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Published Sep 7, 2022 1:42 PM

Hunting flashlights are a piece of gear you can’t fully appreciate until you’ve been miles from the truck without one. Most flashlights can make sure you find your way back in the dark, but most of them also aren’t reliable enough for the unexpected turns that hunting often takes. Like when you arrow a buck at last light and need a solid flashlight to follow a pin drop blood trail. And if you’re lugging around granddad’s hefty old Maglite, your chances of finding that trail, (even after you give those D batteries a good pack) are probably smaller than those blood drops.

Flashlights don’t just help you recover game and find your way back to camp, they can even save your life in extreme instances. Whether you’re hunting the family farm or the backcountry, I’ve narrowed down a list of the best hunting flashlights to make sure you’re not left in the dark this hunting season.  

Best Overall: Surefire G2X Pro

Surefire

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Why It Made the Cut

This lightweight handheld flashlight has plenty of battery life and lumens no matter where or what you’re hunting.

Key Features

  • Weight: 4.4 ounces with batteries
  • Length: 5.2 inches overall
  • Lumens: 600
  • Settings: High and low
  • Batteries: Two CR123A included

Pros

  • Super bright
  • Low setting great for up close tasks
  • IPX7 waterproof rating

Cons

  • Expensive

Product Description

When it comes to finding your treestand before daylight or spotting the perfect slip for your duck boat to catch the morning flight, this 600 lumen, 8700 Candela beam lights the way. The hybrid beam reflector provides both distant direct light and wide peripheral light. This gives you a good scope of your surroundings without losing focus on your objective.

While these are awesome features, I do wish this flashlight provided a bit more run time than the 1.5 hours at full power, but that’s to be expected with a beam this bright. And it will give you the punch to spot objectives quickly and at distance. 

The heat generated in the aluminum head is noticeable if you run it for an extended amount of time, but the polymer body does not transfer the heat of the light down the grip. I also appreciate the quiet polymer body, especially compared to metal flashlights. At just over 5 inches in overall length, the G2X Pro fills the hand nicely without feeling oversized. The single push-button tailcap switch is easy to manipulate with bare hands or with thick, insulated gloves.

It also turns the light on and switches between high and low power. At the low power setting, the light is a mere 15 lumens, which gives you just the right amount of light in front of your face. Surefire claims a 52-hour runtime at this level. 

Like most Surefire lights, the G2X Pro runs on two CR123A batteries. This makes it a bit pricey when you need to swap batteries. But with the power output and reliability, this light deserves a place at the top.

Best for Deer Hunting: Black Diamond Cosmo 300

Black Diamond

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Why It Made the Cut

This budget-friendly headlamp offers hands-free versatility, multiple settings, and long battery life.

Key Features

  • Weight: 2.9 ounces with batteries
  • Lumens: 350
  • Settings: Flood, spot, red, all dimmable
  • Batteries: Three AAA included

Pros

  • Compact
  • Fully adjustable fit, brightness, and beam direction
  • Long battery life
  • Affordable
  • Buttons can be locked to prevent accidental use

Cons

  • Not rechargeable

Product Description

While this isn’t technically a flashlight, it’s too handy not to include. I first received my Black Diamond Cosmo 300 a few years ago as a stocking stuffer. It quickly earned a permanent place in my hunting pack.

At less than $30, this light can fit almost any budget or need. This lightweight headlamp is so comfortable you’ll forget you’re wearing it. The two plastic sliders on the band provide full adjustability for its fit and position on your head. The main button features textured knurling on the top and is intuitive to find and activate with or without gloves. However, the smaller switch next to it isn’t as easy to adjust with gloves. 

I’m a big fan of the red dimmable light, which lets me perform close-up tasks without ruining my nighttime vision. And the range of brightness settings in the other two LEDs allows you to see things up close or at distance. The hinge on the back of the light has five different positions, with a detent to hold it in the one you choose.

The Black Diamond Cosmo 300 Headlamp
The red light on the Cosmo 300 makes it easy to perform up-close tasks in the dark. Benjamin La Londe

This light can be used for just about anything, but it shines brightest when it comes to deer hunting. With a day pack on my back, a rifle or bow in hand, I can head to my stand unencumbered. When I use the dim settings, I don’t have any issue picking up the high-vis reflective material woven into the safety line of the tree stand from a distance. Even running the red light, I was able to find my way and adjust the intensity to get my gear safely into the treestand. When it’s time to track a deer, this light makes blood trailing easy. And because it’s a headlamp, both of my hands are completely free to field dress and pack my game out of the woods.

