatile but lasts an incredibly long time.
- Battery type: rechargeable
- Battery hours: up to 100
- Lumens: 1000
- Beam distance: 275 m
- Powerful light
- Versatile and long-lasting battery
- A bit bulky
- Limited light settings
Bottom-Line: A great camping flashlight if you use other Coleman OneSource devices.
Surefire E2T TacticianBest Compact
The Surefire E2T weighs less than four ounces and is one of the most compact options on our list. At five inches long, it will fit in just about any pocket. Despite this, it still packs a powerful punch and is both durable and waterproof.
This tactical flashlight features a wide beam of light with easily adjustable brightness. Simply hand tighten the front bezel for maximum output, then loosen to dim, with a range of light modes from long distance to low-light illumination.
Although pricey, the Surefire brand offers a confidence-inspiring lifetime warranty for defective materials or workmanship.
- Battery type: Two 123A
- Battery hours: up to 95 hours
- Lumens: 800 lumens
- Beam distance: 115 m
Bottom-Line: An awesome choice if you are ready to invest in a top-of-the-line, versatile flashlight.
Fenix PD36RBest Output
The Fenix PD36R is dustproof and waterproof up to one meter, features an impressive 115 hours of light at 30 lumens, and a dual-beam setting that can be set to a flood light or spotlight. At 5.5 inches and just over five ounces, the Fenix PD36R is a compact powerhouse.
As a bonus, Fenix flashlights come with a lifetime warranty against product defects and free repairs for five years. The PD36R is more of an investment, but still costs less than some other high-end models.
- Battery type: USB rechargeable flashlight
- Battery life: up to 115 hours
- Lumens: 1600
- Beam distance: 283 m
- Incredibly bright
- Brand guarantee
- A bit pricey
Bottom-Line: Powerful, bright, rechargeable, and fits easily in your pocket.
How to choose a good flashlight for camping?
There are many features to consider when choosing a good camping flashlight that is right for you, and we would recommended taking the following features into consideration.
- Beam Distance and Type
- Battery Life and Type
- Light Modes
- Size & Weight
- Materials & Durability
- Primary Use
Light output or brightness is measured in lumens and is one of the primary considerations when making your choice. The more lumens, the stronger the beam and the brighter the light with most flashlights usually having between 10-3,500 lumens.
Low light settings are ideal for keeping your eyes adjusted to the dark, and can be used inside the tent without disturbing your camping partner. Bright light settings are used to see at a distance and are essential for emergency situations.
Beam Distance And Type
Another important consideration is the range of the beam on any flashlight is measured in meters and reflects the distance that you can effectively see in the dark. As a primary light source for camping in a wilderness setting, look for a light that shines at least 100 meters away. As a backup light or for use in the front and side country, a shorter beam will suffice.
Some flashlights have an adjustable beam, allowing for a flood or spotlight. A flood beam lights a wider area, useful for lighting up an area at camp. A spot beam focuses the light and reaches a greater distance, which is necessary for hiking at night.
Battery Life And Type
How many hours your flashlight will run without needing a recharge or new battery will vary greatly based on the brightness setting you use. On a low-lumen setting, the battery will last much longer. When using a flashlight at full brightness capacity on a high setting, or in cold weather, the battery will die much more quickly.
We tend to favor rechargeable flashlights because they are more convenient and don’t require packing spare batteries – essential if you are trying to pack light! As an added bonus, rechargeable batteries are less wasteful.
The best flashlight for camping will be the most versatile, which usually means it has a wide range of lighting settings. A red light mode is particularly useful for reading and is the least disruptive to others, but isn’t essential if there is a very low white-light setting.
Extra settings, such as strobe mode and SOS (red emergency light), are not essential for regular use (and can be disorienting to others) but can be vital in emergencies. If you are lost or injured, these settings increase your chance of being spotted by others.
Size & Weight
The importance of your flashlights size and weight will depend on the style of camping you partake in. A lightweight, compact flashlight will be easier to carry when hiking in the dark. If you are car camping exclusively, size and weight may not matter too much. But if you are backpacking or trying to be as lightweight as possible, pay attention to the bulk and weight of the flashlight you purchase.
Materials & Durability
If you tend to be hard on gear, adventure in all types of weather conditions, spend a lot of time in the backcountry, or are generally a “dropper,” consider a model with a shockproof body made from durable material such as aluminum. Look for corrosion and abrasion-resistant materials, good grip, and water-resistant seals.
Many brands rate their flashlights using the Ingress Protection (IP) Code, with a common rating of IP68 to indicate it is both dust and water-resistant up to three feet of submersion. Some brands also back their flashlights with a limited warranty (such as Nitecore) or lifetime guarantee (such as Fenix).
If you are car camping, you have plenty of room for extra batteries, and weight is not much of an issue. In this case, bulkier and heavier models like the Coleman OneSource are a good option.
Looking for the best backpacking flashlight? If so, a little more consideration is required. Waterproof flashlights with multiple lighting modes, solar flashlights, or one you can charge on a power bank are your best bet for the backcountry. For hiking in the dark, the most important feature may be that it can fit in your pocket, like the Nitecore MH12SE or Surefire E2T.
Should you take a lantern, headlamp or flashlight camping?
Lanterns, headlamps and flashlights are three possible ways to illuminate your campsite, but which is the best one to pick?
Camping lanterns are a great option for lighting up the picnic table or a tent and generally casts a wide glow. Headlamps are indispensable for their hands-free capability. But camping flashlights offer a more reliable, durable, and brighter source of light. Often shock-resistant and water-resistant, the best flashlights will hold up on any rugged outdoor adventure.
Not limited by size and weight like a wearable headlamp, and with a more focused beam than a lantern offers, a good flashlight is an essential piece of camping gear for practicality and safety. The best outdoor flashlights offer more than just high and low modes – they should offer a range of brightness settings, including an eco mode or a red light to improve night vision in your tent.
Best Camping Torch: The Verdict
The Nitecore MH12SE is our favorite outdoor flashlight overall. We love its small size, durability, powerful capability when you need it, and that its moonlight setting is so low you won’t miss the red light mode.
And if you’re on a budget, it’s hard to go wrong with the Anker Bolder LC90, which offers unbelievable value compared to other flashlights in its price range.
We hope you enjoyed our article on flashlights for camping. If we missed anything or you have any questions, let us know by dropping a comment in the box below!