Last Updated on September, 2023
Are you looking for a new night vision flashlight, or were you just invited to a star party but (*gasp*) don’t have a red flashlight to take with you! I know the feeling. You can’t be an astronomer without a handy red beam light.
There are hundreds of astronomy flashlights on the market. Which ones are the best? Most of all, which red flashlight has the best of both worlds; quality and price!
If you are a fan of stargazing or do a job that requires a night vision flashlight, the light needs to be durable, portable, and have excellent brightness without ruining your night vision.
Your CHOICE of flashlight matters, especially for astronomy, as you will need a good flashlight to check the star charts. Lucky for you, I have tested dozens of these flashlights to find the best and also created a buyer’s guide to turn you into a flashlight pro.
So what are the best red flashlights the market has to offer? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- Top 7 Flashlights for Astronomy & Night Vision
- Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Perfect Red Flashlight for You?
- Why is a Red Light Necessary for Astronomy?
- How to Make the Most of Your Night Vision LED Flashlight?
Top 7 Flashlights for Astronomy & Night Vision
These are the finest red flashlights available for astronomy and night vision with the best features. After multiple testing, I have deemed the Fenix TK26R the winner. However, that doesn’t mean the rest of them don’t have their unique traits.
1. NITECORE NU25 UL (Editor’s Choice)
Nitecore has always been a reliable and powerful flashlight brand. Their NU25 UL is my best red light and night vision recommendation.
Its features back up my claim.
For starters, this is a powerful headlamp with a red light, bespoke for situations that need night vision. This headlamp has three dedicated light sources: a spotlight, a floodlight, and two red lights in the middle.
The red light emits 10 lumens and can run for 16 hours with an 8m beam distance. That’s beyond impressive.
For strong night vision, you can have either the spotlight or the floodlight or have them simultaneously. The level difference between the spotlight and the floodlight is that the spotlight doesn’t have a high level, and only the floodlight has an ultra-low level.
When the spotlight and the floodlight are used together, the output varies between 60-400 lumens. The spotlight alone emits 60-200 lumens, and the floodlight alone emits 6-200 lumens.
The night vision will always be comfortable and clearer thanks to the highly efficient constant current circuit (Non-PWN). In the ultralow standby mode, the light can last up to 365 days, a whole year!
But in the highest 400-lumen mode, the NU25 UL runs for 2h 40 mins with a peak beam throw of 64m. The lowest beam throw in the ultra-low mode is 4m.
This phenomenal headlamp comes with a 4-light power indicator, with a lockout mode to prevent accidental activation prevention. The convenience further increases thanks to the one-hand operable dual buttons interface and the 1.59oz lightweight design.
The cherry on top is how its built-in 650mAh battery is USB-C rechargeable. Since Nitecore knows the instances you will use this headlamp, they also have integrated an SOS light.
This headlamp is designed to last with 1m impact resistance with an IP66 waterproof rating.
All these features, when combined, meet and exceed your expectations for a red-light & night vision light effortlessly.
2. Sofirn H05B (#2nd Best Choice)
If Nitecore’s headlamp is unavailable, the next best option is Sofirn’s H05B headlamp. Let’s see what makes it special.
For your night vision requirements, this aero-grade aluminum headlamp works with 5 light sources. With these 5 light sources, you get three brightness levels for the white light and a red light with three intensity levels from 100% to 50% to 10%.
The white light fluctuates across Turbo mode (2322 Lumens), High mode (1344 Lumens), and Moonlight mode (1 Lumens).
In other words, it’s a powerful light that can be USB-C recharged within 5 hours, delivering higher convenience.
That convenience is higher as this, too, is a one-hand-operable headlamp that Sofirn is recognized for. The cherry on top is its IP66 waterproof rating and 2m impact resistance, which makes it ideal for outdoor environments.
I love how the headlamp can be rotated 180 degrees as that gives more positioning advantage. Additionally, you can also use SOS, strobe, and beacon modes easily.
Remember that you can get this headlamp with or without a battery, and choose either SST20 or Ostram P8 LEDs.
With a sleek design, this is one magnificent headlamp.
3. Celestron Night Vision Red LED Flashlight (#3rd Best choice)
Celestron isn’t as popular a brand as Nitecore, but their night vision red light is the second-best alternative.
Let’s look at its red light for night vision; it has two LEDs, and that’s why it has a maximum output of 25 lumens, which is pretty decent.
You can plan your night strategically with two operational modes: low mode that can run for 300 hours, which is about 12.5 days. The high mode runs for 12 hours, and that’s great.
The convenience factor is high as there’s an easy-to-use thumbwheel for brightness adjustment.
But there is a clear question about Celestron 93588’s build design as it’s made from standard plastic. However, that construction with the dimensions of 4.25 x 1.3 x 1″ / 10.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 cm results in a flashlight that only weighs 3.5oz with the battery.