Best Budget: Coast G29

The Coast G29 is the best budget hunting flashlight.

Coast

Why It Made the Cut

This affordable flashlight has adequate brightness for most hunting scenarios.

Key Features

  • Weight: 4.59 ounces with batteries
  • Length: 4.29 inches
  • Settings: High, medium, low
  • Batteries: Three AAA included

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • All metal construction
  • Adjustable beam from flood to spot

Cons

  • Not the brightest
  • Not waterproof

Product Description

For this specific review, I went to my local Sportsman’s Warehouse, where I found and purchased the G29 flashlight for less than $20.

The G29 is a budget-friendly, feature-packed little torch. Its all aluminum construction is sturdy but light, and the tail cap features a push-button switch, which is shrouded to protect from accidental use. In one of the shrouded sections is a small hole for running a wrist loop or lanyard through. The light did not come with a lanyard, but it’s a nice feature to have, should you want to add one later. At first, the lens focus ring was stiff but loosened up after a short break-in period and allowed enough adjustability with one hand.

Under each threaded piece is a small rubber o-ring, sealing the electronic components enough to give it an IP54 water resistance rating. IP54 indicates dust resistance and protection from water spray. Though not built with the waterproof construction of others on this list, this light will work just fine as long as it doesn’t take any unexpected dunks.

On high, the G29 can run upwards of four hours, while the lowest setting gives you as much as 27 hours of continuous light. High boasts 370 Lumens, while medium offers 160, and low produces about 50 lumens. The beam is bright, although not as sharp as others in this review. But for an affordable hunting flashlight, this one is hard to beat.

Best Lantern: Streamlight Siege AA Outdoor Lantern

Streamlight

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Why It Made the Cut

Compact and rugged, this small lantern is equal parts versatile and durable.

Key Features

  • Weight: 8.8 ounces with batteries
  • Lumens: 200
  • Size: 5.44 inches tall, 2.37 inches wide
  • Batteries: Three AA not included
  • Settings: High, medium, low, red, red SOS

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Long battery life
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Heavy

Product Description

I purchased my Siege just over five years ago before a grizzly hunt I filmed in Alaska. I needed a lighting system that would help me in the tundra after dark or in my tent. I’ve since taken the Siege across the country and around the world. Like my Black Diamond Cosmo, it has become a regular tagalong on trips.

While bulkier and heavier than a simple handheld light, the Siege offers a lot as a small lantern. The globe gives a nice ambient fill light to whatever tasks you need to accomplish. If you remove the globe, it presents a wide, bright beam that can fill a tent and casts enough light to act as a handheld flashlight. With or without the globe, it still retains its IPX7 waterproof rating, so you don’t have to worry if you accidentally drop it in a stream or lake.

The Streamlight Siege
Remove the globe and you can even use the Siege as a handheld flashlight. Benjamin La Londe

The Siege features many mounting options. It can stand on its own on any relatively flat surface, and it has a handle that doubles as a hook for hanging. The underside features a flip out carabiner style clip for other mounting or hanging options as well. Streamlight also offers a magnetic battery cap that features strong magnets for mounting on any steel surface that you can purchase separately.

Its rubberized body and caps keep it both quiet and protected. The three AA batteries can run upwards of seven hours on high, and 37 hours on low. This lamp also features a red light for preserving night vision and can be set to a flashing red SOS setting, which can run for days on end in case of an emergency. 

The power button is used to adjust settings and even changes from green to yellow to red, indicating battery levels. While this lantern doesn’t necessarily give me the distance and directional light offered by the other lights in this review, it definitely has a place at hunting camp.

Best for Blood Tracking: Primos Bloodhunter HD

Primos

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Why It Made the Cut

This light features a special lens coating and high output to make even the smallest blood trails visible.

Key Features

  • Weight: 10.6 ounces with batteries
  • Lumens: 600
  • Size: 5.5 inches long, 2 inches wide
  • Batteries: Four CR123A, included
  • Settings: High, low

Pros

  • Lens coating separates red tones from other colors
  • Bright

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Product Description

Primos’ Bloodhunter HD serves a specific task: game recovery. Let’s get the elephant out of the room first. This light is heavy and bulky. It’s the heaviest one I tested for this review. Width wise, it’s almost as big as the Siege AA Outdoor Lantern, and it also carries a hefty price tag for an application-specific flashlight. It also requires four separate CR123A batteries to function, making it one of the most expensive to run on the list. Those things aside, it’s one of the best hunting flashlights for blood tracking.

