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In search of the best keychain flashlight that is easy to carry and provides light just when you need it?

If you’re like me, you enjoy having durable and reliable survival tools ready for use as soon as you need them.

When camping or working outdoors, having a handy and high-powered flashlight can make the difference between staying safe and being left in the dark.

However, bar some of the best tactical flashlight models, most flashlights are usually bulky and hard to access in urgent situations. Keychain flashlight are the perfect solutions for an ultra-compact light source.

Flashlights are essential for everyone to have in a variety of situations, from power outages to outdoor survival.

best-keychain-flashlights-for-edc

Choosing a keychain flashlight can give you exactly what you need for easy carrying and immediate access. Most models are under 3″ in length and only weigh an once or two. You have no reason not to carry one!

By using our in-depth buying guide, you can find the best keychain flashlight for EDC that is portable, functional and just as bright as larger flashlights.


Keychain Flashlights Comparison Table 2017


ModelImageSize & WeightLight ModesBrightness
(Lumens)
Runtime
(Hours)
MaterialBattery
(Recharge?)
Price
($-$$$)
AAA Keychain Flashlights
SureFire Titan Plus Ultra3.4" x 0.6"
2.0 oz
low
med
high
15 lumens
75 lumens
300 lumens
7 hr
2 hrs
1 hrs
Brass1 x AAA
(Yes)
$$$
ThruNite Ti32.75" x 0.55"
0.42 oz
low
med
high
strobe
0.4 lumens
12 lumens
120 lumens
120 lumens
115 hrs
6.3 hrs
0.5 hrs
0.5 hrs
Aluminum1 x AAA
(No)
$$
UltraTac K182.95" x 0.5"
0.5 oz
low
med
high
5 lumens
80 lumens
360 lumens
Up to 45 hrsAluminum1 x AAA or Li-ion 10440
(Yes)
$$
Fenix E052.63" x 0.6"
0.44 oz
low
med
high
8 lumens
25 lumens
85 lumens
14.5 hr
4.25 hrs
1 hrs
Aluminum1 x AAA
(No)
$
Olight i3E EOS2.4" x 0.55"
0.4 oz
high120 lumens0.5 to 1 hrAluminum / Copper1 x AAA or 900mAh NIMH
(No)
$
Micro Keychain Flashlights
Streamlight 73001 Nano1.47" x 0.5"
0.36 oz
high10 lumens8 hrsAluminum4 x IEC-LR41
(No)
$
LRI PII PRO1.57" x n/a
0.33 oz
high5 lumens12 hrsPlastic2 x Li-ion
(No)
$
Nitecore TIP BLACK 3602.4" x 0.85"
0.75 oz
low
med
high
ultra- high
1 lumen
35 lumens
150 lumens
360 lumens
46 hrs
6.5 hrs
1.5 hrs
0.5 hrs
PlasticLi-ion pack
(Yes)
$$
SureFire Sidekick 3002.5" x 0.58"
1.2 oz
low
med
high
5 lumens
60 lumens
300 lumens
45 hrs
4 hrs
1.25 hrs
Plastic1 x LI-ion
(Yes)
$$$
Streamlight 72101 KeyMate2.25" x 0.8"
0.9 oz
high10 lumens96 hrsAluminium4 x LR44
(No)
$

Best Keychain Flashlight Reviews


While it may sound like a straight-forward product, not all keychain flashlights are made equal. The best model of keychain flashlight will depend on your needs, your budget and how often you intend to use it.

Generally, keychain flashlights are affordable at around $5 on the lower end. The price of higher end models will increase along with quality (with exceptions), ranging up to $100. However, unless your are looking for brightest light possible, for EDC purposes a light around $10 to $20 will be more than enough.

There are three primary types that you should consider when shopping for the best keychain flashlights that will determine price and functionality: micro, AAA and rechargeable.

  • Micro keychain flashlights are small, compact and made to produce lots of light power in a tiny body. They’re generally 2.5” or smaller.
  • AAA keychain flashlights, as the name suggests, run off of AAA batteries, which can be found almost anywhere. These flashlights are larger in size than micros, but with a larger battery they can also produce a higher output of light. They generally range from 2.50” inches to larger.
  • Rechargeable keychain flashlights may be micro or AAA sized. Choosing a rechargeable flashlight is a great option if you want to continuously use your flashlight without changing out the batteries. However, you’ll have to be diligent about charging and have the power to do so when you need it. The best keychain flashlights will have battery replacement as well as the ability to recharge.

