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A penlight is a small flashlight that is about the same size as a fountain pen. Because of their compact size, many people prefer them to any other type of light for EDC, indoor and outdoor use as well as emergencies and survival.
A penlight can give you bright light whenever you need it. Some are powered by AAA batteries while other use lithium batteries. There are many penlights available on the market today, making it easy for you to find one that suits your specific needs. No matter why you need a compact, portable source of light, a penlight is the ideal choice as they are bright, energy-efficient and best of all, affordable.
At a Glance: Our Choices for The 10 Best Penlights
Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each penlight.
Tips to Choose a Good Penlight
When you are shopping for a penlight, you need to take certain things into consideration, such as why you need one. You should pick one based on your needs and you will have no difficulty buying a good penlight with so many high-quality ones available out there. Here are a few tips to help you choose a good penlight:
- Choose a compact, lightweight, and sturdy penlight: You are obviously looking at penlights because you want something that is easy to carry in your pocket, purse, etc. Therefore, the first thing that you need to look at is the size and weight of the penlight. You may also be using it on a frequent basis, so it is also important to choose a penlight with a sturdy build – ensured to withstand different conditions and last you a long time.
- Check the brightness: When it comes to compact flashlights, the brighter, the better. You want to be sure that you have good illumination whenever you need it. Penlights are available in different brightness levels. Check out different ones to find one that provides the brightness you need for the application you have in mind.
- Make sure that it is easy to use: You will find an array of penlights on the market with different designs and features. It is best to choose one that is easy to operate. You do not want to fumble, wondering how to get your light on when you urgently need illumination. A straightforward design that allows you to turn the penlight On/Off with ease is the best choice, no matter what you will be using the light for.
- Check the construction: Although no product lasts forever, you want to make sure that you choose a penlight that will last you a long time, even after rough use. You should check the material that the penlight is made from. A well-constructed penlight will ensure that you can use it even under the roughest conditions and after dropping it more than a few times.
- Choose an LED penlight with an orange peel reflector: A penlight can be incredibly bright. Some can temporarily blind a person if it is pointed directly at the eyes. While this can be useful for self-defense, it can harm your eyes too. So it is best to choose an LED penlight that comes with an orange peel reflector as it will disperse light in a way that does not cause any harm or damage to your eyes.
Penlights can be a handy tool to have, no matter if it is for EDC, law enforcement, emergency services, outdoor trips, security or survival kits. They provide bright light that allows you to feel safe and secure in dark places and identify threats, whether it is in a deserted parking lot or in the wilderness. With the tips provided above, you can make sure that you choose a good penlight that provides the illumination you need in any type of situation.
Top 10 Penlight Flashlights
Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro
With white C4 LED, the Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro puts out 90 lumens of bright light to help you in any situation. The push button tail switch makes it easy to operate so you can quickly get illumination when you need it. It is constructed of anodized aluminum with a non-slip rubberized grip, giving you both toughness and durability as well as a good grip that feels comfortable in the hand.
The Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro also features Type II MIL-SPEC abrasion as well as corrosion-resistant construction that is combined with unbreakable, and high-quality scratch-resistant polycarbonate lens. This is the ideal penlight for anyone needing a compact, well-made penlight.
We found the Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro to be a well-designed, well-constructed penlight. It is bright with a good beam distance – 58 meters. This penlight is compact and sleek, although you may find it a tad big for your shirt pocket.
The finish on the edge wears off rather quickly too, but we did not think that this is a major issue. The Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro is durable that is both abrasion and corrosion resistant. All in all, we think that this penlight is a salient buy and highly recommend this penlight to just about anyone on the lookout for a quality compact light for EDC or any other application.
|# of Batteries:||Two AAA|
|Battery Duration:||5 h 15 min|
(+) CREE XQ-E R2 LED is much smaller in size when compared to CREE XP-G
(+) Inbuilt Advanced LED provides a focused beam
(+) Easy to use and carry
(-) Pocket clip is a tad flimsy
(-) Some users would like more features
The Nitecore MT06 is a 165-lumen LED penlight that is one of the brightest out there. With a max runtime of 5 hours and 15 minutes, it gives you the illumination with reliability every time. It features a reverse rear switch design that allows you to conveniently operate it with one hand when the need arises. This is a low-profile innovative design that sits in your hand rather comfortably.
You get a more focused beam with the CREE XQ-E R2 LED. The Nitecore MT06 is simple with just two brightness modes – High and Low – great for those looking for a basic penlight that is bright and easy to use. With the stainless steel pocket clip, you can carry it anywhere, making sure that you always have it when you need it. And no, you don’t need it when you are ordering food at Taco Bell!
If you are looking for a small, portable light of sterling quality, the Nitecore MT06 is the one. It has a simple design with two brightness modes – high and low – that you can easily operate with the tail switch. This switch is designed for convenient one-hand operation when necessary.
We were quite disappointed with the pocket clip as it breaks off easily. Although many say they would like more features, we think that the Nitecore MT06’s basic design makes it great for carrying everywhere.
