An EDC flashlight is a tough, compact, powerful, portable light source (and sometime self-defense tool) that ensures you are never alone in the dark.
If recent history has taught us anything it is this: things can change without warning and there is no substitute for being prepared. The smart individual understands this and that understanding is reflected in their everyday carry.
The flashlight is one of the few EDC items that is non-negotiable. You can argue the merits of carrying a money clip or a tactical pen. But since your world spends half its time in the dark, there is no substitute for a powerful, dependable light source. The following are the best EDC flashlights of 2020.
1. Olight M2R Pro Warrior
The Olight M2R Pro Warrior has it all. 1800 lumens of glare-free LED light, a 1000 foot reach, and six levels of illumination. On the lowest setting you will get 50 days of regular use from the battery before it needs recharging. And in full power mode, more than three hours.
The strike bezel will make quick work of would-be assailants. The knurling on the shaft provides a rock-solid grip. And the spring loaded clip will keep your M2R firmly affixed to any pocket or belt. Throw in an IPX8 waterproof rating, a body fashioned from aircraft grade aluminum, and a 5000mAh lithium ion battery that recharges in a hurry and you have the prototypical EDC flashlight.
2. Lumintop TOOL AA 2.0 EDC Flashlight
The Lumintop Tool AA 2.0 pushes the envelope of what a compact EDC flashlight can be. Typically, once an EDC flashlight passes a certain size threshold, the law of diminishing returns takes over; i.e. any gains in portability are offset by greater losses in functionality. That size threshold can roughly be defined as ‘palm-size’.
The Lumintop AA 2.0 bucks that trend. Small enough to disappear into a clenched fist, it nonetheless provides an impressive 650 lumens of cut-through-the-fog illumination. The body is crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum, there is generous knurling along its length, and the spring-loaded clip won’t let go of anything. You will get 37 hours of continuous light on the lowest setting, and the tailcap can be used for self defense.
3. SureFire E2D Defender
As the name implies the SureFire E2D Defender is a full-service EDC flashlight. It will not only project 600 lumens of intense, glare-free light a thousand feet down the road, it will also help you convince a would be assailant of the error of their ways. The slender, lightweight, anodized aluminum body provides a solid grip for any sized hand.
The stainless steel spring-loaded clip makes sure the E2D stays where you put it. There’s a weatherproof O-ring that keeps the moisture outside, and a TIR lens that allows more than 99% of available light to pass through. You have two run modes (high and low), a dependable tailcap switch, and the E2D is powered by a lithium 123A battery with a 10 year shelf life.
4. SOG Dark Energy Flashlight
If you are pressed for space to carry your EDC flashlight you might want to look into the Dark Energy from SOG. We don’t normally pay much attention to such small EDC flashlights, but there is no denying the impressive functionality of the Dark Energy. You can clip this puppy just about anywhere. Or remove the clip altogether and just slip it into your pants pocket.
It is just under four inches long, weighs about three ounces and delivers 188 lumens of LED light a hundred yards down the road or path. It is rated IPX7, which means it can be fully immersed for up to 30 minutes. It even has a strike bezel in case things really get out of hand. Tough, dependable and affordable it will not be denied.
5. Klarus 360×3 USB Rechargeable EDC Flashlight
With the Klarus 360×3 in your bag or clipped to the pocket of your cargo pants you are ready for just about anything. It features a high-powered Cree XHP70.2 LED that pumps out an impressive 3200 lumens and projects it more than half a mile down the road.
There are six different light modes, including strobe and SOS. The strike bezel is large and unfriendly and there are two control points; one in the tail and one on the main body. The stainless steel clip is rugged and easily removable, the knurling is subtle but effective, and the integrated micro USB port enables fast, convenient recharging.
6. UltraFire WF-502B Mini
EDC flashlights have a number of things in common. One is that many of them are not cheap. The UltraFire WF-502B Mini is an exception, however. If you are looking for a high-quality, powerful EDC flashlight that provides self-defense capabilities and won’t drain your bank account, you would be hard pressed to find a better value.
The body is cast from anodized aluminum. There is generous and effective knurling along the shaft, the 1000 lumens can be projected 500 feet down trail or road, and they even provide a nifty holster. The only downside is that there is only one light setting. But considering everything else you get for the price, we can overlook that.
7. Streamlight 66604 Rechargeable Pocket Flashlight
The 66604 slips easily into the pocket of your jacket or cargo pants, or clips onto your belt or hat while you hike. This is a simple but very effective EDC flashlight that is small enough to take anywhere and powerful enough to be helpful in just about any situation.
It tops out at 250 lumens, with an effective range of 200 feet. The rechargeable lithium ion battery can be backed up with standard AAA batteries, which is a big plus when there is no recharge capability at hand. The USB recharging port is protected by a retractable sleeve, and the stainless steel clip is strong, adjustable and, if you wish, removable.