Below I’ve made a list of the top keychain flashlights on the market and broken them down by size—micro vs. AAA.

The easiest and most efficient way to choose the right model for you is to read the product reviews below and assess the pros and cons of each keychain flashlight according to your individual preferences and needs.


Best Mini Flashlights


Streamlight 73001 Nano

This tiny titanium LED flashlight can easily be clipped onto your keys, belt loop or backpack. It has a decent battery life for its size and it makes a cheap yet functional gift that anyone can use. Get it here.

Features & Performance

At only 1.47″, the Streamlight Nano is one of the smallest keychain flashlight you can find. It’s constructed to be completely weatherproof, so it’s great for going on quick outdoor excursions.

It has a white LED light designed for long-term performance. While petite in size, it’s made from durable aluminium and can be used outdoors for rescue, sporting and so on.

This tiny flashlight is just bright enough to get the job done and you can keep it on your keychain without weighing anything down. It’s not meant for heavy duty and consistent use, but you should have no issues using it for walking, reading or signaling to others in the field.

The major concern I have is that it is turned on by twisting the cap, so it may be more prone to technical issues than other push-button options.

PROS

  • Small and incredibly compact – can be attached to anything
  • LED light – no need to change batteries
  • Weatherproof
  • Comes in black and pink colors
  • Cheap

CONS

  • VERY small – easy to lose
  • Lower brightness and runtime compared with other micros
  • Non-rechargeable
  • Twist cap rather than button to turn on
  • Cap may be prone to falling off after excess use
Who Should Buy It

If you’re looking for one of the smallest and lightest micro keychain flashlights available, the Streamlight Nano is one of the top choices. A no-frills, but bright and high-quality option.

Although the lumen and runtime aren’t as long as other models, the Nano is very cheap and reliable for casual use.

Get the Streamlight Nano

– Specs –

Length: 1.47″ inches

Bezel diameter: 0.55″ inches

Weight: 0.36 ounces

Material: Aluminum

Lumen: 10 lumens (high)

Light Modes: 1

Runtime: 8 Hours

Special Features: Pocket clip


LRI PII PRO

This lithium battery-powered keychain flashlight produces an incredibly bright beam of light (visible over a mile!) and yet it’s small enough to be conveniently attached to your keys or clothing. It’s unique design makes it easy to press it on and off, even if you have gloves on. Get it here.

Features & Performance

The LRI PII Pro is designed for convenient, rough treatment with a tough, water resistant exterior.

It comes with two li-ion batteries that may be replaced, but they are not rechargeable. It features a very basic “quick squeeze” electronic on and off feature without any twisting involved. In this case, simple means durable.

This keychain flashlight is most comparable with the Streamlight Nano and the Streamlight Keymate, but it has much more of a “thumb” feel rather than the traditional narrow flashlight shape. It’s the most lightweight of the three, yet it also has the least amount of brightness power.

PROS

  • The batteries are replaceable
  • Easy to use ring with quick release
  • Bright lumen for its size
  • Automatically turns off to save battery life
  • Cheap

CONS

  • You’ll need to disable demo mode
  • Very simple on/off function
  • Batteries not rechargeable
  • Switch may be “too easy” to activate
Who Should Buy It

If you’re in search of a bright yet affordable micro keychain flashlight with a very simple on and off switch that fits naturally in your hands, the LRI PII Pro is a great choice.

The LRI PII Pro is also durable and lightweight, so it’s great for working in the field, outdoor enthusiasts, campers or someone who just wants to find their way to the bathroom.

Get the LRI PII Pro

– Specs –

Length: 2.5″ inches

Bezel diameter: N/A

Weight: 0.8 ounces

Material: Plastic

Lumen: 5 lumens (high)

Light Modes: 1

Runtime: 12 hrs

Special Features: Release ring, photon necklace docking station

 


NiteCore TIP 360

The NiteCore TIP isn’t your average tiny keychain flashlight – it comes with with a huge battery in a sturdy little body that still fits in the palm of your hand. Get it here.

