Finding The 8 Best Flashlight Options For Urban Exploring

No two urban exploration sites are identical but most will share similar traits. Abandoned buildings, forgotten property, unknown infrastructure… most of them will be shrouded in darkness.

Either by design or by the nature of overgrown vegetation, no one is paying the electricity bill on collapsing structures and most of the light bulbs have been blown out or broken even if they did. It’s at this point where having the best flashlight will serve you well.

The Importance Of A Good Flashlight When Urbexing

On your urbex adventures, you will absolutely require a dependable flashlight. Even the sites that are routinely exposed to daylight through missing roofs and open courtyards have shadowy corners you’ll want to explore. Having a good flashlight is one of the few mandatory tools every urbex enthusiast should have on them on every single moment we are on a site. In our eyes, the best flashlight possible is every bit as crucial as a solid first aid kit.

What’s better than a good flashlight? Two good flashlights. Having a backup flashlight ensures you won’t be left in the dark should something unexpected kill your primary light source. A severe fall, forgotten battery replacements, dropped in a crevice… urbex can claim the life of a flashlight at any time and having a backup is an excellent way to continue on after disaster strikes.

What To Look For In The Best Flashlight

A secondary light also allows you to bring along a second style of light. One that sheds a different pattern of light, maybe for photography? Whether you carry one beam/one flood, or two regulars, here are some things to look for to find the best flashlight for urban exploration.

Brightness

Flashlights are rated by something called “lumens”. There is a long and scientific explanation that gives you the exact description of what a lumen is, but for urbex needs, all we have to understand is the common basic; the more lumens, the brighter the light.

Many urbex adepts say that you’ll want to look for a flashlight that comes in around 800 lumens and that should be sufficient enough for most urbex locales. If you’re in a larger dark space, you may opt for a high intensity flood light that bursts out up to 4000 lumens, but that would only be for special occasions.

Battery Life

The more lumens, the more wattage drawn out of your power source. Simply stated; the brighter the light, the faster your battery dies. Most best flashlight options today have LED bulbs and LEDs draw less power than the old incandescent bulbs. For an incandescent bulb to give off 800 lumens, it draws about 60 watts.

An LED can do the same for about 10 watts. Your light is critical to your exploration so make sure your flashlight of choice has a long battery life and that you carry replacement batteries with you in your urbex pack. No matter how good your flashlight efficiency is, light will eventually drain your battery.

Durability

Another benefit of the common usage of LEDs in flashlights is the extended durability they have. Old incandescent bulbs work off a delicate filament that becomes weaker when warmed after prolonged use. Once you drop one of these old flashlights, you often had to change the bulb.

LEDs eliminate that problem as they are constructed in a much hardier way. But dropping your flashlight is most likely going to happen to you and probably at the worst possible time too. Get yourself a flashlight that can withstand the punishments urbex can put on your gear. Flashlights showcased as “tactical” are often drop-tested to withstand a rough environment.

Waterproof

When you drop that flashlight, if your luck is anything like normal, there will be a puddle directly below you and you’ll be fishing your light source out of the pool. Weather ravaged roofs, disintegrated walls, smashed windows… the wet weather creeps into our favorite urbex locations all the time thereby all but ensuring you and your gear will get wet at some point.

As critical as your flashlight is to your continued exploration, having a waterproof flashlight seems to be a mandatory requirement. What good is saving the money by purchasing a cheap, dry-weather flashlight if it floods with water and dies leaving you in the dark?

Adjustable

 You will certainly want a flashlight capable of changing the width and focus depth of what it is shining upon. Unless you’re carrying dual lights on you, the need to peer further into the narrow darkness will present itself and a good urbex flashlight will let you twist the focus and adjust from wide to narrow beam.

Even if you are carrying a second light on you, the hassle of switching from one to the other can be frustrating. Swapping your flashlights for another style or size should be an occasional event, not a regular adjustment you have to make all the time.

Style

Once upon a time, a flashlight was a flashlight. Simple, bulky, and plain. It was a fat can of “D” sized batteries and you slid the switch to turn on the light, that’s all. Now urbex adventurers have the advantage of being able to choose from a wide variety of sizes and styles.

The handheld flashlights come in plenty of sizes from small pocket sized units to larger tactical flashlights. You can choose to supplement your flashlight with a headlamp, allowing you to go hands-free when necessary.

And for those especially interested in photography or lighting up the entire space, large deer-spotting flood lamps can also fit into your urbex gear bag.

Grip

Being one of the most interfaced pieces of urbex gear you’ll be working with, it’s not unwise to consider the grip of the tool itself. Anodized aluminum is a common finish on flashlights as it is corrosion resistant, decorative looking, and gives a degree of grit for a fitting grip.

You may prefer a rubberized exterior, especially if you will be exploring with gloves on. You may also consider if your flashlight of choice has a wrist loop that will keep your light source on you during those unseen slips and falls, or if you prefer a belt loop or holster for you flashlight.

Modes

Many flashlights come with multiple modes available by the flip of a switch. Headlamps are especially popular with this feature. High power and low power are self explanatory. Switching to low power when there is enough ambient light will help conserve some of your battery life.

Red light mode is a great option for low visibility issues as the red wavelengths of light don’t travel as far as white light making for a more stealthy source of light if you’d rather not be seen as easily from afar. Red light also tends to allow your eyes to adjust to their night vision easier than switching the white light on and off.

