A good flashlight is one of the most important pieces of hunting gear aside from your weapon. Deer hunting requires entering and exiting the hunting area before sunrise and after sunset. In this article we are going to guide you through selecting the best hunting flashlight of 2018 for your situation.
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Headlamps for Deer Hunting
Headlamps are a great flashlight alernative for deer hunting. The hands free operation of headlamps can be a big bonus. This makes headlamps great for activities like following a blood trail or setting up a climbing treestand before daylight. In my opinion this is where the convience stops.
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I do not recommend using a high powered headlamp for navigating to the treestand. The beam has a tendancy to wander and could potentially alert nearby deer of your precense. The use of handheld flashlights and lower powered lights can guard against this problem.[/box]
LE LED Headlamp
The LE LED Headlamp is super versatile and unbelievably affordable. Prime members will be shocked to see the [easyazon_link identifier=\”B005FEGYJC\” locale=\”US\” nw=\”y\” tag=\”deepro-20\” popups=\”n\”]$7.99 price tag at Amazon[/easyazon_link]. This includes free same day shipping and a set of AAA batteries. The LE Headlamp weighs in at 4 ounces so the additional weight in the pack will not be noticable.
LE LED Headlamp Features
- 70 Lumens
- 4 Modes
- 18 White LEDs
- 2 Red LEDs – red flashing mode for safety
- Easily adjustable headbank fits children and adults
- Weight is 4oz
- IP44 waterproof rating – splash proof
Overal the LE LED Headlamp is rated very highly and has an average review of 4 stars after recieving over 6000 reviews. For $8 it is definitely worth having a few spares around deer camp or in the truck. The headlamp is great for reading a book or a map and will also serve well to free up your hands.
GRDE Zoomable Headlamp
The GRDE Zoomable Headlamp is the next evolution in headlamp technology. The 1800 lumen LEDs will provide plenty of illumination for any hunting, fishing or camping activity. Again, my biggest concern would be spooking every deer in the woods. But this is not an issue if you trying to recover a hunting buddy\’s trophy.
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GRDE Zoomable Headlamp Features
- 4 Modes: Low – Medium – High – Strobe
- 1800 Lumens
- Adjustable beam
During our review of the GRDE headlamp we didn\’t reveal many problems. Two rechargeable 18650 batteries provide mega power to the GRDE. See above for details on 18650s. Battery runtime will give you 6 hours on low mode, 5 hours on medium mode and about 4 hours on high. This should be plenty for a single deer hunting trip. Luckily the package includes a wall charger, car charger adn a usb charger. Just don\’t forget to charge the batteries. The only complaint for GDRE is the weight but the GDRE Zoomable is still one of the best headlamps for the money.
Cap & Hat Bill Flashlights for Deer Hunting
Cyclops Micro Mini
Hat bill lights are not really a substitute for a headlamp but simply a solution for hands free movement in the dark. The Cyclops Micro Mini is not intended to light up the woods. The 10 lumen micro LED hat bill flashlight weighs less than 1oz and is absolutely perfect for deer hunting.
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The small size and light weight design allow me to keep one in my treestand harness, backpack and one on my hat. The Cyclops provides just enough light to discretely set up my hunting stand, setting the camera arm and camcorder and get my weapon safely loaded. For $7 bucks everyone should add this to their shopping list.
Browning Night Seeker Hat Light
The Browning Night Seeker is slightly larger in profile than the Cyclops but comes with a few extra features. First and foremost the Night Seeker has 2 white LEDs and 2 green LEDs. Both modes offer ample lighting for traveling to hunting blind, reading a map and getting situated around camp.
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Last year I had several deer under my tree stand after legal shooting hours. Three of the deer were within 10 yards of my location. This was the perfect oportunity for a test. I slowly switched on my Night Seeker in green LED mode. The deer were not alarmed or bothered when I shined the green LEDs around my area. The deer continued to feed on acorns for several minutes.
This all changed dramatically when I switched to white LED mode. The deer immediately became nervous and were aware of my presence. The mature doe began to stomp and very soon all deer had left the area.
