Shop Marine Flashlights
Searching for the best marine flashlight for your boat? BatteryJunction.com offers a wide variety of LED flashlights and handheld illumination tools to satisfy all of your lighting needs, including a variety of lights that are perfect for illuminating your boat. When it comes to choosing the right marine flashlight, you have a lot to consider. The following features must all be considered before choosing the perfect handheld light for your boating needs: size, weight, beam output, and overall design. In general, you want to find a flashlight that is small, lightweight and one that offers a focused, long-range beam with little to no spill. A flashing or SOS output mode is pivotal for safety, just as a lanyard loop and a water-resistant design are necessary for the environment. Finally, you'll want to require that your marine flashlight is equipped with an anti-roll feature. The experts here at BatteryJunction scrutinized our entire collection to find the best boating and marine flashlights available. Once we had a list, we took them out on the boss' boat (this took a lot of convincing!) and tested them out.
Our Choice - Nitecore TM36
After some thorough analysis, we landed on the powerhouse TM36 as our top choice for use as a boating or marine flashlight. This handheld search light is a part of Nitecore's Tiny Monster series and it is appropriately named. The Nitecore TM36 LED flashlight offers an insane 1100-meter (3,609 feet) beam throw that is matched by only a few other handheld lights. In addition to its awesome beam distance, this marine flashlight puts out a blinding 1800-lumen output, when in Turbo mode, yet also offers various additional outputs, including an SOS for safety and a lower 50-lumen mode as well. While no Moonlight mode is available, we figure you would prefer to utilize a smaller EDC light for map reading and for around-the-boat tasks. The Nitecore TM36 is a thrower and it should be used as such. Finally, this handheld search light includes a shoulder strap for carrying and a finned head that prevents it from rolling out of place. All of these incredible features put together an impressive marine flashlight you'll love!
Too big for your needs? Want something that runs on a primary battery instead? We recommend you check out the Klarus XT12GT tactical flashlight, which offers a 603-meter (1978-foot) beam throw and runs on either one 18650 or two CR123A cells. Both lights are included in our list of what we think are the best marine flashlights available in our catalog.
Best Flashlights for Boating & Marine Use
Beam Throw, Beam Throw, Beam Throw
When shopping for the right marine flashlight, we found that beam throw was of the most important feature boaters request, time and time again. A boating light is typically used to illuminate areas far off in the distance. When traveling at nighttime or in the early morning dusk, boaters need to be able to see the channel markers and the reflective stickers on buoys. An LED flashlight with an incredible beam throw is a necessity for the safety of the crew. For this reason, we limited our search to handheld lights with a beam through of 500 meters or more. We recommend choosing a marine flashlight with a focused beam that has little to no spill. You may prefer a light with a flood-to-spot focusable beam to accommodate different scenarios or choices. We found that while this is helpful and makes the light more versatile, beam distance is typically sacrificed in these models. If you could choose only one feature from our list of what to look for in a marine flashlight, we recommend you focus on beam throw.
SOS for Safety
The next important characteristic of a good boating flashlight is its safety functionality. In case of an emergency, you want to be able to communicate with others easily. Sure, flashlights without an SOS mode could be flashed manually to communicate distress; but if it's an emergency, are you really going to have the time to sit there and flash the light over and over again? Pair the SOS functionality with the insane beam throw and you are sure to capture the attention of passersby with ease, which will hopefully minimize your wait time before getting rescued.
While boating at nighttime, you need to be able to see where you are going, but you may also need to operate the craft at a moment's notice. It is imperative, for this reason, that any marine flashlight you select offers a lanyard or shoulder strap design to keep the light handy and close by, but still frees up your hands instantly. The Nitecore TM36, which we highlighted up above, is equipped with an adjustable shoulder strap for effortless carrying. This is especially useful on long journeys, where you are physically unable to hold the flashlight in your hand for such a long period of time.
Why Not Just Buy a Dive Light?
Another feature to consider, when shopping for the right marine flashlight is its waterproofness. This might be an obvious one, but it is important that you make sure your handheld light is rated at IPX-8, which means it is fully submersible up to two meters, for up to 30 minutes. Some might argue that a dive light would be a better solution; however, we found that diving flashlight typically offer a shorter beam throw than those offered by search lights. Another important characteristic to consider is that many dive lights have a cool white output so that the light travels better through water. Search lights, on the other hand, utilize a warmer more neutral output to cut through haze more easily. If there is a chance of encountering heavy fog, such as in the early mornings of a boating trip, we recommend sticking to the handheld search lights we recommend over the underwater scuba diving lights out there. Just don't drop your light into the lake or the ocean! Rayovac offers some handheld search lights that float, if you're worried.
A good marine flashlight for boats will include a anti-roll ring or it will have a finned design to prevent the light from rolling out of place when placed on a flat surface. Boats move and rock back and forth - you can't be having to chase after your light every time you hit a wave or every time another boat passes by. This is something that is surprisingly overlooked and should be considered when comparing different models, prior to making your purchase.
Power Source - Not a Deal-Breaker, But it's Important to Consider
Your marine flashlight should have a relatively long run time, or you should be able to easily re-charge or re-power. While alkaline batteries are purchasable at any marina or shop, we all know that the lights that run on Li-ion cells are more powerful and are therefore worth the additional expense and inconvenience. The Nitecore TM36 mentioned above is a rechargeable flashlight that can be recharged using the included AC power cord. We recommend incorporating a separate 12V charging cable for powering on the go. You may also what to consider including a separate battery charger with a 12V adapter, just in case your light's batteries begin to die, during a trip.
Final Thoughts & Other Recommendations
As we mentioned before, the best marine flashlight offers an intense beam throw that can illuminate buoys and markers easily. For up-close tasks on the boat itself, we recommend employing a separate, smaller handheld light with a flood beam pattern. A broader flood beam would also be good if your boating adventures require that you look for direct obstacles in your boat's way. Check out our selection of EDC lights with an IPX-8 rating, which would work as a secondary illumination tool. Another route you could choose is the permanent search lights from GoLight. These boating lights are perfect for use on boats, with their impressive beam throws and brilliant illumination, but these spotlights are limited in their positioning. The versatility of a handheld marine flashlight is unmatched.