Last Updated on
Going hunting at night? Coyote? Hogs? Deer?
A hunter needs to see – but won’t want their prey to be spooked by light. Fortunately, each species of game animal perceives light differently and often less well than humans. Humans can see more colors better than most game animals, meaning the hunter can pick a light color they can see, but their game cannot (at least not as well!). Choosing the right color is where things can get confusing.
What works for deer might not work for wild boar. This means not all hunting lights are equal, and some are better for certain situations than others. Keep reading as we compare the best hunting lights on the market today. Our reviews will help you make an informed decision that will illuminate the path of many hunting trips to come!
|Streamlight NightFighter LED Tactical Flashlight||
|Browning Night Seeker Pro with Green LEDs||
|Wicked Hunting Lights W403iC||
|Browning High Noon 4C Flashlight||
|Streamlight Sidewinder Compact Military Flashlight||
|Brightness:||160 lumens on high, 10 lumens on low|
|Weight:||2 ounces/147.42 grams|
|Length:||4 inches/13.72 centimeters|
|Battery Life:||2 hours on high, 50 hours on low|
|Light Color(s):||Red, blue, and green are available with flip-up cap accessory|
The Streamlight NightFighter series is our pick for best overall. It is an excellent compact flashlight specifically designed for use with a firearm. It is lightweight and short, which would normally make a hunter with large hands concerned about grip – but the NightFighter series has a chunky O-ring that fits around the body of the light that can be adjusted to fit almost any hand with any style of grip. It also comes with an adjustable lanyard that can be used to secure the light to the hand and a belt clip. Streamlight has a definitive reputation for reliability and high quality. The light has two modes: 160 lumens and 10 lumens. These seem extreme, and they are, for good reason. The 160 lumens setting is bright enough to spot game, and the 10 lumens setting is enough to look at your gun, a map, or kneel and light up something on the ground without being visible enough to spook game. Streamlight offers flip-up caps for their lights that have high clarity and are easy to use. A hunter only needs to spend money on what he or she will actually use, ending with a combo of either white/green or white/red.
|Brightness:||12-76 lumens depending on the color used|
|Battery Life:||2-8 hours|
|Light Color(s):||White, Green|
The Browning Nightseeker Pro Cap Light is our choice for the best hunting light for the money. It is a small, lightweight light that clips to the brim of a hat or cap. It uses one white or two green LEDs to project light in the space immediately around the user, and can be used for reading, hunting, map checking, or walking safely with less chance of spooking game. Not only is this light relatively inexpensive, it also uses AAA batteries, which are easy to find and cost-effective. It is easily adjusted up and down and simple to control.
|Brightness:||Infinitely variable (rheostat control)|
|Length:||28 inches/18.5 cm|
|Battery Life:||5 hours on full power|
|Light Color(s):||White, Green, Red|
This is one of the most feature-rich hunting lights on the market. It comes with 3 swappable LEDs – red, white, or green. The light intensity is infinitely variable with the rheostat (twistable dial) control on the base of the light. It is adjustable from spot to beam using the variable lens on the front, so a hunter can start with low light intensity and gradually increase to find the sweet spot between spooking game and being able to get a clear shot. It can be mounted to a rifle or shotgun and aligned with a scope with the included mount. In such configuration it has a separate intensity control that can be plugged into the light and mounted at a convenient point on the weapon. It has removable lithium-ion batteries that can be charged, and extras kept on hand as needed. Lastly, it has an IR LED module that can be purchased, allowing this weapon to act as an illuminator for night vision scopes or goggles. It is an end-all, be-all product and has garnered rave reviews across the internet for its range, versatility, and excellence of design.
|Weight:||31 ounces/878 grams|
|Length:||8 inches/17.27 cm|
|Battery Life:||9-72 hours depending on light intensity setting|
Most hunting lights focus on stealth. Not so spotlights. These lights are used for safety or certain long-range spotting needs, including game counting and other wildlife conservation activities. The Browning High Noon 4C is no exception. It is an ideal choice for specific spotting needs, signaling, and as an emergency light backup. At 1000 lumens, it is extremely bright. The body is waterproof to the point of submersion, floats, and comes in bright safety yellow. It uses 4 “C” style batteries, meaning it will have long battery life and it is easy to find, purchase, and have backups on hand. Users review it as compact and easy to handle.
|Weight:||4 oz/68.04 grams|
|Length:||3 inches/7.62 cm|
|Battery Life:||6-100 hours|
|Light Color(s):||White, Red, Blue, IR (infrared)|
The Streamlight Sidewinder Compact Military Flashlight is a solid addition to anyone that hunts with others. The light has several colors that can be used to signal or identify other members of a group in dark or near dark, and the 75 lumens white light is enough to illuminate a map or walking trail. The infrared illuminator allows for the identification of others in total darkness while using night vision and allows for some illumination if the hunter is using night vision technology. It can be ordered in variants that come with helmet mounts or MOLLE-compatible belt/vest clips. It is designed to be resistant to damage and work under most adverse conditions a hunter is likely to encounter.