Features & Performance

This uniquely shaped keychain flashlight is made with military-grade hard-anodized aluminum in a small yet durable compact body. It comes with a li-ion battery pack with the ability to recharge with a convenient USB outlet.

The NiteCore TIP features an extremely easy to operate interface with a duel switch design: one for off/on and the other for selecting a mode. With the mode selection feature, it will be able to memorize your previous brightness mode (low, medium, high and ultra-high).

If you only need low or medium light, the NiteCore Tip can last for quite a while (46 hours for low mode). While it has a much shorter run time for bright and ultra-bright modes, the lumen output for these modes are some of the highest you will see in micro keychain flashlights (up to 360 lumens).

For a ultra-compact option the NiteCore Tube. This super tiny and durable model kicks out 45 lumens, which can be enough in many cases.

PROS

  • USB rechargeable
  • Wide variety of color options
  • Multiple output regulation
  • Exceptional light output in higher modes

CONS

  • Pricey
  • The batteries cannot be replaced
  • Low quality lock function (difficult to attach)
  • Very short runtime for brighter modes
Who Should Buy It

The NiteCore TIP is best for someone who wants a super powerful, yet rechargeable keychain flashlight that is versatile and simple to use. If you’re hoping for a keychain flashlight with the brightest potential lumen output and you don’t mind paying extra for having a tool with variable light modes, this product is a good choice.

Get the NiteCore TIP

– Specs –

Length: 2.40 inches

Bezel diameter: 0.85 inches

Weight: 0.75 ounces

Material: Plastic

Lumen: 1 (low) – 35 (med) – 150 (high) – 360 (ultra-high) lumens

Light Modes: 4

Runtime: 46 hrs – 6.5 hrs – 1.5 hrs – 0.5 hrs

Special Features: Power indicator with USB charging

 


SureFire Sidekick 300 Best Rechargable Keychain Flashlight

This high-performance micro keychain flashlight does not mess around when it comes to versatility and charging capabilities. While it’s on the larger, pricier and heavier end for a micro flashlight, it’s also a reliable utility tool useful for both emergencies and everyday use. Get it here.

Features & Performance

Compact and high-powered, the SureFire Sidekick 300 has a three light mode output options and a micro-usb charging port for easy recharging on a laptop or computer. It’s made with a weather-resistant polymer body and small enough to fit in bags and purses. It also comes with an aluminum attachment feature with a clip-on design.

While sturdy and portable, it’s not as micro-sized and lightweight as the Streamlight Nano and LRI PII Pro. It’s battery life (depending on the mode) is average compared with similar products, but it has the ability to reach ultra brightness that is only rivaled by the Nitecore TIP.

PROS

  • Micro-USB rechargeable
  • Multiple output regulation
  • Convenient one-click switch design

CONS

  • Expensive
  • SureFire customer service often considered low quality
  • Charging indicator flashes
  • Button not easily pressable (could be considered a pro)
  • Bulkier and heavier than other micro keychain flashlights
Who Should Buy It

If you’re willing to pay extra for a extra powerful, versatile and rechargeable keychain flashlight that you can take on most outdoor excursions, the SureFire Sidekick might be a good option for you. This keychain flashlight is great if you want something easy to use at the push of a button but don’t mind it being bigger and heavier (compared with other micro flashlights).

Get the SureFire Sidekick

– Specs –

Length: 2.5 inches

Bezel diameter: 0.58 inches

Weight: 2.0 ounces

Material: Plastic

Lumen: 5 (low) – 60 (med) – 300 (high) lumens

Light Modes: 3

Runtime: 45 hrs – 4 hrs – 1.25 hrs

Special Features: 3 brightness levels, micro-USB charging port, split keyring

 


Streamlight 72101 KeyMate – Best Mini Flashlight 2017

This small, virtually unbreakable keychain flashlight has an unparalleled runtime along with a snap hook for easily attachment to keys, bags and clothing. Get it here.

