How many times did I hold my mini Maglite in my mouth in order to work on something with both hands before I bought a headlamp? More than I care to admit.

Flashlights are one of those tools that one-size-doesn’t-fit-all. We use them in so many different ways that you need at least a few different flashlights for different uses.

There are three flashlights that every outdoorsman needs.

A headlamp.

A headlamp has the advantage of being hands-free. This can be absolutely valuable in many low-light outdoor situations…going to the bathroom in the dark, walking a trail, cooking at camp, night fishing, etc. Anything that you need to do when the light is low but you need your hands free.

A basic headlamp with a tilting light is a good starting point, but there are headlamps out there with more capabilities like a focus ring, adjustable brightness, and water resistance to name a few. You’ll look like a dork, but you’ll be able to see what you are doing. I also recommend never having a face-to-face conversation with someone wearing one of these…

A headlamp is also an excellent tool for home use. They are great for when you need to crawl around in the attic or crawl space, work under the sink, or change out a light fixture. I keep one of these by my toolbox!

An ultrabright, directional flashlight.

This kind of light is something you can shine 50 feet ahead in the dark. Think the old-school 4 D-cell Maglite flashlights. Those things were awesome! You could single handedly land a jumbo jet in the dark with one of those.

But now, with LEDs, you can get a much more compact flashlight that fits in your pocket and doesn’t cost $15 for new batteries. I have a small Energizer (2 AA-cell) LED light that is shockingly bright and inexpensive.

This kind of flashlight is the one you use to point at something in the distance. It’s not a spot light with 1,000,000 candle power, just a light that you can shine across the campsite while you look for the pocket knife you dropped or shine into the shadows to prove to your kids that there ins’t a vicious animal out there.

This one is a must have at home as well. Sometimes you need something brighter than a headlamp or that will shine farther. Did your son lose his toy drone 30 feet up in a tree at night? This is the flashlight that will help you locate it so you can throw stuff at it until you knock it down.

An omnidirectional “lantern” style light.

This kind of light is something that you can set on a table or hang up somewhere in order to light up a small area. Think “lantern”. You need something that can give a decent amount of light to your campsite or light up your tent enough so you can get settled at night.

My personal favorite in this category is the LuminAID PackLite Max USB since I don’t care for fuel lanterns. You can read my review or purchase one for yourself. But there are many other battery powered options available.

Much like the other two, this kind of light is great for home use as well. If you experience storms and the inevitable power outages that accompany them, a lantern style light is perfect for these emergency situations.

Other lights to consider.

The EDC “tactical” flashlight. Ultracompact and ultra-bright for its size, these flashlights are made to be in your pocket at all times.

The spot light. Usually these require a pretty hefty battery or to be run off your car battery. These aren’t nearly as practical for most people, but if you are a cattle producer checking on your herd, having one of these in your truck is really handy. I am a fan of Maglites, but there are other options as well.

The one that goes with your cordless drill/driver set. Most drill/diver sets have an optional light that is powered by the same rechargeable battery pack. They are great for lighting up a work area and you already have the charger and battery. I need this one for my 20v lithium set.

How about you? What are you favorite flashlights?

Categories: Camping EDC Gear Hiking