The best travel torches to keep in the car

For exploring and for after-dark roadside breakdowns, a torch is a very useful thing to have in the car.

best travel torches

by Aaron Hussain |
Updated on

Perhaps understandably, finding the best travel torches to keep in your car is quite low on your priority list. You should already be equipped with the essentials as part of your winter driving kit, such as a tyre inflator, depth gauge, or even some spare engine oil in case you're running low. But in the event of a breakdown or when you're at home having to work on your own car, a torch is undeniably useful to have.

If you've ever had the displeasure of navigating several depths of hell in metal and wiring to access a bolt, you'll understand why a torch is needed. Little crevices and hidey holes of cars are simply blocked out by light. It doesn't help that during the winter months, those jobs become more difficult.

While a decent torch is an essential item as well as some de-icer, the good news is that you don't have to spend much these days. However, in addition to value, there are some important factors you need to consider, from the amount of lumens to its compactness.

The best travel torches at a glance:

Editor's pick: NEBO Slyde King 2K - buy from Amazon.
Best built travel torch: Ledlenser MT10 - buy from Amazon.
Best compact torch: NEBO Torchy 2K - buy from Amazon.

Some cars even come with in-built torches and even ice scrapers from the factory or dealer. However, the likelihood of miraculously finding one in your car is quite low, so the best bet is to really settle with a travel torch from a trusted manufacturer.

The best travel torches

Editor's pick

best torchesVia NEBO
Price: $67.79
Alternative retailers
Walmart$59.99View offer

Striking an ideal balance between build quality and value, NEBO's Slyde King 2K takes the prize. It has five light modes, with the brightest throwing a beam of light at a distance of over 400 metres.That's all great but what makes this torch so fantastic is that you can slide back the handle to create a work light, you can then stick the torch to a metal surface thanks to its magnetic base - perfect for changing a wheel or illuminating an engine bay, for example. It feels solid too, with an aluminium body.

Pros

  • Long beam distance
  • Great quality

Cons

  • Could be a bit large for certain areas of your car

Best build quality

best torchesVia Ledlenser
Price: $79.29

Half the output of the NEBO torch above yet more than twice the price, what gives? While the NEBO is well made, the German Ledlenser is brilliant. On top of the impressive build quality, the MT10 has Ledlenser's Advanced Focusing Optics lets you switch between flood and focus beams instantly. Moreover, it seems to make more efficient use of each lumen, giving a better quality, clearer beam than what you get in cheaper torches with the same brightness. The MT10 has a long run time and seven-year warranty too.

Pros

  • 7-year warranty
  • Amazing build quality

Cons

  • The packet it comes in will be a faff when you need to get it out

Best compact torch

best torchesVia NEBO
Price: $81.99

For the inevitable and painfully overused car analogy, this is the TVR of the torch world in terms of power to weight ratio but luckily it's much more reliable. The 2000 lumen headline concerns the torch's Turbo mode, which is a setting that's all the more appealing to us petrolheads.For the most part, you use a bit less than that, depending on the mode. Like the Slyde King 2K above, it has a handy magnetic base but is also has a neat wireless charging pad.

Pros

  • Compact for a number of uses
  • Extremely powerful for its size

Cons

  • Run time is very short compared to others

Best budget wind up torch

best torchesVia Sealey
Price: £9.75

ffx.co.uk

The Sealey Wind-Up Torch's brightness is peanuts compared to the others here but it's designed as an emergency light source. It weighs almost nothing and is reliable. Wind it up with the foldaway handle for one minute and you get an impressive 30 minutes of run time.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Handy for emergency situations

Cons

  • Poor light quality compared to the others

Best heavy duty torch

best torchesVia AA
Price: $63.35

The AA torch is quite an old school unit compared to most others here, but its reliability, value, and efficiency deem it worthy of a place. It is C battery-powered (included), but in return, it has a reasonable run time.When the included batteries need replacing you can always do so with rechargeable ones. The base with six angles is handy for various instances and so too is the 180-metre beam.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Durable build quality

Cons

  • Not as powerful as the others

The most powerful torch

best torchesVia Fenix

Most motorists do not need this torch. It's a long-range spotlight designed for those into outdoors and expedition activities. For motoring-related uses, only a few of us really need it. With that said, for the output it provides and the toughness it bears, this is a rather spectacular item.

It boasts a catastrophic 3,000 lumens and can reach out at a whopping 405 metres. It's even waterproof (2 metres for 30 minutes, according to Fenix) and can is rated for use in temperatures ranging from a freezing -35° to a very toasty 45°C.

Pros

  • Very well-built item
  • Immensely powerful and capable torch

Cons

  • USB-C charging only

What to look for in a travel torch

By its very nature, a torch needs to be a light source. This is a very simple concept that cannot be argued with. But how many lumens is best? It depends on what you need (or want). Torches 500 lumens and above are fantastic outdoors and often feature a focused beam to see long distances, which is good for searching. But it can be overkill for some who just want something that will allow them to check something simple. These include illuminating a wheel, checking the fitting of a windscreen cover, or hooking up jumper cables.

An IP (ingress protection) rating determines how well protected an electrical device is from substances such as dust and water (for a detailed explanation of IP ratings, click here). For a torch you plan you use outdoors, a rating of IPX4 is a minimum starting point. IPX4 will cope with drizzle, light moisture, or a dash of screen wash if you accidently spray a bit on your torch. For the best protection, IP67 or IP68 is needed.

The next thing to consider is build quality. IP ratings are an indicator of build quality, but not totally. A cheap torch may be IP67 and with 2000 lumens but for how long? Longevity is just as important as performance. The last thing you want is pulling a dead torch out of the glovebox. Established industry specialists such as Ledlenser and NEBO produce some excellent torches at a reasonably good price. Also, a torch with a rechargeable battery is more convenient for you and better for the environment. It's preferable to those without. Similarly to car dehumidifiers, size is important too. These days you don't need one of those enormous handheld units that use four C or D batteries. There are some very powerful units the size of a glue stick that fits in your glovebox without issue.

Aaron Hussain is a commercial content writer at Bauer Media writing for Parkers and CAR. He is obsessed with classic cars and anything with a fascinating story to tell.

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