Old-fashioned hunters may still use amber lights on full moon nights and red lights the rest of the time. Given that we now know a bit more about the retina of certain animals, red lights are usually favored for viewing things within several feet and trying to see the reflection of eyes in the dark. Green lights are preferred for some situations where the hunter must see farther.
Green allows the human eye to perceive a little more depth and contrast than red but is also considered more likely to spook game. White light is preferred for looking for blood up close, map viewing, and other situations where detail is needed, but game is not likely to be looking. In this case, a light with the ability to use a very low amount of white light is preferred so as to avoid spooking game.
Red. Coyote are almost unable to see red in their visible spectrum, and the human eye does not adjust to red, meaning if a hunter’s eyes are adjusted to nighttime and sees even bright red light, it will not take time to adjust back to the dark once the light is turned off or down. Red light will also be reflected in a coyote’s retinas, meaning their eyes will appear to “glow” in the dark. If white or green light must be used for navigational purposes, the intensity should be kept low, and the light kept pointed toward the ground to avoid spooking coyote.
Red, then green, then white. Like coyote, deer cannot see red light well, and their eyes reflect it in the dark. Deer have a harder time seeing green (and it is easier for humans to see with green light), but if a green light is not directly shown on the deer it may not notice it as much as white light. If a bright green light is shown directly on a deer, it will likely notice and spook. White light is the easiest to see for hunters, but deer can spot it even if it’s not directly pointed at their eyes and it is the most likely to spook them. If green or white light is used for navigation, it’s best to keep the intensity low and keep the light pointed toward the ground.
The best color is a very bright red light. If that is unavailable, a dimmer green light may work. Hogs, like coyote and deer, are least able to perceive red light. They are less sensitive to green light than coyote or deer, however, meaning that these lights can be used to hunt them, particularly in the early parts of the season or in areas where they are unused to lights and hunters.
Any citizen whether they are a hunter or not should have a sturdy, bright white flashlight that is charged (or has fresh batteries with spares). For hunters who seldom hunt and just want a good light, a quality white flashlight with appropriate color filters means the least amount of money spent on the most general-use equipment. Spotlights and other specialized lights can be rented or provided by a paid guide if going after exotic game.
As a hunter learns more about hunting and the game they hunt, the light they most need next will become apparent. We’ve looked at examples of lights from those categories. Going hog hunting in an area where they are a menace and bounties are paid for unlimited kills? A professional, weapon-mounted hunting light may be a good choice. Going hunting where there will be multiple individual hunters or small groups split off from each other? Consider having a small red identification light and wear reflective gear so other hunters don’t mistake each other for quarry.
Red, then green. A very bright red light is useful for illuminating areas without spooking most game. Green light is more likely to spook game and should be used on lower brightness settings.
Usually yes for most game. White lights are in the visible spectrum of many game animals and are more likely to spook them than green or especially red lights. Most game animals cannot see red light well.
Three of the best lights a hunter can have are a good flashlight like the Streamlight NightFighter, a good hands-free light for getting back to the truck like the Browning Night Seeker Pro, and a dedicated hunting light like the W403iC Deluxe by Wicked Hunting Lights. These lights cover almost any use a hunter would have for excellent price points.
Featured Image Credit: akeem jones, Pexels
Table of Contents
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
What Is the Best Binocular Magnification for Hunting? Optical Features Explained
Holy Stone Drone Review of 2023 – Pros, Cons, and Verdict
Ultraviolet Light vs Black Light: What’s the Difference?
Light Waves vs. Sound Waves: How Are They Different?
Infrared vs. Thermal Cameras: How Are They Different?
Far Infrared vs Near Infrared: What’s The Difference?
Mottled Duck vs. Mallard vs. Black Duck: What’s the Difference?
Shutter Speed vs Frame Rate: Pros, Cons, & Difference