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Brightest Flashlight – AAA, AA, Tactical, Keychain and Spotlight

These are our recommended brightest, affordable, single battery AA, AAA, 18650, keychain and handheld spotlight flashlights. With the exception of the spotlight, these are great for every day carry in a pocket, purse, glove compartment, backpack, first aid kit, or any situation where you need a small, affordable, very bright LED flashlight. We've ranked these based on which is the brightest flashlight for each type and size of battery.

Brightest Flashlight - AAA, AA, Tactical, Keychain and Spotlight
brightest AAA flashlight - small blue flashlight sitting on wooden table

What is the brightest flashlight that uses one AAA battery?

The brightest LED AAA flashlight is the: Lumintop EDC 01  (image of older Worm model)
Battery Type: regular AAA or rechargeable AAA
Lumens: 120
On/Off: Twist
Modes: 3 (High 120 lumens/30 Minutes – Med (Default) 32 lumens/4 hours – Low: 5 Lumens/36 hours)
Weight without AAA battery: .42oz (11.9g)
Waterproof: IPX8

The 120 Lumen LED LUMINTOP EDC01 is our favorite small AAA LED flashlight. On/off and modes are controlled with a twist end that has 3 modes; low, med and high. The Lumintop EDC01 is the brightest AAA flashlight we have tested. It can be used as a AAA keychain flashlight, and the proof is that it survived daily use on August's keychain for over a year.

Full Lumintop EDC01 Review

This small AAA flashlight isn't much bigger than the AAA battery inside it. It is a tiny powerhouse that is very well rated on the internet, and we recommend it without question. Duncan loves the blue one, in fact I had to order an extra one because the little blue AAA Lumintop was claimed by him. The run time is great and its quite bright, especially if you combine it with a good high mAh rechargeable AAA battery and a AAA battery charger – see our post Best Rechargeable Batteries and Chargers for more info.

Lumintop EDC01 Alternates:

brightest AA flashlight - small black flashlight being held in hand

What is the brightest flashlight that uses one AA battery?

The brightest single AA LED flashlight is the: Lumintop AA 2.0 EDC
Battery Type: regular AA, rechargeable AA or rechargeable 14500
On/Off: Tailcap Button
14500 Modes: Turbo 650 Lumen 33min, High- 360lm 16lm 79min, Med-85lm 6.1hrs, low 16lm 37hours
NimH Rechargeble Modes: Turbo 270lm 43min, High-140 2.5hr, Med 28lm 12.5hr, Low 3.7lm 60hours
Regular AA: Turbo 220lm 21min, High 140lm 49min, Med 28lm 11.9hr, Low 3.7lm 60 hours
Weight without battery: 0.83oz (25g)
Water resistance: IPX68

The Lumen LED Lumintop AA 2.0 EDC is our pick for the best and brightest single AA flashlight. With a single good AA battery it is 270 Lumen, and it can get to 650 Lumens if you use a 14500 battery (actual is about 150 with one aa and 450 with a 14500).

Even with a standard AA battery, it is still brighter than our best cheap flashlight recommendation (and about 1/2 to 1/3rd the PD35). See our related post: Best Cheap Flashlight if you want one that is not as bright but 3x less expensive.

Our previous #1 was the Sofirn SF14, but it is not currently available.

Lumintop AA 2.0 Alternatives:

brightest keychain flashlight - small, blue keychain flashlight

What is the brightest key chain flashlight?

The brightest key chain flashlight is the: Nitecore Tini 2
Battery Type: Internal Rechargeable USB-C 280mAh
Lumens: 500
On/Off: Button
4 Modes: Turbo: 500lm, 15 min – High: 200lm, 45 min – Med: 65lm, 2hr 30min – Low: 15lm, 8 hr and ultralow 1lm, 60h
Weight WITH battery: 0.66oz
Water resistance: IP54

The 500 Lumen Nitecore TINI 2 Lumen USB-C Rechargeable Keychain Flashlight is crazy bright. It is far and away the best keychain flashlight we have ever used because it is the brightest keychain flashlight we have ever used. It is even better than the old 380lumen Tini.

