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When it comes to flashlights, we enter into an industry teaming with brands and models spanning an extremely diverse range of quality and price.
The number of manufacturers is endless, the availability of models at a range of prices more so, and it can very quickly become overwhelming when it comes to navigating your way to the best buyer’s choice.
Well, today we’re going to narrow that down for you, and we begin with a very important keyword: S.O.S.
In the world of flashlights and head torches, S.O.S flashlights are the crowning jewels of the marketplace, easily and resolutely taking the top spots for a worthwhile purchasing decision that won’t see you wasting money on an inadequate product.
So what is an S.O.S flashlight? S.O.S flashlights are flashlights designed for search and rescue, making them life-saving bits of kit in a plethora of industries and environments.
They are programmed with an additional S.O.S feature, which sends out powerful beams of morse code to help you and rescue teams in survival, search and rescue operations.
This piece of S.O.S coding is a simple addition to a standard flashlight but opens the doors to being a much more reliable and worthwhile product.
S.O.S flashlights come as standard with the S.O.S programming, three short beams, three long, followed by three short, spelling out S.O.S in morse code and thus becoming life-saving instruments, but the best ones on the market will come with additional strobe functions for extra functionality.
And in what’s essentially the same product, why not have more settings right? In this case, more is more.
There are a few key factors to consider when it comes to selecting the right S.O.S flashlights for you:
- Lumen rating – this is the measure of the power of the bulb, the higher the lumens, the brighter the output, and the larger the throw of the beam, depending on the design.
- Battery life – modern flashlights sport some pretty huge battery life these days, which can be really useful in a survival situation and potentially save your life. Look for long battery life when comparing flashlights.
- Recharge times – having an S.O.S flashlight always on hand is an excellent way of staying prepared in emergency situations, but you don’t want to be waiting around and potentially draining your power supply if you have to spend too long charging in an off-grid scenario. Generally, re-charge times are pretty quick when it comes to S.O.S flashlights, but make sure this is something you check.
- IP rating – the IP rating of a flashlight is how well it protects against the ingress of dirt and water, any particulate matter or water getting in is going to vastly reduce the lifespan of your product, so keep the IP rating in mind when considering durability.
- S.O.S interface – of course, an S.O.S flashlight’s bread and butter is its S.O.S functionality, so look for products that support this interface.
- Additional interfaces – many S.O.S flashlights also have strobe and signaling interfaces, as well as multiple brightness settings and even different colored lights. Given that these extra functions make no difference to the size and longevity of S.O.S flashlights, any model with more interfaces is better and could be that difference between saving your life.
- CREE – CREE LED technology is the latest tech when it comes to LED. The super-advanced bulbs sport astronomically longer lifetimes, so any product that uses this is a longer-lasting option.
- Durability – when it comes to the durability of your flashlight, think about the IP rating and the materials choice. Many flashlights sport metal bodies with high carbon steel or even titanium, others use transparent polycarbonate that glows in the dark and allows for more interfaces. Metal bodies will obviously see you through for longer, but the plastic bodies will often be perfectly adequate and see you with that extra functionality, so weigh up your needs when looking for products.
- Price – and last but not least, price, this is where trade-offs concerning durability and interfaces can really be justified because the differences in price can be fairly significant. Know your budget, weigh things up, and make the right decision for you.
Our Best S.O.S Flashlights Reviews and Comparisons
- Super Bright：650 lumens, XP-G3 LED, comes with memory mode,upgraded push button operation makes them easy ON/OFF, almost 3 times of battery capacity than before, lasts up to 66 hours under the ultra-low mode.This bright led flashlight is small enough to fit in your pocket,purse or as keychain flashlight.Perfect gift for friend or family member,a must for camping trips, scouts, hiking,fishing.
- 8 Useful Setting: 4 Main brightness level(High|Medium|Low|Moonlight) for general use. 4 Unique Side Light modes(White Low-White High-Red-Red Flash) for night vision,bike light or emergency situation.8 setting makes for a practical addition to any household or emergency kit.This A5x version allow you to get to any side light modes directly without going through the main light mode.
- USB Flashlight: Equipped with 330mAh Li-Polymer batteries, fully charged in 90 minutes, this rechargeable flashlight can save your money on AA battery.(Red light for low battery indicator, blue breath light when charging, blue steady light when fully charged)
- Removable Handsfree Clip: Comes with a two-way reversible clip, allow you to attach on your pocket or belt for quick access, also can be attached on your hat during fishing or walking along the path at night.
