Best torch 2022: Our pick of the best rechargeable LED flashlights and high-powered torches

Derek Adams
11 Oct 2022

Learn how to choose the best rechargeable LED torch for you with our bite-size reviews and handy, jargon-free buying guide

You're packing for your next outdoor adventure when you reach for your trusty torch. It's about to go in the rucksack but, wait, you’ve just noticed it's run out of batteries. Worse yet, not only are they some obscure size you’ve never heard of, but it turns out they’re obscenely expensive too. There's an obvious solution: arm yourself with a rechargeable torch that doesn’t chew through expensive disposable batteries.

We've gone out into the night and tested a selection of portable torches, from mini-sized keyring models right up to nuclear-powered (okay, not quite) handheld floodlights. After a series of demanding real-world tests, we've picked out the best torches below. Take your pick – every one of these torches excels at the job they were designed to do.

If you're not sure what to look for and have absolutely no idea what all the features and buzzwords actually mean, fear not. Scroll down the page and you'll find our buying guide, which will answer all the key questions you might have.

READ NEXT: The best head torches to buy

Best torch: At a glance

How to buy the best torch for you

Why do most modern torches use LED technology?

If you're wondering why the vast majority of today’s torches use LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, there's a simple answer: they're hundreds of times more energy-efficient than the filament bulb you used to have in your old Eveready torch.

To be more precise, the average LED consumes about 12% of the energy used by halogen and filament bulbs to emit the same amount of light, and will go on burning for hours, if not days, on the same set of batteries. An average LED has a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, while a filament bulb will fizzle out at around 2,000 hours. Whichever model of torch you select will likely provide many years of useful service.

What size or type of LED torch should I buy?

LED torches come in a myriad of sizes and shapes. If you simply need a flashlight for day-to-day or holiday use, consider a pocket model. These measure around 7cm in length yet still provide enough light to see where you’re going. They don’t cost much, either. Most pocket models come with a variety of beam strengths from ten and 800 lumens and many even have extra features such as strobe (for disorientating assailants) and SOS signaling.

If you enjoy outdoor pursuits, consider taking along a larger pocket-sized model (around 12cm in length) with a higher lumen specification of around 1,000 lumens. Some of these models also provide several focus options, which allows you to narrow or widen the size of the beam. The hands-free, head-mounted variety is also an invaluable option, especially if you're camping, caving, climbing or orienteering.

If you work in security, the hunting industry or the rescue services, you’ll almost certainly require a heavyweight floodlight-type model in excess of 1,500 lumens. These monsters are heavy and large (often more than 20cm long), but they have the power to turn night into day at the press of a button. They can usually be set to provide either a football stadium-like super-wide beam or one that sharpens to highlight subjects up to a kilometre away.

Finally, don’t underestimate the versatility of the humble keyring torch. These titchy beamers will not only highlight the route ahead but they’ll illuminate your front door keyhole, provide light when the car has broken down in a country lane and guide you to the fuse box when the lights go out.

Rechargeable vs disposable batteries

Until fairly recently, most LED flashlights used disposable batteries and many still do. Cheaper models invariably draw their power from ordinary alkaline batteries (AA, AAA and so on), while the more expensive models use dearer but much longer-lasting lithiums (usually of the CR variety).

However, disposable batteries are not only costly (especially the lithium variety), but they ultimately end up in landfills, which is bad for the environment. The latest trend, therefore, is towards rechargeable lithium batteries that can be recharged very conveniently using a simple micro-USB cable attached to a mains source, a computer or a portable USB power bank. The torch itself may be more costly but you’ll save a heap of sterling in the long run – and help save the planet too.

The best rechargeable LED torches to buy

1. RovyVon Aurora A3: The best keyring torch for extreme brightness

Price: £32 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for one of the smallest and brightest rechargeable LED torches on the market, step this way. The Aurora 3 from RovyVon is about three quarters the length of a pinky finger and about as wide. And yet this titchy pocket titan’s “high” mode is capable of generating a whopping 650 lumens of illumination.

The aluminium-clad Aurora 3 provides three floodlight-style beam strengths: a dim output for reading, the high beam and a mid-strength beam for general use. It also features a strobe function for those in an emergency. It should be pointed out that the full beam is gradually reduced to 65 lumens after about two minutes. This is to protect both the user and the internal components from the high level of heat it generates.

The Aurora A3’s 130mAh lithium polymer battery takes about 45 minutes to charge using the supplied micro-USB cable and provides a running time of up to 38 minutes on the mid-strength beam. This is a staggeringly bright little torch that tucks into the smallest of pockets. Alternatively, attach it to a keyring or wear it around your neck using the supplied chain.

