Mini Flashlight Review – Let There Be Light

Head-to-Head Comparison of Some Top Mini Flashlights

We can’t stress enough the importance of these little widgets. Whether it’s looking under our seats for something, trying to make roadside repairs at night, or find your way around outside when it’s dark, you certainly get a lot of bang for your buck with flashlights and they come in handy at the most random times. However, for automotive purposes you don’t always need some gigantic 6-volt or D battery monster that won’t even fit in your glovebox.

A compact, pocket-sized light with plenty of power will definitely work to store anywhere in your car. So what should you get? There’s always cheapo versions in a little cardboard holder you see at auto parts and hardware stores, but we believe that you get what you pay for. We figure AA battery-powered flashlights are about the most common small ones out there that have a power source you could pick up anywhere from a gas station to a grocery store. Here we’ve compiled four smaller AA-powered flashlights and listed specs, pros, and cons of each. See which one makes sense for you to pick up and stash in your car, lest you need it when you least expect it.

Make/Model

Jetbeam WL-S1

Lumen Output

Output (with one CR123 or 16340): Turbo 770 / Max 160 / Economic 70 / Low 26 / Weak 1

Runtime

Turbo 1.3 h / Max 1.5 h / Economic 8 h / Low 37 h / Weak 300 h

Overall Length

4.29 inches

Weight With Battery

4.4 ounces

Battery Type

AA, CR123, 14500, 16340, or 18650 (1, not included)

Controls

Constant-on/momentary tailcap push-button switch, mode select side switch

MSRP

$50

URL

www.goinggear.com

Overview

With seven output options, the JETBeam WL-S1 might boast the most functions in this guide. Not only does it have five brightness settings, it also has strobe and SOS modes. Most impressive of all, it can use not only a single AA battery, but also CR123 and more obscure 14500, 1630, and 18650 sizes. Its Overall Length will vary depending on what type of battery is installed. It has two switches, a constant-on and momentary tailcap push-button and an illuminated side-mounted mode button. We found the light’s dual button system complicated to use. Note that the above Lumen Output ratings are based on either a CR123 or 16340 battery, and not a AA.

Make/Model

Coast HX5

Lumen Output

High 620

Runtime

High 3 h 45 min

Overall Length

Flood Mode: 4 inches, Spot Mode: 4.125 inches

Weight With Battery

2.5 ounces

Battery Type

AA (1, included)

Controls

Beam focusing slide bezel, constant-on/momentary tailcap push-button

MSRP

$25

URL

www.coastportland.com

Overview

Coast’s HX5 comes with a standard alkaline battery that is rated for an output of 130 lumens, but it can also run on a rechargeable NiMH battery outputting 145 lumens or a rechargeable 14500 lithium battery for a maximum output of 345 lumens. Its sliding bezel allows light to be focused to a maximum beam distance of 259 feet or go wide with an 8-foot-diameter flood beam at a distance of 6 feet. The HX5 features an aluminum body, rubberized tailcap, and unbreakable LED. Its carry options include a unique two-way clip that allows the light to be clipped onto a pocket or the bill of a hat.

Make/Model

Nitecore EA11

Lumen Output

Turbo 900 / High 300 / Mid 160 / Low 70 / Lower 1

Runtime

Turbo 30 min / High 45 min / Mid 1 h 30 min / Low 2 h 30 min / Lower 12 h

Overall Length

3.62 inches

Weight With Battery

2.7 ounces

Battery Type

AA Alkaline (1, included)

Controls

Constant-on bezel-mounted side switch, mode select side switch

MSRP

$55

URL

www.goinggear.com

Overview

As the most compact light in this guide, the Nitecore EA11 brings big performance. Proof that good things can indeed come in small packages, the EA11 is capable of producing 900 lumens of blinding light and also features a night-vision-friendly red light. The aluminum-bodied light has two switches on the side of its bezel, one for power and the other for the light output mode. Various button presses can activate the turbo and lower modes as well as the separate low-lumen red LED. Surprisingly, the many button options are easy to get used to. Its compact size feels like it would work well with a tailcap switch, which it lacks.

Make/Model

Brite-Strike Lightning Strike

Lumen Output

High 170 / Low 60 / Strobe 150

Runtime

High 1.5 h / Low 3 h / Strobe 1.5 h

Overall Length

4 inches

Weight With Battery

2.7 ounces

Battery Type

AA Alkaline (1, included)

Controls

Constant-on/momentary tailcap push-button switch

MSRP

$70

URL

www.brite-strike.com

Overview

The Lightning Strike flashlight comes as a part of Brite-Strike’s Lightning Strike Personal Protection System. The system is designed with women in mind and is meant to be a personal protection kit that includes a 170-lumen tactical flashlight and a personal alarm that emits a 120-decibel ear piercing sound when activated. It has three modes (high, low, and strobe) that you can cycle through by using its rubberized, glow-in-the-dark tailcap push button. The light has aggressive strike bezels front and back and is made of anodized aluminum. The kit comes with a neck lanyard, a leather quick-deployment holster, and a tough coiled polymer light lanyard.