The Best Everyday Carry (EDC) Flashlight
EDC flashlights are a very broad category of LED flashlights, ranging from small keychain flashlights to medium-sized tactical flashlights.
Regardless of their size, beam range, light intensity, energy source, and similar, EDC flashlights share several features, including relatively compact size, and the ability to operate reliably after months and even years of being carried around and/or stored.
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Intro to EDC LED Flashlights
Regardless of their size and the battery type, Everyday Carry (EDC) LED flashlights must operate flawlessly even after months or sometimes years of being carried around or being stored in not-so-ideal conditions.
Most EDC flashlights are ultracompact keychain and pocket-size pen flashlights, but there are also somewhat larger full-size pen flashlights and smaller tactical units.
Although rarely, some users carry around smaller headlamp flashlights ready to be used at a moment's notice.
When looking for an ideal EDC flashlight, check the flashlight size, weight, beam intensity, beam range, battery type(s), IPX rating (waterproof rating), and similar.
The price of the EDC flashlights range from just a few US dollars or euros to 100+ US dollars or euros - higher price is not a warranty that the flashlight will operate as intended, but additional features like magnetic charging, IPX8 rating, 1000+ lumens light, 300+ meters range, 2-3m drop height, and similar do increase the price of the flashlight.
EDC Flashlight Types
The most popular EDC flashlight types include:
- Keychain LED Flashlights are ultra-compact micro flashlights, small enough to be attached to the key chain (hence the name).
Keychain flashlights are usually powered by button/coin cell batteries like LR41, LR44, CR2016, CR2032 and similar, although there are models that feature small cylindrical batteries and/or built-in rechargeable batteries.
Due to their dimensions and weight (most of them weigh less than half an ounce) keychain flashlights are easily carried around and used at the moment's notice.
But, they are also relatively weak, when compared with larger EDC flashlights.
- Micro Pen (Pocket) LED Flashlights are usually powered by a single AAA or AA battery, they feature limited light intensity (usually between 40-250 lumens), a limited number of light modes (usually High and Low), limited range (30-100 m) and similar.
But, these batteries are compact, small, and affordable flashlights that can fit any pocket, purse, bag, backpack, and similar.
With proper batteries, these flashlights are one of the most popular and most reliable EDC flashlight types.
- Pen LED Flashlights are usually powered by a pair of AAA batteries, ensuring longer runtime than the runtime of the flashlights powered by a single AAA battery.
However, these flashlights are also somewhat longer and can't easily fit most of the pockets. But, they can be carries with other pens, in the backpack, purses and similar.
- Headlamp Flashlights feature an adjustable strap, allowing the user to position the flashlight not only on the head (hence the name) but onto any suitable object.
Headlamp flashlights are not the most common EDC flashlight type, but they allow the user to have both hands free for any possible task ahead.
Also, many models feature both white and red light LEDs, increasing their versatility.
- Tactical EDC Flashlights are smaller and more compact types of tactical flashlights.
Tactical EDC flashlights are mostly powered by a single 18650 battery, or two CR123A battery or by three AAA batteries - many models supporting the use of several battery types.
Such tactical EDC flashlights weigh up to half a pound, while larger tactical flashlights featuring at least two 18650 batteries usually weigh 1+ pounds.
In order to improve their features, some brands offer tactical flashlights that are powered by lithium rechargeable 21700 or 26650 batteries, featuring a larger capacity than a single 18650 battery.
Other flashlight types may also be carried around as EDC flashlights, but this depends on the users and their personal needs and requirements.
EDC Flashlight Batteries
Depending on flashlight size and intended use, the most popular EDC flashlight batteries are:
- LR41/SR41 Batteries are button/coin cell batteries featuring physical dimensions of (D x H) 7.9 x 3.6 mm (0.311 x 0.142 inches).