Features & Performance

This keychain flashlight is made with machined aircraft aluminum, making it nearly impossible to break. The Streamlight KeyMate uses four alkaline battery cells to run an extraordinary 96 hours of runtime! It includes three different LED color options along with three body color choices. It runs off of four LR44 batteries and does not have the ability to recharge. It’s turned off and on using a rotary head switch (no buttons).

The Streamlight KeyMate is only has one light mode, but its runtime surpasses both the Streamlight Nano and the LRI PII Pro. Compared with the NiteCore TIP and the SureFire Sidekick, it’s average size, non-rechargeable and unable to have a higher lumen output. However, it is much more affordable with a longer runtime.

PROS

  • Longest runtime out of competitors
  • Relatively high brightness
  • Affordable
  • Compact, lightweight and easily attachable

CONS

  • Not rechargeable
  • Heavy compared with other micro keychain flashlights
  • Batteries may be difficult and pricey to replace
  • May more easily come apart than button flashlights
Who Should Buy It

If you’re on the hunt for a strong, sturdy little keychain flashlight that can deliver long-term brightness at a low cost, consider getting the Streamlight KeyMate. This is a great flashlight for outdoorsmen and fieldworkers who rely on extensive runtime brightness with a light-weight, easily attachable design.

Get the Streamlight KeyMate

– Specs –

Length: 2.25 inches

Bezel diameter: 0.8 inches

Weight: 0.9 ounces

Material: Aluminum

Lumen: 10 lumens (high)

Light Modes: 1

Runtime: 96 hours

Special Features: Pocket clip, scratch-resistant, LED available in white, green or blue

 


Best AAA Keychain Flashlights


SureFire Titan Plus Ultra

This sleek keychain flashlight looks similar to a bulky pen with a virtually indestructible body and a twistable headswitch with multiple light outputs. Get it here.

Features & Performance

The SureFire Titan Plus Ultra has a silver matte body (also available in black) with a removable pocket clip for easy carry. It boasts a proprietary reflector that shapes the light output to ensure a beam that’s evenly dispersed and convenient for close-range use. It has a removable clip for pockets, but you’ll have to get a keyring for it to become a true keychain.

In comparison to other AAA keychain flashlights, the SureFire Titan Plus Ultra is considerably heavier and longer. The SureFire Titan Plus Ultra is also the highest price in comparison with other keychain flashlights.

PROS

  • Multiple output regulation
  • A unique reflector for maximum beam output
  • Sturdy, virtually indestructible nickel-plated brass body
  • Weather resistant

CONS

  • Heavy weight
  • Expensive
  • Does not come with a charger for batteries
  • No quick-attach tail cap
Who Should Buy It

The SureFire Titan Plus Ultra is best for someone looking for a sturdy, weather-resistant brass keychain flashlight with multiple output regulation. If you don’t mind paying a higher price, it’s a certainly a decent flashlight for emergencies, but may not be ideal for everyday use.

Get the Titan Plus

– Specs –

Length: 3.4 inches

Bezel diameter: 0.6 inches

Weight: 2.0 ounces

Material: Brass

Lumen: 15 (low) – 75 (med) – 300 (high) lumens

Light Modes: 3

Runtime: 1 hr – 2 hrs – 7 hrs

Special Features: Removable pocket clip, rechargeable batteries, faceted reflector

 


ThruNite Ti3 – Best AAA Keychain Flashlight

The ThruNite Ti3 is a lightweight aluminum keychain flashlight with four different light modes, including a strobe option. It provides excellent performance and that’s why I ranked it as the best all-around keychain flashlight. Get it here.

Features & Performance

This sturdy flashlight is made of hard-anodized aluminum with a sleek body, it’s available in a handful of color options if that is important to you. It features three different brightness levels (0.4, 12, and 120 lumens) as well as an additional strobe function that can last for about an hour. It is not rechargeable and turns on by twisting the cap.

The ThruNite Ti3 is fairly small and lightweight for a AAA keychain flashlight (although not the smallest). It’s unique among other AAA keychain flashlights because it includes the low lumen “firefly” mode which can be useful for saving the battery if you only need a small amount of light. I personally love this feature and find it incredibly useful for saving the battery life.

As a keychain flashlight, the overall lumen output is higher than some others, but its runtime is average.

