What car flashlights and associated batteries do you use?

One of the areas that I am concerned with is emergency flashlights stored in our cars. I leave these flashlights in the glove compartment for long periods of time without thinking about them. Too often, when you go to use them in some type of an emergency, the flashlights are dead. The batteries are either discharged or leaked. The extreme heat and cold are very rough on the batteries.

I have been using Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries (18650) and pulling them out every 2 months to recharge. I live in Southern California, so cold is not that much of an issue.

My question is what is the best batteries to use in these extreme conditions. What do you guys use?


  • Comments (17)

    • 6

      I keep a Goal Zero Torch 250 in my truck.  It is rechargeable and can be used as a flashlight (lights on the end) or as a flood light (lights on the top).  On low setting, it is pretty bright.  The flashlight can run 7 hours on high and 15 hours on low.  Flood light can run 22 hours on high or 48 hours on low.  You can charge via USB, built in solar panel or built in hand crank.  The battery is so strong, you can use it as a power bank & charge other USB devices, such as your phone.


      • 9

        This looks like a really great option! So many features.

      • 3


    • 12

      Won’t use the word “best” because of the many variables.  The “best” around everyday explosive gases might not be the best.

      Nothing is kept in my truck due weather … it’s now below freezing here .

      Always in my shirt pocket along with pens is a mini flash light.  I personally carry a Streamlight Sidewinder aviation model- can use 1 AA alkaline or AA lithium or a CR123 A lithium battery.  It has blue, IR, green light switxh.  My needs are versatility and min weight.

      Not for daily carry; on my load-bearing suspenders is a Streamlight Survivor flashlight.  It is powerful enough for most all personal uses. This uses 4 AA batteries that gives much light over ~ 4 hours. The unit has a docking station platform where docked light is always fully charged.

      For those just entering the prepper arena, the couple of big box stores here have decent equivalents to the more expensive mini-mag light.  The costs were $11 and $16 for 2 makes slightly wider than a mini but still meeting purpose for a good flashlight.

    • 6

      I would recommend having at least one headlight in your vehicle. Most of the time when you are needing a light source in your car, you will be doing something with your hands. Using a headlight will be so much nicer when you are having to look under the hood or changing a flat tire on the side of the road. The Prepared has a great article about the best headlamps for prepping.

      I personally have the budget pick headlight, the $25 315 lumen Energizer Vision HD+. I like it.

    • 7

      I have calendar reminders on my phone every so many months to charge/replace batteries. Smoke detectors get changed every 6 months, battery backup packs in my car and BOB every 3 months.

      This can also be a good method for reminding yourself when things in your food storage will go bad, or water needs rotated. My lifeboat ration in my BOB will go bad in May of 2022, so I set a reminder for April 1, 2022 to buy another one.

      • 6

        I’m hoping to get to yearly for my BOB which is an improvement over the several years of neglect in the past.  You get to your car and BOB every 3 months?!  Call me impressed!  And I did the calendar trick/hack/method as well, just hadn’t added prepping to it in the past.  

      • 4

        Looking at your BOB yearly is a smart thing that I realized this past week. Check out my recent forum post where I open up my BOB from 3-4 years ago. Batteries were not charged, things were expired, it wasn’t organized and balanced well, and just was a mess. If I had checked it sooner, I probably could have caught some of those things and it wouldn’t have been as bad.

      • 8

        But wouldn’t have been as good a story 🙂 or possibly lesson?  

      • 3

        That is true. On the bright side, this was a real wake up call / slap in the face that I need to get serious about prepping and check my current preps more regularly. But if I had made small changes along the way, the lesson may not have sunk in as much.

    • 6

      Here’s my el cheapo jerry-rigged solution for emergency lighting on the road. It hopefully solves the problem of a forgotten flashlight battery running down; as long as there’s juice in the car battery you’ll have light. Here we see, first, a male cigarette-lighter terminal wired to a male extension-cord terminal. Then we see an LED 1156 backup-light bulb (designed for 12-volt automobile use) wed to the female end of a conventional extension cord. If desired, we can add a long extension cord between the two sections and walk around outside the car with it. This will give light with which to change a tire, read a map, change a bandage, etc. You can use a salvaged a bulb; you don’t have to buy new. Note that I’ve soldered the wires to the base of the bulb. It works.

      the prepared 1156

      • 6

        Love the simplicity and creativity!

    • 5

      I am also in SoCal and have a couple.   So far they have lasted a year or more.  I have a headlamp in the GHB (stashed in the back under the hatchback deck) for longer needs that require my hands or walking.  It’s an inexpensive one from Amazon that has red led options before I found TP’s review site.  I also have a AA LED Maglite in my glove box for quick looks under the seat or hood where the phone flashlight isn’t cutting it.  I upgraded to LED this year as the lumens are over 10 times higher than the original AA Maglite.  It’s length fits the depth of all 3 vehicle glove boxes well and it still has candle mode for a larger area ambient light situation (remove the lens end and make it a stand).  I have better organized my BOB/GHB/Car emergency items in a spreadsheet and hope to inspect/test all the batteries yearly as part of reviewing my preps.

      • 10

        Isn’t it crazy how those Maglites used to be the best flashlights out there? Now even dirt cheap LED lights are so much brighter.

      • 1

        The Maglite Solitaire AAA (both the old and the new LED version) has a feature that is, to me, priceless. To turn it on or off you must screw out or screw in the head end of the flashlight. It just never comes on accidentally and runs down the battery without you being aware (as just about all other lights do).

        Story Time. Some years ago I wrote a brief article describing the Maglite Solitaire AAA and read it to my writer’s club. Afterwards, one of the members stood up, raised an eyebrow, and proclaimed, “Well, THIS is what I use.” Whereupon he pulled a small flashlight from his pocket that was dead as a doornail. I tried not to laugh. I really did.

      • 4

        Indeed, Gideon!  A kit is available to upgrade the old ones to LED.  The new design Maglites are optimized for LED and therefore have more lumens.  I like that they’re pretty indestructible, made in USA and have the focus/switch that Ron Brown mentions.  It is the only brand that I know of that has the candle mode.  

    • 4

      Frank, I realized that I didn’t answer the batteries part.  I use Duracell alkaline AAs.  Next year I will probably switch them to Eneloop rechargeable.  I’m still swapping over since I purchased a Costco pack before I read the battery article here and then here.