Brightest Flashlight of 2017 | Buyer’s Guide

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A flashlight is an important security device. It could be the final advantage that could help save your life. Even though it is the most basic of tools, it is the most required one as well. A brightest flashlight works as a portable light source on the darkest of nights.

However, even such a simple tool offers several kinds to choose from. There are tactical flashlights as opposed to ones with a lower throw distance. There are flashlights with rechargeable batteries and ones that use the basic AA ones. Making a choice requires you to know what each one entails. In this article, I have picked brightest flashlight for each category and attempted to throw light upon their features, positives and negatives.

Top Brightest Flashlight list

Flashlights by type

Brightest Flashlight Overall

AceBeam X65

AceBeam is a brand launched by ShenZhen Zenbon Technology Co.Ltd in 2014. Even with being a relatively new name in the market, it is known for its wide range of flashlights. The AceBeam X65 is the best flashlight from all angles. It is the best in the market when it comes to the light output, the beam distance or even the variety of modes. It is particularly recommended if want a flashlight for serious defense services.

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Long Range Beam Distance

When it comes to the throw, this one is 1301 meters. That is again sufficient enough to cover a large area. This, coupled with the lumen, gives you the best advantage. And that is, even on the darkest of nights.

Very Good Light Output

This has 5*CREE XHP35 high intensity LEDs making it a powerful flashlight. It has seven brightness settings, including a low Firefly one. This Firefly one is at 4 lumen and works for 450 hours. I even tested this feature on a trekking trip. It offers the brightest light output at 12000 lumen. 12000 is the turbo max mode. Below that, the turbo mode is at 6000. And it has a mid lumen of 1500 for 8 hours straight. If you are looking for a flashlight that’s bright above all else, this is it.

Easy to Carry

This is relatively easy to carry around as well. It has a shoulder strap, which lets you keep your hands free.

Overall, this is a pretty decent product and it does live up to the expectations. However, as great as this is, it is nothing exceptional when you consider the price. I would definitely recommend this for high-security risk areas. It comes with a lot of extra advantages which, along with the sheer brightness of the light output makes, it irreplaceable.

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Brightest Portable/Compact Flashlight

Olight X7 Marauder

Established in 2006, Olight specializes in outdoor searchlights and flashlights. Their products have the added advantage of pertaining to ANSI/NEMA FL1-2009 standards. The Olight Marauder is one of the most portable flashlights at an affordable rate. If you don’t want to carry something huge and prefer to have a lighter load, this flashlight gets you through. Its most notable feature is its ease of use, even in the direst situations.

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Easy to Carry

The size and grip of this flashlight are extremely compact. It fits in the palm and allows better ease of movement. The modes can be easily navigated with an easy press and hold motion.

Very Good Light Output

It has a maximum output of 9000 lumen. That is almost like sunlight on a dark night. Besides this one, it has six other modes. The lowest one is night light at 3 lumen for longer usage. The 5500 lumen or the turbo one can comfortably light up an entire field.

Good Battery Life

A battery indicator notifies you when the battery is about to run out. I find this useful because it reminds me beforehand to recharge the batteries.

Active Thermal Management

One of its features is the Active Thermal Management. This is useful to prevent overheating in time. It senses the temperature in real time and reduces the output accordingly.

The Olight Marauder has one of the best light outputs in the market. Apart from that, it fits comfortably a palm grip, thus allowing easy management. With its plethora of added advantages, it makes one of the best traveling companions that you can splurge on.

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Brightest AA Flashlight

Single AA – ThruNite Archer Series 1A V3

ThruNight, standing for ‘Through Night’, was established by David Chen in 2009. They are known for their fast deliveries and services. This Tactical LED from their Archer Series is a delight for folks looking for an economical option. The flashlight requires a single AA battery for its operation.

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Very Good Light Output

The highest mode is 200 lumen for 115 hours. It has a strobe mode of 200 lumens for 3.5 hours. The firefly mode is 0.1 lumen which can be used for 17 days.

