Best Tactical LED Flashlight for Preppers

One of the most overlooked items when it comes to preparing for a disaster is having some form of ready to go lighting. Smartphones with flashlight apps are everywhere, and they work great in a pinch, but they don’t work for very long and provide insufficient light. For many years I was a diehard headlamp user, but I was never quite satisfied with their performance. They were bulky, looked ridiculous for every task besides midnight hikes, and overall felt like a less flexible illumination option. However, I needed something tougher and brighter than what a bargain brand flashlight could offer. What I needed was a tactical flashlight.

Tactical flashlights differentiate themselves from standard flashlights in that they are intended to be a tool that you have at all times, not something to go looking for when the power cuts out. They usually incorporate a rugged design and superior illumination into a package that you can keep clipped to your belt. Many Preppers like to have an everyday carry (EDC) tactical flashlight handy for any situation that may come up.  The best out there is the Fenix PD-35!


the Fenix PD-35 is the Best Prepper Flashight!

Pros

Cons

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    Very bright - up to 1,000 lumens
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    True tactical design
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    Solid construction and water resistant
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    Lightweight (4 oz)
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    Long battery life (up to 430 hours on eco)
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    Value priced compared to other tactical lights
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    No focus mechanism
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    Replacement batteries are harder to find

There are several big name companies producing some fantastic tactical flashlights:  MagLite, Pelican, Surefire just to name a few, but one of the names you may not have heard of if you aren’t actively researching flashlights is Fenix. They’ve been around since 2004 and have created some of the best tactical flashlights for all applications. They’re bright, well made, easy to use, and last for years. One of their newer models, the Fenix PD-35, continues this tradition of excellence and is the best Prepper flashlight available today.

Functionality

The most important feature of a tactical flashlight is that it provides excellent illumination, and Fenix PD-35 is one of the brightest tactical LED flashlights. It has five levels of brightness, eco (3 lumens), low (50 lumens), medium (150 lumens), high (350 lumens), and turbo (1,000 lumens). Additionally, if you hold the button down the button in turbo mode, it will activate the strobe feature.

The eco mode for using indoors and at very close range, like when you’re trying to pick the right key of your keyring. The low, medium, and high modes will effectively light up an area 200-500 feet in front of you, which can be useful for surveying your property or lighting up a trail. The 1,000 lumen turbo mode is useful when you really need to see out into the distance, effectively illuminating 800 feet in front of you. The strobe light can be used to draw attention to yourself, for instance when walking along a dark road where cars might not notice you.

In a self defense scenario, the incredibly bright light would be enough to blind your attacker (never unintentionally point the Fenix PD-35’s beam at another person, it can cause eye damage). The strobe function can also useful for stopping an assailant stop assailant, as it can be more disorienting than the solid beam.

One of the downsides to the flashlight is that it does not have a way to focus the beam. Many tactical flashlights allow you to switch between flood light mode, which will illuminate a wide area, and spot light mode, concentrating all of the beams power on a small area. It’s not a major problem, but changing the beam size is useful - sometimes you just need to illuminate the area in front of you, not the whole forest.

Construction

A tactical flashlight needs to be tough; it’s something you’ll carry everywhere and it’s sure to get some bumps and scrapes along the way. The case of the Fenix PD-35 flashlight is constructed of aircraft grade aluminum and has an anodized coating that will not flake off, even after a fall. It is designed to withstand a three foot drop on to concrete without sustaining any damage.

The flashlight breaks down into three sections, the bulb housing, the battery compartment and the rear switch. Between each of the sections is an o-ring that prevents water. It conforms to the IPX-8 standard for waterproofing and will work in up to six feet of water. If it should fall into a puddle or shallow river, it can survive indefinitely even when turned on.

The flashlight includes a rock-solid toothed bezel, which is supposed to help you break a car window in an emergency situation. Worst case scenario though, the flashlight’s bezel can also be used as an effective striking tool to stop an attacker.

None of this is to suggest that the Fenix PD-35 is bulky though. It weighs about four ounces with batteries included and three ounces without. That’s very lightweight compared to something like the classic tactical flashlight, the Maglite, which uses D-cell batteries and weighs almost a full pound.

Ease of Use

As with most tactical flashlights, the Fenix PD-35 is quite easy to use. It has an on-off switch located at the rear and a button located on the side of the flashlight, referred to as the ‘tactical switch”, which is used to cycle between brightness level. However, the flashlight also has a memory function that returns the flashlight to the brightness level it was at when it was turned off.

With a massive 1,000 lumen output in illumination mode, the bulb for the PD-35 can get a bit hot.  No worries though, the PD-35 it automatically cycles to a lower brightness level until it cools down and can return to turbo mode. There is little to no risk of getting it so hot that burns out the bulb (or your hand).

Battery Life

In order to perform at the level of the Fenix PD-35, standard batteries are not ideal.  Therefore the team at Fenix used specialized batteries, CR123 Lithium or 18650 rechargeable Li-ion. They’re not overly expensive, it’s just a difference when other flashlights use the AA or AAA batteries that you already have lying around the house (however with poorer performance). The PD-35 gets quite a few hours out of those batteries (depending on your illumination level).

  • Eco: 430 hours
  • Low: 50 hours
  • Medium: 12 hours
  • High: 5 hours
  • Turbo: 2.5 hours

One of the nice features on the PD-35 is its battery indicator. Every time you turn on the flashlight it illuminates an LED to indicate how much battery is left. It should be noted that this feature requires you use the rechargeable battery Li-ion batteries that comes with the light, the battery indicator will not work with standard non-rechargeable CR123 batteries.

Value

Some people purchasing a tactical flashlight for the first time might be turned off by the Fenix PD-35’s high price. After all, it’s just a small flashlight. However, it has the potential to put out 3x as much light as a standard headlamp and is far more durable.  It’s actually also a bit little less expensive than similar lights from well-known companies like Pelican and MagLite. The Fenix PD-35 really is one of the best tactical flashlights on the market and a perfect addition to your prepper kit.


The Verdict...

For any Prepper looking for the brightest tactical flashlight with a variety of output settings, then the Fenix PD-35 is your best choice.  It has a small form factor ideal for EDC, a reasonable price point compared to its peers, and high grade tactical construction mean it will last for a long time.