The best torches reviewed (2023)

Whether as a primary light source or as a backup emergency option, a handheld torch can fit the bill. These are our current favourite flashlights...

Closeup of a Maglite torch

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

For reasons of a hands-free nature, head torches are preferred by hikers over a handheld torch. Flashlights still have their place for campers and hikers, however.

The torch varies more in size and performance more than headtorches do. They can be simple hand-cranked dynamo torches through to bigger models with a brightness of thousands of lumens. Torches are therefore useful hiking accessories that can be used for a range of circumstances, from emergency backup lighting, to campsite lighting, to heavy-duty lighting for search and rescue.

Our shortlist:

Mini Maglite Pro – Best in Test

Decathlon TL900 – Best Value

NEBO Davinci 2000 – Best for versatility

Ledlenser P2R Core – Best compact torch

Decathlon DYNAMO 100 V2 – Best dynamo torch

Silhouette of a person with a torch at night
©Unsplash/Jonathan Mabey

We’ve recommended our favourites here. Like the wide scale of different torches, our shortlist also consists of very different models, from a low-cost dynamo torch to more versatile options.

Modern torches designed for personal use need not be bulky at all. We’ve given focus to this broad type of torch here. All the models we’ve recommended use either AA or rechargeable batteries – no big flashlights powered by C or D batteries.

Best in Test

Description

Anyone who knows anything about cars will be aware of the horsepower race that went on for years.

Pros

  • Simple twist operation
  • Tough and water resistant
  • Bright without being overkill
  • Compact

Cons

  • Supplied AAs aren’t rechargeable
  • Not the best run time

Best Value

Description

Having a torch as a spare lighting tool is what most people have in mind. It’s like Marge

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • IP65
  • Rechargeable

Cons

  • Not the toughest torch

Best for versatility

Description

American brand NEBO is a lighting specialist. Its range of work lights, lanterns, and torches is

Pros

  • Very versatile
  • IP67
  • Impressive selection of modes
  • Doubles as a power bank

Cons

  • Overkill for some

Best compact torch

Ledlenser P2R Core

Rrp: £29.95

Price: £27.95

Description

This is a wonderful little pocket torch because it has been carefully designed, not just made to

Pros

  • Feature-rich for a small torch
  • Rechargeable battery included
  • Impressive brightness for its size

Cons

  • Not the greatest run time

Best dynamo torch

Description

The true emergency light is the wind-up dynamo torch. Decathlon’s take is super simple and,

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • No batteries required
  • IPX4
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons

  • Not very bright

Best rechargeable batteries

Energizer Recharge Universal AA batteries
Price: £8.18

Description

Energizer Recharge Universal batteries not only perform really well but are also very cost

Pros

  • Up to 1000 cycles
  • Uses some recycled material

Cons

  • Not the absolute cheapest rechargeable batteries (but still good value)

What to look for in a torch

Two tents wild camping at dusk in Scotland
©Live For The Outdoors

Brightness: Rather than running the risk of getting a torch with subpar brightness, these days it’s more important not to go overkill. Thousands of lumens aren’t the be all and end all of a torch. How often do you need to illuminate a hillside? Consider a torch’s other features alongside its brightness.

Beam: Multiple beam modes go a long way to making a torch versatile. Flood and spot/focused are great for hiking because they are useful for both campsites and trails. A red light is a big bonus too, because it helps preserve your night vision.

IP rating: The prevention of moisture and dust ingress is a huge boost to a torch’s durability. A torch with IPX4 or IP54 is fine for most cases. But if you know your torch is going to be subject to wet conditions, look for IP65 or higher.

Construction: Plastic and aluminium are the two common materials used for torch bodies. Plastic ones help keep weight and cost down compared to aluminium, but not usually as tough. The converse is also true: metal is tougher than plastic but heavier and more expensive.

Battery type: On the whole, we generally recommend torches that take AA or AAA batteries. This is because you can replace them as required and because you can get rechargeable AA and AAA batteries. Built-in rechargeable batteries are convenient, but the battery can become a dictating factor of the life of the torch if they go awry. And if you want more fuel, you need to have a power bank.

Extra features: Consider additional features such belt/pocket clips, and also the size and weight of a torch. For hiking in particular, a weight-performance balance is very important.

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