Tactical flashlights are great tools in the field, oftentimes providing solid, dependable light where otherwise none would exist. But, there are a lot of products out there using the word “tactical” in their marketing and packaging that are absolute garbage in practice. A good tactical flashlight needs to meet some basic requirements at all times to be fully functional and dependable.
Good Light, a Basic Requirement
A dependable tactical flashlight gives solid, usable light on demand. At a minimum, you should be expecting at least 1,500 lumens from a field light when you need it. Anything less or that dims as the light battery starts to fade and eventually becomes useless. Cheaper flashlights frequently have connection problems as well, becoming irregular and unreliable when banged around a bit. That’s not what you want to have when your only light source is a critical need.
While it’s easy to put a tactical flashlight in a field pant pocket or jacket, ideally you want it within quick reach when needed. So, a good design will incorporate some kind of quick-release connection feature, whether it’s a solid clip for a hat or helmet, a carabiner for backpack connection, a strap, or similar. The point is to be able to get to the flashlight without having to unpack your entire gear or go fishing through all your pockets in a tight spot.
Of course, the housing of the flashlight needs to be able to take a beating. That means it should be reliably impact-resistant, water-resistant, and sealed tight to keep dust and dirt out. It’s amazing how fast cheaper units can be torn up in the field just banging around in an equipment pack or attached to a strap or helmet. Good tactical flashlights have been purposefully tested under harsh conditions to last and keep on going reliably. That can’t be said for a lot of cheaper units easily available online from consumer e-commerce shopping malls and pitched as very “affordable.” Don’t be fooled by the appearance in a photograph. Solid contenders have been field-tested and proven under pressure to last.
It doesn’t hurt to have a tactical light with some additional features than just light generation. After all, the more you can pack into a smaller, combined setup, the less you’re jostling around and carrying. But don’t get carried away with too many other benefits. Ideally, the core function of the flashlight should work 100 percent without question. The problem with many multi-tool options is that they end compromising the integrity or the light function reliability adding on other offerings. Dependable tactical lights never waver on their primary function.
In the best scenarios, your tactical piece should be a rechargeable flashlight and compatible with solar power units if needed. Consumable battery units just don’t cut it anymore, and who wants to be carrying a pack of batteries into the field for a month? With a rechargeable flashlight matched to a portable solar panel, your tactical flashlight will serve you well, even if you’re in the boonies for months on end.
So, when shopping for your first, or next, tactical flashlight be sure you are looking for the right specs. If the flashlight is hitting all the criteria discussed above you are in the right spot. Finding a dependable tactical flashlight can make your next outdoor adventure that much more fun.