PROS

  • Multiple output regulation, including strobe
  • 2 way reversible pocket clip (attachable to hat brims)
  • Includes a “firefly” light mode for minimal yet battery-saving brightness

CONS

  • Batteries not rechargeable (must buy separably)
  • Twist-switch may cause issues when navigating through modes
  • Belt clip construction lower quality
Who Should Buy It

If you’re looking for a lightweight clip-on keychain flashlight with “firefly” and “strobe” light features, the ThruNite Ti3 is an excellent and affordable choice. It’s best used for casual adventures, such as hiking, dog-walking, indoor use and emergencies. But, it will also be ready for service in any survival situations you find yourself in.

Get the ThruNite Ti3

– Specs –

Length: 2.75″ inches

Bezel diameter: 0.55 inches

Weight: 0.42 ounces

Material: Aluminum

Lumen: 0.4 (low) – 12 (med) – 120 (high & strobe) lumens

Light Modes: 3 + strobe

Runtime: 115 hrs – 6.3 hrs – 0.5 hrs

Special Features: Extra strobe, reversible pocket clip

 


UltraTac K18

The UltraTac K18 is an incredibly bright rechargeable keychain flashlight with strobe capabilities and a USB recharge module. Get it here.

Features & Performance

The UltraTac K18 keychain Flashlight is made with a impact-resistant, water-resistant and hard-anondized aluminum body for durability while in the field. It’s able to run with a variety of battery types, including 1.5V Alkaline/Lithium AAA batteries, 1.2V Ni-MH AAA batteries and 3.7V Li-ion 10440 batteries. Included with the light is an attachable module that allows you to charge the device through a USB port. It includes a convenient push-button turn-on feature.

Compared with other AAA keychain flashlights, the UltraTac K18 is one of the longest and heaviest (with the exception of the SureFire Titan Plus Ultra), but also offers some of the brightest output at 360 lumens. It’s also in the higher price range for keychain flashlights, but if comes enough durability to survive the roughest use and almost every function you can think of.

PROS

  • Multiple output regulation, including strobe
  • Rechargeable, includes USB recharge module
  • Durable weather resistant body
  • Maximum beam distance and intensity

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Several light function issues reported
  • May get hot in brighter modes
  • Button may be easy to activate
  • Battery life is variable
Who Should Buy It

If you’re willing to pay more for a ultra-strong keychain flashlight with the ability to be recharged and has strobe capability, the UltraTac K18 might be a good choice. However, be aware that there have been substantial reported issues with the quality of this flashlight, so it may not be good for excessive outdoor or pocket use.

Get the Streamlight Nano

– Specs –

Length: 2.95 inches

Bezel diameter: 0.55 inches

Weight: 0.5 ounces

Material: Aluminum

Lumen: 5 (low) – 80 (med) – 360 (high) lumens

Light Modes: 3 + strobe

Runtime: Up to 45 hrs

Special Features: Extra strobe, pocket clip and keyring

 


Olight i3E EOS

While small, simple and cheap, the Olight i3E EOS does not sacrifice durability and brightness. There’s no doubt that this is a solid keychain light that packs a punch. Get it here.

Features & Performance

The Olight i3E EOS is offered in two power options depending on what color you choose—90 and 120 lumens. The more powerful model is offered in silver and solid copper. The 90 lumen option comes in a variety of color options, including blue, black, purple, red, green and pink and has an aluminum body.

While this keychain flashlight only has one light mode, it’s an incredibly bright at 120 lumens (silver and copper) that can last for up to an hour. The Olight i3E EOS uses a twist-cap operation to turn off and on.

Compared with other AAA keychain flashlights, the Olight i3E EOS is one of the smallest and lightest available – it is also one of the most affordable. However, it does not come with a pocket clip or batteries that are rechargeable.

PROS

  • Color variety
  • Waterproof
  • Very bright
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Cheap

CONS

  • Batteries not rechargeable (must buy separably)
  • Short battery life compared to others
  • No pocket clip
  • May become hot quickly
Who Should Buy It

If you’re seeking a very simple, colorful and affordable keychain flashlight that is lightweight yet strongly made, the Olight i3E EOS might be your answer. As long as you carry spare batteries, you can take it on all sorts of outdoor work, camping and hiking adventures for simple, high brightness.

