The Best Flashlights For Urban Exploration
An essential item every serious urban explorer should always carry with them when exploring abandoned buildings is a flashlight.
Abandoned buildings all have one thing in common, they have no light! Nobody occupies them so no one pays the electricity bill.
You can’t explore a building if you can’t see where you’re walking. Even if you explore during the daytime, there will be certain areas of the building you’re exploring where the sunlight will not reach.
If you don’t take a flashlight with you, you’re putting your safety at risk.
No matter how good the flashlight app on your smartphone is, it will NEVER replace an actual flashlight. You also can’t rely on a $5 flashlight from your local hardware store.
You don’t need a special kind of flashlight for urban exploration. But you should at least have a proper one that you know will get the job done.
Below are some of the best flashlights for urban exploration that I’ve used and have seen other urban explorers use or recommend.
So rest assured knowing that these flashlights are your best possible options.
WdtPro S3000 LED Flashlight – (1600 Lumens)
This mid-sized flashlight packs quite the punch for its size.
It outputs a powerful 1600 lumens on max which is more than enough to light up an entire room. A good flashlight for urban exploration should be one with more than 800 lumens.
The WdtPro S3000 outputs double that. No matter how deep into an abandoned building you are, your path will be brightly lit with this flashlight.
It’s also an incredibly durable flashlight since it’s made completely out of metal. It doesn’t matter how many times you drop it on a solid surface it will still work like a charm.
- Durable metal design
- 1600 Lumens
- 3 modes – High / Low / Strobe
- Adjustable beam to widen or narrow light
- 25 + hours battery life
- Easy to operate
You can’t go wrong with the WdtPro S3000 Flashlight. It’s incredibly bright and has all the right features a good flashlight should have for our hobby.
ThruNite TC12-V2 LED Flashlight – (1100 Lumens)
Meet my current go-to flashlight for urban exploration.
I’d like to take credit for discovering this flashlight but the real credit belongs to ExploringWithJosh. This is the very same flashlight Josh uses in his exploration videos. Which is how I found out about it.
I’ve been using this flashlight as my main one for about a year now. It’s still as bright as when the first day I got it. I will admit that it does have some scratches on it from extended use but other than that, the flashlight works amazing.
What I like most about it, and what got me to buy it, was the rechargeable battery feature it has. You don’t need to worry about having to replace batteries after using them because you can simply recharge the battery it comes with.
You charge it the same way you’d charge your smartphone. How cool is that?!
One thing I did do was purchase a separate rechargeable battery. Just to have as a backup in case the main one failed. Which it hasn’t in the time I’ve been using it. But it’s nice to have a backup anyway.
The 1100 lumens this flashlight outputs is enough to light up any dark room you find yourself in.
- USB rechargeable battery
- 5 modes – Turbo / High / Mid / Low / Firefly
- Durable stainless steel design
- Lightweight – 3 ounces
- Powerful 1100 Lumens
- 3+ hours of battery life on High
I can’t recommend the ThruNite TC12-V2 Flashlight enough. Although it’s a drop in lumens from the WdtPro S3000, it’s still an incredibly capable flashlight for any urban exploration adventure you set out on.
Anker Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight – (900 Lumens)
A mid-size flashlight with just the right amount of lumens to light up any dark building.
As I stated above, the recommended lumens a decent flashlight should have for urban exploration is 800+.
Even though some urban explorers say a 500 lumens flashlight is good enough for urbex, I don’t think you should settle for “good enough”. I sure don’t.
Especially if you’re doing any urban exploration at night, you will want to have a flashlight that’s more than capable of lighting what’s 75 meters in front of you.
- Rechargeable battery
- 5 modes – High / Med / Low / Strobe / SOS
- 5+ hours of battery life in one charge
- Durable all-metal design
- 900 Lumens on High
- Adjustable zoom
What’s also great about this flashlight is the rechargeable battery feature. You don’t have to worry about buying extra batteries, which is a nice plus.
The Anker LC90 is a well-balanced flashlight that any urban explorer should consider owning.
UltraFire WF-502B Tactical Flashlight – (1000 Lumens)
If you spend some time in any urbex forums, you will more than likely see experienced urban explorers recommend tactical flashlights over any regular everyday flashlight.
There’s a reason tactical flashlights are well-liked within the urbex community.
They’re made out of military-grade material which makes them extremely durable. This means you don’t have to replace them too often.
But they are also more than capable of outputting enough lumens to light up any dark building you’re in. This is especially true with this flashlight.
It boasts a cool 1000 lumens which can easily light up 200 meters in front of you. To put it into perspective, it lights up the entire length of 2 football fields. How’s that for bright?
