Backpackers EDC flashlight

Hi all,

Two of my cousins are embarking on a (long) backpackers trip to South America.
I’m preparing pocket EDC/Survival kits (knife, flashlight, whistle, etc) for them, and I’m looking for suitable single AAA flashlights for this purpose.

My criteria for the light are:

  1. A low “Low Mode” = under 5 lumen.
  2. Night-hiking worthy “Mid Mode” = 20-30 lumen, long runtime (for emergency, eg day-trip gone wrong for any reason).
  3. Mode order LMH or mode-memory.

So far I could only find ONE flashlight that meets all criteria… the UltraTac K18.

4 lm / 40 hrs (low), 25 lm / 5.7 hrs (mid), mode order LMH & mode memory.
I still wish the run-time on Mid was longer (and it’s possible, as the Olight i3s shows).
But most popular offerings seem to go around ~30 lm / ~4 hrs (mid).

Any other options I missed?
Also, for the purpose I mentioned, is it worthy to get the Nichia K18?

- Bamba

Hum, it doesn’t meet the lumen criteria, because Low and Medium outputs are lower than you expect/request. However, it has a longer runtime, maybe!

Take a look at the Nitefox K3:

Some reviews:

Peak Eiger. Expensive, but good quality. Not sure if it’s better or worse than the other options, but it probably does everything you ask for.

Personally I’d go for AA varieties. MUCH larger capacity without giving away much weight/size. Easier to get cells in more remote areas I’d think.

Astrolux AO1.
Less than $10 on BG.
Low, medium, high, strobe.
Buy several.
They say it’s waterproof-I haven’t tested this.

Personally, I’d go with an AA format. Cells are much easier to acquire in outlying areas, and each AA will offer three times the runtime of a AAA.

A Thrunite T10 would be my first choice, with a 4-pack of Energizer Ultimate lithium primaries.

I’d choose a single AA headtorch.

Usually powered by a lithium primary (Energiser) which are so lightweight, but alkalines also work.

I use one made by Mammut.

Otherwise something like an Olight S15, with a diffuser cone for use in the tent. I also have this.

Or a Nitecore MT22A (got that too).

Also add a backup, a coin-cell torch to clip onto a zip. With a spare cell or two.

Everything should be powered by primary cells, backpacking is not a situation to be bothering with trying to charge up secondary lithiums, even with dinky solar panels/powerbanks or, worse, thoughts of carrying chargers to use in hotel rooms etc.

Work out your likely usage and pack in enough cells to keep you going. Or plan on picking them up from wherever, when you pass civilisation. AA is the best format.

If you are in the military, CR123 is the other option, issued from stores.

Nobody needs a gazillion lumens of perfect CRI light, real word stuff can be so much more modest.

Now that you talk about it, Manker E02 or E03 also fit (more or less) OP’s criteria, at lest in runtime! :+1:
Take a look here for more information : Parametrek Flashlights

I hope the OP considers your good information.

I second the A01. I gave it to my 2 year old to play with in the lowest mode which is less than a lumen. He lost it. I found it 24 hours later still on.

I have a recommendation that does not meet your criteria, but I share it anyway. Thrunite Ti-3. I used this light with a lithium primary 3 weeks last September. We did not night hike. We did live away from most civilized contact for those 3 weeks. John Muir Trail, only supplies available on trail were at Red’s Meadow and Muir Trail ranch. I had mailed a spare AAA lithium cell to Muir Trail ranch, and did not use it. It was clipped to the brim of my visor and provided light where I needed it. I rarely used anything but firefly mode. BTW, I’m 56 years old and my eyes are not the greatest. You just don’t really need a lot of additional light in the back country. Advertised at 0.04 lumen, 12 lumen, and 120 lumen. mode order L-M-H. Actually not far off from your medium level of 20 lumens, likely could not notice the different betweeen 12 and 20, and run time at 12 lumens is 6.3 hrs. 115 hrs on firefly.

That said, if you really want something more “survival”, I would agree with those that suggested an AA battery instead. 3x the capacity with little weight penalty. No specific recommendation for an AA light though.