8. ThruNite T10 II EDC Flashlight
The T10 II from ThruNite is a step up from their keychain flashlights both in size and functionality. It is still small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, but it is large enough to project its 550 lumens a thousand feet down the road.
There are five beam options, including strobe for self defense and emergency alert purposes. Also, unique among our EDC flashlights, it has a magnetic tailcap so you can attach it to any metal object and illuminate the work at hand. Light, powerful, built to last and feature-rich, the ThruNite T10 II is an outstanding overall value.
9. Eastshine RT25 Tactical Flashlight
The last of our best EDC flashlights is this beauty from Eastshine. The RT25 is as practical as it is tactical, which makes it a great choice to have at hand whenever you venture out. The anodized aluminum body is fully waterproof, with plenty of knurling to ensure a firm grip in any conditions.
It pumps out 1000 lumens of crystal clear LED light and can project it 1000 feet down the road or path. There’s a removable clip for easy carry, a lanyard should you want to sling it, and five light modes, including strobe.
10. Helius Zeta XO LED Flashlight
The Helius Zeta XO is a compelling combination of power and performance. It will kick out an amazing 3000 lumens and project it more than a quarter mile down the road or trail. The LED has a lifespan of 100,000 hours which, for all practical purposes, means you will never have to replace it.
There are five light modes, including strobe and SOS, and you can widen the beam to get a big-picture view of what is going on around you. The XO is also fully waterproof, so it will be there for you in any type of natural disaster. It comes with a durable lanyard so you can sling it from your backpack, has a strike bezel to teach would be assailants some manners, and derives its power from a single rechargeable lithium ion battery.
What is an EDC Flashlight?
‘EDC’ is short for ‘everyday carry’. Everyday carry items are those items considered essential for the well-prepared citizen to have on-hand at all times when they venture out. Not everyone agrees on what constitutes an appropriate collection of everyday carry items (some folks, for instance, think a .9mm pistol is not essential everyday carry, if you can believe that).
If we were to produce a quick EDC list we would start with the compact, durable, and versatile EDC flashlight. After that, we might add items such as a wallet to block RFID (1) snooping, a pocket knife, a multitool (2), a tactical pen and more. EDC items all serve the same overriding function: to enable your lifestyle while providing you the tools to handle any situation that may present itself.
What are the Benefits of an EDC Flashlight?
An EDC flashlight is convenient – Can you imagine carrying an old plastic flashlight with an incandescent bulb and 4 D-cell batteries around with you all the time? Of course not. That would be a hassle of biblical proportions. The whole raison d’etre of the EDC flashlight is that it is compact, powerful, tough and versatile. In other words, it’s convenient. Anytime you need it, you have it at your beck and call. The rest of the time you can tuck it away neatly and discreetly and forget it is there.
EDC flashlights offer a specific feature set – Those qualities that make the EDC flashlight so convenient are called its ‘feature set’. The flashlight is engineered to be as useful as possible, while also being as discreet as possible. The feature set includes durable materials, LED technology, compact size and a multitude of light options. It’s the Swiss Army Knife mindset adapted to the flashlight.
EDC flashlights don’t die on you when you need them – LED bulbs last 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs (3). As such, it’s likely that even if you have your EDC flashlight for 20 years and use it regularly you will never have to change the bulb. Those LED bulbs also use only about 1/10 the power that incandescent bulbs do. So they are not going to drain your batteries and leave you in the dark when you need them the most.
An EDC flashlight is easy to use – There is nothing magical or complicated about EDC flashlights. They have the same basic components as the standard flashlight: a bulb, a power source and a control button. The only difference is that you can typically access different beam modes by clicking the button multiple times. And the EDC flashlight can be slipped back into virtually any pocket when you are done with it.
An EDC flashlight enhances personal safety – One of the most compelling functions of the EDC flashlight is its ability to double as a first-class self-defense device. If you should find yourself beset by an aggressor, simply grasp the EDC flashlight firmly in your hand with the scalloped bezel protruding. Then strike the face of your assailant, remembering to swing through the strike area to maximize impact and damage. The knurled handle should prevent your hand from slipping as you strike.
EDC flashlights are tough – Even after you shatter the orbital bone around the eye of an assailant and send them fleeing in pain, your EDC flashlight will still be ready to provide you with a clear strong beam so you can find your way to safety. That’s the kind of toughness and durability you just will not find in standard flashlights.
What Makes for a Good EDC Flashlight?
