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The Best 18650 Flashlight Buying Guide

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This may sound strange but one of the most crucial moments that prove how important the flashlight is in emergencies. Outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists will tell you that the right flashlight can be a lifesaver. But trying to find the best 18650 flashlight to buy isn’t a walk in the park. You’ve got to consider your needs, as well as other important factors.

This buying guide to the best 18650 flashlight will tell you all you need to know. Then, we’ve also put together 5 of the very best flashlights to make your search easier. Stay close as we let you in on what these flashlights are about.

Getting To Know The 18650 Flashlight

In modern times, flashlights come in different varieties from a range of manufacturers. But the distinguishing factor between a 18650 flashlight and the regular flashlight is the battery. When we talk about ‘18650’, we refer to a cylindrical shape lithium-ion battery that measures 18 by 65mm. We know that most people are familiar with the regular AAA- battery flashlight but what you get with the 18650 battery is a whole different level of performance.

These batteries have power similar to 3 disposable batteries. They give you long-lasting performance and you can also recharge them. The features of a 18650 flashlight make it a top selection among survivalists and outdoor enthusiasts to keep them ready for any situation. Thanks to the lithium-ion battery that supplies a brighter light that lasts for long.

Of course, the battery will die after a couple of days and you can easily recharge them. They are very durable and functional, making them a standout product on the market. If you are someone who is part of a search and rescue team, a professional working on the night shift, or a fan of outdoor activities, you need this flashlight. This is true, considering that it supplies a higher voltage of 3.7 with better runtimes.

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Why 18650 Flashlights Are Superior

  • Safety

These flashlights usually derive their power from 18650 batteries manufacturing protected forms. Protected batteries happened to be the preferred choice because they secure against temperature surges, overcharge, over-discharge, and short-circuits. Unprotected batteries are not as expensive but do not offer as much protection, thereby putting your flashlight at risk of damage.

  • Long-lasting

Rest assured that 18650 battery-powered flashlights have higher reliability and are more durable. Similar to many rechargeable batteries, these have their measurement ratings in mAh. That way, you can determine the rate of current discharge for your batteries by the hour. 18650 batteries come in a wide range of mAh ratings but this isn’t a direct indication of the lasting time for your batteries. However, keep in mind that a high drain battery with a low mAh rating can last very long. Many people who use 18650 batteries claim that it has up to 500 times the life cycle of regular batteries. So, when you buy a 18650 flashlight, you don’t have to worry about replacing the batteries now and then.

  • Enhanced brightness

These batteries come with a higher voltage when compared to nickel-metal hydride, as well as nickel-cadmium batteries. So, 18650 flashlights will supply brighter light emissions. Even if you find yourself in pitch darkness, you have nothing to worry about because your 18650 flashlight can become the perfect guide.

  • Rechargeable and more economical

This is one more reason to consider buying 18650 flashlights because recharging the batteries is a more preferred option. You won’t have to keep disposing of batteries as you can just pop the battery out and use a charger when the flashlight runs down. After the recharge time, your flashlight should be ready to go.

And since you can recharge these batteries, it makes them a more economical option and a worthwhile investment in the long-term. All you have to do is just get a set of backup batteries and ensure that they remain charged. So, rather than wait for the batteries to complete their recharge before using them, you can just do a battery swap and get your flashlight running again.

If you are a fan of outdoor activities like camping and hiking, you know how indispensable flashlights are. But using one that works with alkaline batteries means they could disappoint you at any time, especially during emergencies. However, getting yourself 18650 batteries and 18650 flashlight rules out the risk of strong beam failure at any point in time. Combining this flashlight with the right batteries guarantees you consistent power.

Key Features Of 18650 Flashlights To Consider Before Buying

Admittedly, 18650 batteries have lots of merits but there’s more to using 18650 flashlights. You also need to understand how certain features such as the beam type, application, lumens, bulb type, run time, and more work. Having that understanding will guide you in deciding what’s best for you.


Lumens help to measure the level of light output. It allows you to determine how intense the light is when you use the flashlight in its highest setting. The spectrum for luminous designation is huge and ranges from 20-3,500. That said, you will get brighter lights from a flashlight that comes with higher lumens.

