Best Wind-Up Flashlights Review - 2018 Buyer’s Guide

  • Nov 11th 2018

A good flashlight is one of the most essential tools in your survival or emergency kit. Most of us already have a flashlight lying around at home or in the car. This is good, but more often than not when we really need the flashlight the batteries are dead. Considering this, we think that the best option is to use a mechanically powered flashlight coupled with a built-in solar charger for optimal utility. This kind of wind up torches use a rechargeable built-in battery and in most cases LED lamps for the best performance and efficiency. A wind-up light can also be good to have at home or for all kind of outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, hunting or hiking.

Quick Navigation

  1. The best hand crank lights on the market
  2. Things to consider when buying a hand crank flashlight
  3. Comparison table
  4. iGadgitz Xtra Wind-up LED Torch
  5. Thorfire Hand Crank Flashlight
  6. Energizer Weatheready Crank Light
  7. LifeLight LED Emergency Flashlight
  8. Conclusion
What makes hand-cranked and solar-powered flashlights so good is the fact that you can recharge your emergency wind up flashlight using the crank or built-in solar charger anywhere at any time. This is very convenient when there is a power outage or for when you find yourself off the grid, and as a bonus it is also good for the environment since the power comes from a renewable energy source. If your non-rechargeable batteries have run out and there is an extended power outage, the mechanically powered hand crank light is the best, and sometimes only option.

In this wind-up flashlight review, we take a look at the best hand crank flashlights you can buy in 2018. We have set the criteria for what makes the best hand crank emergency light in a section called: things to consider when buying a wind-up flashlight, which you can read below.

We have an article about the closely related emergency hand crank AM/FM radios with built-in flashlights. These hand crank radios are also a very good addition to your survival or emergency stockpile, they are a bit bulkier, but that is to be expected when they have more functionality and features than a flashlight. If you want to have the optimal toolkit for an emergency at home we also recommend adding a portable and lightweight solar charger panel.

Things to consider when buying a hand crank flashlight

High quality - we consider this the most important point on this list since the purpose of an emergency crank flashlight is that it should be something you can depend on in a crisis. Besides, a wind-up light of high quality that lasts a long time will pay for itself in the long run.

Your wind-up flashlight should be made of high-quality materials and it is important that the LED lamps are of high quality too. But most important is the quality of the built-in rechargeable battery, a poor battery will slowly degrade and hold less and less charge until it can hold no charge at all. This is true for all batteries, but with low-quality rechargeable batteries, this happens much sooner. A high-quality Li-ion battery is the best option for rechargeable devices as they have a lifespan of about 500 recharge cycles.

Output brightness - it is important that your wind up torch is bright enough for your needs. A lights brightness is measured in Lumen. The more Lumen the lamp got the brighter it is, we recommend at least 5 to 10 Lumen. The brightness and Lumen is not the only thing that matters, the optics is also important for a hand crank torch. With good optics in the flashlight, you get a better and more concentrated beam.

Battery capacity - how long will your mechanically powered flashlight shine? This does, of course, depend on how long you have been charging it, but also on the quality of the LED lamps and the built-in rechargeable battery. We think that it reasonable that only a couple of minutes of cranking should be enough to get several minutes of light. This is something the best hand crank flaslights are capable of and in this review, all tested wind-up torches gives at least 15 minutes of light from only 1 minute of winding and a few are even better.

Size and weight - The more compact and lightweight the hand-cranked torch is, the better. The design should be both compact and ergonomic, lightweight, but still feel good in your hand.

Usability and functionality - extra features such as adjustable brightness, built-in solar panel charger, USB input and output for charging mobile devices etc. Extra features that actually work and does not compromise the original design is a plus. As mentioned above there are hand-cranked emergency AM/FM radios with a lot of extra features, such as flashlight and mobile phone charging, but we have a separate article about them here.

Weatherproof - The wind-up flashlight should at least be able to withstand outdoor conditions such as wind and rain. All the mechanically powered torches in this review can survive being dropped or submerged in water for a short time. Look at the flashlights IP6X certification to see what situations it can handle without taking damage.

Comparison Table

iGadgitz Xtra Wind-up LED Torch


The iGadgitz Xtra is a very nice hand crank emergency light. It weighs in at only 6.4 ounces so it is very lightweight. With 3 bright LED lamps the flashlight produces 8 Lumen, which is more than enough for performing common tasks. To have a dimmer but more durable light the flashlight can use only one of the LED lamps on the low settings mode

iGadgitx Xtra has an 80 mAh 3V Ni-MH rechargeable battery that can be charged either with the hand crank dynamo or through the built-in solar cells. The built-in battery can give up to 140 minutes of light after a short charge time. If you want a longer duration you can use the low brightness mode which will extend the duration up to 4 hours. In addition to the low and high modes, the emergency wind-up lamp also has a flashing mode, which is excellent if you need to draw attention to yourself in a crisis.

