As you search for the best EDC flashlights I’ll share everything you should consider before making your purchase. The most important thing to remember is that the best EDC flashlight is the one in your pocket. If you aren’t carrying it everyday then it’s useless to you. So as you read through these tips for buying the right EDC flashlight keep that in mind. If it doesn’t look like a flashlight you’d want to carry with you every time you go out then don’t buy it. Luckily, there a quite a few excellent EDC flashlights that should work for just about anyone.
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What defines the best EDC flashlights?
Defining the best EDC flashlight is subjective, but I think the most definitive aspect is size. For the flashlight to be something you’ll carry all of the time it has to be something that fits with everything else you have in your pockets. It will probably have to fit with a cell phone, knife, and keys. If you pocket carry a pistol this presents even more of a challenge. So smaller is better.
It’s true, larger flashlights (like the Nitecore P12GT) can be considered an ECD flashlight as well. I just don’t think it’s typically one I’d place in this category.
Your clothing dictates your EDC flashlight choice
Obviously, the clothing you normally wear will dictate the flashlight size. If you wear cargo shorts or cargo pants most of the time you can get away with a larger flashlight. Same thing goes for those of us that wear tactical pants. My guess is the majority of us fall into the “jeans” category. This means your EDC flashlight needs to be small to be comfortable.
How will you use your EDC flashlight the majority of the time?
Will your EDC flashlight be used purely for task lighting? Or do you think it could be used as a self-defense tool? The way you answer these two questions will make a huge difference in the type of EDC flashlight you choose.
Features of the best EDC flashlights for general lighting tasks
If you plan to use your EDC flashlight for task lighting you definitely have plenty of options. The two variables that will make the most difference to you will be output and size.
If you go really small:
If you choose to go really small (typically, flashlights powered by a single CR123A or rechargeable equivalent) you will have a somewhat limited lumens output. 750 lumens is roughly the maximum output. An example of a super small flashlight (approximately 2.3″ in length) that is great for task lighting is the Fenix E18R. EDC flashlights (like the Fenix E18R or the Klarus Mi1C) offer a variety of outputs and magnetic tailcaps to make it easy to use your EDC flashlight hands-free.
If you go hybrid:
If you choose to go with a 18650 powered flashlight your options really open up. You’ll be looking at flashlights that have as much as 1000 lumens of output. Olight and Klarus make flashlights in this hybrid category. Hybrid EDC flashlights are approximately 4″ in length.
Features of the best EDC flashlights for self defense
Almost any EDC light will have the one feature you need to make it suitable for self-defense… and that is the strobe capability. The key thing is how accessible is it? The Klarus E1 is a hybrid EDC flashlight made specifically to scratch the self defense itch. To maintain simplicity it uses a split tailcap, no side switch with on demand access to the strobe. No cycling through lighting modes or anything else to keep you from accessing a disorienting strobe. Regardless of the EDC flashlight you choose, you just want to make sure you can quickly access the strobe if you want to use it primarily for self defense.
EDC flashlight LED and reflector design
Small and hybrid EDC flashlights typically have a broader beam due to shallow reflector designs. In other words, if you are expecting one of these small EDC lights to have the same kind of throw as a mid-size or large tactical flashlight you’ll be disappointed. The reflectors just aren’t deep enough to give you a ton of throw. For more on lumens, LEDs and the design that affects light quality (flood and throw) don’t forget to read this post: Tactical Flashlight Lumens Ratings – What you need to know
Best EDC Flashlights Buyers Guide
In this EDC flashlight buyer’s guide I list a variety of flashlight ranging from just over 2 inches in length to 4 inches in length. They represent small and hybrid EDC flashlights.
750 lumens, 2.4″ in length, 16340 Li-ion battery, 4 brightness levels plus strobe, magnetic tailcap, more here…
1000 lumens, dual tactical tail switch, 18650 battery, Tactical mode & Outdoor mode, 18 hour run time
600 lumens, 2.15″ in length, IPX 8 water resistance
Olight S1R Baton II
1000 lumens, 5 lighting modes plus strobe/SOS/beacon, IPX8 waterproof, 2.48″ in length
1500 lumens, strobe, stepless dimming, magnetic tailcap, 2.7″ in length
Olight Baton Pro
2000 lumens, 5 lighting modes, strobe, SOS, 4.25″ in length
920 lumens, beacon/SOS/strobe modes, 3.59″ in length, red light mode for better night adjusted viewing