In other words, it’s easy to carry but may not last as long as a Nitecore flashlight. This flashlight would have taken second place if it had a white light option, too.
However, in conclusion, the Celestron 935388 is definitely a recommendable night vision flashlight.
4. COAST PX20 (Best for Heavy Users)
Are you looking for a handy dual-beam flashlight for heavy use? The COAST PX20 Dual Color flashlight which provides up to 315 lumens of light might be the one for you. Weighing only 3.2 oz/ 91g, this pocket sized is very portable as its only 1.56 inches in length and 0.46in in height.
Although its weatherproof (IPX4) feature isn’t superior to the top 2, this flashlight offers the furthest beam distance of 465 ft and a runtime of 1 hour and 15 minutes. It has a robust aluminum body and requires 3 AAA batteries to run. The red and white lights make it versatile, from astronomy to camping/ military operations.
5. Rigel Skylite (Finest Dual Color Option)
The Rigel Systems Skylite is another white and red (dual colored) light. However, what sets it apart is the long runtime of 320 hours at the lowest setting.
The best bang for your buck considering you get a long lanyard to hang around the neck and light with brightness regulation circuitry that runs on a 9V battery.
It weighs only 4oz/ 113g even with the battery included and has an overall case size of 5.9 x 2.8 x 1.4 inches. This versatile light is not just water resistant but floats when dropped into water! As one of most long lasting and sturdy flashlights on the list, it is perfect to use for star parties.
6. Carson RedSight Pro (Most Affordable)
If you are on a tight budget, do not fear, I got the most affordable red light for you.
The Carson RedSight Pro costs only Furthermore, it comes with two brightness levels and a glow-in-the-dark rubberized handle.
This is another standard battery-powered (AAA) light with an output of 4 lumens. The RedSight Pro is extremely portable and lightweight as it only weighs 2.4oz/ 68g with a length of 3.75 inches. It is the best red flashlight for reading star charts since your dark adapted vision isn’t affected the slightest.
7. Orion DualBeam (Best Features)
As a flashlight with the best features, you would think the Orion DualBeam would be the No. 1 choice. The DualBeam is durable and lightweight, weighing only 5oz/ 142g with 5.7(L) x 1.2(W) x 1.2(H) inches for dimensions. Unfortunately, it has one minor flaw that prevents it from taking the top spots.
The Orion dualbeam Astro night vision flashlight has some excellent features. It’s dual colored (white and red), hands free light due to its multiple carrying options. It has amazing durability due being water and dustproof. Additionally, the Orion light even acts as a power bank for other electronic devices!
With four brightness level settings( 5%,10%, 50 and 100%) and a battery life of over 300 hours, it could be deemed the best flashlight for astronomy if it weren’t for the bright white light it emits upon starting and when indicating the battery level.
This might disrupt your night vision. This is a worthy choice if you can find your way around this problem and keep your dark adapted vision intact!
Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Perfect Red Flashlight for You?
Now that you read about the best red flashlights available, how do you choose the best one that suits your needs?
If the only purpose for a red flashlight is reading star charts, then a red-only beam light might be a good option. However, if you want to make maximum use of your red light, I will give you tips to better understand red flashlights and the selection process behind buying the one.
The longest beam distance available for a red flashlight from our list is 456ft which is quite a long throw considering that most red beam flashlights have a beam distance of 30 to 100 ft. Why is that? It is because they are used for looking at objects at a shorter length than an everyday carry (EDC) flashlight.
If the beam is precise and centered, a long-distance beam is fine for astronomy; if not, it is more suited for rescue operations and hunting. A short beam distance is advantageous when mapping stars.
There are two factors you need to consider. Brightness and wavelength. When you use red lights at star parties, the dimmer the better. One mistake amateur astronomers make when buying an astronomy flashlight is buying one with more than 300 lumens.
Although those are fine for other purposes, a dim red light is required when reading star maps and observing the night sky.
Furthermore, the red color emission of the flashlight should be at least 620 to 650nm. Beware of dual-color flashlights, as the bright white light might take away your night vision if switched on by accident.
As mentioned before, if you buy a red flashlight for astronomy purposes, like to read star maps, the light intensity should be less than 300 lumens. Even if your flashlight has a light output exceeding this, it should have settings that enable you to change the brightness level.
What most amateur astronomers need help understanding, in the beginning, is the required output and light intensity to keep your dark adapted vision in check.
If you are reading star maps, an output of 5 to 25 lumens is more than enough to read the star maps without affecting your night vision.
Even to assemble/ disassemble your telescope, a light of fewer than 100 lumens is enough. Anything over 250 lumens is great for stargazing or hiking, but the light is more likely to disrupt your night adapted vision as the output and intensity increase, even if it’s a red light.
