BEST LED Torches
This stupendously bright 1,000-lumen pocket model ticks every box and then some. Most contemporary LED flashlights come with a variety of flashing modes that get in the way of everyday use. By contrast, this one defaults to the function that matters most: beam strength. Turn it on and each tap of the robust thumb button makes the beam gradually soften from ultra bright to dim – a really classy touch that suggests a lot of thought went into its design. However, because the torch is customizable, users can easily reverse the process so that the torch starts on a low beam instead. There’s a strobe function, too, but, given that it’ll hardly ever be used, it’s hidden away under a different custom mode.
However the best thing about this flashlight is that it comes with a multiple focus beam that’s easily adjusted by sliding the front barrel forwards or backwards. This means you can opt for a super wide soft-focus beam for general see-where-you’re-going use, a sharp outrageously bright beam for highlighting distant subjects up to 180 metres away and anything in between.
The splash-proof MT10 measures just 12.8cm in length and uses a single Xtreme LED that burns for a gobsmacking six hours on full beam and an even more impressive 144 hours on low beam. To charge, just plug it into the nearest USB 3.0 power source; it even comes with a useful battery indicator.
Although this flashlight will easily fit inside a small jacket pocket, the good eggs at Ledlenser have seen fit to include a natty integrated belt clip and even a separate nylon hip case. If you’re looking for a torch with superb versatility then be sure to place this matchless model right at the top of your list.
At a shade over four centimeters in length and just 1.4cm wide, the UC02 is the ideal keyring torch for daily use. It’s a doddle to use – just twist the rear barrel for two different beam outputs – but make sure to first unscrew the rear compartment and remove the protective battery disk or it simply won’t work.
This titchy aluminium fella was pitted against a couple of longer pen-shaped models and it blew them out of the darkness. At 130 lumens, it’s perfectly capable of illuminating a garden shed from over 30 metres away and well up to the task of brightening the route ahead. Expect a runtime of about 25 minutes on high (130 lumens) and almost four hours on low (10 lumens). When it comes to charging time, simply unscrew the tiny lamp head and plug in the provided USB cable.
If you’re in the market for a practical rechargeable torch no bigger than half a pinky finger then step right this way. It’s available in three colours – black, blue and purple – and comes with a fixture hole big enough to accommodate most split rings.
Petzl Actik Core
The headtorch is a camping, orienteering and caving essential – without one you’re guaranteed to stumble over your guy ropes, trip headlong into the campfire or bang your head on a stalactite. It’s also a very useful item to keep in the car for night-time emergencies.
Petzl is a market leader in head torches and this new model comes with three beam strengths that are assigned very easily by repeatedly pressing the orange rubber power switch. Press once for low beam – perfect for reading without disturbing a partner – twice for brighter and three times for a maximum power of 350 lumens (good enough to illuminate subjects up to 95 metres away). Full beam has a run time of around two hours while low beam keeps going for up to 160 hours.
It also has a softer red LED beam to help preserve night vision and prevent dazzling others. A double tap of the red beam activates a pulsing strobe that runs for up to 350 hours; a very handy signal if in need of help. To recharge, simply plug the supplied Micro USB cable directly into the enclosed battery and attach it to the mains or a portable USB powerbank. And if you don’t have access to a power source then simply replace the removable rechargeable battery with three normal AAA batteries.
The Actik Core can be angled up or down and comes with a comfy reflective head strap replete with an integral emergency whistle that’s surprisingly loud. In the pantheon of wilderness gear, this rechargeable model is a mini triumph. It’s light as a feather, easy to use, not too expensive and extremely versatile.
Olight X7R Marauder
There’s something about ludicrously bright torches that really appeals and this expensive but monstrously bright heavyweight hitter is a case in point. The Marauder is almost the size and shape of a Coke can but, at 665 grams, considerably heavier. Nevertheless, it feels fabulously substantial in the hand and is exceedingly well made from beautifully machined aluminium. A handy holster is included for easier transport.
Waterproof to two metres, it has six beam strengths from 10-lumen candle-light all the way up to a truly astounding 12,000 lumens. Yes you read that correctly. This monster is so bright at full power that it will illuminate an entire football ground. There are other models out there that have a longer throw – the Nitecore TM36 has a whopping beam distance of over a kilometer – but this torch is more useable because it lights up the entire area. Just as well the manufacturer saw fit to include a dimming proximity sensor because the beam on this thing gets so hot at full power it could feasibly set fire to combustible objects.
At full pelt its three Cree XHP70 CW LEDs will run for about three minutes but this increases dramatically the lower you go. The 7,000 lumen setting, for instance, will give you 120 minutes of light up time while the lowly 10 lumen setting will keep on running for up to 30 days. The battery itself is of the built-in variety and is charged via USB-C.
Next time you’re camping in the wilds and you hear the crack of a twig in the dead of night, break out this brute and you’ll not only light up the culprit but the entire county. Amazing.
This little pocket titan is just 7.7cm long but is probably bright enough to illuminate a tennis court. Its wide diffuse beam is perfect for revealing the route ahead and, ingeniously, instead of switching on at full pelt, the first time you press the button it emits a soft glow instead so one doesn’t draw too much attention to oneself. However, when you hold the button, the beam strength jumps a notch higher, then higher still and then, when you think it can’t possibly get any brighter, it reaches full power and everything looks like it’s in broad daylight, well sort of. Furthermore, if you double tap the button, it skips straight to full beam. And if you hold the button from the off position it stays on full beam for as long as your thumb’s on the button. Finally there’s strobe for really attracting some attention or disorientating an assailant. Lots of handy features, in other words.
The PT10 features three Cree XP-G2 LEDs and charges via a micro USB connection in just 90 minutes. It’s not the cheapest shiner on the shelf but it’s superbly designed, is comfortably grippy and, for a torch so small, it has one of the brightest beams in the business.
Olight S10 Baton
This has to be one of the best pocket torches on the market. When you first turn the Olight S10 on, it defaults to the lowest of four beam strengths prompting you to question the wisdom of your purchase. But by the time you’ve worked through the modes – you need to hold the thumb button down to activate each in turn – your fears will quickly evaporate. It’s hard to believe, but this titchy little number dishes out an extremely substantial 400 lumens which, trust us, is bright enough for most situations, let alone for a torch no larger than a cigarette lighter. The S10 is also waterproof to two metres, tough enough to withstand a two-metre drop and equipped with a magnetic rear end for attaching it to anything metal. Highly recommended.
Olight X6 Marauder
The suitably monikered Olight Marauder uses a separate rechargeable clip-on battery pack and a bank of six Cree XM-L LEDs to generate a ridiculous 5,000 lumens of raw searchlight power. We shone it at a tree and couldn’t believe how bright it was; it was literally akin to 500 watts of halogen dazzle. There aren’t many urban situations you’d need a torch this bright, but you can be sure you’d be lost without it if stranded out at sea or somewhere in the middle of the Serengeti.
LED Lenser M7R
Next time you’re camping in the middle of nowhere and you hear the crack of a twig in the dead of night, break out this rechargeable 220 lumin LED lamp and you’ll not only light up the culprit but the entire county. The pocket-sized M7R has a beam range of 250 metres and stays lit for around 20 hours on a single charge (it's charged using LED Lensre's excellent magnetic Floating Charge system). The M7R also features a brilliant, one-handed focus ring and several flashing modes, including the all-important Code of Morse.