This article will go over the best flashlights for wildlife spotting at night or in low-light conditions. Spotlighting is a method of hunting nocturnal animals with high powered flashlights at night. The animals eyes reflect the light back at the person holding the light and often times the animal will freeze not knowing if the light is a threat.
But there are many reasons why someone would want a high-powered flashlight to spot animals and wildlife. Below are just a few reasons that I can think of for wanting to spot wildlife at night, starting with the obvious.
- Hunting or fishing
- Scaring animals away from your backyard
- Spotting nocturnal birds up in trees
- Walking your dog at night
- Tent camping in bear country
Different types of flashlights for wildlife spotting
Here are a few different variations of flashlights, aside from a standard flashlight, that you may consider for spotting wildlife at night or in low light. Which type is best for you will depend on your use.
Spotlights are high-powered handheld flashlights that come in a gun-like shape, usually activated with a trigger. They are generally very bulky and larger compared to other flashlights, you probably won’t be slipping one in your pocket. The beam is adjustable like most other flashlights, some with a max distance upwards of 300 yards!
Tactical flashlights are multi-use and have become very popular in recent years. Compared to standard flashlights they are built to be very durable and rugged and with self-defense in mind. Not only that, but they are typically much brighter than your standard flashlight.
Don’t let the small size fool you, some of these mini-flashlights can pack quite a punch! As the name suggests, they are obviously on the small side so they can easily slip into your pocket or purse. The Olight flashlight on this list is a great example of a high-quality compact flashlight that will last you for years.
Top 5 best flashlights for wildlife spotting
Maglite RL1019 LED Rechargeable Flashlight
*Best overall flashlight
Maglite is no doubt one of the most trusted names in flashlights today. Made of a super durable anodized aluminum, the Maglite RL1019 is one of the most powerful, well-made, and overall best flashlights you can buy today. The craftsmanship and quality of Maglites is second to none in the industry making it the top choice for law enforcement officers, emergency responders, and military. It’s also excellent for a number of outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and just about anything else you can imagine.
Due to this flashlight being so versatile, I consider it the best flashlight overall for just about any activity. Aside from all of the other uses we’ve mentioned, it would also do great at wildlife spotting on a dark night. Having said that, it is rather large and heavy. So if that’s not your thing and you’d like something smaller and easier to carry, then we’ve got you covered in some of the other options on this list.
- Full power (up to 643 Lumens), low power (up to 148 Lumens), eco mode (up to 66 Lumens)
- Primary uses include outdoors, law enforcement, and military/tactical with functions for each
- Water resistant, drop resistant, shock-resistant
- Limited lifetime warranty from Maglite
- Visible light length of about 300 meters
- Rechargeable battery life of 4.5 hours at full power
Fenix PD36R 1600 Lumen USB rechargeable CREE LED tactical Flashlight
*Best tactical flashlight
Even though I gave the honor of best tactical flashlight, it is also quite compact and easily fits in the palm of your hand. It puts out a whopping 1600 lumens, that’s almost 3 times that of the Maglite! The phrase “dynamite comes in small packages” really rings true here. When it comes to quality and craftsmanship, Fenix is right up there with Maglite.
However there is almost no contest when it comes to raw power, Fenix is hands down more powerful. In fact I was quite tempted to make this light the best overall, it’s unlike anything you’ve seen when it comes to ounce for ounce power. In the end though, I just really love the feel of a Maglite in my hand. You may even wonder if this tiny flashlight is even legal it’s so powerful… but it definitely is. Just use it wisely, this thing could blind someone it’s so strong!
- 1600 maximum lumens output and 283 meters beam distance
- High capacity 21700 Li-ion battery that charges in just 4 hours via USB-C
- Includes EdisonBright charging cable and carrying case
- 5 different brightness levels + strobe mode
- Waterproof up to 2 meters
- Compact at just 5.35″ in length, weighs just 3 ounces
Brightness Levels / Runtime
- Turbo: 1600 Lumens / 2 Hours 50 Minutes (Light level drops down for temperature protection)
- High: 800 Lumens / 5 Hours 49 Minutes
- Medium: 350 Lumens / 8 Hours 24 Minutes
- Low: 150 Lumens / 26 Hours
- Eco: 30 Lumens / 115 Hours
I’ll admit I’ve not had the pleasure of using this particular torch yet, but oh man do I want one. Fenix is well known in the industry as being one of the best brands out there and this particular model is definitely one of the best they make, just look at the reviews! If you’re wanting something smaller than the Maglite that is compact, tactical, and quite possibly the best flashlight you’ll ever own, don’t hesitate and just buy this flashlight. You won’t regret it.
