Humans have made many advancements (dunking a basketball, hitting a 98 mph fastball), but we still can’t see in the dark. Therefore, no matter where we go, we need light to be able to see.
We are all familiar with the helplessness we face if we have to scramble in the dark during a power cut. So imagine the horror if you’re on an outdoor adventure without a portable light source.
That is why a flashlight is a must when you’re out in the wild or in a survival situation. Among the various types of flashlights available today, a hand crank flashlight is the best. A hand crank flashlight doesn’t require batteries or electricity to function. Kind of like your cat but that is another topic!
It simply has a handle that has to be cranked by the user to create electricity, which is stored in a rechargeable battery. The longer you crank the handle, the more electricity is generated.
A survival flashlight is one that can be used all the time, without needing a charge. A hand crank flashlight fits the bill perfectly.
It doesn’t require electricity and there is no fear of the batteries running out while you’re navigating through a dark forest trail. This mechanical flashlight is ideal for all survival situations because it will not break down or run out of charge at the most inopportune moments.
But on the downside, a hand crank flashlight may not produce the brightest beam when compared to battery-powered flashlights (and nowhere near as powerful as Superman’s in the Man of Steel; too bad Justice League was terrible but this is another topic). Many survivalists depend on a hand crank flashlight as a last resort when a battery powered torch stops working.
How to Choose a Good Hand Crank Flashlight
A hand crank flashlight may be the only source of power where there is none. So if the lights go out in a storm, and it’s too dark to find candles, a hand crank flashlight is the best solution.
A flashlight is also one of the most vital supplies in your survival kit when you’re heading into the wilderness for camping, hiking, or kayaking.
As long as the sun shines, you don’t think of the flashlight. But the moment it’s dark, you need light for every task, even to see your own hands. Where there is no source of power, carrying a regular flashlight is futile because the batteries are going to run out soon. A hand crank flashlight is the best option for any situation.
There are quite a few options available today when it comes to hand crank flashlights. If your arms are strong, you can generate ample electricity by cranking the handle. There is nothing wrong with getting some exercise as well!
Although the light doesn’t last for too long and you have to crank the handle again, it is sufficient for a place where there is no power. Therefore, when buying a hand crank flashlight, you must consider a few things, to be able to get the best.
The first thing to consider is the brightness of the light that it produces. Most modern hand crank flashlights come with LED bulbs that are bright enough to light your way. Since LED bulbs are known to be very bright, you don’t have to worry about the illumination because it is always strong. The question is how frequently you have to crank the device in order to generate power.
Hand crank flashlights come in different types. They are:
Winder: This type is the standard hand crank flashlight available today. The crank is usually located on the side or the bottom of the device and has to be cranked for one to two minutes for two hours of power. In larger, all-in-one emergency units, the cranks are bigger and provide more power.
Squeezer: A squeezer type of hand crank flashlight is the smaller and more portable options. The crank is usually a small lever that is located on the bottom of the flashlight, and it should be squeezed to generate power. These smaller flashlights provide power for up to 90 minutes. That is more than enough time to find the Graham Crackers but don’t get out the milk. Since you may be out of power you don’t want to open the refrigerator unless you have too.
Shaker: Some flashlights need to be shaken up and down to generate power. The energy produced is stored in a battery or capacitor providing power for up to three hours.
You may choose any of these flashlights depending upon your preference, but the ones providing the maximum hours of power should always be the first choice. Another important factor to consider is the size and weight of the flashlight.
If you’re going for camping or hiking or simply building a bugout bag, you need to keep things as lightweight as possible. This is why the weight of the flashlight is of particular importance because you don’t want your bag to be heavy.
The good news is, hand crank flashlights are usually much lighter than other types of flashlights because they don’t have a battery. Hand crank flashlights come in different sizes, from bigger ones producing more power to smaller portable ones that can fit in the palm of your hand.
Additional features are present on bigger flashlights that double as all-in-one emergency units. Radio, mobile charger, USB jacks are some of the common features present in many hand crank flashlights. Some devices also come with solar cells, which can be used instead of winding the crank.
Such flashlights also have a longer run time. Other features such as A/C adaptor and cigarette lighters are found on certain models.