Key specs – Length: 55mm; Width: 14mm; Max lumens: 650; Min lumens: 20; Max beam distance: 80m; Max runtime: 38mins

2. Ledlenser MT10: The best all-round torch under £100

Price: £76 | Buy now from Amazon

This stupendously bright 1,000-lumen pocket model ticks every box and then some. Most LED flashlights come with a variety of flashing modes that get in the way of everyday use. By contrast, this one defaults to the function that matters most: beam strength. Turn it on and each tap of the robust thumb button makes the beam gradually soften from ultra-bright to dim – a classy touch that suggests a lot of thought went into its design.

As the torch is customisable, users can easily reverse the process so it starts on a low beam instead. There’s a strobe function too, but, given that it’ll hardly ever be used, it’s hidden away under a different custom mode. However, the best thing about this torch is that it comes with a multiple-focus beam that’s easily adjusted by sliding the front barrel forwards or backwards.

The splash-proof MT10 is just 12.8cm in length and uses a single Xtreme LED that burns for a gobsmacking six hours on full beam and an even more impressive 144 hours on low beam. To charge, just plug it into the nearest USB 3 power source and it even comes with a useful battery indicator. Although this torch will easily fit inside a small jacket pocket, Ledlenser has seen fit to include a natty integrated belt clip and even a separate nylon hip case.

Key specs – Length: 125mm; Width: 30mm; Max lumens: 1,000; Min lumens: 10; Max beam distance: 180m; Max runtime: 144hrs

3. Nitecore MH23: The best pocket torch for long-range illumination

Price: £96 | Buy now from Amazon

While this superb rechargeable pocket-sized entry is a couple of centimetres shorter than the Ledlenser MT10 and almost twice as bright on full beam, it doesn’t have an adjustable beam, which is extremely useful for a variety of scenarios. Nevertheless, in some situations, this would probably be a better choice than the MT10, not least because its highest beam setting is easily bright and narrow enough to dazzle a fox 270m away.

The MH23 comes with five different beam strengths, from one lumen – just bright enough to see by without attracting attention – to a mind-bending 1,800 lumens. It also features an emergency strobe and SOS, plus a very cool locator beacon built into the torch button that gently flashes intermittently so it can be found in the darkness of a tent.

This torch sports very impressive running times: 330 hours in Ultralow mode to 30 minutes in full Turbo mode. Most users will probably find that the Mid (260 lumens) and High (760 lumens) modes are the most practical for everyday use since they are capable of running for five hours and two hours respectively.

Key specs – Length: 111mm; Width: 31mm; Max lumens: 1,800; Min lumens: 1; Max beam distance: 294m; Max runtime: 330hrs

4. Gtech 20V Cordless Task Light Bundle: The best LED task light for DIY use

Price: £60 with battery and charger | Buy now from Gtech

Gtech is a UK-based company that specialises in cordless garden and household tech like lawnmowers, strimmers and vacuum cleaners. It now also includes in its roster a tranche of very good DIY tools – and that’s where this new rechargeable LED work light comes to the fore.

This work lamp has two brightness settings (150 and 300 lumens) and produces a really bright beam that can be adjusted for diffuse or focused light simply by turning the lens cover. In diffuse mode, it will illuminate any DIY task, whether it’s painting a wall, mounting a shelf or fixing a car. It’s also easy to set up because it can be angled 180˚ or hung from its built-in plastic hook (handy for hanging in a tent). It runs for a long time too – nine hours on maximum and 18 hours on minimum.

The Task Light weighs 600g and comes bundled with a charger and 2.5aH 20V battery that can be hot-swapped with the company’s Impact Driver, Combi Drill and Multi-Tool. It’s one of the best task lights we’ve come across, not least because even its brightest setting isn’t too dazzling to work by.

Key specs – Length: 120mm; Width: 68mm; Max lumens: 300; Min lumens: 150; Max beam distance: about 20m; Max run time: 18hrs

Buy now from Gtech

5. Olight i1R 2 EOS: The best low-cost keyring torch

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

At a shade over 4cm in length and just 1.5cm wide, the Olight i1R 2 EOS is a great keyring torch for daily use. It’s a doddle to use – just twist the rear barrel for two different beam outputs. This titchy aluminium torch was pitted against a couple of longer pen-shaped models and it blew them out of the darkness. At 150 lumens, it’s capable of illuminating a garden shed from over 20m away and well up to the task of brightening the route ahead.

Expect a runtime of about 15 minutes on high (150 lumens) and almost six hours on low (five lumens) and when it comes to charging time, simply unscrew the top half and it springs open to reveal a micro-USB port for the provided cable.

If you’re in the market for a tiny, keenly-priced rechargeable torch that attaches to any keyring without adding extra clutter, this is the one for you. It’s available in two colours – black and brown – and comes with a fixture loop.