Get the Olight i3E

– Specs –

Length: 2.38 inches

Bezel diameter: 0.55 inches

Weight: 0.4 ounces

Material: Copper/Aluminum

Lumen: 90/120 (high) lumens

Light Modes: 1

Runtime: 0.5 to 1 hr

Special Features: Color variety, keychain clip

 


Fenix E05

The Fenix E05 is a compact AAA keychain flashlight with decent battery life, multiple output modes and a fairly durable form. Fenix produces some of the highest quality EDC tactical flashlights and the E05 is no exception. When it comes to keychain flashlights that deliver power and durability, consider this option. Get it here.

Features & Performance

The Fenix Eo5 is made from hard-anodized aluminum, includes a twist switch on/off capability that can be operated with one hand. It’s sturdy tube body makes it easy for standing on it’s end (ideal for acting as candlelight when you need a hands free light source). This keychain flashlight is rated for being waterproof up to 2 meters for 30 minutes.

Some things to point out are that the Fenix Eo5 has a high runtime compared with other three-mode AAA keychain flashlights. However, it does not reach the level of brightness that other AAA keychain flashlights offer.

PROS

  • Multiple output regulation
  • Very broad beam
  • One-hand switch capability
  • Good battery life
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Batteries not rechargeable (must buy separably)
  • No pocket clip
  • Low maximum lumen compared with others
Who Should Buy It

If you’re in search of a  EDC keychain flashlight with variable brightness and a broad beam with a waterproof body, consider the Fenix Eo5. Whether you plan to use it for night walking, camping or other nighttime excursions, it can deliver substantial light, but it’s not the brightest option out there.

Get the Fenix E05

– Specs –

Length: 2.63 inches

Bezel diameter: 0.6 inches

Weight: 0.44ounces

Material: Aluminum

Lumen: 8 (low) – 25 (med) – 85 (high) lumens

Light Modes: 3

Runtime: 14.5 hrs – 4.25 hrs – 1hr

Special Features: Keyring/lanyard hole

 


 Our Verdicts: Best Keychain Flashlights 2017


Best Overall Keychain Flashlight: ThruNite Ti3

Best Micro Keychain Flashlight: Streamlight 72101 KeyMate

Best AAA Keychain Flashlight: ThruNite Ti3

Best Rechargable Keychain Flashlight: SureFire Sidekick 300

 


Keychain Flashlight Buyer’s Guide


What is a Keychain Flashlight?

A keychain flashlight is a flashlight tool designed for ultimate portability and easy access in mind. You can attach keychain flashlights to your camping bags, clothing, purse, keys and just about anything else you use while on the go.

Battery type, runtime, brightness (lumen), weight and length will all vary greatly depending on the model of the keychain flashlight.

Advantages of Keychain Flashlights

As a super useful EDC tool, everyone should have a keychain flashlight in their purse, car or camping gear. They take of virtually no weight in your bags and you can use them at the push of a button or the twist of a cap.

If you have a child, giving them a keychain flashlight for their lanyard or backpack provides them with an extra tool for safety. Plus, given that some of the best models are low cost, it’s a small investment.

small-bright-keychain-flashlights

Flashlights are something we usually don’t think we need, until we really need them. Normal flashlights take up space and are hard to carry around. Keychain flashlights are convenient alternatives that you can have with you for every situation, from emergencies to nighttime camping bathroom trips.

Plus, you’ll be extra glad you have one when you get stuck in the dark on the way back to the car on a long hiking trip.

Keychain Flashlight Uses

Do you walk home alone at night? Do you find yourself wanting a quick light source while searching for lost keys or items? Do have the need for a reliable source of light to guide you at night while camping, fishing or hunting?

