Picking the best 18650 flashlight can be quite the task when you consider all of the options to pick from. Just like any other light, you want to take time to do your research to ensure that you’ll be happy with your purchase. Simply picking a flashlight based on price won’t guarantee your satisfaction, at least not long term anyways.
In order to pick the ideal 18650, you need to take into consideration what you intend to use the flashlight for. Do you need a material light that will go with you on your hunting escapades? Or are you just looking for one that will only be used during emergencies? Your intended use will influence your shopping criteria to a certain degree.
The most durable of flashlights are sourced from strong materials such as aircraft grade aluminum. Most of the time, these will also include a high quality seal which will prevent moisture and other damaging elements from gaining access to the internal parts of the light.
Next, you’ll want to consider durability and reliability when picking the best 18650 flashlight. Modern models offer some of the highest light outputs available, but require some extra considerations when it comes to the size of the battery. It’s important to note that light output may be sacrificed if you choose a flashlight powered by a single battery.
Why Pick A 18650 Powered Flashlight?
There are a variety of battery types available, so why would you want to pick one that’s powered by an 18650 battery? One of the top reasons is this powerful battery is a Li-Ion rechargeable battery that enables you to use it again and again. And longevity, a trait you can count on during emergencies – is a trait of the best 18650 flashlight. Anyone that makes regular trips to the store for batteries will know how expensive batteries can be. With a rechargeable battery, you eliminate this expense directly.
Not only that, but just by using a single rechargeable battery, you eliminate the need to have multiple batteries laying around. A single 18650 battery produces the same power as three to four AA batteries. Another benefit that is frequently overlooked, is a single 18650 battery enables the user to switch between two CR123A batteries.
Recommended Batteries and Chargers
There are numerous if not thousands of battery manufacturers which means shopping for the right battery can be difficult. Something to keep in mind is that not all batteries are high quality, which can be concerning if you’ve spent a decent amount on your newly acquired flashlight. We recommend sticking with batteries such as the Panasonic NCR18650B 3400 mAh industrial core.
Some people don’t seem to mind purchasing unprotected Panasonic NCR 18650B batteries, but these people need to keep in mind that there are risks associated with trying to save on purchasing high quality batteries. We sleep better at night knowing that our tac light uses protected 18650B as they are specifically made for flashlights.
Chargers and Charging Stations
The XTAR VP2 is the best Li-Ion charger
After sorting out batteries, it’s time to sort out charging issues. These batteries may require a significant investment up front (while saving you more money down the road), so it’s important to make sure they’re charged properly. You’ll want to make sure you avoid any cheap charging stations that are either incompatible with your batteries, or are capable of overcharging your batteries rendering them damaged. While there are quite a few chargers available that will match this criteria (that’s a separate guide in itself), we recommend the Xtar VP2 Li-Ion battery chargers.
We recommend this charging station because of its quality materials as well as charging capabilities. Check out the features below:
- Reverse polarity protection protects the batteries from damage.
- Short circuit protection prevents batteries from being damaged when charging is interrupted or unplugged prematurely.
- Three step charging process
- Capable of charging a variety of batteries
- Comes with a Micro USB port so you can charge just about anywhere.
Featured Single 18650 Flashlights
Olight S20 Baton
The S20 Baton is an ultra-portable LED tac light that is capable of being powered by either 2 CR123A batteries or even interchangeable with a single 18650 rechargeable battery and a top contender for being the best 18650 flashlight. The concise appearance you’ve come to expect with Baton’s products have been influenced throughout, while the extended tube body maintains the slim and aggressive appearances:
Moreover, a combination of a large power switch, flat tail and an easy to remove embrace clip make it easy and convenient for the user to use.
- High grade aluminum body with an anti-scratch coating.
- Cree XM-L2 LED lights
- Four brightness levels for users to pick from: moonlight, low, middle, and high.
- One light mode: strobe
- Tail end is magnetic making it possible to attach it to any iron surface.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this flashlight is the aero-grade aluminum finish. The military-type style lends itself to being perfectly at home in the soldier’s arsenal or even users whose career finds themselves in the trenches of law enforcement. The knurling is strategically placed in three separate areas instead of being stamped throughout, which enables the user to get and maintain a firm grip. The MT26 is also sealed well which enables it to be submerged in up to 2 meters of water without relenting to water damage.
- Military grade materials
- Reverse polarity protection (prevents damage to the unit in the event batteries are placed improperly)
- Memory functions enable user to reach a certain light output through a series of clicking
- Waterproof up to two meters of water
- Included with the following accessories: clip, tactical ring, lanyard, a carrying/storage holster, an extra plastic cap and an extra O ring.
Olight SR52 Intimidator
The SR52 Intimidator improves on the already successful design of the Light SR51. Olight enthusiasts will quickly notice the new and improved lumen output coupled with a more compact body. This particular light features three light levels with a max light output of 1,200 lumens.
The SR52 is capable of running from either three 18650 batteries or six CR123A batteries. Coupled with a high quality charging station (like the one mentioned the above) the convenience of this flashlight is multifold and deserving of a strong contender of being called the best 18650 flashlight as well.
A single yet powerful CREE XM- L2 LED casts a powerful beam up to 580 meters away, making it popular with search and rescue teams. In addition to the durable high quality materials, users can rest assured knowing this battery can withstand submersion in water of up to two meters. Strangely enough, this model doesn’t come with a battery pack so users will need to have the compatible batteries purchased beforehand or purchase them together with this flashlight before use. The micro USB port allows the user to recharge the batteries and the charging status indicator will indicate whether or not the batteries have a sufficient charge or need more time.
The LED indicator built in on the side will glow red when the batteries are low on battery juice which eliminates the guessing game on how much battery life is remaining. This is essential especially when the flashlight will be used for emergency situations. To improve upon battery life, the manufacturer has decided to include a Lock Out feature that will prevent accidental powering on when being shuffled around in the user’s pocket or glove box.
- Lock out feature prevents accidental use while in pocket.
- Intelligent memory design remembers the last light mode used and will resume that mode once powered on.
- A battery juice light will indicate when it’s time to return the flashlight to a charging station.
- The micro USB port allows the batteries to be charged from within the flashlight without having to disassemble the flashlight.
- The side switch enables users to pick from three different brightness levels and also allows for a strobe mode function.
What about accessories? Some flashlight manufacturers include an additional accessory kit with their flashlights. While this isn’t the standard and shouldn’t be expected, it’s hard to say no to a couple of extras. Usually the kit will feature things such as a lanyard, a carrying holster, and sometimes even extra sets of parts such as O rings for carrying.
Best 18650 Flashlight Wrap Up
As mentioned before, there are several 18650 flashlights to pick from depending on your particular needs. With so many options to choose from, how will you know which is the best 18650 flashlight for you? First off, your intended use should be taken into consideration. Only after you have considered the intended use can you eliminate products that won’t meet your expectations due to lack of the appropriate features.
Next, take into consideration your budget. After researching flashlights that may meet your needs, you can eliminate impractical products by determining how much you’re willing to spend on your new light. We recommend taking your time with this.
For more information about flashlights, check out some of our other relevant articles.