A survival-minded approach will help us narrow down our options considerably in spite of how overwhelming the offer out there can be. We want dependable, reliable flashlights. We want a brand that we can trust, enough lumen output for whenever we need it but also low modes for saving power when going without electricity for an extended period of time. Ideally, the light will take readily available AA and AAA batteries although CR123A are becoming more common and they do provide the most power for tactical lights. Strobe for disorienting attackers, beacon and SOS modes for signaling, these may be literal life savers during emergencies.
For the modern survivalist, the EDC flashlight (and most gear in general) is chosen keeping in mind a two-tier application: On one level the item, in this case the flashlight, must be useful and viable on a general purpose, every day use level. You’ll use it for looking into boxes, checking for things dropped under furniture, walking across a garage without turning the lights on, or walking across the parking lot at night without stepping on mud and getting your feet dirty. On another level, the flashlight should perform on a worst case emergency scenario. It should allow you to find people when someone gets lost while hiking along a trail. It should allow you to signal for traffic to stop if there’s an accident. It should run for several hours, maybe even days if power goes down after a disaster. It should be capable of temporary disorienting an attacker. It should take common batteries you may be able to scrounge. It should be capable of signaling for help when wounded, lost or otherwise stranded off the beaten track.
As you can see, we are asking a lot from this flashlight. Although there’s no one flashlight that is perfect in every way, these are some of the ones that fill all these niche applications the best:
Zebralight H52w AA
Streamlight Sidewinder Compact II
Streamlight 14512 Sidewinder Compact II Military Model Angle Head Flashlight, Headstrap and Helmet Mount Kit $75.45If you could only have one flashlight for the end of the world the Streamlight Sidewinder II would be it. It can be used as a headlamp or hand-held light. It’s a true mil-spec torch, tough as nails. It has various output modes and LEDs to choose from, including red, IR and blue (green in some versions). The included head strap turns it into a useful headlamp. Maybe its most impressive capability, the Sidewinder Compact II can digest most small batteries you come across: CR123A, AA, AAA, 14500, 10440, 16340. The downside is that the high mode is not as bright as in other models and the shape makes it less comfortable to carry than smaller, cylindrical tube format lights. Other than that, the Sidewinder Compact II is THE survivalist’s flashlight.
Tintanium D25C looks fantastic.
Fenix PD22 Ultimate Edition
The P22 is a classic EDC torch made by a reputable manufacturer. It is clearly intended as a tactical/utility light and should serve you well on both roles. The P22UE is also one of the few lights that officially approves the use of 16340 li-ion batteries.
SureFire E1D Defender
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.