I’d choose an 18350 light! In my view these are giving absolutely best runtimes on a really smart kind of volume to handle at the moment. With an AAA-light I would not feel safe on a backpacker-tour.

A single AAA can go on for many hours as long as you’re frugal with output. But 18350 are indeed very good.

Actually while I would chose 18350 not a long time ago now I find myself with 18650 increasingly often. That’s because of Folomov and their powerbank offering; the extra feature makes the extra bulk worthwhile.


The tank 007 e09 is pretty good, not sure if they make them anymore, but fasttech might still have stock. Not sure how long the medium mode lasts, but I found it a decent twisty keychain AAA light. Not sure how low the low is, maybe 10 or so…

Wow, thanks for all the great responses!

I think some facts are worth emphasizing.

1. We’re talking about an EDC, pocket flashlight. Not a primary backpacking flashlight which they’ll have in, well, backpack (likely a headlamp).
2. Any backpacker going on such trip ends up at cities, towns & villages most of the time. Most hikes are day hikes; most overnights are in huts, designated campsites etc. In other words, it’s not very big on being out in the woods at dark.
3. We’re talking about young women, medium built I’d say, 1.60m tall. Not gear junkies or EDC freaks :wink:

So with this in mind:

AA will certainly make it easier to satisfy my requirements, but I’m afraid the added girth girth/weight will compromise the “carry-ability”.

It’s a small coin-pouch with: knife, flashlight, botane lighter (+ waterproof cover), whistle, and 2 plastic tubes for pain killers, water purification etc. I wish they carry it all the time, whether they’re going to party in city or on a hike in the woods. The comfort and discreetness factor is highly important.
The knife (Vic Walker- blade, saw, combo tool) is the biggest item at 84mm length and 14mm thick. I’m trying to keep everything else smaller.

A possible alternative would be to have an extra AAA battery in the pouch (wrapped) - adds just 12gr or so.

20 lumen vs 12/15

I considered both Thrunite Ti3 and Nitefox K3.
I compared my own lights at 3 different (advertised) output levels: 9 / 20 / 25 lumen. Based on that I think 12 to 20 lumen difference IS noticeable. I think hiking an unknown trail with 15 lumen is doable, but it would feel easier with 25 lumen. If you find yourself outside on an unplanned night-hike (lost your way/got hurt/had to turn around/whatever) you want this little bit of extra because:

  1. good chances you’re not at your best;
  2. you’re not prepared for a night outside so it’s important to move fast to somewhere safe.

I’ve researched the topic on this and other forums, and it seems that most people consider 25-30 lumen as the good-enough output for a night hike.

Regarding that Astrolux A01, I couldn’t find any reliable output/runtime information. Anyone has got the numbers for the currently available offering (I understand they changed the driver not so long ago)?

Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions!

- Bamba

Is the criteria of having available batteries important? Otherwise, there could be another (eventually) good solution (in terms of output/runtime) that is the Nitecore Tip 2018. It is USB rechargeable (through Powerbank or electricity), has a good ouput and despite being bigger that an AAA light, it is quite “concealable” in a purse or pocket!

I use mine on the neck, sometimes , with 2mm paracord adustable lanyard. Maybe it could be an option too!

EDIT: It has memory, so it will turn On in the last used mode, though :zipper_mouth_face:

Left to right, AO1, Sak with lite, watch, lighter.

AFAIK, Astrolux A01 and Manker E01 are the same light. Manker is advertised at 7 lumens on medium mode, so it likely does not meet your criteria. My data is from a couple years ago, so if there is a new driver then maybe the light is still worth considering.

Just found a post from January 2016 regarding this light.

The Tip looks very nice. I have a couple of Tubes that stopped working after a few months. On one it was a disconnected battery wire (which I managaed to solder back in place); the other I don’t know. But I read the Tip is tougher and more reliable overall.
Anyway I like the built in rechargable batt., no issue for me. I’m concerned about the IP rating, the other lights mentioned so far could go for a swim, not the TIP.
Also on the pricey side.
But I think I’ll get one of those for my wife.

That’s a nice EDC! :+1: