Light is life – whether you’re looking for a flashlight to keep on your keychain, in your pocket throughout the day, in your vehicle, or in an emergency spot around the house, you need a flashlight that won’t let you down.
And if you’re budget conscious like me, you want VALUE. These first two paragraphs describe exactly who this article is aimed to reach. The value oriented person who wants a flashlight for safety, everyday carry, tactical reasons, for camping, or general use.
Best LED Flashlights Under 50 for EDC, Tactical & General Use
In this article I’ll be reviewing 4 flashlights that I’ve used before to find you the best flashlight under 50 bucks. Of course there’s no “best” flashlight but hopefully with the lights presented here you’ll be able to find one for your application.
This was the first flashlight I ever got, I have the slightly older version which I prefer to the 2016 version. In th 2016 version they have a slightly different aluminum body, an “upgraded” side button that’s more of a side-grade if anything, and a more heat resistant head, which in my opinion was never an issue although my flashlight use is infrequent.
From the ThruNite website this little guy has 6 modes (with the lumens and how long it will last on one 18650 battery):
- Turbo (1100 lumens /95 minutes)
- Strobe (1100 lumens /3.8 hours)
- High (435 lumens /4.2 hours)
- Medium (175 lumens /11.8 hours)
- Low (18 lumens /5.5 days)
- Firefly (0.4 lumens /74 days)
So here we have an 1100 lumen output light that takes one 18650 rechargable battery or two CR123A batteries. I hands down recommend ordering it with the rechargeable 18650 batteries (get two). I chased the CR123A batteries after buying the flashlight thinking they would be pretty easy to find, well they weren’t. With the 18650’s you can recharge them over and over again and it just takes one! These batteries are also used frequently in other lights if you have other flashlights. Here are some specs on the light:
- CREE XP-L V6 LED that has a life span of 50,000 hours
- Uses one 18650 rechargeable battery or two CR123A batteries
- Max output: 1100 lumens
- Peak beam intensity: 12800 cd.
- Max beam distance: 226 meters
- Aircraft grade aluminum body
- Weight: 86g without batteries
- Accessories: Holster, 2x Spare O-Rings, Lanyard, Tail Clip, Pocket Clip
Overall the TN12 packs a punch and comes in right under $50. It’s small enough to carry every day as an EDC flashlight, keep it in your car for emergencies, and I think it hits a sweet spot for hunting, hiking, camping and outdoors because it packs a PUNCH on turbo mode and it’s light, water resistant, and shock proof as well. This is my top pick for the best flashlight under 50 as I still use it today.
Another ThruNite on the list! They must make good flashlights or something ;). On technical specs the TN4A is very similar to the TN12 with a few differences that I think differentiate the lights enough to have them both on this list. AA are probably the most common household batteries, and that’s what the TN4A uses. Gone are the days of scrambling to find your battery charger, or killing your batteries and needing new ones. This sucker outputs 1150 lumens with four AA batteries and it’s even a little more powerful than the TN12. Here are the specs for the TN4A with cool white LED:
- LED: CREE XP-L HI LED with a lifespan of 20+ years
- Output mode/Runtime*: Strobe (1050 lumens/150 minutes), Turbo(1050 lumens/56 minutes), High (520 lumens/150 minutes), Medium (120 lumens/14 hrs), Low (14lumens/93 hrs), Firefly(0.2lumens/80 days)
- Peak Beam Intensity: 52340cd
- Max beam distance: 457m
This light is also much larger than the TN12 and I think it fills a special role for construction workers or trade workers like electricians where they need to keep track of their light, or maybe prop it up and sit it on its bottom to light up an area. It’s also a great general use light to keep in the vehicle or home because of how large it is so you won’t lose it, and also the generic battery type makes it nice for the homeowner who’s not specifically into the EDC flashlight life.
Overall it’s another great option from ThruNite suited to the general use individual who needs a flashlight but want to carry it in their pocket all day. This is also the most powerful light on the list, blowing the other lights out with a much higher beam intensity and max beam distance.
Here’s the cheapest flashlight under 50 that I would recommend on the list, and it is a real competitor to the other lights on the list so far. Let’s compare it mainly to the TN12 because that’s the light it’s most similar to, it’s kind of like a budget or lightweight version of the ThruNite light. Coming in at around $30, outputting 960 lumens, and weighing about 10g less this light is close in specs but reasonably cheaper. Let’s check some specs:
- LED: CREE XM-L2 T6 LED
- Max output: 960 lumens
- Output/Runtime (2600mAh 18650): Hi 960 lumens / 1hr15min – Med 210 lumens / 6hr – Lo 50 lumens / 28hr – Lower 1 lumen / 520 hr
- Access to 4 brightness levels and 3 special modes for distress, signaling, and strobing
- Boasts a peak beam intensity of 12,450 cd and a throw distance of up to 222 meters
And one of the coolest features that I think really puts this ahead of the TN12 for EDC is the battery indicator light. Few things are worse than not realizing your flashlight battery is low or dead when you need it most. With the EC20 Nitecore implemented a patented battery light indicator that flashes every two seconds when the battery level reaches 50%, and below 50% the light will blink rapidly. Never be out of power again!
Overall I think that if you want to carry a light everyday and have 50 to spend, this is the best EDC flashlight under 50. It’s smaller and more lightweight than the TN12, and has a sweet battery indicator that can save your behind.
Fenix E35 Ultimate Edition
Here’s the final light on the list, the Fenix E35 ULTIMATE EDITION oh yeah. Pretty similar to the TN12 and Nitecore EC20 with a few twists, literally. This light has a twisting lock out feature so if you carry it in your pocket or on your tool belt you might really appreciate it. It’s price point is between the TN12 and the EC20 and the specs are similarly averaged out:
- Maximum lumen output of 1000, Maximum beam distance: 524 feet
- Cree XM-L2 U2 LED with a lifespan of 50,000
- Powered by one 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery or two primary CR123A batteries
- Waterproof to IPX-8 standard
- This bundle include EdisonBright brand flashlight holster & lanyard
- 5 Brightness and 2 strobe settings
One spec that stands out is the beam distance on this sucker – it’s killing both the TN12 and EC20. If you want a long long beam distance, an EDC flashlight under 50 with a LOCKOUT (not many cheaper flashlights have this) and a compact high-powered 1000 lumen light all in one go then I would recommend the Fenix E35. One note: if you’re coming from other Fenix flashlights and have come to enjoy their quality, and maybe their back button placement – this light may be a bit of a letdown – you’ve been warned!
Summing up the options for the under $50 flashlight review we have four to go over:
- TN-12: Sneaks into this price category maxing out your budget, providing a high-lumen, reasonably EDC sized light with all of the settings and accessories to boot. Probably the most powerful sub 50 dollar light that I would EDC. Great tactical light for camping and hiking with a powerful LED and good throw range.
- TN4A: The most powerful light on this list, also using the most commonly found AA batteries that homeowners will have easy access to rather than the 18650 or CR123A batteries all the other lights use. This light is also much larger than the other options which some users may prefer for ease of use and not losing it.
- Nitecore EC20: The budget powerhouse – this TN12 contender is basically a light version featuring a lower price, lighter weight and smaller size, and slightly less power. My favorite aspect is the battery warning light. Great budget option for a tactical or EDC flashlight that does it all.
- Fenix E35UE: Another light by Fenix that’s in the same class as the TN12 and EC20, hitting the mid price point. It’s special feature is the twisting lockout, and also a long throw range. Other than that you’re getting what you pay for in specs, somewhere between the TN12 and EC20.
Overall I’d recommend the TN12 as the best sub 50 LED flashlight for tactical and EDC. You can use it for anything you want and I think it ticks all of the boxes and stays within your budget. It’s not the smallest light, it’s not the most powerful, but I think it’s the easiest and nicest to use with both top and side buttons, all the accessories you need, and a nice mix of power and usability (best power and lighting capabilities of the EDC lights on this list.