Key specs – Length: 40mm; Width: 15mm; Max lumens: 150; Min lumens: 5; Max beam distance: 40m; Max run time: 6hrs

6. Ledlenser MH5: The best head torch for orienteering

Price: £28 | Buy now from Amazon

A headtorch is a camping, orienteering and caving essential – without one, you’re bound to stumble over your guy ropes, trip over a rock or bang your head on a stalactite. It’s also a very useful item to keep in the car for nighttime emergencies.

This excellent model from Ledlenser features two different outputs – 20 lumens for general low-light use and 400 lumens for brightening up the landscape. Rather ingeniously, it also incorporates a focus system that adjusts from a wide floodlight to a narrow 180m beam simply by turning the front lens dial. Its rechargeable lithium-ion battery should provide about four hours of burn time in High mode and up to 35 hours in Low mode.

It can also be used as a hand torch and even attaches to clothing with the provided metal clip. But removing the main plastic housing from the head strap attachment requires quite a bit of force and the rechargeable battery compartment is equally tricky to open for the first time. On the plus side, the rechargeable battery can be replaced with a standard AA alkaline battery, should the need arise.

Key specs – Length: 75mm; Width: 50mm; Max lumens: 400; Min lumens: 20; Max beam distance: 180m; Max runtime: 35hrs

7. MecArmy PT10: The best compact torch

Price: £54 | Buy now from Amazon

This rechargeable aluminium-clad, 800-lumen pocket model is just 7.7cm long but its three Cree XP-G2 LEDs are easily bright enough to illuminate a tennis court. Its diffuse, ultra-wide white beam is perfect for revealing the route ahead and to both sides. Ingeniously, instead of switching on at full pelt, the first time you press the button, it emits a soft glow so you don’t draw too much attention to yourself.

Hold the button down and the beam strength jumps a notch higher then higher still and then, when you think it can’t possibly get any brighter, it reaches full power and everything looks like it’s in broad daylight. Well, sort of. If you double-tap the button, it skips straight to full beam. Finally, there’s strobe mode for really attracting some attention or disorientating an assailant.

The only issue with this model is that the on/off button is very sensitive, which means it can easily be switched on if the button is resting against another object in your pocket, drawer or a suitcase. But, thankfully, it charges up in about 90 minutes using a standard micro-USB cable (provided). You can safely expect about 18 minutes of use on full beam (not especially great) and up to 17 hours on low. It’s waterproof to 2m, too.

Key specs – Length: 77mm; Width: 22mm; Max lumens: 800; Min lumens: 10; Max beam distance: 126m; Max runtime: 17hrs

8. Petzl Actik Core: The best head torch for campers

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

Petzl is a market leader in head torches and this model comes with three beam strengths that are assigned very easily by repeatedly pressing the orange rubber power switch. Press once for low beam – which is perfect for reading without disturbing a partner – twice for brighter and three times for a maximum power of 350 lumens (bright enough to illuminate subjects up to 95m away). Full beam has a runtime of around two hours, while low beam keeps going for up to 160 hours.

It also has a softer red LED beam to help preserve night vision and prevent dazzling others. A double-tap of the red beam activates a pulsing strobe that runs for up to 350 hours – a very handy signal if in need of help. To recharge, simply plug the supplied micro-USB cable directly into the enclosed battery and attach it to the mains or a portable USB power bank. And if you don’t have access to a power source, simply replace the removable rechargeable battery with three normal AAA batteries.

The Actik Core can be angled up or down and comes with a comfy reflective head strap replete with an integral emergency whistle that’s surprisingly loud. In the pantheon of wilderness gear, this rechargeable model is a mini triumph. It’s light as a feather, easy to use, not too expensive and extremely versatile.

Key specs – Length: 55mm; Width: 40mm; Max lumens: 350; Min lumens: 5; Max beam distance: 95m; Max runtime: 160hrs

9. Coquimbo COB LED: The best budget LED worklight

Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon

This rechargeable work light is just the ticket for those unforeseen moments, like when the car suddenly breaks down on a dark road and you’d rather not risk using your phone’s torch function in case you drop it into the engine bay or use up its valuable battery power.

The Coquimbo’s narrow beam arm articulates to any angle and comes equipped with a magnetic base and handy hook for hands-free siting. It features five beam modes: high, low, single LED, static red and a flashing red mode for warnings and emergencies. High mode is the one you’ll likely use most since it provides a broad, bright and diffuse 600-lumen glow that's perfect for most situations. The Coquimbo is charged via USB and has a runtime of about 40 minutes in high mode.

Key specs – Length: 148mm; Width: 40mm; Max lumens: 600; Min lumens: N/A; Max beam distance: 5m; Max runtime: 40mins