Size and Portability
The size and weight are crucial factors to consider for night vision lights. The smaller and lightweight the flashlight is, the easier it is to carry. On the other hand, you remember the purpose you are purchasing the flashlight for.
I will give you an example. If you enjoy star parties and constantly hike along mountains and forests, the astronomy flashlight should be lightweight and have an excellent grip to avoid slipping your hand.
Furthermore, the shape of the light matters in terms of how stable it is, so it does not roll away when placed on the ground or on top of a rock. A flashlight with multiple clips/points for mounting or a long lanyard is a plus for portability.
Astronomy sessions are not a one-hour event. They might go on for the whole night; therefore, longer runtimes are advantageous. The benefit of a red beam in most flashlights is that it is slow to drain the battery. This is due to the light output being relatively less for red flashlights.
A good night vision flashlight should be able to run for four hours or more to ensure an undisrupted stargazing experience. Flashlights that can run for more than 12 hours are excellent for overnight star observations.
Build Quality and Durability
Most of the time, red flashlights are used for tactical operations requiring movement along uneven or rocky terrains. The last thing you want is a flimsy flashlight that breaks after falling for the first time.
When hunting for flashlights, make sure they have mentioned the impact resistance or the drop tests they have conducted for that particular flashlight.
Furthermore, some astronomy flashlights are made of plastic instead of aluminum or a suitable metal. Plastic flashlights are fine if you are on a low budget and not a heavy user of night vision flashlights.
Battery and Warranty
If you are using night vision flashlights, a good warranty is a must! As mentioned before, they are liable to breakage since red flashlights are used for nighttime activities.
A sturdy flashlight is usable no matter how many times it falls. However, they should have at least a two-to-five year full coverage warranty for the flashlight.
The battery type varies depending on the brand. Some flashlights come with rechargeable batteries, while others work on a regular 9V battery. Using a standard battery flashlight seems like a plausible idea due to the ease of finding replacements, but the battery dies down faster and it can become an expensive task.
Rechargeable flashlights are easy to use as they don’t need replacing. If you are a heavy user, the rechargeable battery will last longer than a typical battery. Overall, rechargeable batteries are a better option.
Why is a Red Light Necessary for Astronomy?
Have you heard of scotopic vision? No?
It’s another word for dark adapted vision.
As a result of our eyes’ ability to adapt to darkness, we can see more clearly after the Sun sets. Our eyes’ pupils widen in the dark, and the photosensitive pigments in our retinal cells multiply, making our eyes more sensitive and able to see more and more in dim light.
If you have made it till the end! That must have been a rollercoaster ride for you. Is buying an astronomy flashlight as easy as buying a normal flashlight?
No, of course not. When you seek a red flashlight for astronomy, the most imperative detail you should remember is that the flashlight should keep your night vision intact.
Our eyes become more accustomed the longer we spend in the dark.
Unfortunately, even a tiny amount of light can undo the dark adaptation and return us to the start. This complicates matters if you need a flashlight to examine a star chart, take notes, or cross rugged terrain when exploring the dark.
Because red lights are less likely to interfere with our eyes’ ability to adjust to the dark, they are crucial for astronomy. Red light has a lower sensitivity for our eyes. And as a result, the red light causes less harm to our adaptability. Therefore, the impact of using red lights at night on our ability to adapt will be negligible.
How to Make the Most of Your Night Vision LED Flashlight?
Although red flashlights are an astronomer’s best friend, that is not the only purpose of a red light.
Red lights have been commonly used for military operations, by first responders, and during hunting besides stargazing. They are even used in photography darkrooms. Technically, this tool comes in handy for any task that requires preserving our dark adapted vision.
If you like camping, a red flashlight is a great device to bring with you. Using your red light inside the tent is fantastic if you’re around a campfire in the middle of the night,since you won’t burn your eyes out or disturb anybody else, and your eyes won’t need to adjust to it as they do to white light.
Another task you can use a red flashlight for is nighttime fishing. Since they don’t cause any disturbance, some individuals use them when fishing at night. Not only will they preserve your vision but also attract fewer mosquitoes, bugs and other flying insects!
If you have made it till the end! That must have been a rollercoaster ride for you. Is buying an astronomy flashlight as easy as buying a normal flashlight? No, of course not. When you seek a red flashlight for astronomy, the most imperative detail you should remember is that the flashlight should keep your night vision intact.
A red-only flashlight with low light output is the best for astronomy sessions with minimal disturbance to your dark adapted vision.
However, versatility and a compact design are the keys to a durable flashlight worth every penny. Multiple/dual beams such as the Fenix TK26R is the best for tactical operations of any kind.
Since I have laid down the basics in selecting according to your purpose and preferences, choosing a flashlight for astronomy should be a breeze!
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