[box type=\”warning\” align=\”aligncenter\” class=\”\” width=\”\”]Flashlights should always be used when entering a hunting area at dawn or dusk. You never want a nearby hunter to mistake you for a target.[/box]
Handheld and Pocket Flashlights
Anker LC40 Flashlight
The first handheld deer hunting flashlight review will be the Anker Bolder LC40. This is a very capable light in a small package. The Cree LED bulb provides a 400 lumen beam. Three standard modes are high, low or strobe setting. We also like the end push button control and the IP65 waterproof rating. The LC40 will not last after dumping in the creek but will have no trouble holding up in a downpour rain.
The Cree bulb sends an intense beam out over 100 yards and 300 feet. Notice the beam test in the picture to the right. The trail is well lit and hiking to a treestand will be no problem with the Anker LC40.
The LC40 has two options for battery power which is always a benefit. You can choose between three AAA or a single rechargeable 18650 battery. You can expect up to 6 hours of use with the 18650 which is more than enough for a long weekend at deer camp. Carry an extra three AAA will not even be noticable for backup power.
<–picture of the Anker LC40 beam test
Anker LC40 Reviews and Ratings
Researching and reviewing the Anker LC40 across the web uncovered nothing but happy customers and positive reviews. The Anker LC40 is one of the best selling flashlights on Amazon and carries a review rating of over 4 stars after 1200 reviews. Not providing a higher level of water resistant or waterproofing is the only complaint. But, the Anker LC40 is one hell of a value at this price.
Great Battery Life
Great Price and Value
Great Customer Service from Anker
[tie_list type=\”cons\”]Slippery with cold hands
Round tube design rolls on flat surface[/tie_list]
J5 Tactical V1
The J5 Tactical V1 Flashlight is a great choice for deer hunting. It stacks up well in a side by side comparison with the Anker LC40. The J5 Tactical definitely fits into the economical category and stands up in reviews of the toughest critics.
The LED output is rated at 300 Lumens with a beam distance of about 600 feet. Just like the LC40 you have three modes of low, high and strobe. The beam is adjustable and has the ability of a very fine focus for locating tree stands or wider view for loading the truck or navigating around the camp site.
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A 14500 rechargeable Li-Ion battery powers the J5 Tactical V1 flashlight. The 14500 is similar in physical size to a 18650 battery but the 18650 will provide more life. You also have the option of running a single AA battery which many see as a benefit to requiring multiple batteries.
The flashlight is constructed of aluminum and weighs in at 2.6 ounces.It is approximately 3.7\” X 1 \” and easily fits into your pocket or backpack. The machined bezel looks very cool and also keeps the light from rolling round onsurfaces.
J5 Tactical V1 Reviews and Ratings
I find the stats for the J5 Tactical amazing. This quality light has received over 13,000 reviews and averages 4.5 stars. A common theme is complete amazement that a flashlight that looks this good and performs this well…there is no way it is only $11 bucks! Really hard to believe but at this price you should buy one for the truck, one for camp, one for the boat and one for the wife.
Read thousands of positive J5 reviews – [easyazon_link identifier=\”B00V7T1YRQ\” locale=\”US\” nw=\”y\” tag=\”deepro-20\” cloak=\”y\” popups=\”n\”]CLICK HERE[/easyazon_link]
13,000 Reviews give the J5 Tactical a 4.5 star rating average. Amazon Prime available with free shipping and the incredible price of $11.95.
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Blood Tracking Flashlights For Hunting
Gun hunters and bowhunters should be prepared to take up the trail of a wounded animal. The flashlights we have already reviewed can serve the purpose but the lights below are specifically designed to expose a faint blood trail. Effectiveness really seems to be very subjective which means different people see different results in the reviews of bloodtracking flashlights. Spoiler alert: We don\’t recommend purchasing a flashlight that is marketed specifically for blood trailing or blood tracking. Most deer hunters find that a quality LED flashlight or lantern will provide plenty of light for tracking.