Tactical 5.11 Penlight
This is a superb penlight designed to give you a full-sized tactical light in a compact, lightweight package. The Tactical 5.11 can cast a bright 40-meter beam of light. You can get 4 hours of runtime on a single charge.
It is a solid construction that is designed to perform well even under the roughest conditions and last you a long time. One of its best features is the momentary-on switch tested to ANSI FL1 standards. Both water- and impact-resistant, the Tactical 5.11 is tough and durable and provides reliable bright light whenever you need it.
When it comes to brilliant brightness in a small package, there is nothing better than the Tactical 5.11 Penlight. With a beam distance of 40 meters, this compact light is the perfect companion for you in dark places. It is also fantastic for EDC. The Tactical 5.11 is designed and built to withstand rough conditions, so we think it will be great for outdoor trips.
The only con we could find is the pocket clip – it is a little crooked and cannot be bent back to the proper shape. We also like the fact that it is rechargeable. All in all, we think that the Tactical 5.11 is a superb product and recommend it to anyone looking for a high-quality yet affordable penlight.
If you are on the lookout for a technical penlight, the Coast HP3R is the one you should pick. This 245-lumen penlight provides plenty of bright light when the need arises. With quite a few technical features, it is highly functional, making it an excellent compact flashlight for any occasion.
It also has superb illumination range and you are sure to find the two brightness adjustable zoom a handy feature to have. When you need more power, all you have to do is plug in the USB cable to a power source and recharge the batteries. The lightweight aluminum casing is corrosion resistant and tough.
We are really impressed with the Coast HP3R. It is not only compact and lightweight but built really well for toughness. Corrosion and water resistant, the penlight can be used anywhere under any condition. Although in high mode, the power tends to drain quite fast, it is not a major issue as you can recharge the batteries anywhere if you have a USB port.
Functional and reliable, the Coast HP3R is a spectacular choice when it comes to penlights. It is a little more expensive than most penlights on the market we think it is totally worth it. If you are looking for a bright, rechargeable penlight, we definitely recommend the Coast HP3R.
The ThorFire PF02 is a marker-sized penlight that features ultra-bright CREE XP-E2 R3 LED that comes with a lifetime of 20-plus years of run time. This is another well-made light that fits very nicely in your hand, pocket, purse, backpack, or tool bag.
To protect your night vision, the penlight always starts in Moonlight mode. The ThorFire PF02 features an aircraft-grade string, aluminum body to give you toughness and durability even when used under harsh conditions. It is waterproof to IPX-7 standard. Shockproof, impact- and corrosion-resistant, and waterproof, the ThorFire PF02 is a tough penlight that will perform well anywhere, anytime.
The ThorFire PF02 is a nifty penlight that has some standout features. We like the adjustable beam strength that allows you to see in tight spaces without worrying about the reflection blinding you. It is easy to use and built with top-notch aluminum that is shockproof, corrosion-resistant, impact-resistant and waterproof. It always works reliably when you need it to.
Although some say that it is a tad large, we think its size is perfect as we can carry it in our pocket, backpack, etc. if you need a well-made compact, easy-to-carry light, the ThorFire PF02 is a superb choice and we definitely think it is worth every penny. Though we cannot say the same for the burger you bought at a fast food restaurant made by people who don’t care what they serve at all.
|# of Batteries:||One AAA|
|Battery Duration:||4h 15 min|
(+) Broad beam lens provides even beam for close-up illumination
(+) Made of top-grade aluminum for strength and durability
(+) Reliable anywhere, anytime
(-) Drains battery very fast
(-) Clip does not work well
This 100-lumen compact light is a well-thought-out penlight that has some great features. The Fenix FX-LD02 has a push-button tail cap switch for output selection and one-hand operation. It also features 3 brightness levels to help in striking a balance between high output and extended runtime.
One of the best things about the Fenix FX-LD02 is the broad beam lens which gives you a soft, even beam for close-up lighting when required. Waterproof to IPX-8 standard, the penlight has a durable, aircraft-grade aluminum construction with rhombic knurling. If you want a well-designed penlight that provides instant lighting anytime and anywhere you need it, you should go for the Fenix FX-LD02.
We think that the Fenix FX-LD02 is one of the top penlights out there right now. It works incredibly well and is super-bright. When you hold it for the first time, you can actually feel how well constructed it is. Made of aircraft-grade aluminum, you can be sure that this penlight will last even after lots of rough use.
We were impressed by the broad beam lens which works really well for close-up lighting and the flicker-free output. The Fenix FX-LD02 is great for EDC, casual use at work, backup light for outdoor trips, etc. If you want a penlight you can always depend on, the Fenix FX-LD02 is a superb choice.
Pelican 1920B Gen 2
|# of Batteries:||Two AAA|
|Battery Duration:||5 h|
(+) Super-bright light on high mode
(+) Impact and water resistant
(+) Simple, easy-to-operate design
(-) Drains battery, super-fast on high mode
(-) Slightly bigger than most penlights
If you are looking for a simple, compact light, the Pelican 1920B Gen 2 is a great choice. With a 120-lumen high mode and a 12-lumen mode, this penlight is easy to use and provides reliable performance whenever you need it. The body of the Pelican 1920B Gen 2 is made of aerospace-grade aluminum that gives you a solid and durable construction that does not scratch easily.