Type of bulb

LEDs happen to be the most preferred bulb types because of their longevity. These bulbs are also better than incandescent bulb types since they have higher energy efficiency.

Run time

When we talk about run time, we refer to how long a flashlight takes for its power to drop to 10% of the output rating. This depends on the light mode in use most of the time. When searching for better quality flashlights, go for those with higher run time, even when the mode is on its brightest.

Type of beam

Flashlight beams come in 3 forms mostly, namely – adjustable, flood, and spot. Flood beams refer to single beams that come in handy when doing things like camping or hiking. On the other hand, the spotlight denotes a kind of beam that is condensed, making it great for far distance illumination. With adjustable beams, you can switch between flood and spot.


When we begin to analyze the distance that the light beam of a flashlight can travel before it starts to reduce in intensity, then we have an interest in the flashlight’s throw. The brightness mode in use at the time can influence the distance of the beam. This is one of the most important parameters to consider because the throw gives you an idea of how best to use the flashlight. Flashlights with a narrow beam and long reach are best for search-and-rescue missions. For camping or hiking, you’ll be better off with floodlights as they guarantee you wider light displacement. If you need a flashlight for hunting, you want one that can switch to various color modes.

Your budget

It’s normal to think that the higher the cost, the more quality the product but this isn’t always the case. Finding replacement batteries for specialty batteries, AAs, or AAAs are most times more difficult and incur a higher cost. A good choice would be to go with a sturdy, high lumen flashlight that works with a 18650 battery.

The Best 18650 Flashlights Review

It is safe to assume you now know why 18650 flashlights are the better option and what some of the key features are. So, let’s take you through 5 top 18650 flashlight recommendations chosen from the very best products on the market.

Cree XM-L2 Rechargeable Flashlight

What you have is a very durable flashlight known for its resistance to shock, abrasion, and water. The Cree XM-L2 is a rechargeable flashlight that you can power up using your car adapter, wall adapter, or USB cable. We also like that it comes with a battery indicator that tells you how much battery power you have left in the flashlight. Also, this flashlight has a temperature control system that is quite impressive and highly accurate. Two CR123A can also power the flashlight.

The Cree XM-L2 has 1,000 lumens as its maximum output and should run for up to 90 minutes with a 232 meters max beam distance. The best part is that you can get up to 320 hours of light supply from the lowest lumen. It also has 6 available modes allowing you to make adjustments to the brightness. This flashlight works via a system known as aviation electroplating reflection. What you get on buying this flashlight is an indispensable tool that features lithium-ion protected rechargeable batteries (18650, 3400mAh, 3.7V), as well as a charging port that you can adjust.


  • Easy charging and very durable
  • Shockproof, anti-abrasive, water-resistant
  • Temperature control system
  • Long beam distance
  • Battery indicator


  • Quite expensive
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Nitecore MH25GTS

Thanks to the fusion of the Precision Digital Optics Tech optical system of Nitecore with the Cree XHP35 HD LEDs, this flashlight offers you an unmatched quality of light. The optic and LED systems collaborate to provide up to a 1,800-lumen beam that boasts a massive throw of 332 yards.

Included with the light, the Nitecore MH25GTS draws its power from a rechargeable, single, high-powered NL1835HP battery. It also has an inbuilt charging system, which gives you the flexibility of recharging wherever you are. With this system, you also have a flexible charging port that can integrate with solar panels, power banks, laptops, and a wide range of power sources.

You will notice a side switch, as well as a tactical tail switch, that allows you to control the flashlight in its entirety. With the help of the tactical switch, accessing constant and momentary-on illumination shouldn’t be an issue. The flashlight also comes with 3 special modes and 5 light brightness levels, all of which you can access using the side switch.

This flashlight has as much as 1-meter impact resistance ability and an IPX8 rating. Another aspect of the Nitecore MH25GTS that should get you impressed is the tactical style light’s bezel that serves as a self-defense option during emergencies.