What about the price? Hand crank flashlights are extremely affordable. Small squeezers have a low lumens rating but come in multi-packs for as little as $15. Emergency multi-tools are available in the $20 to $30 range. Those with a USB jack for power are priced between $50 and $100 (you can plug in your cell phone or laptop).
The USB can be used to power other electronics like mobile phones and tablets as just mentioned – just don’t spend any time watching 22 Jumpstreet or The Force Awakens – that is not a priority and those movies were terrible. Remember that charging other devices will drain the power and you may not have sufficient light when needed. Many USB flashlights also come with strobe lighting and colored lighting for emergencies.
Top 7 Hand Cranked Flashlights
Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank Light
- 3 bright white Nichia LEDs provide strong illumination
- Handy carabiner clip makes it easy to hang and remove light
- Rechargeable system never needs batteries as they gain Kinetic energy from cranking
If you’re looking for a small, pocket-sized hand crank light under $20, then the Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank Light from Energizer should be your pick.
Energizer is a stellar company manufacturing a wide variety of survival flashlights, and this option is the only mechanical hand crank one. The flashlight is best for situations when you need short bursts of power instead of a long duration. This small rechargeable flashlight requires no electricity.
You only have to turn the handle clockwise or anticlockwise for one minute to get power for up to ten minutes. The kinetic energy from cranking is stored in the NiMH batteries that never need electricity.
If you don’t mind repeatedly cranking the flashlight for long usages, this one is a pretty potent device.
It also has a handy carabiner clip that can attach the flashlight to a bag or belt. Because the body is made of plastic, it is lightweight and doesn’t take up space at all. You can buy several of these for stocking family bugout bags because they are so inexpensive.
Conclusion on the Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank Light: At only $17, this is a handy mechanical flashlight that will serve the purpose when there’s no other source of light (there is not any light in North Korea but that is another subject). It’s lightweight and durable, and the small size is ideal for including in survival kits of bug out bags.
|(+) Inexpensive||(-) Produces only three minutes of light at a time|
|(+) Lightweight and handy||(-) No additional features|
|(+) Durable||(-) Not water resistant|
|(+) Carabiner clip|
ThorFire Solar Powered & Hand Cranking Flashlight
- Solar & Hand crank powered flashlights no batteries needed. This no battery flashlight is perfect for emergencies, power outages or anytime you need light.
- High Efficiency of Energy Conversion Cranking Flashlight: Just 1 minute cranking will generate enough power for 1 hour long using time.
- IPX6 Waterproof and Submersible up to 45 feet. Very durable and handy tool for home and outdoor use. Such as for Vehicle use, Camping, Hiking, Travel Etc. Whether you do survival adventure or rock climbing this no battery spotlight is a must have.
If you don’t like to repeatedly crank the flashlight, then there is something better for under $15. ThorFire Solar Powered flashlight is a small device that produces a lot of light. Just one minute of cranking gives you up to an hour of light, so you don’t have to keep cranking the handle.
There is also a solar charging option, which gives almost 120 minutes of light for an hour of direct sunlight. There are no batteries required and no need for electricity, making this flashlight ideal for outdoor situations.
The size of the flashlight is ideal for fitting into a glove box or a small compartment of your backpack. Made of durable plastic, the flashlight is also rated IPX6, which means it is resistant to submerging up to 45 feet.
There are three LED bulbs, and three light modes: 1 LED mode, 3 LED mode, and SOS mode. If you’re a fan of alternate energy and manual devices, then this small flashlight is a must buy. It also looks stylish and classy.
Conclusion on the ThorFire Solar Powered & Hand Cranking Flashlight: For a small handy manual flashlight that looks and performs good, this one does its job well. At under $15, this is one of the highest standard products of its kind.
Jack Bauer would have loved to have this when the power went out in downtown LA after that EMP device was triggered but let’s get back on track here.
|(+) Small and handy||(-) No charging indicator|
|(+) Both hand crank and solar power||(-) Slick design prone to dropping|
|(+) Up to an hour of power at a time|
MECO Hand Cranking Solar Powered Rechargeable Flashlight
- Emergency flashlight With Built-In Rechargeable battery, store energy in for a long time, No external battery needed!