The Nitecore keychain flashlight is about 2x the price of the AAA Lumintop EDC01, but as noted, this flashlight is crazy bright and small. Best feature? It recharges using USB-C! No external batteries required. This is brightest small flashlight we have, hands down.

Note: The charge does get used up fairly quickly if you run it at max lumen power. But even at lower 200 lumen it's so bright it's easy to see around in a completely dark room with this tiny keychain flashlight.

brightest tactical flashlight - black flashlight being held in hand

What is the brightest tactical flashlight?

The brightest 18650 LED flashlight is the: Thrunite TN12 (image is of older recommendation the ATactical A1S our previous recommendation)
Battery Type: 18650 Rechargeable (not included)
Lumens: 1050 to 1100
On/Off: Tailcap Button and side mode button
Modes: 0.4 lumens / 74 days; 18 lumens / 5.5 days / 175 lumens; 11.8 hours; 435 lumens / 4.2 hours; 1,100 lumens / 3.8 hours; Strobe 1100 lumens / 1.5 hours;
Weight without battery: 2.9oz
Water resistance: IPX7


The Thrunite TN12 1050 lumen Neutral White LED is excellent for the price. If you want maximum brightness, get the cool white. If you want natural colors, get the Neutral White. This is a 6 mode (Firefly/Low/Medium/High/Turbo/Strobe). It remembers the mode, is tough and really throws the light. The manufacturer says the light will reach 600ft+ but in our use we were closer to 450ft. You will need an 18650 charger such as the USB XTAR VC4 Charger or Nitecore UMS4 and a couple of 18650 batteries such as the Orbtronic 18650s.

There are a few other 18650 flashlights that are brighter, but for the price we recommend the TN12 as the brightest 18650 flashlight for the money. It is tough and super bright flashlight for the price. For more information on 18650's see this post: What is an 18650 Battery?

** Previously we recommended the ATactical A1S but it is no longer available. See “Alternatives for the aTactical A1S 1150 Lumen Flashlight” for more options.

brightest handheld spotlight

What is the brightest handheld spotlight?

The brightest LED handheld spotlight is the: Stanley Fatmax
Battery Type: Internal Rechargeable
Lumens: 920
On/Off: Trigger
Modes: 2 (Low High)
Weight with integrated battery: 2.1 pounds (.95 kg)
Water Resistance: N/A

This is not a pocket or EDC flashlight. The 920 Lumen Stanley Fatmax handheld rechargeable 10w LED powerful flashlight is fantastic. We needed a flashlight that would reach out 400+ yards to the back of our 10 acre parcel and this light met our needs. The beam distance of the Fatmax is great. It lights up the back hill. (Which surprised the deer.) The charger works well and so far it doesn't seem to have battery memory. 3 years in and we still love it.

How we selected flashlights

We didn't receive any of these flashlights for free. We purchased, tested and used them all ourselves after comparing many online flashlight reviews. When we were looking for the brightest LED flashlight, they had to be reasonably priced, durable, very bright and either use standard AA, AAA or 18650 batteries or included a rechargeable battery inside the flashlight like the FatMax and Tini 2.

We wanted an affordable price, because flashlights disappear into the same spot missing socks disappear. And we needed them durable because they get dumped in glove compartments, left in first aid kits, kitchen drawers, trunks of cars or lost in the bottom of a drawer. They need to be small enough that we will actually carry them around in the purse, pocket or on a key chain, very bright and not so expensive that we would freak out if we lose them. So size, brightness, cost and battery type were the things we measured to pick our top 5 brightest affordable flashlights.

There are a lot of good flashlights out there, and some really crappy ones. We have bought some of the junk ones (they aren't on this list). The five still on the list are great to excellent.

Below is a quick demonstration of the flashlights in the post (if you don't see the video make sure your ad-blocker is enabled)

Flashlights Reference Sites

If you are looking for geek flashlight info check out

If you are looking for tactical flashlight reviews check out

We must include Candlepowerforums. We go to Candepowerforums when we are considering new flashlight that might not have a lot of reviews or is different in some way:

brightest flashlights sitting on wooden table

Originally Posted in 2017 last updated Aug 2021

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