Primos Bloodhunter SD
The Primos Bloodhunter SD is a bulky square bodied flashlight. Cree LED bulbs are rated at 600 lumen output. The secret sauce is in a \”special optical filter\”. The lens has been coated by a proprietary coating that filters the LED light. The result is a light output that illuminates red blood in a variety of conditions.
I don\’t like the size and shape of the Bloodhunter. That is my biggest complaint in the design. It weighs 1 lb and measures 6\” X 1 1/4\” X 3\” which is larger than most of the other options. Carrying this thing around for a few hours on a long tracking job would get old pretty fast.
Fresh wet blood was slightly easier to find with the Bloodhunter SD. The results were not so compelling with an older dried blood trail. After researching pages of Primos BloodHunter SD reviews the general consensus is the filter makes the blood appear to be wet or have a slight shine but the results are not much better than a standard LED flashlight.
For the minimal performance improvement and a price point of $49 I would suggest spending your money on buying several J5 Tacticals or LC40. The adjustable and zoomable GRDE headlamp makes blood trailing deer very easy and handsfree.
Rayovac Sportsman Blood Tracking Light
The Rayovac Sportsman is a much more affordable option than the Bloodhunter. There are no special filters or coatings in play here. The Rayovac Sportsman is equipped with violet LED bulbs. Basically a black light effect. The flashlight is well built and provides plenty of light for navigating through the woods. Unfortunately most people find no real value in the so called \”blood tracking flashlights\”.
Lanterns Are Great Blood Trailing Lights
Finally getting a shot at the biggest buck on trail camera can be a nerve racking experience. Buck fever sets in and holding the weapon steady is almost impossible. This story unfolds every year in almost every deer hunting camp.
Experienced deer hunters return to camp and give the animal time to expire. This also gives everyone the chance to grab their flashlights and headlamps and the Coleman Powerhouse Lantern. The 800 lumen mantel cast a light that is unrivaled by LEDs. This is definitely a subjective area where people are allowed to have their own opinions but the light from a dual fuel lantern seems different. The beautiful flood light has no rings or hotspots and is much different than most handhelds.
The Coleman Powerhouse Lantern works great around campsites, deer camp, or around the house during emergency situations. The dual fuel model can run for 7 hours on lantern fuel or unleaded gas. The [easyazon_link identifier=\”B00006IS32\” locale=\”US\” nw=\”y\” tag=\”deepro-20\” cloak=\”y\” popups=\”n\”]Powerhouse sales on Amazon for only $59[/easyazon_link]. This is a great price for a lantern that has received over 200 reviews and averages almost 5 stars.
Hunting Flashlight Buyers Guide
Let\’s look at what you should looking for when trying to buy the best hunting flashlight. The shear number of available models can be overwhelming. Understanding the following critiria will provide a great foundation when filtering through flashlight reviews.
- Battery Type
- Shape, Size and Weight
- Light Output
- Beam Type
- Beam Distance
- Run Time
- Materials of Construction
- Impact Resistant
- Water Resistant
- Bulb Type
Purchase price ends up being one of the most important factors in any review. It is natural for buyers to have a target price in mind and search for the best product in that price range. I understand the importance of money and value and have only listed the best hunting flashlights for the money.
Flashlight battery type can have a huge impact on the life cycle cost and should be heavily considered when searching for a hunting light. A flashlight with a very unique battery could potentially mean that a replacement battery cost more than the light.
Disposable AA and AAA are the most common power source for our recommended models. Prices on these batteries will never break the bank and they can be found anywhere. This is a huge advantage when hunting because every gas station or drug store offers AA and AAA.
You also have the option of using rechargable AA and AAA batteries. To be honest, lights are running so long on a set that most people still opt for the disposable variety.
Some flashlights are designed with built in rechargable Li-Ion batteries. The upside is no additional cost for purchasing disposable batteries. The downside is special cables and charging requirements. Remembering to plug in my flashlight is just one more thing I must remember in preparation for a deer hunt. This is why I avoid anything else I have to charge.