- What You Get: RovyVon A5xR Flashlight, pocket clip, micro USB cable, User manual, Warranty card. And each RovyVon Flashlight comes with a two-year replacement warranty and friendly customer service.
Kicking off our list is the Rovyvon Aurora A5X.
This is an unusual choice to start us off as the Rovyvon A5X doesn’t actually have an S.O.S interface, meaning it’s not a true S.O.S flashlight. We’ve decided to put it on the list however as it does sport strobe and signaling interfaces, making it adequate in a survival situation, and it’s the host of other benefits that outweigh this downside.
The Rovyvon Aurora A5X is a powerful pocket-sized flashlight, easily fulfilling everyday carry requirements. Its high Lumen rating of 650 lumens makes it one of the most powerful on our list, and its interfaces run through low, medium, and high settings, as well as strobe, and it also features side LEDs to give us a secondary interface sporting diffused white light, a UV light, and signaling functionality.
Its polycarbonate body also glows in the dark, especially after it’s been used, making it especially useful as a piece of lifesaving tech when out in the bush.
- 650 Lumen rating
- Glow in the dark body
- Side white and UV LEDs
- CREE LED technology
- Impact resistance 1.5 meters
- Charging type: micro USB
- 330Ah capacity
- 90 minute charge time
- 66 hour run time
What we like about the Rovyvon Aurora A5X
We really liked the additional functionality when it comes to the Aurora A5X by Rovyvon. It’s interfaces really set it aside from a lot of other products on the market, with sidelights on the glow-in-the-dark body that provide a nice diffused light in white or UV light.
The UV function is especially attractive, and potentially very useful in an S.O.S situation.
What we don’t like about the Rovyvon Aurora A5X
Unfortunately, as its interfaces lack an S.O.S function, it’s not a true S.O.S flashlight, but its strobe and signaling functions make it a life-saving product in survival and search and rescue scenarios, so it makes our list.
- Range of interfaces
- Side lights with excellent diffusion making it useful for a mood or reading light around camp or in a tent
- Very reasonably priced for one of Rovyvon’s top sellers
- High Lumen rating of 650 lumens means this flashlight packs a powerful punch, and is certainly all you’ll need in an off-grid and survival situation.
- Unfortunately no true S.O.S functionality despite strobe and signalling interfaces.
- Fairly long recharge time, but this is justified with its massive 66 hour run time.
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It might not have the most thrilling name, but the LuxPreimum Rechargeable-Focus-Selector-LED-Flashlight from Brennenstuhl has earned its place on our list.
Brennenstuhl is a well-established market leader when it comes to flashlights, particularly with S.O.S capabilities, and are favored by police and law enforcement.
And the LuxPreium Rechargeable-Focus-Selector-LED-Flashlight is one of the latest models that won’t let you down.
You can trust the durability and build quality of a Brennenstuhl product, which is what’s earned this flashlight its place on our list.
Featuring 4 brightness settings, as well as S.O.S and strobe interfaces, the Brennenstuhl LuxPremium Rechargeable-Focus-Selector-LED-Flashlight is a life-saving piece of kit you can count on in a survival situation.
- 430 lumens
- CREE LED technology
- 4 brightness settings
- S.O.S and strobe interfaces
- 13 hour run time
- Up to 215 meter throw
- Aluminium housing with wrist strap
- 220Ah capacity
- 3 hour re-charge time
- Infinity scrolling between wide throw and focused beam
What we like about the Brennenstuhl Premium Rechargeable-Focus-Selector-LED-Flashlight
Its S.O.S and strobe functions, coupled with its build quality and material choice make this an incredibly reliable product when it comes to survival search and rescue situations. And it’s a luminous range of 215 meters means this flashlight can help you see seriously far in a survival scenario.
What we don’t like about the Brennenstuhl LuxPremium Rechargeable-Focus-Selector-LED-Flashlight
Though it’s a great S.O.S flashlight, it falls short of the Rovyvon Aurora A5X at every hurdle, lowers Lumen ratings, battery life, and recharge times, as well as being a bigger and heavier flashlight have kept this model from the top spot.
- With its infinity scrolling, you can choose between a wide cast beam or a pinpoint spotlight style beam, making the LuxPremium a great survival S.O.S flashlight.
- Fantastic interface options, with 4 brightness settings: 100%, 70%, 40% and 10% as well as strobe and S.O.S functionalities.
- Heavy-duty materials and build quality means this product can take a knock and is designed to last, impressive considering it’s one of the cheapest on our list.
- Lower run times and Lumen ratings really mean this doesn’t hold up against the Rovyvon Aurora A5X, but it’s stats are still decent and make it a worthy contender.