Weight

The flashlight will be in your hand nearly every second of your urbex experience so considering the weight of your potential flashlight is a smart idea. Those large bulky oversized flood lamps will certainly give you plenty of light, but after carrying it around for an hour, you’ll most likely opt to leave it in your urbex pack and pull it out only for photo opportunities.

Smaller flashlights can still thrown enough light around without giving your arm a workout but if you go too small, the battery won’t last as long. Find a flashlight with a good balance between size and battery life and that will most likely be the weight you’ll be carrying around with you.

Rechargeable

If you’re going to pick up urbex as a regular hobby, you’ll probably want to look for the best flashlight unit that can be recharged, or at the very least a set of dependable rechargeable batteries.

It goes without saying that buying new batteries for your flashlight is going to happen more often the more you use it, and you will be using your flashlight extensively during each urbex experience.

Many flashlights are directly rechargeable and some even can be recharged by a USB connection which makes for convenient charging during breaks and drives to the site.

Our Picks For The 8 Best Flashlight Options For Urbex

Below are our recommendations for the best eight flashlights for urban exploration and exploring abandoned buildings. 

Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp

Exceedingly inexpensive and incredibly durable, this 180 lumen headlamp style light will be an excellent supplement to your urbex flashlight. Going hands free is more than a convenience, sometime you’ll just have to hold on with two hands when maneuvering and you don’t want to do it in the dark.

Rechargeable from USB, you won’t be changing out batteries all the time. This lamp boasts 45 hour runtime on a single charge so you can use this as a regular light, especially with the low power mode. The red light mode is a great way to see without being seen.

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Streamlight 88052 ProTac

The Streamlight ProTac series of flashlights are available in a wide variety of sizes and lumen ratings from a single AAA 70 lumen to the rechargeable 1000 lumen version.

On the recommendation that the average urbex is looking for a small handheld that produces 800 to 900 lumens, this model shines 850 lumen. It is compact enough to easily stay in your pocket, or hang tight on your belt or backpack strap with the sturdy clip that keeps this powerful flashlight close by.

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Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90

Another USB rechargeable favorite is the Anker Bolder LC90. Putting out a strong 900 lumens, this handheld is a great choice for urbex as it will shine continuously for six hours on a charge.

The weather resistance means you won’t have to worry about moisture getting into the flashlight and the wrist loop will keep this from dropping to the ground if you let go. Adjustable focus lets you look at a wide field or narrow in to a single spot when something captures your interest.

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Fenix Flashlights FX-PD35TAC Flashlight

Urbex gear requires a great flashlight and the Fenix FX-PD35TAC may be the one you’re looking for. 1000 lumens at over a football field away, this small pocket wonder packs enough light for just about every setting you could encounter while on your next exploration site.

Powerful and small, it measures at just over five and a half inches long so it doesn’t take up much space among your busy gear pack and fits nicely in the palm of your hand or hangs tightly on your gear with the clip.

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ThruNite Rechargeable TC12 V2 Flashlight

Packing in light is an urbex tradition, you don’t want to carry unnecessary gear and even the equipment you do need, you want it to be accessible while remaining out fo the way. This ThruNite TC12V2 best flashlight option gives you the possibility of carrying it with the clip, the writs loop, or a velcro belt holster.

No matter how you like to carry your light, this one allows for it. Shining out a full 1100 lumen on turbo, or a quietly faint 27 lumen on low, keep this light by your side, it may be your flashlight of choice.

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WdtPro S3000 SuperBright Flashlight

Leaving the more expensive world of compact tactical flashlights for a moment, the WDTPro S3000 is a great example of a high power and high quality flashlight that isn’t going to make much of an impact on your budget. Larger than your average tactical, this is still small enough to be handled easily.

The wrist loop will keep it attached in the event of a drop or fall, and the four AA batteries produce up to 1600 lumen for lighting up the entire urbex location.

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ACEBEAM L30 Gen II

If you’re looking for versatility in your go-to urbex flashlight, the AceBeam L30Gen2 offers you enough options that it may be the only flashlight you carry. A great best flashlight option, it has multiple power options from a single lumen at firefly mode, to the mid mode at 1000 lumen, or the turbo mode putting out 4000 lumen, and a few settings in between as well.

A variety of power sources including USB recharging, or if you’re on the go and need immediate power, it accepts different battery types too. Waterproof, tactical momentary switch, and other options, this AceBeam may be all you need.

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BuySight B743 Floodlight

While it may not be recommended for your primary urbex flashlight, having a strong flood lamp searchlight in your gear is an excellent option to have for those cavernous locations that seem to eat up a light beam at far distances.

The BuySight B743 is a rechargeable pistol-grip lantern that produces up to 6000 lumen, perfect for illuminating those dark corners and lighting up the space for photo opportunities. The adjustable tripod style handle will let you set up and position this light source with ease.

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Final Thoughts On the Best Flashlights for Urbex

No two urban exploration sites are identical but most will share similar traits. Abandoned buildings, forgotten property, unknown infrastructure… most of them will be shrouded in darkness.

Either by design or by the nature of overgrown vegetation, no one is paying the electricity bill on collapsing structures and most of the light bulbs have been blown out or broken even if they did. It’s at this point where having the best flashlight will serve you well.

Our best flashlight recommendations above are all but guaranteed to get the job done, and keep the path ahead properly lit for your pursuits.