What do you look for in an EDC flashlight? Your top priority might be brightness, size, durability, user-friendliness, runtime, or any combination of those factors. Depending on how you answer that question, the Lumintop EDC AA flashlight might be your ideal light for everyday carry….or it might be one that you decide to pass over.
On the whole, the Lumintop EDC AA flashlight is a solid entry in the “under $20” category of pocket flashlights. As its name indicates, it uses AA batteries, which gives you a longer runtime than a lot of EDC lights that use AAAs. Light output varies, but we’ll get into that later. Let’s take a deeper dive into what makes the Lumintop shine (if you’ll forgive the pun) and where there might be room for improvement.
First Impressions of the Lumintop EDC AA
Immediately upon taking it out of the box, the Lumintop EDC AA is noticeably chunkier than my typical everyday carry pocket flashlights. It’s not huge by any means—quite compact, actually—but it needs a little more girth to hold a AA battery compared with a AAA flashlight like, say, the Streamlight MicroStream we tested here. The flashlight measures 3.59 inches long and weighs 1.77 oz.
That makes it feel a bit more substantial when pocketed, but it’s quite comfortable in hand. The Lumintop is made of aluminum with a handsome, matte black, anodized finish. It also has checker-pattern knurling around the midsection for grip. The dual-direction pocket clip nestles the flashlight comfortably in one’s pocket, although the clip itself feels a little flimsy on first impression.
The flashlight operates with a click-button tail switch, which has just the right amount of resistance that I’m confident it won’t be accidentally turned on in my backpack or pocket. A half-press of the tail switch activates the flashlight’s Momentary On function, while a full press turns the light on and takes you through its four modes. In addition to the light itself, the Lumintop comes with:
- Detachable lanyard
- Four extra O-rings
- User’s manual
- Silicone diffuser
Let’s Talk Batteries
One of the biggest selling points of the Lumintop EDC AA is that it supports Type 14500 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, NiMH rechargeable batteries, and standard AA alkaline batteries. That is a pretty cool feature, especially for a flashlight in the under-$20 price range. Plenty of flashlights costing several times that much don’t have that kind of versatility.
All that being said, it would have been nice if the Lumintop came with a battery included. Mine didn’t, but they do make a version that comes with a 14500 battery for a few extra bucks. Personally, I find it more convenient to just keep a few standard AA’s handy, especially since I tend to use EDC flashlights for camping and hiking.
Light Output and Settings
The Lumintop EDC AA uses an OSRAM LED, which produces a cool, white light. It has four modes—low, medium, high, and turbo—as well as a strobe feature. One thing you need to be aware of is that the brightness of each of these settings depends on what type of batteries you put in the flashlight.
Low mode, for example, is 8 lumens with a Type 14500 battery, but only 2 lumens with a standard alkaline AA. The high setting offers 400 lumens or 125 lumens depending on your battery choice. Turbo gives you a whopping 600 lumens if you’re using a 14500 battery, but only 180 lumens with a AA.
For me, this isn’t a major issue. 180 lumens is still plenty bright for my purposes. It’s enough to thoroughly illuminate an average-sized backyard after dark, or find your way along a hiking trail. The difference in outputs is just something to be aware of. If the ability to crank out 600 lumens is a major selling point for you, you should know you won’t get that with an alkaline battery (or a rechargeable NiMH).
I like the diffuser that came with the flashlight. It’s a great way to cut down the harshness of the LED or turn your flashlight into a lantern. The flashlight can’t stand on its tail, which limits its usefulness with the diffuser, but if you’re camping you can use the lanyard to hang it from the ceiling of your tent to create a nice soft glow.
A Word on Runtime
The Lumintop EDC AA flashlight scores high marks for runtime. Much like the output levels, runtime varies depending on what type of batteries you’re using, although there’s an inverse relationship compared to brightness. An alkaline battery actually gives you a longer runtime than a 14500 battery, especially on the lower settings.
It works out to 30 hours on low with a 14500 battery, or an impressive 120 hours with an alkaline AA. On turbo, you get 45 minutes either way. Rechargeable NiMH batteries actually get you the most life out each charge (1 hour and 20 minutes on turbo). Regardless of the type of batteries you choose, the Lumintop EDC AA offers a substantially longer runtime than most AAA pocket lights.
Tail Switch Operation
I like the clicky button on the tail end of the Lumintop EDC AA. It has just the right amount of resistance, with a tactile and audible ‘click’ each time you press it. That said, cycling through all the modes using the tail switch can be a bit much. The cycle goes off-low-off-medium-off-high-off-turbo-off, so if you start on the low mode, you have to hit the tail switch seven times to get all the way to turbo.
The flashlight does have a memory function, so if you leave it off for 3 seconds or more, it will return to the last output you used prior to turning it off. Even so, operating the EDC AA tends to involve an awful lot of clicking. It’s a personal preference, but I tend to favor the simplicity of a flashlight that has only one or two modes.
The Momentary On function works well, but you should be aware that the Lumintop cycles through its various modes even when you operate the tail switch with the half-presses necessary for that function. You can also activate Strobe Mode with six half-presses followed by a full click.
Strength, Durability, Waterproofness
The Lumintop EDC AA has an IP68 waterproof rating, which means it can be submerged up to 2 meters for 30 minutes. I didn’t quite put that to the test, but I did dunk it in a glass of water and let it sit there for half an hour. Still works! The aircraft grade aluminum alloy casing seems very durable too. I subjected the flashlight to a variety of scrapes, drops, and impacts, and it took them all like a champ.
I have a small bone to pick with the tailpiece of the Lumintop EDC AA. The threading is thin and feels flimsy, and I can easily see mis-threading it and damaging the threads. The spring on the tail cap is also very, for lack of a better word, “springy,” which makes it a little more difficult to screw the cap back on than I’d like. It’s not a huge issue that affects the day-to-day usefulness of the flashlight, but if you found yourself in a situation where you had to replace the battery in the dark, you might have a rough go of it.
Lumintop EDC AA: Final Thoughts
There are things I like about the Lumintop EDC AA, and there are also a few I’m not crazy about. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth $20, I’d have to say yes. But if you’re torn between this and another similar-sized EDC flashlight, you could go either way depending on your personal needs and wants. I’ll put it this way:
Rory Witkowski is a adventurous and outgoing contributor to Tech Writer EDC. His work appears on several websites and he strives to put forth interesting and meaningful content. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Rory is a senior creator at Coastal Market Strategies.