10 Best Backpacking Flashlights in 2021 Reviewed

best backpacking flashlight

Whatever the time of year, there is still plenty of hiking and backpacking to do in 2021, and if you’re into outdoor activities, then you might be on the hunt for the best backpacking flashlights.

When there is less daylight, the importance of taking a proper flashlight with you on any outdoor expedition is paramount.

Here’s the thing:

To be safe in the backcountry – and to properly enjoy yourself around the campfire after the sun goes down – consider the top ten backpacking flashlights from 2020 listed here.

What To Look For In A Backpacking Flashlight?

When looking at flashlights to take on a backpacking or hiking adventure, there are several things you should consider before making a decision.

Let’s start:

  • Naturally, it should be lightweight so that it does not present too much of a burden to carry. You do not want to be taking an overweight electric lantern with you while climbing up those unforgiving mountain slopes!
  • It should also be portable with as long of battery life as you can find. Some of the flashlights on this list include features that allow for recharging via a hand-crank or solar power.
  • This could come in handy if you find yourself away from electricity for an extended period. Alternatively, consider how many batteries each flashlight requires and determine how many spares you have room for in your pack.
  • Ensure that the flashlight you take with you is also durable.
  • Things quickly get dropped while you are on the move, and your flashlight should not break easily with a little wear-and-tear.
  • Finally, consider the luminosity of the light itself.

It should be bright enough to be useful when the only other light you can see comes from the stars in the sky.

But remember that the brighter the flashlight, the faster your battery power is likely to drain. This trade-off is essential to keep in mind.

The Best Backpacking Flashlights Compared

In no particular order, here are the best flashlights for backpacking and hiking.

ThruNite Archer 2A

Making the Amazon’s Choice list, the ThruNite Archer comes in a variety of options and prices, but the selection reviewed here is ideal for the serious backpacker.

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The ThruNite Archer 2A features an LED light with different lighting modes, but a maximum capacity to generate 500 lumens. It has an easily accessible battery compartment and relies on two AA batteries.

It is constructed from aerospace-grade aluminum with a military-grade finish.

As such, you can rest assured that it can handle the occasional roll in the dirt, but just in case, there is a lifetime limited warranty on this product.

With all of this durability, it only weighs 2.08 ounces! Take the Archer with you on your next adventure, and you can sleep easy knowing that illumination is close at hand.

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Pros Of The ThruNite Archer

  • Lightweight and slim.
  • Multiple light modes.
  • Military-grade finish.

Cons Of The ThruNite Archer

  • Some units seem to have a short lifespan (stop working).


Fenix E05 – best backpacking flashlight?

This highly compact unit from Fenix is an ideal pocket flashlight for those who frequently find themselves on the trail again.

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It has a waterproof finish to protect it from any unexpected downpours and is powered by only a single AAA battery.

It still provides up to 85 lumens of light but has three possible light modes depending on your requirements.

The body of the flashlight itself is only 2.6 inches, yet the beam of light it projects is capable of reaching up to 148 feet!

It also finds itself on Amazon’s Choice list, and at 0.64 ounces, it will not be a burden for you to add to your packing list.

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Pros Of The Fenix E05

  • Compact and durable.
  • A powerful light beam from only a AAA battery.

Cons Of The Fenix E05

  • The battery can run out quickly after heavy use (carry a spare AAA)!
  • Not much else. An excellent option!


Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight

For those who need to use their hands (for holding hiking poles and the like) while in the backcountry, this headlamp flashlight is at the top of its class.

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It also makes Amazon’s Choice list and for good reasons. With CREE-3W LED technology, it is capable of projecting a beam of light up to 200 feet!

With several light modes and a tilt-able base, it is sure to be useful in any outdoor situation. It is also perfect for trail running if you have the opportunity to put down your backpack.

Weighing only 3.2 ounces (with batteries), you might not even notice that you are wearing it! All-in-all, this light provides a high degree of flexibility at a reasonable price.

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Pros Of The Foxelli

  • Excellent value for the price.
  • Perfect for hands-free use.
  • A tilt-able base allows a light beam to project in multiple directions.

Cons Of The Foxelli

  • Takes three AAA batteries.
  • Batteries can drain while the light is off.


Uoline Tactical Portable LED Flashlight

This sleek and compact little flashlight packs a serious (light) punch!

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This Amazon’s Choice selection can generate up to 1000 lumens (though it features several modes if you want to save power).

Built from an aluminum alloy, it is durable enough to break glass in case of an emergency, and it is both shake-proof and waterproof.

It is slightly more massive than the other options on this list (at 5.3 ounces), but it is still light enough to fit into a backpack without bogging you down easily. As such, it is the perfect addition to your outdoor survival kit. It comes with a stylish black case to keep it handy when not in use.

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Pros Of The Uoline

  • Excellent value for the price.
  • The adjustable light beam (can “zoom in” for a narrower and more powerful beam).
  • Water-resistant.

Cons Of The Uoline

  • It requires three AAA batteries.


NiteCore Thumb

This standout offering from NiteCore is an ultra-light backpacking-friendly flashlight that is small enough to keep on a keychain.

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This makes it perfect for walking trails in the evening or reading in the tent at night. It weighs less than an ounce and is easily clipped onto bag straps or caps.

With 85 lumens on light and three brightness levels, you will find that it serves you well for visibility on the trails.

It features a tilt-able head which can provide 120-degree adjustable lighting (making it highly user-friendly). Although it may not be the most useful feature for remote locations, it does have a USB rechargeable battery, which provides a maximum of 22 hours of light (on low setting).

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Pros Of The NiteCore Thumb

  • The unique shape and design make it good for hiking and outdoor purposes.
  • The built-in clip allows for flexibility in use (attach it to your cap, for example).