The Primos Bloodhunter HD is the best hunting flashlight for blood tracking.
The Bloodhunter can make those tracking jobs easier, especially when blood trails are sparse. Benjamin La Londe

While you might have enough light for that ethical shot just before dark, the blood-trails quickly become obscured in darkness. Luckily, Primos has found the ideal material and color for a lens filter that makes blood stand out from its surroundings, even in sketchy terrain. 

The Primos Bloodhunter highlights blood drops
The optical filter on the Bloodhunter highlights blood in a variety of terrain. Benjamin La Londe

The Bloodhunter HD features a high, 100-lumen setting when you’re blood trailing. To note: The LED produces 600 lumens, but once through the proprietary filter, it is reduced to 100. The four CR123A batteries produce enough power to last about two hours, which should give you plenty of time to recover your game, but for especially sparse trails, it might not cut it. On the low setting, it casts about 50 lumens for general illumination and can run for about eight hours at this level.

This is one of those lights you don’t really need until you do. While a tool this specialized would not live on my belt, it might find its way into my pack for hunts in dense vegetation.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Hunting Flashlight

Not all lights are created equal. If you just need something to help you get to your ladder stand in the dark, you probably don’t need one of the best flashlights. On the other hand, if you’re planning a 10-day backcountry hunt, this isn’t the time to try and save a few bucks on a cheap light.

Output

Lumens describe the amount of light put out by the flashlight. Just because a light has a high number of lumens, does not mean you’ll necessarily be able to see long distances. Candela, on the other hand, measures the amount of light in a specific direction. The higher the candela, the further the visibility remains clear. If your goal is to see long distances clearly, make sure you’re opting for a light with a high candela.

When you’re hunting, brighter lights make it easier to find your stand, while dim light helps you perform tasks up close. This is why I prefer a light with multiple brightness settings whether I’m looking for my stand or hoisting my bow up in the dark.

Size

This goes for both dimensions and weight. If you’re packing a long way into a hunting spot, a lighter option might be more appealing than a heavier model. If you’re hunting a ground blind or tree stand on your family’s farm, weight probably isn’t a big deal. Bigger lights will obviously take up more space. If space is at a premium, you might even consider one of the best headlamps for hunting instead of a regular flashlight. You’ll need to consider where and when you’re hunting to determine what option fits best.

Power Source

The type and amount of batteries your flashlight requires can make it more or less expensive to use. Battery life is directly affected by power setting, which is why it’s important to consider how each brightness setting works. 

There are many rechargeable options on the market, but I personally stay away from these for a couple of reasons. First, rechargeable options tend to be more expensive. Second, if my built-in rechargeable battery dies, my light is useless until I can find a plug. As long as I have extra batteries, I can replace the dead ones in an instant. This is subjective, of course, so make the choice that works best for you.

Weather Resistance

If you’re a regular waterfowler, you’ll want a light that can take a dive while you’re setting decoys. If you’re hunting in the high desert, you’ll want a light that keeps the dust and dirt from seeping into the housing. Look for the lights that will stand the test of Murphy’s law and still come out shining.

FAQs

Q: Why do hunters use red flashlights at night?

Hunters use red flashlights at night for a couple different reasons. First, a low-level red light will reduce recovery time needed for one’s eyes to adjust from the red light to darkness. Second, Many animals also cannot see red light as well and are less likely to be spooked if they detect it.

Q: What’s the longest lasting flashlight?

The longest lasting flashlight from my review is the Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp. On its brightest setting, the Cosmo lasted well over four hours. When I put it into reserve mode, but still on high, it lasted as long as 24 hours, with even more run time on lower settings.

Q: How many Lumens do you need for a hunting flashlight?

The amount of lumens you need for a hunting flashlight should be anywhere between 200-600 lumens at its highest setting. For close-up work, lower outputs will give you plenty of light without blinding you.

Final Thoughts

Even if you’re hunting a generational family spot, investing in one of the best hunting flashlights can make getting around in the dark much easier. And if you’re ever in a situation where you desperately need a flashlight, you’ll be glad you have one.

Methodology

For this review, I considered what flashlights have and haven’t worked for me on past hunts. I’ve either hunted with or personally tested these lights. With each of these flashlights, I specifically focused on battery life, brightness levels, and types of batteries that each flashlight requires. How a light functions in adverse weather conditions also helped me determine which ones made this list.