YIERBLUE Rechargeable Super Bright Spotlight
If you need a spotlight for your home, car, boat, or camper, then this one by YIERBLUE is a great choice. Like other spotlights it’s large and a little bulky compared to other types of flashlights, but it is lightweight and can be comfortable hand held coming in at under two pounds. The company YIERBLUE states that they pay close attention to market research and any issues their customers have to consistently continue improving their products and push forward their innovations. It’s nice to know a company takes your feedback seriously! They also know a small amount of defects happen, and give you a lifetime warranty with no hassle replacement.
- Super-bright LED beam distance of 2600ft / 800m.
- 3 settings, High / Low / Flash with 6,000 lumen max
- Rechargeable battery that lasts up to 20 hours
- Side flood light can be used as camping lantern
- Emergency Spotlight (red and blue flash) doubles as a power bank for mobile devices
- Lifetime warranty
When it comes to spotting wildlife, this is a great for choice for your backyard with its powerful beam. Especially if you don’t want to spend a ton. A lot of reviewers also enjoy its versatility for hiking and camping activities. If you need a more diffuse light for setting up your tent or just reading a map, the side flood light provides plenty of light without being as intense and directly focused as the spotlight. It even has a setting that will flash an emergency blue/red light that would be handy to keep in your car for roadside emergencies.
The spotlight comes with a small tripod to hold it in place if you need to use both hands, or just want consistent light to shine on a particular spot. This would be handy if you wanted to set up the spotlight on a particular area of your yard for many hours at a time. There is also a USB port that will allow you to plug in your cell phone or other mobil devices and use the battery as a power bank for charging.
This spotlight comes with a lot of options and extras that really make it attractive as a versatile product you could use in many different ways, and with such a good warranty you can feel confident about your purchase.
GearLight S2000 High-Powered LED Flashlight
*Best budget flashlight
This medium sized tactical flashlight from GearLight is the budget pick on this list. With all of the great features below you may wonder how they priced it so low. I honestly don’t know, it almost seems to good to be true. The reviews on Amazon are really good and most everyone is really happy with their purchase. Having said that, it does have a few drawbacks like the fact that it is not rechargeable and takes 4 AA batteries. Not a deal-breaker really but if you’re like me you hate having to buy expensive batteries. Size-wise, I put it in-between the Maglite and the Fenix making it a medium-sized handheld flashlight that could definitely work for some wildlife spotting.
This is definitely an option to consider for spotting animals and wildlife in nature or your backyard, and the size is perfect. On top of the great features and excellent price it looks the customer service is nothing short of stellar, which is always a plus! On the surface this thing really looks like a good buy and at this price it would be perfect to buy a couple of these for various places around the house or in the car. From what I can tell this is a win no matter how you look at it. But if you want top-shelf quality you may want to consider the Maglite, the Fenix, or the Olight, which is up next.
- All aluminum body
- Delivers up to 1200 lumens
- 5 settings: High, Medium, Low, Strobe, SOS
- Can focus in on objects up to 1000 feet away
- Water resistant, weather resistant, drop-resistant (up to 10 feet), and very durable
- 1 year return policy from manufacturer
Olight Baton Pro 2000 Lumens Compact Rechargeable Side-Switch LED Flashlight
*Best compact flashlight
Last but certainly not least is the Olight Baton Pro 2000, and this thing is a powerhouse of a compact LED flashlight. It’s funny that the smallest flashlight on this list is also the most powerful with 2000 lumens of output! That’s just crazy to squeeze that much power into this tiny little thing, but Olight did it. However power doesn’t equate to distance with a max throw of 144 yards, which is less than many of the others on this list. However, do you really need to spot anything from that far away? Likely not, and if you do we’ve got several other options to choose from like the Fenix which is almost as powerful and shines twice as far.