- It’s durability comes at a cost, this flashlight is twice as big and over 10 times as heavy as the Rovyvon Aurora A5X.
- 【super bright led torch】This is high power long distance torch utilizes high quality LED,the brightness is up to 2500 lumens.It is easy to illuminate over the length of about three football fields. It even can focus on the objects that 1700 feet away in the dark. It is about 4 times brighter than ordinary torches. It is very durable with a life span of 100,000 hours. The torch light is small with the length of just one palm.It is very easy to carry and operate with one hand.
- 【5 lighting modes&adjustable focus zoomable 】This tactical torch can easily change 5 lighting modes (High / Medium / Low / Strobe / SOS) by just pressing the light switch. Upgrade two ways to turn off the light: 1.Press the switch to change the brightness mode and turn off in cycle. 2. When the torch is on and lasts more than 2.5 minutes,press the switch once to turn off the light. Avoid the trouble of cycling the switch.Pull the led torch head up and down to adjust the beam from wide to narrow.
- 【Usb rechargeable&Power Display】rechargeable two-way interface. It can be used as a mobile power source when the power of mobile phones is cut off.You only need a usb cable to easily charge the torch. Equipped with a power indicator, the indicator will flash red when charging, and it will turn green when fully charged. The charging time is about 4~6 hours. In use, the indicator light is green. When the indicator light turns red means is less than 20%. Remind you to charge in time.
- 【Waterproof】IPX-67 waterproof level, can be used in extreme weather such as storms and heavy snow. Aluminum casing for 10 feet impact resistance.Suitable for camping,dog walking,etc.
- 【Great Value】If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.We will solve the problem within 24 hours. Package content list: 1*high lumen LED torch,, 1*USB cable, 1* torch clip, 1* plastic tube, 1*AAA holder, 1*lanyard, 1* Manual.
Finishing up our list is the Helius Zeta IX-P50. Our most powerful flashlight on the list, the Helius Zeta IX-P50 is sure to save your life in a survival search and rescue operation.
Boosting a massive 2500 lumens it’s by far the most powerful flashlight we’ve reviewed, and with a throw of 500 meters, it’s easily the most detectable flashlight in an emergency situation.
The Helius Zeta IX-P50 comes with 5 interface modes, high, medium, low, strobe, and S.O.S and it’s easy to cycle through them with its simple to use one-tap button system.
Rechargeable, or compatible with 3 AAA batteries, you’ll never be out of power when you need this flashlight.
- Lumen rating 2500
- CREE LED technology
- Charging type: USB and Micro USB
- IPX-67 rating
- High quality aluminium alloy body
- Battery capacity 200 Ah
- Run time 15 hours
- Impact resistance 10 feet
- Infinity scrolling between floodlight and spotlight
What we like about the Helius Zeta IX-P50
Sporting its high impact, sturdy design the Zeta IX-P50 by Helius is a flashlight designed to last.
It’s strong enough to break a car window and has the highest IP rating on our list, so in terms of durability, the Zeta IX-P50 wins hands down.
We also love its massive Lumen rating, and this coupled with its 5 interface settings including an S.O.S feature have earned it the top spot in our list.
What we don’t like about the Helius Zeta IX-P50
Unfortunately, Helius is much less of an industry player when it comes to presence in the marketplace than the other brands on our list, so you should expect to countless on the company’s customer care, but for a low-cost item boosting these impressive stats, the Zeta IX-P50 by Helius is not a bad purchasing decision.
- Biggest Lumen rating by far, with the largest throw of 500 meters, also featuring infinity scrolling between floodlight and spotlight functions.
- Most solid build quality with strong materials and high IP and impact resistance ratings.
- Decent run time given its compatibility with multiple power sources.
- Least known manufacturer on the list, but it’s high number of good customer reviews are helping the brand gain industry presence.
- Battery life is a lot less than the Rovyvon Aurora A5X but that’s to be expected with such a powerful highest setting.
So, overall, we’ve decided to hand the top spot on our list to the Helius Zeta IX-P50.
Its impressive stats and long-lasting design make it the best suited to search and rescue operations and truly is a lifesaving piece of kit.
We would have loved to award first place to the Rovyvon Aurora A5X simply because it sports so many powerful features from such a tiny flashlight, however, its lack of a true S.O.S function has kept the winning spot out of its grasp.
Always remember, you can S.O.S signal with any flashlight, by manually sending out 3 short, 3 long, and then 3 short beams.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article and now you know a lot more about what to look for when it comes to selecting the perfect S.O.S flashlight for you.