A hand crank flashlight is more than just a souvenir or toy – getting one that’s durable will help immensely during a power outage.
Planning for the unexpected? A hand crank flashlight is one of the most important and reliable tools in your survival kit.
Whether there’s a power outage, you’re trying to replace a car battery in the dark, or you’re out camping with the family, you’ll be happy you have this handy tool at your disposal.
Let’s break down why you’ll benefit from having a hand crank flashlight as well as review the top models available in 2021.
But first, what exactly is it, and how does it work?
The Ins and Outs of a Hand Crank Flashlight
Simply put, a hand crank flashlight is an electric machine that transforms muscle power into electrical power and visible light.
The integral parts of a hand crank flashlight–including a crank, gears, generator, battery, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs)--work together to give you light. When you turn the crank, you set gears in motion that operate a generator, charging the battery. The generator is the most critical part of the flashlight. Without it, there would be no light.
A hand crank flashlight uses an LED bulb, specifically, because it requires much less electricity than a standard bulb and puts out more light. You can expect your hand crank flashlight to produce more light than a typical cell phone flashlight but less than a standard incandescent light bulb.
People generally use a hand crank flashlight for emergency use instead of every day. However, hand crank flashlights are typically not that big–on average, they are 6 inches long–so you can carry it around with you every day if you’d like. Of course, if it’s loaded up with features, it will be larger.
Benefits of a Hand Crank Flashlight
Hand crank flashlights are very popular and for good reason! Here are seven reasons you need to have a hand crank flashlight.
No one knows when disaster will strike. With a hand crank flashlight, you’ll always have a source of light because it does not require external power–you only need a little muscle force! While the light from a regular flashlight may be brighter, it wears out and sometimes at the most inconvenient times.
Hand crank flashlights are considered “green technology”. The disposable batteries used in ordinary flashlights contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals, which pollute the environment when discarded.
For those who want a hand crank flashlight for emergency use, you can expect it to last a lifetime. Many people keep a hand crank flashlight in their vacation home, cabin, or other remote location because it does not have a shelf life as an ordinary flashlight does. The batteries never need to be replaced, so you can expect to use a crank flashlight for a lifetime.
Easy to Use
There are many different kinds of mechanically powered flashlights. They use varying motions to generate power, such as squeezing a handle, winding a crank, or shaking the flashlight itself.
However, the most accessible type to operate is the hand crank flashlight because winding a crank is an easy and natural movement that doesn’t make you tire quickly.
Often, you will need to wind the crank quite a few times to get the desired power output. If you have a good quality hand crank flashlight, you may need to only wind the crank for a solid minute to get an hour’s worth of light.
Lightweight and Small
Many crank flashlight models are lightweight and small, so you can easily transport them around and store them comfortably. Other models with additional features are heavier, of course.
Some great crank flashlights are available that have an array of features outside of producing light, such as a built-in radio, a seat-belt cutter, a charging port, or a hammer. While you may not be able to fit a crank flashlight with all the bells and whistles easily in a glove box or console, it will prove itself worthy during a power outage in your home.
Crank flashlights provide a surprisingly decent amount of light. On average, the brightness is between 8 and 150 lumens. In comparison, a cell phone flashlight will usually produce around 10 lumens, and a standard incandescent light bulb will produce about 800 lumens. You’d be hard-pressed to find a crank flashlight that exceeds 300 lumens.
Top Hand Crank Flashlight Models in 2021
PrimalCamp Hand Crank Solar Powered Rechargeable LED Flashlight
The PrimalCamp is a compact and portable flashlight with an efficient hand cranking system. It has a built-in carabiner, so you can attach it to your backpack or belt. You’ll also appreciate that it comes with two charging options; the internal battery stores solar and cranking power.
Keep in mind, it does not have other features, and it is not waterproof.
Overall, it is a great (and inexpensive) addition to any survival bag. If you don’t like it, you can return it and get your money back.
RunningSnail Emergency Crank Flashlight and Radio
The RunningSnail offers a lot for a reasonable price. It has a solar charger, a USB charging port, a disposable backup battery, and a lighting range that exceeds 10 meters. Not to mention, it’s a gorgeous, vibrant green, and everything is compact and folds away neatly.
If you take this bad boy out camping, you’ll appreciate being able to charge your phone and transmit an SOS Morse Code beacon if you get into trouble. Should you be unable to move and are in danger, this flashlight can play a high-pitch noise to alert nearby people.
An 18-month warranty backs the RunningSnail, so you will get a full refund if there are any defects.
Overall, if you want a compact and affordable hand crank flashlight with good features, this is an excellent option.
Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight with Integrated Solar Panel
The Goal Zero Torch 250 is a small and durable hand crank flashlight. It has a built-in solar panel, a USB charging cable to plug in your phone, two lighting options (spot and flood), two lighting modes (bright and half-bright), a red emergency light, and an indicator light for the battery.
Goal Zero, an American company, consistently produces high-quality products, and the Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight is no exception. Throw it in your console for safekeeping until a rainy day emergency. If you get it wet, don’t worry because it’s water-resistant.
Thorfire LED Camping Lantern
You can use the Thorfire LED Camping Lantern as both a lantern and a flashlight. It collapses neatly for storage in your backpack or pocket and has both high and low lighting modes. For only a few minutes of winding, you can get a surprisingly bright light.
You’ll appreciate the Smart Protection Chip, which acts as a fail-safe and protects your lantern from overcharging, over-discharging, and short-circuiting and guarantees that the user is safe. You’ll also appreciate being able to charge your phone through the USB port.
Lastly, keep in mind that it will take many hours of cranking to charge a smartphone, so it’s not particularly effective. It is best to crank for light and only crank for phone power if it is the last resort option.
All in all, having a hand crank flashlight is crucial for survival situations, especially when night rolls around. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. And it won’t cost you much either.