- Rechargeable battery
- Comes with full kit – Holster / mount / USB cable
- 5 modes – High / Med / Low / Strobe / SOS
- Metal alloy body design
- Lightweight – 4 ounces
A neat little addition to this flashlight is the nylon holster it comes with. You can easily clip the holster with the flashlight to your pants and adjust it to face forward. Which can free up your hands and light up where you’re walking or climbing.
The UltraFire WF-502B Tactical Flashlight comes highly recommend by several explorers in the UER community. That’s how I myself found out about it.
Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight – (1000 Lumens)
A pocket-sized tactical flashlight with an incredibly powerful lumen output.
I did say tactical flashlights were popular in the urbex community, right?
They’re just perfect for urban exploration. They really are. Small in size, made out of tough durable material, super-bright light output, and easy to operate. What’s not to love.
What’s most impressive about this flashlight is the brightness it outputs compared to its size. It measures less than an iPhone X and can illuminate over 200 meters.
It fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and weighs less than 3 ounces.
- Slip-resistant design
- Made from durable aircraft-grade material
- Powerful 1000 lumens output
- 6 modes Turbo/High/Mid/Low/Eco/Strobe
The Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight is used by police officers and outdoor enthusiasts. It’s a highly capable flashlight that any urban explorer should consider using.
AceBeam L30 Gen 2 Tactical Flashlight – (4000 Lumens)
An insanely powerful flashlight with a whopping 4000 lumens output which is more than enough to light up the entirety of 3 ½ football fields.
If you’re the type of person who wants to have this kind of power at your disposal, this flashlight is for you.
The 4000 lumens only run when set on it’s highest setting. The flashlight comes in 5 different light modes. Turbo = 4000 lumens / Hight = 2000 lumens / Mid = 1000 lumens / Low = 200 lumens / Firefly = 1 lumen.
Keeping the flashlight in turbo setting will quickly drain your battery. But you don’t need to use the turbo setting all the time. Even when on the low light mode it will be bright enough to light up any dark room.
Should you ever need to light up a whole dark building you’re exploring, the 4000 lumens are at your disposal. With it, you can effortlessly brighten up any room.
Also with how powerful it is, it can be used as a self-defense weapon to blind an attacker. It’s so bright it can potentially hurt someone’s vision which can give you enough time to escape if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.
- Super bright 4000 lumens output
- Rechargeable battery
- 5 brightness modes
- Fully waterproof
- Sleek & durable design
If you’re looking for the best of the best and you’re willing to stretch your budget a bit, the AceBeam L30 Gen 2 Tactical Flashlight is for you.
BuySight B743 Large Spotlight – (6000 Lumens)
This flashlight is an absolute monster with a mind-blowing 6000 lumens output.
You may be asking yourself, why the hell would I ever need this kind of flashlight for?
This is NOT the kind of flashlight you want for exploring abandoned buildings. It’s too big to carry around and weighs about 1 pound.
Although it’s not too heavy to carry it’s still not the kind of flashlight you want to have in your hand while you’re exploring abandoned buildings. A smaller tactical flashlight is better suited for that.
What this flashlight is best used for is if you’re into exploring drains or caves.
These kinds of places have almost zero light source and when you’re exploring them you need to make sure you have more than enough light to get around.
You want to be able to illuminate far enough in front of you to ensure you don’t put your safety at risk.
- Heavy-duty durable design
- Mind-blowing 6000 lumens output
- Rechargeable battery
- 3 Modes – High / Med / SOS
- Comfortable ergonomic handle
- Lighting distance up to 800 meters
As I mentioned above, this is NOT the kind of flashlight you want for exploring abandoned buildings.
You can certainly use it for that but I would not recommend it. Any of the above flashlights I’ve listed are better suited for exploring abandoned buildings.
If you’re into exploring caves and drains, the BuySight B743 is the flashlight you’re looking for.
Foxelli MX20 Headlamp w/ Redlight – (165 Lumens)
Although this post is only about handheld flashlights, I’ve decided to also include this 1 headlamp as a bonus. It’s the one I currently use and recommend.
If you’re exploring during the nighttime you need to get yourself a headlamp. They’re incredibly useful and don’t require any handling. Wrap it around your head and you’re all set.
A headlamp is not meant to be a replacement for an actual handheld flashlight.
It’s useful to have one if you want to keep your hands free. Which is great if you’re climbing, crawling, or handling a camera to take photos/video.
This headlamp outputs a modest 165 lumens which is enough to illuminate 50 meters in front of you.
What’s also great and unique about this headlamp is its red lighting functionality. Which comes into use when you want to illuminate a room but also keep a low profile.