If you said yes to any of these, you’ll find having a keychain flashlight incredibly useful to have in your EDC toolbox.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of situations where you can use keychain flashlights:

  • Camping, hunting, fishing, hiking and backpacking. If you don’t want to weigh down your gear, using a keychain flashlight is a great way to save weight and space. You won’t think twice about packing a piece of gear that is 2.5″ long and weighs just a few ounces. When you need it, you’ll be thankful.
  • Search, rescue and survival. If you find yourself down to the bare minimum, you can easily have a keychain flashlight attached to you to help guide you in darkness or search for other people or resources in emergency situations. Think emergency or survival situations—you’ll need reliable light when darkness falls.
  • Casual and everyday use. You don’t need to be a survivalist to take advantage of a keychain flashlight. You can keep one in your car or a drawer in your home to use for any situation that requires a quick and handy light source.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Keychain Flashlight

Size

Keychain flashlights are small in general, but the weight, length and bezel diameter all play a role in how portable and lightweight the flashlight will be. The smallest keychain flashlights are micros-sized, which are ideal for carrying with you anywhere you go if you’re sure not to lose them.

Here is a breakdown of keychain flashlight sizes:

  • Micro: Under: under 2.5 inches in length
  • AAA: Over: 2.5 to 3.5 inches in length

Most AAA keychain flashlights will easily hook to your bags without taking up much room – search for products that show a hand-to-product comparison to get a true idea of the size.

Almost all models will be between 0.5 to 0.8 inches in diameter measured at the bezel.

Shape

In general, keychain flashlights come in two main shapes. The first is the traditional “tube” shape that you often think of for normal flashlights. This shape is long and great for sliding into your pocket and bags. It can also be stood up on end to use as a candle. The Streamlight Nano is an example of a model built in this tube shape.

The second type is a “flat block” shape that are more rectangular and compact, such as the Nitecore Tip 360. These may feel a bit bulkier in your bags, but this shape generally means more features.

The LRI PII Pro is an example of a very uniquely shaped keychain flashlight that looks similar to a round button. With a smaller size and shape you’re limited to less powerful LED bulbs, but it also means a light that is easier to carry.

Weight

When you’re on the go, the weight of your bags can make all the difference in your journey, especially if you are traveling outdoors or packing for wilderness expeditions.

If you’d like the lightest (and smallest) for easily carrying on your keys or clothing, consider looking at micro keychain flashlights. These range from 0.33 ounces to 1.2 ounces in weight, which you won’t even think twice about when carrying around. AAA keychain flashlights are generally a bit heavier, just the battery along adds significant weight. Choose aluminum options if you’re still worried about weight.

Battery Type

The batteries of a keychain flashlight are one of, if not the most important features to look for. Larger batteries can power a LED bulb, which means a brighter light.

In general, there are two main battery types used in keychain flashlights: cell (or “watch” batteries” and AAA batteries.

AAA are useful if you’d like the ability to buy rechargeable versions – not to mention they are much easier to find than battery cells. Most people keep a stock around the house, so you won’t have to hunt down new batteries when you run out. Plus, the are incredibly cheap these days.

When comparing all keychain flashlights, runtimes seem to be higher for micro keychains with battery cells, but this also correlates with lower lumen output (in some cases). I find that micro lights offer a great balance between power, size and efficiency.

Being able to recharge the batteries of your keychain flashlight can make a huge difference in how often you feel comfortable using it. Note that rechargeable versions are more expensive, so you may have to pay extra for this feature.

If you’ll be using your keychain flashlight frequently and you’ll have access to charging ports, a rechargable keychain flashlight is a good choice. However, if you spend a lot of time away from technology, choose a high quality battery (such as lithium) and carry lots of extras.

Brightness

Your need for light output (measured in lumen) will depend on how you plan to use the flashlight. If you intend on using it casually for indoors, walking your dog or occasionally hiking or camping, you can probably feel comfortable using a lumen between 5 and 120.

brightest-keychain-flashlights

However, if you work or spend a lot of time outdoors in the dark, you may need the capabilities of a flashlight with a brighter lumen that is 300 or higher. If you’re really not sure what brightness you’d like, consider purchasing a keychain flashlight with multiple light modes.

Bulb Type

The type of bulb that your flashlight has will not only impact how bright it is, but also the length of life that the flashlight will have. For space-saving and durability factors, you’ll basically find that all keychain flashlights use LED bulbs these days.

This is due to the fact that LED bulbs are long-lasting and designed for continuous and efficient use for supreme brightness and shock resistance. You want a light that won’t dim over time—that’s why LED is a good option.