Light Output – Power – Performance
Measuring the performance of a flashlight is very easy after the ANSI FL1 flashlight standards standards for flashlights were established in 2009. Lumens is the measure of light intensity coming out of the flashlight. All test are performned on new batteries and while the unit is set on the highest setting. Lumens is a good starting point but other factors should also be considered.
Beam Distance is also part of the FL1 standards. In simplest terms beam distance is measured by how far the light illuminates before the result is comparable to the light from a full moon.
Flashlight beam type is not part of the FL1 standard but it is very important when selecting a hunting flashlight. It is especially important when picking the best unit for task like finding a treestand, splitting firewood at camp or unit for blood trailing a wounded a deer.
A flood light is a single beam with a great width. This light is very helpful when working around camp. Being able to illuminate a great area makes task like setting a tent or cleaning a deer much easier. A powerful flood light beam is also useful when tracking.
A spot or focused beam is a single beam that has been concentrated on one area. This is the type of of beam that is used when following a trail to a deer stand. The strong focused beam can penetrate long distances and reveal trail markets and other landmarks.
Hunting Flashlights with adjustable beams are versatile tools. It is not really one size fits all but having an adjustable beam can help with multiple tasks. The beam can start off very focused on one spot for locating a trail marker 100 yards ahead, or the beam can be flooded to make moving around camp a little safer.
Back to the FL1 standards qualifications. Impact resistance is one of the easiest test to perform. Testers drop the flashlight six times and record the distance. Your flashlight probably will not be run over by a tank but I can guarantee it will be dropped so the impact resistance rating is very important.
Hunting is going to put you out in the elements so having a flashlight that works after exposure to water is a must. The water resistance rating is another noteworthy FL1 standards category. The IPX System is an industry basis for water resistance testing and it will be used and referenced here. IPX4 means the light is splash resistant after the impact test so this is the minimum you should expect.
Seeing a flashlight with an IPX7 or IPX8 rating is much more impressive. This is a water submersion test that is also performed after the impact drop test. IPX7 classifies for water submersion of 1 meter for 30 minutes while IPX8 puts it underwater for 4 hours.
Not much to say here. LED! what else needs to be said. LED bulbs are the gold standard in flashlights. Sometimes the actual LED brand is referenced but I don\’t really know if much difference can be noticed.
The control mechanism is important and should never be overlooked. Weather protected on/off push buttons are very popular designs. Push buttons are either found on the battery cap end or on the top of the cylinder body. Both options make one hand operation very easy. Flashlights that are operated with a rotating head still work well but this requires two hand operation. I prefer a sturdy and weatherproof push button operation.
Materials of Construction and Design
You will occassionally find a plastic tube material but most flashlights are constructed of aluminum or aluminum alloy. The heads and bottom caps are likely to be machined from a tougher material like stainless steel. The head and battery cap always impact first on drops. Machined aluminum bezels and battery caps will withstand the impact much better.
Handhelds are typically cylinders and haven\’t changed much over the years. The design is intuitive and easy to handle. Floods and tracking lights may have a pistol grip arrangement for more comfortable grip.
Conclusion – Our Short List of the Best Hunting Flashlights
This section of the review article is for those people that were too lazy to read all 3000 words.
Handsfree blood trailing is much easier with the GRDE Headlamp. The headlamp is well built with many features. The zoomable and adjustable beam makes this one of the most versatile models we reviewed. $24 was the lowest list price we found for the GRDE.
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The Browning Night Seeker should be on your hat bill and in the vest pocket of your treestand safety harness. For the price you will not find a better hat bill flashlight. Plus it has white and green LEDs.
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The J5 Tactical flashlight should be in your truck, tent, backpack, kitchen. Buy one for every room.
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The best blood tracking light is a bright and dependable flashlight like the J5. You are better off buying 4 extra J5 than spending $50 on a flashlight that claims to show blood.
Thanks for reading through our test and reviews of some of the best flashlights for deer hunting. I hope you found the article helpful. If you have experience with any of the models please leave a review below. Please also feel free to suggest other alternatives and ask questions.