LR41/SR41 batteries differ in chemistry and hence, their nominal voltage/capacity:
|Nominal Voltage||1.5V||1.55V||1.4 - 1.45V|
|Notes||Voltage drops over time||Very constant voltage||Slightly lower voltage, large capacity;
mostly used as hearing aid batteries
|Typical Labels||LR41, LR736, AG3||SR41, SR736, SR736PW, SR736SW, SG3, AG3, 192, 384, 392||312, ZA312, Brown Tab, PR41, 7002ZD|
|Typical Capacity||25-32 (45) mAh||38-45 mAh||~180 mAh|
Zinc-air batteries are not used for EDC flashlights due to their wet electrolyte that uses oxygen from the air - when the electrolyte dries out, zinc-air batteries die, even if they are not discharged.
SR41 batteries offer several benefits when compared with LR41 batteries including larger capacity, more stable output voltage, and longer storage time.
LR41 and SR41 batteries are mostly used for keychain and other ultra-compact flashlights.
- CR2106, CR2032, and similar EDC flashlight button/coin cell batteries are based almost exclusively on the non-rechargeable Manganese-Dioxide Lithium chemistry, ensuring a nominal voltage of 3.0 volts, a cutoff voltage of 2.0 volts, and a storage time of up to 10 years.
Also, CR2016, CR2032, and similar non-rechargeable Manganese-Dioxide Lithium batteries support relatively strong discharge currents, ensuring strong light, considering the size of the flashlights.
Non-rechargeable Carbon-Monofluoride Lithium and rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries are rarely used for EDC flashlights due to the limitations of such battery chemistries.
CR2016, CR2032, and similar lithium batteries are mostly used for keychain and other ultra-compact flashlights.
- AAA and AA Batteries are cylindrical batteries featuring physical dimensions of 10.5 x 44.5 mm (AAA) and 14.5 x 50.5 mm (AA). Nominal voltage, nominal capacity, and other features depend on the exact battery chemistry, as given in the following comparison charts:
AAA Batteries Comparison Chart
|Chemistry||Common Name||Rechargeable||Typical Capacity (mAh)||Voltage|
|Zinc Carbon||R03, 24D||No||500-600||1.5 V|
|Alkaline||LR03, 24A||Mostly No||850-1200||1.5 V|
|Li-FeS2||FR03, 24LF||No||1100-1300||1.5 V (1.8 V max)|
|Li-ion||10440||Yes||350-600||3.6 - 3.7 V|
|NiCd||KR03, 24K||Yes||300-500||1.2 V|
|NiMH||HR03, 24H||Yes||600-1300||1.2 V|
|NiOOH||ZR03||No||1000-1200||1.5 V (1.7 V max)|
AA Batteries Comparison Chart
|Chemistry||Common Name||Rechargeable||Typical Capacity (mAh)||Voltage (V)
|Zinc Carbon||R6, 15D||No||600 - 1600||1.5|
|Alkaline||LR6, 15A||No (Mostly No)||1800 - 2700||1.5|
|Li-FeS2||FR6, 15LF||No||2700 - 3300||1.5 (1.8 max)|
|Li-ion||14500||Yes||600 - 2000+||3.6 - 3.7|
|NiCd||KR6, 1.2K2||Yes||600 - 1000||1.2|
|NiMH||HR6, 1.2H2||Yes||700 - 2800||1.2|
|NiOOH||-||No||2200 - 2700||1.5 (1.7 max)|
|NiZn||ZR6||Yes||1500 - 1800||1.6 - 1.65|
For AAA and AA EDC flashlights, it is important to know that the most popular batteries are batteries based on the alkaline chemistry, which offers good capacity, relatively stable voltage, and rather low self-discharge rate at an acceptable price.
However, Li-FeS2 or Lithium Iron Disulfide chemistry offers stable voltage, good capacity, and extra long storage time of 20+ years, making them an excellent choice for EDC and standby flashlights, despite the slightly higher price.
Nickel Metal Hydride and Lithium-Ion chemistries support a large number of charging/discharging cycles, but they also have higher self-discharge rates when compared with alkaline and especially Li-FeS2 AA and AAA batteries.
Again, choose AA and AAA batteries according to your own needs and preferences.
- CR123A Batteries are cylindrical batteries featuring 17 mm diameter and 34.5 mm height (0.67 x 1.36 inches).