Range of Beam Distance

It has a beam distance of 66 meters. So, I can’t say that it is very productive on a professional level. Or at least it is not so when you compare it with the previous models. However, that’s not really a priority assuming that you’re buying it for general use.

Very Durable Exterior

What I really appreciate in this model is that it is waterproof till 2 meters. So even if you drop it, it will be safe to a level. The aluminum body is a quality material that lasts for more than 20 years. And last of all, it is classy to look at.

This flashlight is more useful for camping or hunting trips. It is light and easy to handle and offers a good output at the same time. Moreover, the quality makes it less breakable in case you face an accident.

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Double AA – ThruNite Archer Series 2A V3 CW

The second one in the same series, it comes with a slight difference. As you can guess, this flashlight requires double AA batteries.

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Very Good Light Output

There is a little bit of difference in performance between these two. But that is just to be expected when it is powered by two batteries instead. This too has five modes. And the highest is at 500 lumens for 96 minutes. It has a strobe mode at 500 lumens for 140 minutes as well. Even the Firefly mode is a bit improved. This mode offers 0.2 lumens and lasts for 28 days.

Very Durable Exterior

It has a similar kind of aluminum body. The finish is a high-quality anti-abrasive one. This is a waterproof flashlight up to a depth of 2 meters. I find this feature really useful during camping.

Easy to Carry

Weighing about 48 grams without batteries, it is pretty portable as well. However, I wouldn’t rate it for its portability. The batteries are not included. So you will have to buy that separately. But that shouldn’t be too much of a problem, considering how affordable they are.

The use of simple AA batteries makes it convenient to use even in remote terrains. Being easy to handle makes it useful during emergency situations. This is suitable for camping or hunting trips. You can use the strobe mode to distract any intruders or attackers as well.

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Four AA – ThruNite TN4AA

This flashlight requires four AA batteries for its operation. It is durable and serves well in extreme situations. Further, the light output is strong enough to provide sufficiently, even in the midst of a dark forest.

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Exterior that Enhances the Effects

I love how they have added tiny details in the design to improve the overall performance manifold. For example, the glass lens has an anti-reflective coat that helps with vision. It also has a Temperature Control feature. This keeps the overheating in check and protects the device.

You don’t have to put up with the click sound of the switch in this one. The switch is an advanced electronic one that works silently. This makes it ideal for forest campers. This increases the longevity of the switch as well.

Very Good Light Output and Beam Distance

As for the operation itself, it is heaps better. It has a total of six modes. One of them is turbo which is not added in the previous two flashlights. This turbo has an output of 1050 lumens for 56 minutes. The strobe mode is the same, except for 150 minutes. The high one has an output of 550 lumens as well. The Firefly one, on the other hand, works at 0.2 lumens for 80 days. The beam distance is at 457 meters which is considerably high.

Overall, this flashlight has a life-span of 20 years. The overheat protection, in fact, increases its longevity. The turbo and the strobe modes are exceptional in their light output. It is hard to find a product this good at such an affordable range, no kidding.

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Eight AA – Nitecore EA81

NiteCore is a brand that excels in supplying electronic and illumination products for professional users. It is a leading manufacturing company, providing breakthroughs of many new ideas when it comes to flashlights. The Nitecore flashlight is the last one on this list. And as you can guess, it is a different brand from the previous three. And it requires a total of eight batteries as well.

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Very Good Light Output

It is definitely the best among the four when it comes to performance. The highest output is 2150 lumen. This is incredible considering the range and the batteries. In fact, from what I have seen, this model seems to be one of the best flashlights that runs on AA batteries.

Long Range of Beam Distance

This one has a range of 462 meters. If you have used Nitecore before, this is an upgrade to the EAX and EA8. It is equipped with a circuit board. That makes it possible to provide a run time of 810 hours.

Convenient Navigation between Modes

It has five modes overall. There are three special modes as well. With the latter, you get a wider angle of the light from a micro-textured reflector. That actually makes it easier for searches during the night time. You won’t have to move it around constantly for a clearer view.

It is pretty reasonable as well if you consider what it offers. It won’t win when it comes to affordability. But then again, AA batteries are cheaper, so you won’t have to spend more later on. So, if your one and only concern is long-lasting performance, give this one a glance.

