Best Handheld Torch
Last updated 16 May 2021
In this most common category of handheld torches, we’re testing 6 superb handhelds (around 150mm, 150-250g) and for contrast 2 lighter, less powerful torches and one larger torch with a longer runtime.
How we judge
All these torches are owned and used (some more than others) by the author. They are judged on the authors own, subjective view, partly based on specification and partly his personal experiences & preferences.
We’re looking for a torch that can sustain a ‘useful brightness’ of 600 to 1,000 lumens for a reasonable runtime, have a less bright mode, be easy to use and maybe be tougher or more compact than the others.
Top 3 handheld torches
There’s no single, perfect torch. It depends on what you’ll use it for. Here’s our top 3 recommendations in this general purpose, handheld category from the 9 torches we’ve reviewed.
My approach to comparing these torches is to weigh up the primary points of specification, highest sustainable brightness and runtime on one charge/set of batteries versus size & weight of the torch. Then I consider secondary factors like ruggedness & waterproofing, or extra features like low & ultralow brightness settings. And I also consider overall design, usability and how it feels in the hand.
So to the winners… the primary spec. of the LED Lenser MT14 & Maglite ML50L puts them right up there, and their variable spot pushes them higher, in particular the LED Lenser’s very tight spot.
But I’ll often prefer to have the Nitecore MH10 V2, Nitecore MH25GTS or Olight M2R Pro because they’re smaller & lighter. They’re also more rugged, more waterproof and have more features. And of those 3 it’s the Nitecore MH10 V2 that has the most standout primary specification of 1,200 lumens for 3 hours 45 minutes, so it makes the top 3.
Nitecore MH10 V2 – 5 stars (see full review)
Tough, very bright, great basic specification, rich enough in functionality and easy to use, all in a tough & waterproof, light, compact package.
LED Lenser MT14 – 5 stars (see full review)
1,000 lumens for a ridiculous 9 hours runtime in a relatively compact, well engineered, easy-to-use package with variable spot to flood beam.
Maglite ML50L – 4 1/2 stars (see full review)
My most recommended torch, 611 lumens for 16 hours, simple, practical and reliable. Not as compact as the others here, but it’s the perfect general purpose ‘house’ torch.
Every torch here is a highly capable alternative to the top 3 torches above. We only test excellent torches from top brands. Based on your ideal combination of weight, brightness, runtime, beam, toughness, looks or even battery type, one of these may be better for you.
Olight M2R PRO – 4 1/2 stars (see full review)
Compact & light, bright (plus turbo mode), rich functionality, waterproof & tough. A serious torch shown here in (limited edition) funky orange.
Nitecore MH25GTS – 4 1/2 stars (see full review)
Tough, bright (super bright turbo mode) and rich in functionality, all in a meaningfully industrial looking, light, compact, usable package.
Mini Maglite Pro – 4 stars (see full review)
A timeless design icon, it has one function, on or off. Surprisingly bright for it’s size & weight but less than half as bright as the regular handhelds here.
Olight S30R III Baton (see full review)
The most useful torch I’ve carried, light and barely bigger than it’s battery, it lived in my laptop backpack. Huge brightness and features for it’s size, but can’t match regular handhelds in this test on brightness & runtime.
Replaced: by the Olight Baton Pro
Coast HP10R – 4 stars (see full review)
Excellent brightness & runtime, great package (spare battery, cradle for AAAs), variable beam and it’ll recharge your smartphone! Let down by it’s heft, meagre IPX4 (splashes) rating and no ultralow brightness mode.
Olight R50 Seeker Pro – 3 1/2 stars (see full review)
3,200 lumens of bragging rights, but only for a 90 seconds at a time as it gets so hot. Compact for it’s brightness, good allrounder, beam could have a better spot.
Replaced: by the Olight Seeker 2 PRO