CR123A batteries are offered in several chemistries, but the most important chemistry for EDC flashlights is a non-rechargeable Magnesium Dioxide Lithium chemistry, featuring a very low self-discharge rate (often <1% annually), a nominal voltage of 3.0 volts, a cutoff voltage of 2.0 volts, and if required, they can provide surprisingly strong currents.
As such, CR123A battery is commonly used in EDC flashlights that are rarely used but must operate reliably.
Note: if the flashlight doesn't work properly after years of storage, tap it gently onto something hard - there is a great chance that there is a thin layer of invisible corrosion that is preventing the flashlight from operating properly.
- 18650 Batteries are rechargeable lithium batteries featuring physical dimensions of 18.6 x 65.2 mm (0.73 x 2.56 inches).
Nominal voltage depends on the exact battery chemistry and ranges from 3.2 to 3.7 volts, with the most popular models having a nominal voltage of 3.6 to 3.7 volts.
18650 batteries are often offered in two versions - high capacity/low current and low capacity/high current batteries.
For example, high-capacity 18650 batteries have capacities up to and even more than 5000 mAh, but the maximum safe continuous discharge rate of such batteries is often in the 3-10 Amps range.
On the other hand, 18650 batteries being able to provide continuously 20-30 Amps and up to 40-50 Amps for 1-5 seconds safely, usually have a capacity in the 2500-3000 mAh range.
For EDC flashlights it is important to know that the self-discharge rate of 18650 batteries is higher than the self-discharge rate of many non-rechargeable chemistries, requiring the users to periodically recharge (mostly every few months, model dependent) the batteries, even if they were not in use.
3xAAA batteries can be used instead of one 18650 battery or instead of 2x CR123A batteries in some flashlights via an AAA batteries holder. For flashlights that are often used, rechargeable 18650/RCR123A batteries are recommended choice.
But for standby/EDC flashlights, 3 high-quality AAA batteries or 2 high-quality CR123A batteries are a more reliable choice, unless the user is willing to recharge the 18650 battery every few months or as recommended by its manufacturer.
Note: good 18650 battery features 3.7 volts and 3000mAh capacity, while 2 good RCR123A batteries feature 3.7 volts and 750mAh capacity. Since devices that support the use of both batteries feature high-efficiency DC/DC converters, the voltage difference is not an issue. But energy density is in favor of 18650 batteries when compared with RCR123A batteries (11.1 Wh vs 5.55 Wh) or even when compared with CR123A batteries (11.1 Wh vs. 9 Wh).
- 21700 Batteries and 26650 Batteries are batteries that are very similar to 18650 batteries in terms of chemistry, but thanks to their larger size, they are able to store more energy, which ensures longer runtime and often stronger light beams.
18650, 21700, and 26650 batteries may be recharged using dedicated lithium battery chargers, they may have built-in USB charging port or they can be charged within the flashlights, using USB charging port or magnetic charging cables - in order to keep the flashlights as sturdy as possible and to increase their IPX rating, some manufacturers offer their rechargeable flashlights with 18650, 21700, and 26650 batteries combined with Magnetic Charging Cables (for example, MMC1 and MMC3).
Such rechargeable flashlights are not the cheapest flashlights on the market, but they often can be submerged 1-2 meters in water for 30 minutes with no adverse effects on the flashlight!
The Best EDC Flashlights
Here is the list of some of the best and most popular EDC flashlights, ranging from small keychain flashlights to mid-sized tactical LED flashlights.
Also, as their features change, their prices also change - but, what You pay is what You get.
On the other hand, having several cheaper flashlights available at different places (pocket, purse, backpack, glove compartment, drawer, etc.), may provide the user with the flashlight at the reach of the hand when most needed.
Olight I3T EOS Dual-Output Slim EDC Flashlight
Olight I3T EOS features physical dimensions of (D x L) 0.59 x 3.5 inches (15 x 89 mm) and weighs ~1.4 oz (~39 grams!).