We think that this is one of the best wind up torches to own in 2018 because it has a very well rounded sturdy design with good brightness and capacity. The flashlight is also very lightweight and water resistant with its IPX6 certification.

Specification

Brightness: 8 Lumen
Waterproof: 45 feet, IPX6
Duration: 1 minute crank = 60 minutes light
Weight: 6.4 ounces

Pros

  • High brightness
  • Long duration
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in solar charger

Cons

  • Ni-MH battery
  • No extra features

Check out iGadgitz Xtra Wind-up LED Torch on Amazon

Thorfire Hand Crank Flashlight


The Thorfire Hand Crank Flashlight is very well designed with its 3 output modes and both a wind-up crank and a solar cell charger. This lantern's specs are very similar to the iGadgitx Xtra. It has 3 LED lamps with a high mode, a low mode, and a flashing mode. When you use the high mode all 3 LED lamps shine and produce 8 Lumen. On low mode, the flashlight use only one of the LEDs and this extends the duration from 60 to 80 minutes after just 1 minute of charging with the hand-cranked dynamo. Charging using the solar charger gives you 120 minutes duration after 1 hour in direct sunlight.

Thorfire is very lightweight, only 5.6 ounces. Only the Energizer Weatheready weighs less, but the Thorfire is also more powerful. The wind-up torch has a sturdy design and it is waterproof and certified with the IPX6 standard. Except its solar charger the flashlight does not come with any extra features.

Despite not having any extra features we think that the Thorfire is one of the best wind-up torches you can buy in 2018. If you are not looking for extra features this hand-cranked flashlight is a perfect pick and we love how compact and lightweight it is, and still have very good brightness and capacity.

Specification

Brightness: 8 Lumen
Waterproof: 45 feet, IPX6
Duration: 1 minute crank = 60 minutes light
Weight: 5.6 ounces

Pros

  • High brightness
  • Long duration
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in solar charger

Cons

  • No extra features

Check out Thorfire Hand Crank Flashlight on Amazon

Energizer Weatheready Crank Light


Energizer Weatheready Crank Light is the most lightweight and compact in the lineup. We love that this flashlight is small enough to fit anywhere, you can even fasten it to your belt using the carabiner clip.

Due to its compact design, this hand-cranked light does not come with any extra features, such as a solar charger or different output modes. The Energizer use 3 LED lamps and can output 7 Lumen, it is also waterproof and has an IP67 certification which is slightly better than its competitors.

We think this is one of the best hand crank emergency lights you can have in your readiness kit. Due to its lesser duration, we think it is more suited as a backup light than your main emergency flashlight.

Specification

Brightness: 7 Lumen
Waterproof: 45 feet, IP67
Duration: 1 minute crank = 15 minutes light
Weight: 1.6 ounces

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Very compact
  • High brightness
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Less duration
  • Less capacity
  • No solar charger

Check out Energizer Weatheready Crank Light on Amazon

LifeLight LED Emergency Flashlight


Our premium pick is the LifeLight LED Emergency Flashlight, this is a wind-up flashlight that both performs well and has a lot of useful extra features. Besides the torch functionality, it also has a calibrated compass, a car window breaker and a USB output port so you can actually charge your mobile devices with it.

With so many added features this hand-cranked light is not as lightweight as its competitors, but we think its 9.9 ounces is still very reasonable and not too heavy. LifeLight has 3 powerful 2500 mcd LED lamps and also one red 500 mcd LED flashing light. The red flash function is a great addition and can be a lifesaver in emergency situations. We have not found any IPX certification but the manufacturer say that the flashlight is water resistant and from the looks of its sturdy design we believe that some light rain should not harm it.

We think that the LifeLight is the best wind-up flashlight you can have in your emergency stockpile. It is our premium pick since it is a bit more expensive, but you get what you pay for and the many very useful extra features makes this a solid pick.

Specification

Brightness: 15 Lumen
Waterproof: Water resistant
Duration: 1 minute crank = 30 minutes light
Weight: 9.9 ounces

Pros

  • Very Bright
  • High capacity
  • Li-ion battery
  • Many good extra features

Cons

  • Not as lightweight
  • No solar charger

Check out LifeLight LED Emergency Flashlight on Amazon

Conclusion

Which is the best wind-up flashlight for you? It depends on your needs, do you need any of the extra functionality offered by some hand-cranked torches or do you already have a good flashlight and only need one as a backup.

If you have need of the extra features that the LifeLight LED Emergency Flashlight has or simply want the best performance and capacity we can really recommend this flashlight to anyone looking for an emergency flashlight.

The Energizer Weatheready Crank Light is a great addition as a backup flashlight if you already own a more powerful flashlight. It super compact size and ultra light weight make it one of our favorites.

If you simply want the functionality of a high performing wind-up flashlight we recommend the Thorfire Hand Crank Flashlight which is a solid pick with its very good duration of 60 minutes of light after only 1 minute of charging with the hand-cranked dynamo.