I believe that everyone should carry a flashlight. If not on your person, you can carry one in your tool pouch, briefcase, pocket book, or stash it in an office desk or even in your car. LED flashlights are so compact and discrete these days that the they’re too bulky to carry excuse just isn’t valid anymore.
But they’re so expensive! No, they’re not. Here are our top picks for penlights, mini-penlights and keychain-sized micro-lights. You can easily find reliable and bright LED flashlights suitable for everyday and even casual professional use for under $20.
Fenix E01 Compact Flashlight
Although twice the price of a Maglite Solitaire, the Fenix E01 is compact, reasonably bright, and is available in a number of stylish colors. Output for the 1xAAA keychain-sized light is at 10 lumens with a total runtime of about 21 hours. The E01 is waterproof as well, to IPX8 (what’s that?) standards.
Streamlight MicroStream Mini-Penlight
Even before Streamlight upgraded their MicroStream flashlight with a new brighter LED module, the tiny 1xAAA flashlight was one of our favorite pocket-friendly mini penlights. The new version outputs 28 lumens and has a runtime of about 2.25 hours. Water resistant to IPX4 standards, the MicroStream can modestly handle the elements.
Check prices or purchase via Amazon Avg. price is $17
Fenix E05 R2 Compact Flashlight
Brighter than the E01 and a little pricier than the MicroStream, the 1XAAA Fenix E05 R2 outputs 27 lumens and has a runtime of about 2 hours 50 minutes. Like the E01, the E05 is waterproof to IPX8 standards.
Check price of purchase via Amazon Avg. price is $20
Streamlight Stylus Pro Penlight
We’ve mentioned the Streamlight Stylus Pro a number of times, and for good reason – they’re fantastic penlights. I carry one clipped to my pocket or inside my bag most days, and more than once it has saved the day.
As with the MicroStream, Streamlight recently upgraded the 2xAAA Stylus Pro with a new, brighter LED module. The aluminum-bodied flashlights are available with several color options, and are rated to IPX4 standards. LED output is rated at 48 lumens, and runtime is about 6.25 hours.
Inova & Photon Keychain Micro-Lights
Okay, so maybe a penlight, even a miniature one, is too large for you to carry. Smaller than a modern car’s key fob, these Inova and Photon keychain LED micro-lights are about as discrete and compact as they come. If the $5-10 pricing is a bit much for your budget, 10-packs of non-branded lookalikes are about $5 direct from China if you shop around.
If you know of any other great quality and inexpensive LED flashlights, penlights, or mini-lights that you would like to recommend, let us know via a comment!