Olight I3T EOS flashlight is powered by a single AAA battery and comes with two light modes:
- Mode 1: 180 lumens, 21 minutes, 60m range,
- Mode 2: 5 lumens, 16 hours, 12m range.
The flashlight comes with one AAA alkaline battery, but it supports the use of NiMH 1.2V and lithium 1.5V batteries.
Note: it is not compatible with 3.7V lithium-ion batteries.
Olight I3T EOS features a body made of durable aluminum alloy with the double helix knurling around the body for solid grip even when wet.
The flashlight also features an IPX8 rating - it can be submerged down to 2 meters, and continue to operate with no issues.
Another interesting feature is the dual-direction pocket clip, making the flashlight even more convenient for carrying in a pocket or attached to a hat or strap.
If You are looking for a reliable, strong, durable EDC AAA flashlight, look no further.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Olight I3T EOS Dual-Output Slim EDC Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Streamlight 66318 MicroStream Ultra-Compact Flashlight
Also, Streamlight 66318 is an ultralight flashlight weighing ~1.1 oz (~31 grams).
The body is made from tough aluminum alloy, ensuring a drop height of 1m and a waterproof level of IPX4 - the flashlight can be safely used in light rain, but it should NOT be submerged.
Streamlight 66318 features while LED that delivers 45 lumens, with a beam range of 41 meters and a runtime of 2.25 hours.
Streamlight 66318 LED flashlight is an excellent and reliable EDC flashlight, but with one operating mode and IPX4 waterproof rating, Olight I3T EOS is a somewhat better flashlight in terms of physical toughness - many users prefer Streamlight 66318 over Olight I3T EOS because it has just one mode of operation and not another way around.
Streamlight 66318 is still a very popular, reliable, and affordable single-AAA EDC flashlight.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Streamlight 66318 MicroStream Ultra-Compact Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
GearLight S1000 LED Tactical Flashlight
GearLight S1000 can be powered by 3x AAA batteries or 1x 18650 battery - as usual, people who use the flashlight more or less regularly or don't mind recharging the battery every few months should go for a high-quality 18650 battery.
People who need this flashlight just occasionally should go for high-quality, low self-discharge 3x AAA batteries.
Note: GearLight S1000 flashlight is commonly sold in packs containing two flashlights, but with no batteries. Nonetheless, this is one of the cheapest tactical flashlights that are tough, durable, and reliable.
GearLight S1000 features five light modes - High, Medium, Low, Strobe, SOS. Also, it features zoomable focus, allowing the user to adjust the focus according to the situation.
Despite having zoomable focus, which adds movable parts, GearLight S1000 is a tough flashlight that can withstand a drop from 10 feet (~3 m) height.
The manufacturer doesn't state actual IPX rating, but it claims that the flashlight can be momentarily submerged underwater - for short, the flashlight can operate safely in light rain but don't expect to go diving with it.
GearLight S1000 is also relatively compact flashlight - 6.1 x 1.57 inches (~15.5 x 4 cm) and it weighs 5.12 ounces (~145 grams) with no battery/batteries.
Obviously, GearLight S1000 is not small enough to be carried in the pocket, but it comes with a hand strap and a flashlight holder.
Personally, GearLight S1000 is compact enough to be carried in the bag, purse, backpack, and similar.
If You are looking for a cheap and reliable tactical EDC flashlight, consider GearLight S1000 - there are far better flashlights than GearLight S1000 in terms of light intensity, light modes, and similar, but those flashlights cost more, sometimes much more.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the GearLight S1000 LED Tactical Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Olight M2R Pro Warrior Tactical Flashlight
Olight M2R Pro Warrior Tactical Flashlight features physical dimensions of 5.37 x 1.03/1.16 inches (136.5 x 26.2/29.5 mm) and it weighs 6.31 ounces (179 grams) with the 3.7V 5000 mAh 21700 battery and pocket clip included.
Note: the flashlight is delivered with the battery inside and the user must remove the insulating film from the battery and recharge the battery first - when the flashlight arrives, be sure to read the Owner's Guide, just in case.
Olight M2R Pro Warrior is compact enough to be carried even in the pocket.