Such as when you’re exploring an abandoned building at night and don’t want to attract any attention from anyone outside the building looking in.
White light can easily be seen from a distance. But a red light can not. Which is ideal if you want to remain hidden.
- Modest 165 Lumens
- Extremely lightweight
- 50 meters light distance
- Comfortable to wear
- Allows for tilting to point at floor/ceiling
- 40+ hour battery life
There will be times when you’re exploring at night where you will need to put your handheld flashlight away so you can free up your hands.
Having a flashlight like the Foxelli MX20 Headlamp is super useful. With how inexpensive this headlamp is, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have it as part of your urbex gear.
How To Choose The Best Flashlight For You
I’m by no means a flashlight expert. I’m also not a flashlight enthusiast who spends his time on flashlight forums discussing every aspect of flashlights. That’s not me.
But I have had my fair share of experience with multiple flashlights since I started doing urbex. I’ve done the research into them and I’ve tested multiple flashlights so I think I have a decent idea as to what to recommend to you.
I want to quickly give you some advice on choosing the best possible flashlight for urban exploration. There are a couple of things you should take into consideration when choosing a flashlight.
- The lumens of the flashlight
- Size and weight of the flashlight
What Are Lumens And How Many Do You Need For Urban Exploration?
First off, what are lumens? I mentioned the “Lumens” of every flashlight I listed above. If you don’t know what lumens are you’re probably a bit confused by now.
Lumens are a measure of a flashlight’s light output. To put it simply, lumens equate to the brightness of a flashlight. The higher the number of lumens on a flashlight, the brighter the light will be.
I mentioned above that a good number of lumens for urban exploration is a minimum of 800. This is by no means a rule, but a personal opinion of mine.
It just makes sense that if you’re exploring a dark abandoned building, especially at night, you will want to have a high-light output flashlight.
Not only that but you will want to make sure it also brightens at a long distance. A high 800+ lumen flashlight is simply perfect for that.
So when choosing a flashlight for urban exploration go with one that has a lumen capacity higher than 800. All of the flashlights I listed above, with the exception of the headlamp, are more than capable of outputting 800+ lumens.
Size and Weight Of A Flashlight.
Another thing you will want to consider when choosing a flashlight for urban exploration is its size and weight. You don’t want to carry a flashlight around if it’s too bulky or heavy for you.
Fortunately all of the flashlights I listed above, with the exception of the BuySight B743, weigh almost as much as your smartphone. So weight isn’t that big of an issue with these flashlights that I recommend.
The size, on the other hand, is where the flashlights differ. A couple of them are longer than the others. What size is right for you comes down to preference. Only you can decide if an 8inch flashlight feels better in your hand than a 5inch one.
You’ll want to get a flashlight that you will be comfortable holding in your hand for long periods of time. Take into consideration the size and weight of each flashlight and decide if it’s the right one for you.
3 Quick Pro-Tips For You
Below I’ll give you 3 quick tips you should take into consideration regarding flashlights. It’s a couple of things I’ve learned over the years and I think you’ll benefit from knowing these things.
Always Take A Backup Flashlight + Batteries!
I thankfully have never dealt with a flashlight dying on me while I’m exploring. But this kind of thing does and can happen to you.
A safety measure you can take to ensure you never lose light while exploring an abandoned building at night is to simply have a backup flashlight.
Batteries can also die on you unexpectedly so always carry a couple of new ones in your backpack just in case you ever need them.
Use Rechargeable Batteries
Depending on how often you use your flashlight, you’ll have to replace the batteries on it after a couple of uses.
Buying batteries can get expensive if you use your flashlight a lot. A good way to reduce your spending is to buy rechargeable batteries.
A couple of the flashlights I listed above have a rechargeable battery feature. If you don’t want to be buying batteries every couple of months, go with a flashlight that has a rechargeable battery.
Use Redlight Flashlight When Exploring At Night
I mentioned above that the headlamp with the redlight feature was a great way to remain hidden when exploring at night.
Since the red light is not as bright as the white light, it’s not as easy to spot from a distance. Which allows you to remain hidden.
If you want to avoid detection when using a flashlight and exploring at night, use a red light.
A flashlight for urban exploration is a vital item every urban explorer should have as part of their gear.
This is especially true if you’re exploring at night. Having a mediocre flashlight that doesn’t light your path can put your safety at risk.
Even if you explore during the day, you can never rely on there being enough light in the building you’re exploring.
There will be certain areas where sunlight doesn’t enter and not having a flashlight to illuminate where you’re walking can be a fatal mistake.
Before you head out to your next exploration, be sure you have a proper flashlight.