It might be compact and lightweight, but you can rely on this handy penlight to give you bright light and good beam size. The Pelican 1920B Gen 2 uses AAA batteries that are both easily available and affordable. This is definitely a penlight you should consider if you want a high-quality, easy to use compact light.
The Pelican 1920B Gen 2 provides very bright light on high mode, making it great for use in dark places, such as deserted parking lots, during a power outage, etc. It is a sensational penlight to have in all types of situations. We like the solid construction.
Although it is a little bigger than many of the other penlights out there, it is still easy to carry around. Also, the high mode drains the battery very fast, but the good news is that the Pelican 1920B Gen 2 uses AAA batteries that are cheap and easy to get in any store. We definitely recommend this penlight to anyone looking for a bright, profound, and durable penlight. With lower taxes, you can probably even buy two!
FOURSEVENS Preon P2
|# of Batteries:||Two AAA|
|Battery Duration:||1 h|
(+) 5 re-configurable user interfaces
(+) Bright 200 lumens on high mode
(+) Easy to use, reliable, and durable
(-) The activation button needs a change – can turn on inside pocket and drain the battery
The FOURSEVENS Preon P2 is a compact and slim penlight that is ideal for carrying everywhere you go. This new model comes with an improved tail cap, grip, and clip, as well as with brighter output. It features a CREE XP-L emitter that gives you bright light anytime you need it. On high mode, it provides 200 lumens of light and 10 lumens on low mode.
The FOURSEVENS Preon P2 uses one AAA or CR123A battery, so you do not have to spend money buying expensive replacement batteries. The new Preon P2 features 5 re-configurable user interfaces that allow you to select any mode you want quickly and easily. For a penlight that is designed for your convenience and ease of use, there is nothing that beats the FOURSEVENS Preon P2.
The FOURSEVENS Preon P2 is an impressively crafted penlight that produces a bright beam of light with AAA batteries. If you are looking for a penlight that is easy to operate and works reliably, you will love this one. We like the user interfaces that you can re-configure to get different mode setups.
The activation button is a little iffy as it turns on the penlight when it is inside your pocket, draining power without your knowledge. It is a good thing that the FOURSEVENS Preon P2 uses affordable AAA batteries.
The TerraLUX Lightstar 80 Penlight is a nice-looking compact light that is efficient and reliable. It is made with materials of the highest quality to give you a solid and durable product that will perform well under rough conditions.
With an LED light that produces 80 lumens, the TerraLUX Lightstar is a great light for EDC, electrical work and other small jobs that need illumination. It features a handy rubber Bite grip that provides hands-free use for a wide range of applications. Simple and easy to use, the TerraLUX Lightstar is a strategic buy if you are looking for a reliable penlight. No, you cannot write a letter with this pen light!
When it comes to a compact flashlight that gives you reliable performance, the TerraLUX Lightstar will not let you down. It produces bright, good-quality light. What we really liked is the color rendering index – this penlight makes it incredibly easier to distinguish colors in a bundle of wires. No matter what you use the TerraLUX Lightstar for, you can be sure that it will perform efficiently every time.
The push button switch needs to be better made as it tends to stop working in some units, but this could be a quality control issue in one batch. We also like the rubber Bite feature that allows you to use the light in your mouth while your hands work on something else. We definitely recommend the TerraLUX Lightstar to anyone looking for a simple, good-quality penlight.
The ThruNite Ti4 is a compact and lightweight penlight that is excellent for a variety of applications. It is especially great for professionals like dentists. This light always starts in Firefly mode, which makes it useful as an endoscope. Made of aircraft-grade aluminum that is anodized, the penlight feels great to hold and has a rather good grip.
Featuring the advanced CREE XP-G2 LED, the ThruNite Ti4 emits Cold White light that shines 252 lumens bright. With impact-resistance to 2 meters and waterproof rating of IPX-8, the ThruNite Ti4 penlight is the perfect choice for EDC, emergency and outdoor activities as well as specific work fields.
When it comes to performance, the ThruNite Ti4 will not let you down. This is a great penlight that is not only bright but extremely tough as well. Made from top-notch anodized aluminum, it is not surprising that the penlight survived even after we dropped it quite a few times. The ThruNite Ti4 is great for a wide range of applications, including in the medical field.
Although it is a little more expensive than most penlights on the market, we definitely think it is worth the price. We think that the ThruNite Ti4 is the best AAA penlight out there and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a penlight.
Penlights are useful for many reasons. A number of people these days need penlights, including doctors and nurses. This is why you will find a wide range of different lights on the market, all with different functionalities and features.
For this reason, it is difficult to choose the best penlight if you buy at random. To make sure that you buy the best one for you, you need to consider your needs and what you will be mostly using it for. Once you determine this, you can take your pick out of the countless penlights available on today’s market and get one that satisfies your desires & proclivities.
Image by Ricardo Velasquez