One of the interesting features of the Olight M2R Pro Warrior is a pair of switches that can control the flashlight. Also, in order to prevent the side switch from accidentally activating the flashlight, it can be easily locked.
To help the users with the battery, the flashlight features Battery Charge Level Indicator with three different light colors - Green (>75%), Yellow (30~75%), Red (<30%).
Olight M2R Pro Warrior features a maximum output of 1800 lumens (22400 candelas) and a maximum beam range of 300 meters.
Light modes include six different light levels and a Strobe mode:
- Level 1: 1800 lumens (4.5 minutes), 750 lumens (145 minutes), 250 lumens (45 minutes); 300m beam range,
- Level 2: 750 lumens (160 minutes), 250 lumens (40 minutes); 185m beam range,
- Level 3: 250 lumens (10 hours), 110m beam range,
- Level 4: 60 lumens (60 hours), 55m beam range,
- Level 5: 15 lumens (130 hours), 27m beam range,
- Level 6: 1 lumen (60 days).
Olight M2R Pro Warrior has a very aggressive bezel, helping with the self-defense or to break the window(s) or similar.
Olight M2R Pro Warrior features a rechargeable 3.7V 5000 mAh lithium 21700 battery that is being recharged using an MCC3 (Magnetic Charging Cable) USB cable with a maximum charging current of 2 Amps.
This allows the flashlight to be made tough and waterproof - the flashlight can withstand drops from 1.5m and features an IPX8 rating.
As said before, Olight M2R Pro Warrior is anything but a cheap tactical flashlight, but it is an excellent and versatile flashlight suitable for various uses and situations.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Olight M2R Pro Warrior Tactical Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Olight Warrior X Pro Tactical Flashlight
Olight Warrior X Pro is powered by a customized rechargeable 3.7V 5000 mAh 21700 lithium battery and features an MCC3 (Magnetic Charging Cable 3) USB charging cable, ensuring a maximum charging current of 2 Amps.
The flashlight features a vibration alert - if the battery charge is below 30%, the flashlight will vibrate once every 5 minutes, if the battery charge is below 10%, the flashlight will vibrate once per minute and if the battery charge is below 5%, the flashlight will vibrate 6 times per minute.
Note: the flashlight is delivered with the battery inside, with a protective insulating film, which must be removed before the very first charging. Also, it is highly recommended to read the Owner's Guide in order to get accustomed to your new flashlight.
Olight Warrior X Pro features "only" two light modes:
- High Mode: 2100 lumens (3 min), ~900 lumens (100 min), ~300 lumens (23 min);
- Low Mode: 300 lumens (8 hours).
When the flashlight is in the High Mode, it features a beam range of 500m and a light intensity of 62500 candelas.
Olight Warrior X Pro weighs 8.43 ounces (~240 grams) with the battery and pocket clip.
Physical dimensions are 5.87 x 1.03/1.54 inches (149 x 26.2/39 mm) - Olight Warrior X Pro is a little bit too large to be carried in the pocket, but it can fit most backpacks, purses, bags, it can be attached to belts, etc.
Olight Warrior X Pro is a very durable flashlight with an IPX8 waterproof rating and a drop height of 3m.
If You are looking for a high lumen tactical EDC flashlight that is also tough and reliable, and You don't intend to carry it in the pocket, consider this one.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Olight Warrior X Pro Tactical Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Hatori Super Small Mini LED Flashlight
Hatori Super Small Mini LED Flashlight features physical dimensions of 0.59 x 3.55 inches (~15 x 90 mm) - it is small enough to be easily carried in the pocket, purse, bag, backpack, and similar.
Also, it is rather lightweight and it weighs ~30g - with the pocket clip, it can be attached to practically anything, even to a hat/cap, and act as a small headlamp.
The flashlight is made using strong 6061T aluminum alloy, making it strong and durable. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn't state the maximum drop height and IPX rating.
