8 Survival Lights You Can Depend on in an Emergency

You should always carry a reliable flashlight whether you’re in the city or backcountry…it could save your life
Zebralight H53Fc headlamp
Max Output: 276 lumens; Length: 2.9 inches; Weight: 2.8 ounces (with battery and headband); MSRP: $59 Zebralight

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Just because a light looks cool or it says “tactical” on the packaging, doesn’t mean it can help you in an emergency. You want a flashlight you can depend on in the most critical situations, and these are some of the best new lights on the market. Each one was built to last and illuminate during the times when you need a light the most.

1. Klarus 360X3

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Law enforcement agencies have been using Klarus tactical lights for years. Considering the multitude of features and the high quality, this flashlight is a great bargain. The aerospace aluminum alloy body has mil-spec anodizing and a comfortable feel. The unusual “Switch Ring” on the flashlight’s tail can be activated from any direction and offers six operational modes, with the maximum light output being a brilliant 3,200 lumens (lasting up to 45 minutes). In addition to high, medium, and low intensities, the 360X3 has an emergency strobe feature (flashing 3,200 lumens for 1.5 hours) and a low intensity SOS beacon (48 lumens for 48 hours). The tail ring and side switches can lock to prevent accidental activation (draining batteries in storage or blasting your eyeballs unexpectedly). This light also bears an Intelligent Thermal Protection System (ITS), which can prevent overheating accidents (which are always a threat with potent lithium batteries). Speaking of batteries, this model can take three different options: a single 18650, two CR123A, or two Klarus 16340 batteries. The kit includes a 18650 battery, which is micro-USB rechargeable and fully-charged in four hours.

2. Nitecore i4000R

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The Nitecore i4000R has all the usual features you’d expect in a tactical light, including the blacked-out paint job, crenelated strike bezel, multiple intensities, and a strobe feature. Look closer at the details and this light starts to get more interesting. The i4000R comes with a custom 5,000mAh rechargeable 21700 battery and a sliding port cover to protect the USB-C charging port. It can also take two CR123A batteries by using the CR123 adapter sleeve that is included in the kit. This light also has a built-in LED power indicator, so you don’t have to find out the hard way that your battery is almost drained. It also has 1-meter impact resistance, reverse polarity protection and IP68 waterproofing. More of a “flood light” than a tight beam, it’s still a blindingly bright light and has the highest lumen count on this list.

3. Coast Polysteel 600R

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While it’s not the brightest flashight in the round-up, it is the heaviest (due to the stainless steel construction and waterproof poly-nylon cover). And though the Polysteel 600R is a beast, it is well worth the money. ANSI standard verified for drop-proof operation up to 3 meters, this light is waterproof to a depth of 9.9 feet. The Polysteel 600R isn’t just a flashlight for law enforcement. It’s also a smart choice for those working and living in wet environments. Granted, the maximum lumen output is wimpy compared to several other lights on our list, but there’s a very good reason for the lower intensity. The 600R can operate on four ordinary Alkaline AA batteries (or it can take a USB-rechargeable lithium ion battery, included in the kit). This light is beefy, rugged, and rechargeable, with a twist focusing beam and a sticker price that won’t break the bank.

4. Fenix TK26R

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The Fenix TK26R tactical flashlight has plenty of extra features that could help you through a variety of emergency situations. The mighty 1,500-lumen white light output comes from a powerful Luminus SST40 LED emitter. This light also has two different CREE XP-E2 emitters that shine green and red light at a lower intensity (150 lumens for the green light and 200 lumens for the red). The 1,500-lumen output is the “turbo” setting for the light, burning a little over an hour at this intensity. There are also lower settings with much longer run times. High will provide 350 lumens for 4.4 hours, medium will shine 150 lumens for over 10 hours, and low barely glows with 10 lumens for over 100 hours. Like any good tactical light, there’s also a strobe feature of equal intensity to the turbo output—1,500 lumens. The kit includes a 18650 battery that is USB-C rechargeable through the flashlight housing. The A6061-T6 aluminum body provides a waterproof rating for a maximum depth of 1.5 meters underwater for up to 30 minutes.

5. Olight S2R II

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Aggressive knurling for grip, different color choices for the housing, and a three-color power level indicator sets this robust little light apart from other designs. You may have trouble locating the side button (without looking), since the button is flush with the surface of the light. This can be remedied by moving the adjustable pocket clip to a position that can guide your finger to the button. Once you find it, you can click through the light settings easily. Turbo mode will provide 1,150 lumens for about 2 hours, high provides 400 lumens for 4 hours, and medium gives 120 lumens for 14 hours. There is also a strobe feature with turbo intensity brightness, a low 10-lumen option that shines for 10 hours and a “moonlight” 0.5-lumen option that will burn for up to 60 days. The Olight S2R II is IPX8 rated for up to 2 meters under water without damaging the light. The kit comes with a MCC 1A magnetic USB charging cable that sticks to the ring at the tail of the light. This means that there’s no charging port to clog with mud or allow water into the housing. This charging cable is also compatible with other Olight MCC rechargeable products. The light takes a standard 18650 rechargeable battery, or two CR123 batteries.

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6. Zebralight H53Fc AA Headlamp

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Carry this flashlight in your pocket as an EDC light or slide it into the headband for a hands-free light when you need it most. This flashlight features a Cree XP-L2 Easy White LED emitter that runs on AA batteries. There are three main light levels (high, medium and low) with many sub-levels that are programmable (if you want them). This light has an output of 276 lumens for almost an hour on high, 165 lumens for 2.3 hours, 102 lumens for 4.2 hours, 55 lumens for 8.5 hours and seven other low light options. While Panasonic Eneloop or Eneloop Pro AA batteries are recommended (it just needs one), you could also use a single AA size NiMH, lithium, or Alkaline battery. It doesn’t get that hot and the power can be disconnected by slightly unscrewing the tail cap (eliminating accidental button activation or parasitic battery drain). The uni-body aluminum housing has a hard anodized finish and a waterproof rating of IPX7 (that’s 2 meters underwater for 30 minutes).

7. Streamlight 88065 Pro Tac HL-X

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Supplying the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies for many years, Streamlight is known for tough lights and user-friendly features. The Streamlight 88065 Pro Tac HL-X is no exception. It’s a max output 1,000-lumen tactical flashlight with multi-battery versatility and capable of mounting on the Streamlight 69100 rail mount and operating with remote switches (rail mount and switches not included). Their “MULTI-FUEL” design allows the light to run on Streamlight’s 18650 USB battery or two CR123A lithium batteries. The high setting will get you 1,000 lumens (with an impressive 330-meter beam) for 1.5 hours. The medium intensity provides 400 lumens for 3 hours and low shines with 65 lumens for 20 hours. As you’d expect, there’s also a strobe feature for signaling or disorienting an attacker, and it runs for 2.5 hours.

8. SureFire G2X

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SureFire’s G2X LED flashlight can take a beating with its practically unbreakable high-efficiency LED emitters with a crushproof and corrosion-resistant Nitrolon polymer body. You won’t have to click through a bunch of options either. The G2X flashlight only has one output level, a piercing 600-lumen beam of light. This light takes two of the expected CR123A batteries, which are included in the package. If you’re looking for a dependable light without all the frills and fancy features, this is it.