- High conversion efficiency, Cranking for 6 mins gives an hour light, Ready for the uncertain world
- Classic Design, Durable, Army Green vs Dim Gray,Outdoor Survival Gear, The Shake Flashlight is Best Gift for Outdoor Activities
Here’s one for under $10. Yes, for as little as $5.95, you get a small handy flashlight that will never run out of batteries. It’s cheap, so don’t expect too much out of it. The flashlight has a built-in rechargeable battery that stores energy in for a long time.
There’s no external battery or electricity needed. The conversion efficiency is supposed to be high, with 6 minutes of cranking giving up to an hour of light. Aside from the hand crank, there’s also a small solar panel.
If you leave it in the sun for an hour, you will get up to 15 minutes of power. The flashlight also comes with a carabiner clip, for attaching to your backpack or belt.
The flashlight is only a little over five inches in size, ideal for tucking in your bag or pocket. It has a sturdy exterior and is also weather resistant, so you can take it out in rain or snow with ease. The LED bulbs are bright but not enough to depend on. Remember that you get this for only six dollars, so use it only as a backup.
Conclusion on the MECO Hand Cranking Solar Powered Rechargeable Flashlight: Although inexpensive and handy, this flashlight is best used as a backup when no other power source is available.
This flashlight would be highly valued in The Walking Dead but it could attract Walkers so you have to be careful.
|(+) Tight cranking mechanism||(-) Not bright enough|
|(+) 1 minute of crank = 1 hour of light||(-) Carabineer is difficult to use|
|(+) Bright LED bulbs|
|(+) Carabinier is functional|
Kaito KA404W Wind-up 5-LED Flashlight
- Multi-functional hand crank LED flashlight with AM/FM NOAA weather radio, cell phone charger & emergency siren
- Self-powered flashlight and radio for outdoor use and emergency preparedness
- Super-bright, long-life & energy-efficient 5-LED flashlight
Looking for a hand crank flashlight that comes with additional features? Then the Kaito Wind-up 5-LED Flashlight should be your pick because it is a handy manual flashlight that has a number of extra features and comes for under $20. This LED flashlight comes with an AM/FM /NOAA weather radio and a mobile phone charger.
This lightweight durable device is stellar for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and backpacking, or for emergency situations like a storm when you have no other power source. Besides, it also comes with a loud speaker, antennae for reception, and an emergency siren.
The bright, long-lasting and energy-efficient five-LED flashlight has a built-in DC 5V output port for charging compatible portable devices.
This flashlight is an inexpensive and invaluable tool for your emergency kit. The winding handle is secure and sturdy and the light is bright enough to light up a dark room.
However, you get sufficient light only after 50 winds or so, but you get light while cranking at the same time. The light is brighter than one would expect and the speaker is loud and crisp.
Conclusion on the Kaito KA404W Wind-up 5-LED Flashlight: For under $20, this is a pretty complete flashlight. If you don’t mind repeatedly winding it up for sufficient light (take turns though, what else is there to do?), it’s a good one to include in your bag.
|(+) Stainless steel blade||(-) Recurved edges are difficult to sharpen|
|(+) SpeedSafe assisted opening mechanism||(-) Serrated edges are difficult to sharpen|
|(+) Liner Lock locking mechanism|
Cynergy Lifelight All-in-One Waterproof Emergency Crank Flashlight
- BRIGHT LED EMERGENCY FLASHLIGHT SURVIVAL TOOLKIT: Your multi-purpose survival tool kit for emergency home use, emergency car toolkit, Flashlight for Camping, Trekking and Hiking with Powerful light and an egonomic anti-skid easy grip design with high quality plastic body. LifeTime Free Replacement Guarantee
- HANDCRANK DYNAMO FLASHLIGHT: No Power? No Worries! Easy Handcrank to recharge the built in Powerful Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery. Now you DON'T need any external adapter, any AA replaceable batteries or are not dependent on even the Sun. It's can be easily stored in car glove box
- FOR OUTDOORS: Ideal flashlight for Hiking, Trekking, Camping. With powerful Flashlight, a bright beacon and an accurately calibrated compass, you can easily find your bearings in the wilderness. With Water & Shock resistant high quality sturdy plastic body, Lifelight work well even in rain or snow
Some people love the experience of a traditional flashlight. If you are one of them, do give the Cynergy Lifelight All-in-One Waterproof Emergency Crank Flashlight a try. This handy no frills flashlight look like a regular flashlight and has a crank that blends in with the case when not in use.