Cons Of The NiteCore Thumb

  • The tilt-able head is somewhat flimsy in construction (does not completely return to fixed state).
  • Light glare in eyes can be a problem if clipped to headgear.


ThruNite Ti3 EDC Cree

This little number from ThruNite is sure to last you through the darkest of nights out in the wild.

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This ThruNite is a dependable keychain flashlight – highly lightweight (at 0.48 ounces) and easily clip-able onto shirts, hat brims, pockets, or keys.

Very sturdy, and the twist-action to turn on the light is highly user-friendly. It packs 120 lumens with a maximum beam distances of fifty meters. Three light modes allow for versatility and provide a trade-off between battery life and light power.

Best of all, it only requires one AAA battery! You are sure to be satisfied, but just in case this product comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty. In sum, this is a practical and straightforward choice for natural illumination.

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Pros Of The ThruNite Ti3

  • Lightweight and durable.
  • Minimal battery requirements.

Cons Of The ThruNite Ti3

  • Some may prefer the traditional push button on/off switch to this unit’s twist feature.
  • Paint can chip easily with heavy use.


Maglite Mini PRO

The Maglite Mini Pro is a standard yet reliable model that is an excellent choice for occasional backpacking adventures.

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Made of aluminum, it features weather-resistant seals and a diamond knurled design. It takes two AA batteries, which provide 272 lumens with an estimated two and a half hours of operating time.

Conveniently, this offer comes with two batteries included so you can fire the flashlight up right away. The beam is estimated to project up to 140 meters, so you should be able to spot trouble on the trail from afar.

In case you startle easily, it is drop resistant from a height of up to two meters and is also water-resistant. The trademarked “MAG-LED” technology is marketed at professionals and consumers alike, so you can rest assured that this option will serve you well.

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Pros Of The Maglite Mini Pro

  • Lightweight for its lumens at only 4.2 ounces.
  • Batteries included.
  • Hook for a lanyard on the base.

Cons Of The Maglite Mini Pro

  • It needs two AA batteries (higher power requirement than most flashlights on this list).


MECO Hand Cranking Solar Powered Flashlight

This offer from MECO is perfect for backpacking and exploring wherever you might find yourself in the great outdoors.

best hand cranking flashlight

It is a highly practical emergency flashlight with a built-in rechargeable battery.

The best part is that the battery can be recharged in one of two ways. Firstly by using the built-in hand crank (which provides about an hour of battery life per six minutes of cranking), and secondly, it can recharge itself in the sunlight!

The convenience and security of not needing extra batteries is a huge plus for a backpacking flashlight.

The classic military-esque design provides a fashionable rugged aesthetic, and it is highly lightweight at only 3 ounces. The body comes complete with a carabiner clip attached, which makes it easy to snap onto a backpack to keep it easily accessible.

It comes with all of these handy features, and it is available for a very affordable price and a satisfaction guarantee.

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Pros Of The MECO

  • Hand-cranking rechargeable.
  • Solar power rechargeable.
  • Excellent price.

Cons Of The MECO

  • The built-in carabiner clip can be tricky to attach to things (little room to work with).
  • It can be easy to accidentally switch on in a backpack (fortunately, batteries are rechargeable!).


Zotoyi Super-Bright LED Tactical Flashlight

This ultra-bright 1000 lumen LED torch is fantastic for nights around the campfire.

Best outdoor flashlight for backpacking

With five possible lighting modes, you can quickly adjust the brightness depending on the needs of the occasion.

It is capable of projecting a beam of light up to 200-500 meters away with a spotlight feature for long-range observation and a floodlight option to fill a more substantial area with light.

This makes it perfect for identifying those spooky snapping branches in the dark from a distance or tidying your campsite in the evening before bed.

As a handy feature, it is capable of being recharged (comes with a rechargeable battery) by merely plugging it into the wall.

While this is likely not an option when you find yourself at the mountaintop, this is ideal for when you are taking a break from adventuring and need a rest at home (when the power goes out).

Alternatively, the light can be powered using three AAA batteries. While this is a demanding requirement, it is a powerful illumination machine. It is also highly durable: it is shockproof, waterproof, and shatterproof (lens) with an estimated lifespan of 100,000 hours!

Our favorite of the best backpacking flashlights.

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Pros Of The Zotovi

  • Very bright.
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • “Police quality” durability.

Cons Of The Zotovi

  • With higher light power comes additional battery requirements (three AAA batteries).
  • Heavy compared to other options on this list (essential to consider when packing light).

Chromo Inc Flashlight

This option is fantastic for the whole family on your backpacking adventures – because it comes with four flashlights!

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Making the Amazon’s Choice list, these flashlights come complete with a built-in hand crank to make recharging the battery a breeze (no batteries required!). They come with a carry strap to wear around your wrist to ensure that they do not get dropped and weigh only 2.4 ounces.

The bright-colored design is very family-friendly and will not get lost amid the foliage or dirt of the trail. All of the materials used to make this product are environmentally friendly, recycled, and generated no carbon footprint.

Keep one in the glove box of your car to have an emergency light just in case you break down on the way to your favorite destination.

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Pros Of The Chromo Inc

  • It comes in many flashy colors.
  • Hand crank rechargeable.

Cons Of The Chromo Inc

  • Made of (durable) plastic, which may be less resistant than the aluminum options.
  • When the original battery life dies, the rechargeable battery can take a long time to charge.

If you are keen on hitting the trails to do a simple day trip or more serious multi-day backpacking, it is imperative that you take along a reliable flashlight.

Explore the options provided here to find the right set of features that suit your personal needs.

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