Best AA Flashlight Between $30-$50

You could try the Zebralight SC53w (330 lumens, $57), or the Zebralight SC52 (300 lumens, $49). You won’t find a more pocket-friendly AA light unless you go to a twist-on switch. The advantage of the SC52 is that it can also use a 14500 for 500 lumen output. I don’t usually run mine that way, but it’s fun when I do.

No. There’s not much demand for newer NiMH tech nowadays, so I don’t think they’re doing much to improve it. There’s small incremental improvements with Eneloop over the past several years, but nothing significant. Just like you don’t see much improvement with alkaline batteries… they’re good-enough for their intended purpose (which is ruining electronics by leaking).

Oh, they’re quite excellent for that.

There was a version of the TN4A with an XP-L HI. Perhaps that is what you are referring to. With the XP-L and the OP reflector my TN4A has more flood and more throw than my SC31B with the SST20. My C8 silver with the XP-L HI SMO out throws both of them. The hot spot on that is so bright that I can understand your comment about it not being a good leash walking light although I did that for quite some time and didn’t realize how bad it was.

OTOH, I think that these two examples of single 18650 lights and the TN4A AA are fairly similar with the TN4A having the widest beam and the C8 having the farthest throw. Size and weight are biggest things that make it different. Of course what I like are the UI and the tint and something similar can be found in many different lights.


For a clicky I haven’t seen any smaller than the Sofirn sf14v2.0. I have a few twisties which are smaller, but not clickies.

Yes, I have the XP-L HI version. I don’t use it anymore, since lights of similar size (like the Astrolux C8) out-throw it and are lighter. But for a AA light, it does throw very well.

Did you know you can customize each setting? Maybe you can set highest setting higher.

I used the engineering mode to set it to max output without any step-down. But, yes, I also set up the regular modes so that the brightest is at max output. It is a bright light, and does have impressive throw for such a small 1xAA light. It’s just not as bright as what Manker claims. They claim 500 lumens. IIRC, I got almost 400, but only with a fully-charged Eneloop. It drops output as the battery declines, and it does that fairly quickly since NiMH voltage curves have a pretty steep drop at the beginning.

Oh, and their claim of 900 lumens using a 14500 cell is waaaaay out of reality. It’s really not that much brighter than with NiMH.

I prefer the regulated boost driver of lights like the Zebralight SC5. It has higher output (still not quite 500 lumens, though perhaps the MkII version does), but it will maintain that until the battery is almost dead.

But, if you’re looking for a 1xAA pocket-thrower, the Manker T01 does a good job of that.

A quick google yielded this , showing the Ultratac A1 and Tool AA to be a bit shorter.

Well, I stand corrected then. I suppose my tool aa 219 does feel down right tiny in the hand.

Has anyone tried sticking an SST-20 in a Tool AA? I don’t know if they come on 14mm mpcbs. I would love a 4000k tool aa though.

Cells in parallel: Nitecore MT22A

Google shopping has it with a 20 percent discount for the next few days

I don’t understand the benefit of using cells in parallel in a AA light. I get it with lithium-ion (it’s generally safer), but why with an already-safe chemistry like NiMH? They still need to use a boost-driver (which adds some inefficiency the more you need to boost). Is it just amps? Unless they’re using more than 5 amps, a single Eneloop should do the job. If they want to use 2 (or more) cells, why not put them in series so you get a voltage closer to the forward-voltage of the LED, and use half the amps for less loss due to resistance in all the contacts?

Not specifically but I’ve put SST-20 in place of some cold white Nichia as well as XPG2 leds with good results. Don’t see why the Tool would be any different. Worst case, just reflow the SST-20 onto the existing star.

Standard footprint, just reflow it.

It’s just adding capacity and more amps. Lights with parallel batteries can often run on a single cell in a pinch like the LT1.

Actually “side by side” is what I like; the old incandescent “doorstop wedge” flashlights I remember had the cells wired in series but placed side by side. I don’t know how they’re wired in contemporary flashlights.

That seems inefficient, compared to cells in series. Why double the amps, when you can instead double the voltage? Less amps means less loss to resistance, and higher voltage means a more efficient driver.

Actually “side by side” is what I like; the old incandescent “doorstop wedge” flashlights I remember had the cells wired in series but placed side by side. I don’t know how they’re wired in contemporary flashlights.

I just bought a NITECORE MT22A to give to an elderly neighbor — it’s handgrip size, comes with a highly findable yellow case, and runs on two AA cells.

One problem with any cells in series, whether alkaleaks or NiMH, is that one cell can rapidly go to zero and then be reverse-charged. Probably ruin NiMH, but would definitely cause an alkaleak to crap the bed. There’s always one runt of the litter that’ll go first.

Yes, when I said “parallel” I meant physically, not necessarily circuit wise. Vast majority of 2xAA lights run in series, with sequential orientation.