This waterproof flashlight can charge a phone thanks to its built-in USB port, cut through window or seatbelt because of the multi-tools, and also help you find your way with the built-in compass and red light flasher.
The flashlight comes equipped with white LEDs that give out bright light and a built-in lithium battery to store in the kinetic energy.
This lightweight device is a handy tool to include in your bug out bag because it hardly takes up space. The additional tools are extremely useful and make this a complete emergency unit. For under $30, this is a must-have product.
Conclusion on the Cynergy Lifelight All-in-One Waterproof Emergency Crank Flashlight: Most hand crank flashlights are sold as emergency lights, but this one is for all purposes. For under $30, this is a useful product to have around the house.
You can use it to find your dog if he or she is sleeping so you can scratch their belly!
|(+) Bright light with flashing||(-) Doesn’t charge a phone well enough|
|(+) Charge via hand crank and USB|
|(+) Multi-tools are useful|
Ivation Waterproof Rechargeable Flashlight
- Super Bright 3 LED Flashlight Charges with Built in Hand Crank Power Generator or in direct sunlight with Solar Panel
- Features 8 Lumens of Light, 3 modes LED Control options, One LED - Three LED's - Three LED's flashing
- Never needs any Cables to recharge or replace batteries to function, Works up to 4 Hours at a time
This ultra-bright 3 LED flashlight comes with a hand crank as well as a solar panel. It is small and handy, perfect to hold with one hand and wind it with the other. There are three LED bulbs providing 8 lumens of light, and three modes and control options: 1 LED, 3 LEDs, and 3 LEDs flashing.
The flashlight never requires any cable or batteries to function and provides up to four hours of light at a time. It is also IPX6 waterproof and submersible up to 45 feet, and has a soft rubber finish a Skid Proof coat.
Conclusion on the Ivation Waterproof Rechargeable Flashlight: For a long-lasting, durable mechanical flashlight, look no further than this one. It is heavyweight and works well, and comes for only $20. If you have Bitcoin, you can buy plenty of these for that price.
|(+) Both hand crank and solar powered||(-) Heavier than most other hand crank flashlights|
|(+) Three modes|
|(+) 8 lumens of light|
|(+) Waterproof and dustproof|
PrimalCamp Solar Powered Hand Crank Flashlight
- BRIGHT LED BULB: This solar powered torch light is equipped with an LED bulb, to shine brighter than other small flashlights. Put it in the sun or wind it up to recharge
- EFFICIENT: 6min of winding or cranking generates 1hr of light. Internal battery stores solar & cranking power so you always have a charged self powered hand cranked flashlight source ready
- COMPACT AND PORTABLE: With a convenient carabiner that can hook on a backpack or keychain, your super small flashlight is easy to travel with and a great addition to your hiking survival gear
For under $10, this a small, compact, lightweight hand crank flashlight. One minute of winding gives about eight minutes of light, and 10 hours in direct sunlight gives an hour of light.
The device also comes with a convenient carabineer that can attach on to a backpack or belt, making the flashlight a part of your travel gear. This small flashlight works as a backup and also as an emergency light around the house and car.
Conclusion on the PrimalCamp Solar Powered Hand Crank Flashlight: This is a great little flashlight to have as a backup, but it does have its flaws. But it’s only $10, and can be bought in multiples. Your friends want to see too right!?
No, your dog does not want one – he will take that bone though!
|(+) Inexpensive||(-) No handle to hold|
|(+) Both hand crank and solar|
|(+) Lightweight and small|
|(+) Lasts long|
Hand crank flashlights may not be as bright as the battery powered ones, but they are great when there’s nothing else. With such inexpensive options out there, it doesn’t make sense to not have a few around the house.