With 150 lumens, Hatori Super Small Mini LED Flashlight is one of the most popular and affordable pocket-size EDC flashlights on the market.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Hatori Super Small Mini LED Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Olight I1R 2 EOS EDC Flashlight
Olight I1R 2 EOS EDC Flashlight features physical dimensions of 0.58 x 1.73 inches (14.8 x 44 mm) and it weighs 0.46 oz (13 g) with the built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
Olight I1R 2 EOS flashlight is made of aluminum alloy and features a maximum drop height of 1.5 meters and an IPX8 (2 meters) waterproof rating.
The flashlight is recharged using a USB charging cable.
Olight I1R 2 EOS features two light modes:
- High Mode: 150 lumens, 15 minutes, 400 candelas, 40m beam range,
- Low Mode: 5 lumens, 6 hours.
The flashlight itself is very small but surprisingly durable and strong - it can fit almost anywhere and it can also easily get lost in the purse, bag, or backpack.
If You are looking for an excellent keychain flashlight, consider Olight I1R 2 EOS - it costs more than the average keychain flashlight, but it also offers much more than the average keychain flashlight.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Olight I1R 2 EOS EDC Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Streamlight 66608 Microstream Flashlight
Streamlight 66608 Microstream features a length of 3.87 inches (~98 mm) and it weighs just 1.2 ounces (~34 grams) with the battery.
The flashlight features a 350 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery which is recharged using a USB cable.
Streamlight 66608 Microstream flashlight features two light modes:
- High Mode: 250 lumens, 1,150 candelas, 68m max beam range, 1.5 hours,
- Low Mode: 50 lumens, 250 candelas, 31m max beam range, 3.5 hours.
Streamlight 66608 Microstream LED flashlight features a maximum drop height of 1 meter and an IPX4 waterproof rating.
If You are looking for an ultra-compact 200-250 lumens flashlight that also looks great, can easily fit the palm of your hand, and is tough and reliable, consider this model.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Streamlight 66608 Microstream Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
GearLight S500 LED Headlamp Flashlight
GearLight S500 LED Headlamp Flashlight features a headband that comfortably fits both kids and adults.
The flashlight itself weighs only 1.8 ounces (~51g) with no batteries and around 3 ounces (~85 grams) with three AAA batteries.
Note: GearLight S500 LED Headlamp Flashlight doesn't include batteries by default.
A headlight is adjustable and pivots 45°, allowing the user to point the light where it is most needed.
GearLight S500 features seven light modes, including:
- white light: Low, Medium, High, Strobe,
- red light: Low, SOS, Strobe.
GearLight S500 is designed to be tough, durable, and waterproof, although the manufacturer doesn't state actual drop height or IPX rating.
Nonetheless, GearLight S500 is cheap, reliable and doesn't require much space, and can be carried around easily.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the GearLight S500 LED Headlamp Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Streamlight 73001 Nano Keychain LED Flashlight
As its name suggests, Streamlight 73001 Nano Keychain LED Flashlight is designed as a pocket/keychain flashlight.
Streamlight 73001 Nano feature physical dimensions of 0.43/0.51 x 1.47 inches (~11/13 x 37.4 mm) and weighs 0.36 ounces (~10.2 grams) with four LR41 batteries.
With the snap hook, the flashlight is ~2.5 inches (~63.5 mm) long.
The flashlight features a 10 lumens light and can operate for up to 8 hours.
Streamlight 73001 Nano is offered in several colors, including Black, Red, Pink, Blue.
If You are looking for a simple, cheap, and reliable keychain flashlight, consider Streamlight 73001 Nano - it is for a reason one of the most popular flashlights in its class.
For more reviews and recommendations feel free to follow the Streamlight 73001 Nano Keychain LED Flashlight Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Few Final Words
When choosing the "ideal" EDC flashlights for your needs, choose according to your own requirements and preferences.
Non-rechargeable batteries may have extra long storage time and may reliably power flashlights even after years of not being used - just be sure to pick the right chemistry.
Rechargeable batteries have to be recharged periodically, but they store plenty of energy and may support hundreds of charging/discharging cycles, saving plenty of money when used in flashlights that are used often.
But, whatever You do, stay safe. And having a good EDC flashlight may be an important part of "staying safe".