Is there one perfect flashlight?

Is there such a thing as the perfect flashlight? If you had to choose just one flashlight to use for every possible occasion, what would it be?

Fortunately, life doesn’t usually restrict us to such limited options, but it’s an interesting exercise to think about. And some day, perhaps, we might actually find ourselves limited like this. Perhaps we can only afford to buy a single flashlight, or perhaps we’re travelling somewhere and only have space to pack one light? Whatever the reason, let’s assume that we’re restricted to a single model and it has to do duty for all our flashlight needs.

So, what to pick?

Not the perfect flashlight
The InnoGear 5000 is a great headlamp, but can it ever be the perfect flashlight?

Actually, a better starting point is probably to think about what not to pick. Let’s discard some of the obvious choices straight away, such as keychain lights, headlamps, survival lamps, and any other specialized-use flashlights we can think of. The whole idea is to get an all-rounder, something that will suit us well in as many situations as possible.

Here’s where the old adage of ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ comes in. We’re not necessarily looking for the flashlight that is best at something, but rather one that’s good at everything.

So it’s going to have to tick the boxes for being:

  • Powerful
  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to carry
  • Tough
  • Tactical
  • Versatile

What your requirements are for each of those areas is very much a personal choice. For example, I might think a 500-lumen flashlight is powerful enough, while you might consider 1,000 lumens the ideal output. What’s perfect for you may not be perfect for me.

Pretty much everyone will agree on the need for the flashlight to be long-lasting. No-one wants to have the batteries go dead at a crucial moment, or forever be having to recharge or head to the convenience store for replaceables.

Any perfect flashlight has to be easy to carry. Though, again, your definition on this may vary wildly from mine. Personally, I’d want something small and light that I can hold comfortably in my hand and slip into a pocket when I’m not using it. Anything with C or D cells is going to be out – there’s no way I’d ever consider something that heavy to be easy to carry. But your mileage may vary.

If you constantly find yourself in dangerous situations on the street, then perhaps you need to re-think some of your life choices

Toughness is pretty much a given as well. Some people may require military-grade levels of resilience, but most of us will be happy with the flashlight being waterproof and able to withstand a drop from a reasonable height. Armoring the flashlight adds weight, which goes against the ease of carrying.

If you’re only going to have one flashlight, it might as well be a tactical one. So, it should be bright and have a strike bezel. Beyond that, the uses get more specialized again. If you constantly find yourself in dangerous situations on the street, then perhaps you need to invest in a heavier, full-on tactical model (or perhaps re-think some of your life choices – whatever’s easier).

Finally, a perfect flashlight has to be versatile in my opinion. It needs multiple brightness modes, plus the option for strobes or SOS sequences. If it’s going to be useful in different situations, it’ll need to be able to adapt to the purpose.

So, what is the perfect flashlight?

I don’t know. I can find one today, and my opinion will change tomorrow. It’s such a delicate balancing act of different needs and wants that it’s hard to nail down the definitive choice.

While I may not know the exact flashlight I’d choose, I do know the rough category into which it’d fall: small, light, tactical, sexy (there’s a requirement we haven’t discussed as yet!). Something like the Streamlight 88052, or the SureFire E2D Defender… Or maybe the Olight M18 Maverick, or the Fenix PD35… Or…