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Brightest 18650 Flashlight

ThruNite TN32 CW

Among tactical flashlights, I would choose this over anything else. Along with everything else, these are portable too. It is equipped with all the extra features you will require in a tactical flashlight.

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Handy in Emergency Situations

First and foremost is, what really catches your attention is the considerably lighter weight. This light weighs just 650 grams. The entire construction of the flashlight is made so that it does not become a burden. It has a tactical knurling for a better hold. A streamlined design makes it even easier to accommodate. A better circuit board improves the lifetime.

This is important when you are in some remote area. You may not have access to batteries or electricity. The reflector is smooth and heightens the output. It even has a strobe mode for these situations. The switch is aligned for quick access as well.

Very Good Light Output

The maximum output of this flashlight is 1150 lumens. Compared to some others on this list, it may not seem impressive, I know. However, considering the range, it is enough to fulfill your needs. The throw is a whopping 1043 meters. And that too customizes it for tactical situations.

This flashlight, being durable and easy to use, is also safe for the user. The enhanced heat dissipation ensures that the batteries do not get overheated. Being a tactical flashlight, it is more useful for military purposes. You can even use it during hunting, and it is very good as a self-defense tool.

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Brightest Rechargeable Flashlight

Solaray Pro ZX-2 Professional Kit

The Solaray flashlight has a rechargeable battery, a fact which adds to its ease of use. This flashlight is the most useful in obscure areas where it is not easy to find some new batteries. Let’s have a detailed analysis of the features that make it suitable for camping, nighttime trekking, hiking and more.

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Convenient Rechargeable Batteries

You will need lithium-ion batteries for this one. And my favorite part is, they come with the kit. These even have an embedded PBC in them. But that’s not the only fact that makes it the most convenient and on some levels the cheapest. It is rechargeable up to 500 times. As convenient as use and throw batteries can be, you still have to head out and buy them every time. Being rechargeable, this solves this problem.

Very Good Light Output

Moving on, the performance is not really the best out there. Nonetheless, with a maximum output of 1200 lumens, it is not bad either.

Easy Choice of Modes

It has five modes which include the usual high, medium and low modes. Besides that, it even has a strobe mode. And the unique feature is that it has an emergency SOS signal mode. The lens can be adjusted according to your needs. You can either use the ‘throw’ version or you can go for the ‘wide’ one. Both are actually very useful and help for a broader search. You can zoom in on objects farther away as well.

Durable Exterior

The product is water resistant which is actually important for these outdoor flashlights. It is called a kit for a reason too. The package includes some extra batteries and a charger as well. It even goes one more step and provides a Mini-Pro 1 LED Flashlight. To top it off, it comes with a plastic battery sleeve too.

I find the whole package kind of cool. It is such a great compact product at such an affordable rate. At the same time, it requires just a power source for it to be recharged.

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Brightest Keychain Flashlight

SureFire Sidekick 300 Lumen Ultra-Compact Keychain Light

Even if the most compact flashlight is too bulky for you, there is this one. It lives up to its claims and comes at 2.5 inches.

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Very Easy to Carry

You can literally attach it to a key chain. In fact, it has a split ring and mini carabiner. This allows you to clip it on your key ring very easily. You can carry it around everywhere. And think about this, you won’t ever be without a flashlight. It is just the thing for emergencies. It is weather resistant so, you don’t even have to worry about a bit of rain. I know that we can easily use out smart phone flashlight instead. But when it comes to an emergency, I would like to save as much power of my phone as I can.
And it is rechargeable too. It contains a micro-USB port that you can recharge via your wall charger or even in your vehicle.

Very Good Light Output

It offers 300 lumens maximum output. And when you consider the size, this is not that bad. The navigation range is unexpected at 50 meters for such a small device. It has two other modes: medium and low. They offer a better runtime. I used to use this as my reading light on camping trips. It offers a MaxVision Beam that eases the human eyesight into the light. Flashlights can often blind the user when switched on suddenly. So I find this feature very convenient.