  • Dual-layer tube design
  • Comes with mode memory
  • Power indicator


  • You’ll notice that the charging gaskets oftentimes pop open
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Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight

Next on our list of the best 18650 flashlights is the Fenix PD35, which comes with two modes, which are the outdoor and tactical modes. Switching between modes is easy but will only require pressing and holding the side switch for up to 180 seconds. When it comes to battery usage, there are two options associated with this flashlight:

  1. Using two CR123A 3V lithium batteries to operate the flashlight
  2. Using one lithium-ion rechargeable 18650 battery

When you buy this product, you get 2 EdisonBright CR123A lithium batteries. You will also notice a feature that tells you when you need to replace or recharge the battery. This is a tactical flashlight that gives you maximum lumens of 1000 with as much as 50,000 hours worth of usage time. You’ll get up to 70 minutes maximum lumens if you decide to buy this flashlight. Switching to the low lumens mode should give you almost half an hour at 60 lumens.

The build of this 18650 flashlight is an aircraft-grade aluminum designed to have resistance to abrasion. And we also like how the handle is built with slippage resistance features to give you a good grip. The Fenix PD35 has protection for reversed polarity, as well as an intuitive memory circuit.


  • Double battery options
  • Handle with slippage resistance
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • Intelligent memory circuit
  • Sturdy structure and long battery life
  • Two modes with easy switch


  • We feel the lights could be brighter
  • Adjusting the wrist wrap is tricky
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Olight S2R II

This is yet another top-rated 18650 flashlight that has undergone various upgrades and improvements. So, what we have here is an upgraded version. One aspect of the S2R II that we like is that it gives you a balanced beam as far as 147 yards. This is because of the presence of the Luminus SST-40 LED and TIR lens that both have been through some upgrades. With the help of the LED, what you have is a flashlight that can emit up to 1150 lumens for about 120 seconds before you notice a step down in the lights to a lower level. The reason for the step down is to keep the flashlight from overheating. When you use this product, you can access the emergency strobe mode and choose any of the 5 levels of brightness.

This is not the first time that we’ve come across a single 18650 battery-powered flashlight, but there are some improvements. One such notable upgrade is that the battery charges faster than in the previous version. The magnetic charging tail cap and MCC II magnetic charging cable help to charge the Olight S2R II‘s battery.

The flashlight also comes with a side switch that houses the battery capacity indicator and offers you light control. With the help of the power indicator light, you can tell when your battery needs a recharge. One more thing worth noting about the new version is that it is shorter and not as heavy when compared to the older version. So, the flashlight is more comfortable to hold and use every day.


  • Tail stand capability
  • Comes with two-pocket clips
  • Has a battery capacity indicator


  • Doesn’t have a memory mode
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Sofirn SP31 v2.0

The final option on our list of 18650 flashlights is the Sofirn SP31 that can light up a massive 2 soccer fields in length, thanks to its CREE CPL-HI LED. It should interest you to know that this is the latest version from the manufacturer and is also its newest SP31 line model.

This is a pocket-sized flashlight that features a carry clip so that you can attach it to various materials. So, taking it along with you wherever you are shouldn’t be a problem. The v2.0 comes with two operational light switches, which are the side and tail switches. With the help of the side switch, you can navigate five different levels of brightness, as well as two other modes (SOS and Strobe). On the other hand, the tail switch helps you turn the power light off and on while allowing you to access the momentary-on setting. You also get a much-improved temperature regulator that will make automatic brightness adjustments by reading the light’s internal temperature.

The build of the flashlight – created with aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and designed to have resistance to abrasion. The SP31 has a USB charger to help power the single lithium-ion 18650 battery that you can recharge. Keep in mind that it has an IPX8 rating, meaning you can use it outdoors even when it’s raining.


  • Tail stand capability
  • Mode memory
  • More than one battery option
  • Battery capacity indicator


  • You might notice that the beam’s center has a yellow halo at certain distances
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Finding The Best 18650 Flashlight

With the information contained in this buyer’s guide, you have all the necessary pointers to help you make a good decision. You might be about to buy your first flashlight, and this is something you shouldn’t do in a hurry. When you buy a 18650 flashlight, you don’t have to worry about replacing the batteries often, making them a more economical option and a worthwhile investment in the long-term

Use the information available to check out the flashlights reviewed above based on their features and your budget. Then, determine what your needs are to decide what flashlight is best for you. In all, we encourage you to be diligent and patient so that you put yourself in the best position to make an informed decision.

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