Compact size – EDC means ‘everyday carry’. So the ability to carry your flashlight with you wherever you go is a prerequisite for this type of flashlight. Therefore, it needs to be small. Small enough to fit comfortably in a shirt or pants pocket, or to be clipped to those pockets or to your belt. There are some keychain flashlights that claim to be EDC flashlights. But most are too small to be of any real, practical use. So you want something between a full sized flashlight and a keychain light.
Type of bulb – Almost all EDC flashlights today use LED bulbs. They use just a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs, they produce clean, even, glare-free light, and they last 50 times longer than incandescent bulbs. ‘Progress’ is an often overused word these days. But, LED lighting (4) represents genuine, revolutionary progress on par with the mobile phone.
Plenty of Lumens – LED lights provide more light while using just a fraction of the wattage of incandescent bulbs. So designating brightness in terms of wattage is no longer useful or accurate. Lumens (5) measure the actual amount of light produced instead of the wattage. This is a scale you can apply to any type of light and get an accurate picture. In a nutshell, a 100 watt bulb produces around 1600 lumens. So, if you want less light than you would get from a 100 watt bulb choose fewer than 1600 lumens. If you want more light, choose more than 1600 lumens.
Water resistance – An EDC flashlight needs to answer the call in all conditions. So the more water-resistant a flashlight is, the better. This type of gear uses what is known as an ‘IP’ rating (6). IP is short for ‘ingress protection’. If the device is rated only for water protection then IP is followed by X. The IPX rating scale goes from 0 to 8, with 0 being no water resistance, and 8 being fully waterproof.
Beam options – Tiny little keychain flashlights are usually too small to offer different beam options. But there are plenty of palm-sized and pocket-sized EDC flashlights that do. This is a great feature to have because it allows you to assess the situation right in front of you, or see what lies ahead down the road or down the trail. Many EDC flashlights also offer strobe and SOS modes, and allow you to adjust the width of the beam.
Emergency light mode – An EDC flashlight should be there for you whenever you need it. In most instances, that means when something has gone wrong. Maybe you got a flat while driving on a dark road. Maybe you have attracted the unwanted attention of some weasels. Or maybe you have become lost on the trail and night has closed in. Being able to engage the SOS mode on your flashlight can make all the difference in an emergency situation.
A spring-loaded clip – Because you will be taking your EDC flashlight just about everywhere you need a practical, easy way to carry it. Enter the spring-loaded clip. The spring-loaded clip enables you to attach the flashlight firmly to your shirt or pants pocket, your belt, the outside of your backpack, or anywhere else your heart desires. Most EDC flashlights come with detachable clips. This way, if you prefer carrying the flashlight in your pocket, you can.
Impact resistance – EDC flashlights are not meant to sit idle in the kitchen cabinet for years at a time. They are meant to go wherever you go and to be ready for whatever awaits around any corner. So they need to be tough. They need to survive being dropped. They need to survive clanging around in your pocket or backpack. And the lens needs to resist cracks and scratches. So they need to be fashioned from things like aircraft grade aluminum (7), stainless steel, and even titanium.
Knurling – An EDC flashlight is not much good if you pull it out to use in an emergency and it slips out of your hand. To prevent this, manufacturers use a process known as ‘knurling’. Knurling (8) has been around for centuries and involves creating a pattern of lines and grooves on a surface. The knurling on your EDC flashlight ensures that, regardless of conditions, you will be able to obtain a firm grip.
A scalloped strike bezel – The world is a dangerous place. In the US alone more than 1 million violent assaults take place every year (9). It is not smart to live in denial. The smart thing is to recognize the threat and be prepared. The scalloped strike bezel on many EDC flashlights allows you to do just that. Slam it into an assailant’s face and you will give them a huge incentive to break off their attack.
What are the Different Parts of an EDC Flashlight?
The average EDC flashlight has three main parts or sections. The head of the flashlight includes the bezel (scalloped or not) that we mentioned above, the reflector, the lens, and the LED bulb (or more correctly, the diode). The body of the flashlight consists of the mid-section that includes the battery or batteries, the spring-loaded clip, and the kurled casing. And finally, the tailcap is the butt end of the flashlight. This encompasses the cap that allows access to the battery compartment, the control button, and (in some cases) an integrated loop to attach a lanyard.
The Bottom Line
The EDC flashlight is a compact, powerful piece of everyday kit that will enhance your ability to respond effectively to a variety of challenges.
Today’s EDC flashlights are a far cry from the D-cell behemoths of yesterday. Their bodies are crafted from durable, corrosion resistant metals instead of plastic. They utilize state of the art LED technology to provide bright, clear light. And, more often than not, they provide a simple but extremely effective way to defend yourself in a difficult situation.
The EDC flashlights profiled above have been thoroughly vetted by our product review team who determined they represent the best EDC flashlights currently on the market. Any one should serve you well for many years to come.