Easy to Operate

The operation is very easy with a simple push-button. It has three modes which can be operated through this switch. During an emergency, it is difficult to navigate a complicated one. And you can program the output sequence to your preference.

Overall, it is easy to use on all levels and useful when you are in a fix. I would recommend this for those situations. It is something that you should keep in your bag all the time.

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Brightest Flashlight by Price

Brightest Flashlight under $50

ThruNite TN12 2016 XP-L

This ThruNite flashlight is very affordable along with providing an excellent light output. It is a durable product that serves well in case of accidents. Above all, the product is very easy to operate and handle.

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Very Good Light Output

This one has six modes, including a turbo and a strobe. The highest setting is at 1100 lumens. The Firefly setting is at 0.4 lumens for 74 days. It is also equipped with a smooth reflector. The LED is placed at the center, for a better focus for the beam. The body is built with aircraft-grade aluminum. This ensures a hardy exterior.

Conveniently Placed Switch

In fact, the circuit design of this flashlight is an upgraded one. When I switch between the high and medium setting, I can perceive the difference. It has a tail switch which is not cheap but comes in handy.

This flashlight is recommended more for hunting and other outdoor activities.

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Brightest Flashlight under $100

Fenix PD35 TAC

This flashlight comes in a compact package with a larger than average range. It has a beam length up to 656 meters. The unique thing about this flashlight is the dual modes it offers. It has a tactical and an outdoor mode. Both have different settings.

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Very Good Light Output and a Variety of Modes

The tactical mode has a turbo mode with 1000 lumens for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Next, there is the low mode at 60 lumens. Finally, it has a strobe mode as well. Simply use the side-switch to change to tactical modes.

The outdoor mode, on the other hand, begins with the turbo again. It has a high and medium mode too, as extras. Finally, it has an eco mode at 8 lumens that lasts for 140 hours. The strobe mode is a perk for emergencies or in the case of intruders.

Ease of Operation

You even get a low voltage alarm in this one. The Intelligent Memory Circuit revert the flashlight back to the mode you switched it off at. The body is actually very easy to handle. It is slip resistant and anti-roll. This way, you have a smaller chance of dropping the flashlight.

Featuring a dual mode operation, the Fenix flashlight is a versatile product with easy operation. The strobe mode provided adds to the safety of use. It has an easy grip and a conveniently placed switch that is useful during emergencies.

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Brightest Flashlight under $200

Streamlight 75458 Stinger DS

This is actually a rechargeable flashlight. The battery can be recharged up to 1000 times. Of course, you can change the battery. But this increases ease of use. I have to change batteries less often.

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Variety of Modes

It comes with three settings. And other than that, it has a strobe setting like all the top-notch flashlights in the market.

Sturdy Construction

It is water resistant with an IPX4 mark. That means that it is tested for splash resistance from all angles. Further, it is impact resistant up to 1 meter. However, keep in mind that this applies to only when you drop the flashlight. Any other sort of impact with any object won’t count.

Good Light Output

The highest setting is at 640 lumens. The beam distance is 240 meters which are good for a flashlight at this price. The body is shockproof. Considering it is a rechargeable flashlight, this is important for your safety. The flashlight will last for 50,000 hours.

Overall, the rechargeable batteries add to the versatility of use of this flashlight. It is not overly complicated and very simple to process. The resistance securities are an assurance about the durability of the product. However, the word of wisdom from me would be that be careful not to drop it.

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Brightest Flashlight under $300

SureFire Defender Series E2D

If even the most compact flashlight is too bulky for you, there is this one. It lives up to its claims and comes at 2.5 inches.

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Good Light Output

It has just two settings, a high and a low. On the higher end, you get 500 lumens. The lower one has a 5 lumens output and the lens is impressive. It takes into count the peripheral vision. The tighter frame allows for more surround light to aid in this. The window, on the other hand, is coated and tempered. This gives it a protection against impact. Moreover, it also illuminates the light further.

Easy to Operate

It has a simple tail cap switch. This, you just have to press and click for easy operation.

Overall, the product is very durable. It is the best for rough use. And it is easy to operate as well.