Light Modes

Some keychain flashlights come with multiple light modes, ranging from firefly (very low), low, medium, high, ultra-high and strobe. This is an excellent feature that gives the flashlight versatility for a variety of situations. It also gives the user a chance to save the flashlight’s battery life if brightness isn’t really needed. Having a strobe light is ideal for using in emergency situations.

Switch Type

Switch type, which is the way you turn the flashlight on and off, plays a large role in how easy and functional your keychain flashlight will be for your needs. There are two primary types: twist-caps and buttons.

Twist caps involve turning the cap of the flashlight and cycling through different light modes as you twist. This is a more common feature in flashlights, but it also tends to cause issues for people who accidentally twist it too much.

Other keychain lights have push-button options. Some have multiple buttons for cycling through light modes, while others have switches. Click-button flashlights are extremely easy to use and you can quickly press them (often with gloves on) without having to worry about twisting the cap off. However, some flashlights have very sensitive buttons that can be pressed on accident in pockets or bags.

Beam Type/Shape

Beam types and shapes can vary between flashlights. Some have very broad beams, while others are very narrow. The type of beam you need is situational—narrower beams are great for finding items or reading. Broader beams are better for outdoor use, such as walking or camping.

Material & Construction

Keychain flashlights are most commonly made from aluminum and plastic, but they can also come in brass or copper varieties. Hard-anodized aluminum is a popular and generally durable material that is weather resistant and strong.

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Brass varieties are significantly heavier, while plastic versions are generally much lighter. The best keychain flashlight will be made with high-quality material, making it very solid and compact (minimal amount of pieces) with a durable construction.

Durability

The best keychain flashlights will be able to resist weather, water and impact. You want a keychain flashlight you can take outdoors, use in the rain and drop on rocks without worrying about it falling apart. If you’re using it for EDC you need it to take some abuse.

Generally, the product description will state whether or not the flashlight is durable and resistant. Be mindful of durability claims – make sure they back up their statements by displaying the details and specific features of the material.

Price Range

There is a huge range of prices when it comes to keychain flashlights. If you’re on a budget, you can find decent quality flashlights for under $20 (sometimes under $10).

If you have a little more wiggle room in your budget and wish to have an ultra-powerful keychain flashlight with more functions and the ability to recharge, you can expect to spend upwards of $30 to $80.

Wrap Up

A keychain flashlight is useful for absolutely anyone who finds themselves engaging in activities in darker conditions, especially at night. Whether you work outdoors, frequently head into the wilderness, or just walk your dog at night, you’ll find a micro flashlight useful.

You can keep them with your car keys to search for things in your vehicle. You can bring them on walks at night to help you keep an eye on things. You can bring them camping, hiking, hunting or fishing for optimal visibility. You can use them for emergency or rescue work with instant access. The list is endless.

As quick review, when shopping for the best keychain flashlight, you should be looking for:

  • Durable weather resistant materials – resistant against impacts and crushing.
  • Lightweight portability with an attachable clip feature.
  • Maximum runtime in comparison with brightness – it should produce the amount of brightness you need while being able to sustain the light as long as you need it.
  • Capable of producing 10 lumen or more (unless multiple modes are available).
  • Contains a battery that is either very long-lasting, cheap to replace or rechargeable

Our top picks?

Small, cheap and reliable: If you’re searching for something very small, inexpensive and low-maintenance, consider the Streamlight 72101 KeyMate. It’s so small that you can take it anywhere, but it still produces 10 lumen and has a very long runtime (up to 96 hours).

Affordable, compact and versatile: If you’d love a very affordable, solid aluminum keychain flashlight that has variable light modes (including strobe) consider choosing the ThruNite Ti3. It’s lightweight, the batteries (AAA) are very easy to replace and it can be used in a variety of situations.

Sturdy, bright and rechargeable: If you’d like a rechargeable micro keychain flashlight that has multiple light modes with a fair amount of runtime, the SureFire Sidekick 300 is probably your best bet. You’ll have to pay extra, but it’s worth it if you plan to use this flashlight frequently.

Photo attribution: Photos from Flickr creative commons: Shagun, Joe Loong, Michael Pollak