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I never used those DOS like managers, I prefer my applications to have Vi(m)-like keybindings. In the past I used vifm (nice filemanager for the CLI with two panes), but Ranger just feels better for me.
Both file managers you mentioned are on the lightweight side. Personally, and although LXDE is one of my favorite window managers, I don't use pcmanfm. If I had to pick one of those two file managers, I'd pick xfe, mainly because of its dual-pane mode, which is more useful than just a directory tree on the side. Whatever you choose, the old-good mc is a must as well, as it works on CLI, which might prove very handy at times.
However, Worker is a not-well-known file manager that offers more features than both pcmanfm and xfe, and it's still more lightweight than them. It's a X-application - not for CLI - but minimalistic in looks and full of features, like dual-pane mode with tabs on each pane, customized shortcuts for anything - including user-defined scripts, button banks in the bottom for virtually everything one might need from a file manager, and more. I believe it is worth a look.
Other than that, Emacs is a powerful file manager, among many other things