Whether it’s to find your way to the fuse board during a power cut, or to find something at the bottom of your rucksack at night during a camping expedition, a torch can be a vital piece of kit.
In this round-up, we focused on torches which work for casual, rather than professional, use – for after-dark dog walks, perhaps, or to keep in a bedside cabinet in case of emergency. In most cases, the price comes in below £30 (only three on our list go north of that).
Many of the the torches we’ve included use LEDs, owing to their brightness and efficiency. Also to be found on our list are xenon bulbs, which also give good brightness and don’t use up too much battery power. Xenon bulbs tend to give off a more bluish light than their LED counterparts.
When testing, we focused on size, weight and durability, as well as the brightness and focus of the light emitted by the torch. The brightness of the light is measured in lumens – a decent level to look for is around 150 lumens, although many of the ones we’ve listed are even brighter.
1. JETBeam JET-I MK Cree XP-G2: £15.45, Amazon
This is a genuinely pocket-sized torch, fitting in the palm of your hand, and with a belt clip for added portability. There are three brightness levels, up to the extremely bright 480 lumens (the torch uses Cree LEDs, a brand which specialises in particularly bright lights). You change the brightness by twisting the torch on and off again within a second – it’s simply once you’ve done it a few times. It feels sturdily built – it’s impact resistant up to 4.1m – and it’s waterproof up to 2m. Takes AA batteries.
2. Sidiou Group SDO-K1: £4.99, Amazon
This is another tiny but powerful torch which attaches onto your belt without any problem, weighing 65g without the required AA battery. It uses Cree LEDs, but the light is more bluish than some others here. There are three different modes: brightest (300 lumens), less bright and strobe. The focus range is easily adjusted by stretching the head of the torch closer or further in. At less than a fiver, it’s great value.
3. Inova Microlight Keyring Torch LED: £7.71, Amazon
Certainly the most portable torch on our list, this one clips on as a keyring without any problems, thanks to its slim, small design and a weight of 10g. It doesn’t lack in luminosity, however, with two levels of brightness, a strobe mode to attract attention and a pulse mode, where you hold down the button to turn the light on. The two lithium batteries inside last for 15 hours each, which is an age considering how infrequently they’re actually in use. Available in blue, green, pink, red or black.
4. Coleman Divide 350L LED Flashlight: £29.99, Go Outdoors
Perhaps the biggest selling point of this torch is the so-called BatteryLock technology, which allows you disengage the batteries when not in use by twisting the bezel. This, in turn, preserves battery life – very handy indeed. The brightness is excellent (350 lumens on the brightest level, or 35 lumens on low) and the range goes up to around 300 metres. It has a good weight to it without being heavy, and has an IPX4 waterproof rating (in other words, it can survive splashes of water). Requires four AA batteries.
5. Maglite 2D Torch: £32.99, Argos
Among the best known torch brands out there, Maglite has a reputation for durability and performance, and this 27-lumen model stays true to form. As its brightness isn’t as strong as some others on our list, and because it’s 25cm long, it may well be best for use around the house, although it is shock-proof and waterproof, should you wish to take it outdoors. It has a xenon bulb, rather than using LEDs, and requires two D-cell batteries. There’s a 10-year guarantee, and we reckon it’ll live up to the billing.
6. LED Lenser P6 2 Cree LED Torch: £34.99, Argos
This is a torch that does a lot with not very much. It’s only 2.5cm wide, which means it’s very slim and manoeuvrable, while it only takes two AA batteries to achieve 200 lumens – ideal for outdoor use, thanks to its Cree LEDs. The beam focus is effective and simple to use, with its white-coloured light reaching as far as 120m away. It is impact- and water-resistant, and the batteries should run for around 25 hours altogether.
7. Lifesystems Intensity 220 LED Torch: £25, Blacks
Recommended by the Duke of Edinburgh Award, this torch is excellent for camping expeditions. Its LED light is powered by two Lithium Ion CR2 batteries (which are included), giving 52 hours of light. It’s small and light to hold, measuring 15cm in length and only 85g in weight, but it still manages to give off 220 lumens of bright light. There’s only one brightness setting, but you can turn on a flashing SOS function as well.
8. Olight S1 Baton: £42.33, Amazon
With a fantastically bright 500 lumen beam, this torch is probably the closest we have to a professional model on our list (and it’s got the price tag to match). That said, it’s still perfectly portable for camping and the like, and is completely waterproof, with an IPX8 rating. Powered by a single rechargeable CR123A battery, it has a massive run time of 600 hours, and that’s preserved by the design of the switch, which is placed discreetly to the side to avoid accidental usage.
The Verdict: Torches
Our pick of the bunch is the JETBeam model. It’s great value, and ticks pretty much every box: it’s perfectly durable, bright and portable. We also think the cheapest torch on our list, the Sidiou, is well worth considering despite its small price tag.
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