I think it goes without saying that I am very impressed with this compact flashlight. When it comes to using it for spotting wildlife, it depends on what you need it for. If you want to spook deer from 100 yards on your back porch, maybe look at the NoCry. If you want something super-compact to keep in your pocket or a side-pouch in your purse or backpack, it’s going to be hard to beat the Olight. The build quality is going to be hard to beat and the power per inch is all but unbeatable with 2000 lumens at only 4.35 inches long! And that’s why this little guy won the best compact flashlight for spotting wildlife, just maybe not from great distances.
- Max output of 2000 lumens
- 5 power modes
- Max throw (distance) of 144 yards
- 3 color power level indicator
- 3500 mAh rechargeable battery
- Magnetic USB charging system
- Waterproof IPX8 (up to 2 meters max)
- 2000~600 lumens / 1+160 minutes
- 600 lumens / 210 minutes
- 120 lumens / 810 minutes
- 30 lumens / 55 hours
- 5 lumens / 9 days
With so many great options it was difficult to choose a best flashlight because each one has a specific use where it excels over the others. However I’m just a bit partial to Maglite because I’ve own a couple. The first one I had for 10 years and eventually the batteries bursted after not being used for a while effectively sealing the battery compartment. The second one I had was unfortunately lost or stolen, so it may be time to get another. I love the feel and weight of a Maglite in my hand, they are durable, powerful, and last forever. That’s why I chose it as the best overall flashlight for spotting wildlife.
If I’m being honest though, it was hard to decide. These are all excellent choices. I hope I’ve helped you in some small way to choose the best flashlight you can. Good luck with your purchase!
Some common wildlife to spot at night with a flashlight
We are assuming you aren’t going spotlighting for hunting purpose in this article. The following animals and scenarios are for viewing or scaring away only.
If you are wanting to shine a light on some deer, it’s likely because they are visiting your yard at night and causing trouble. We all know that they will eat most everything in your garden, undoing weeks or even months of work and food for your family. Deer may seem harmless, but they are anything but. A bright flashlight or spotlight shined on them may be all that’s needed to spook them out of your yard. This is only a temporary solution though and they will likely come back, so you may want to think of a more permanent deterrent method if deer are a recurring problem for you. The spotlight we recommend from NoCry above would work well in this situation.
Owling is a thing, and I think most of us know that owls are largely nocturnal animals and are rarely seen during the day. If you are a birder and want to add some owls to your life list, then taking a night hike with a bright flashlight may let you add a new species to it. If you walk quietly and listen you may hear owls “who’ing” in the trees. Follow the sounds and shine your light in the right spot and you may just get lucky. A smaller flashlight may work best for owling, I’d consider the Olight or the Fenix on this page. Both are on the compact side and can be easily slipped into a backpack or even a pocket when walking.
Raccoons, skunks, opossums
While these are 3 totally different species, they all have a few things in common; they opportunistic eaters that devoir anything they come across, they will venture into your backyard without a second thought, they’re on the small side, and they are all nocturnal. These facts makes them a nuisance to most people. If you use a good wildlife camera, you can catch them in the act and quickly shine a light on them effectively scaring them off. For a more long term solution you can also consider a motion activated sprinkler to patrol your yard for all kinds of pests.
This one isn’t as common, but still a real use case for shining a flashlight on an animal at night. If you are camping in bear country at night, you should be weary of bears. Most of the time they are more frightened of us than we are of them and will run at the first sign of humans. That’s what we hope anyway. If you find yourself close enough to a bear at night that you can hear or see it, then you have likely surprised it. In this case a bright light and some loud noises will likely scare it away. I recommend the Maglite at the top of the list for camping.
Coyotes or bobcats
While most of us probably don’t come across either of these animals on a regular basis, or at all, many live in parts of the country where they may be a regular occurrence. Urban coyotes are becoming more and more common and if you are out walking your dog at night, it’s good to have a powerful flashlight that can see ahead of you for a 100 yards or so. This ensures that you are never surprised by a wild animals or that you or your dog is never attacked, however unlikely that would actually be. I highly recommend the Olight compact flashlight on this list for a scenario like this.
In some states it may be illegal to spotlight at night. This usually refers to deer spotlighting which is what hunters do, so it may not affect you. If you are just checking for critters lurking around your backyard at night, or shining lights on a night walk then you should be fine. Depending on your use, I’d still do a quick Google search though to be safe.