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Buying Guide for Flashlights

Flashlights come with a lot of features that you have to look out for. There might be something you are looking for in particular. Or maybe you just want a good one with a good performance on all levels. Nevertheless, some features cannot be compromised. Usually, the brightness is the most relatable factor. However, other factors like range and runtime should be taken into account as well. To ensure safety and longevity, we should check for impact and water resistance features. And of course, as you can see from the reviews, size does matter when it comes to flashlights. Batteries determine the lumen at times. These ANSI FN1 standards for flashlights were introduced in 2009. Mostly, these are tested by manufacturers. Whether they follow these standards or not is voluntary, though.

Flashlight Features

Light Output (Lumen)

This is the most important because it is the basic point of a flashlight. The light output is measured in lumen. There is one way to figure this out. Put your flashlight at the highest setting. For better effect use new or fully recharged batteries. There are usually multiple settings on flashlights. However, the lumen is not the ultimate word when it comes to brightness. Several factors like beam intensity, distance, and even type should be factored into it. A flashlight can be used for reading a book. Or it can be used for a rescue mission. Thus, the brightness required differs across its available modes.

Runtime

This is measured in hours. The light output might ease into a lower setting gradually. Or there can be a sudden drop in the intensity. The period it requires for the drop is the runtime for each setting. To be precise, the runtime is defined as the period required for the output to drop to 10% of the original one on a new battery. This is rounded to the closest quarter hour. You can get the perfect estimation of the performance of a flashlight over time with this.

Beam Distance

The range the light travels over measures in meters. After this range, the light will recede to the glow from a full moon. This full moon setting is usually comfortable enough for a traveler. Of course, the higher the setting, the more will be the distance.

Size

Flashlights have to be portable. No one can carry a huge, bulky light, especially during an emergency. However, the size, of course, depends on the use. A pocket flashlight will offer a low output. But you can take it with you everywhere. On camping trips too, you will need something better but still lightweight and small. If you are buying for your home, it can be a bit larger. But not too much either because then, it will lose its purpose. It is not required that a larger one will be brighter, though. But it will definitely have more battery capacity.

Type of Batteries

There are three kinds when it comes to battery types. First is the disposable kind. This is the most easily available and convenient option. You can use AAA or AA batteries. You can even use CR123A batteries if you want. These usually offer a better output too. Or you can use a flashlight that requires D-cell batteries as well.

Next is the rechargeable kind. These flashlights have a built-in lithium ion battery. You can recharge it with a USB from any computer. Or you can recharge it with a solar panel or an AC or DC outlet. These flashlights are usually a bit more expensive. But consider that you won’t have to spend any more on batteries after the purchase.

Finally, we have the renewable type. These flashlights have a built-in battery. These are best for emergencies. You can recharge it via solar panels or a hand crank.

However, as a caution, please don’t use lithium-ion batteries with flashlights that are not meant for it. Use them only if it is recommended by the manufacturer.

Water Resistance

The water resistance of a flashlight is rated with the IPX system. Flashlights are meant to be used in all weathers, even rain or snow. So the water resistance is important.
An IPX4 rating indicates that it is resistant to splashes from all angles. This is after the application of the impact test. An IPX7 indicates that it is water resistant for 30 minutes. The depth would be 1 meter. IPX8 too includes a 4-hour submersion to a particular depth.

Impact Resistance

The impact resistance is exactly what it sounds like. The light is tested by dropping it on a concrete surface at least 6 times. The distance is usually rated as well. The unit for this is meters. However, do keep in mind that this does not pertain to the light being run over. Nor is it relevant when it strikes a heavy object.

Different Flashlight Modes

Apart from the high, medium and low, there are a couple of extra modes on flashlights as well. Of course there is the turbo and in some cases super turbo too. But then there are the strobe, SOS and beacon function. These are usually not used. But they do come handy in an emergency. These are meant to increase your chances of survival or escape. You may be in danger or lost. Or you might be attacked. And these are some temporary measures to help you out.

SOS

This is, of course, a distress signal. It is adopted from the Morse code. The S is featured through triple dots. And the three dashes represent the O. This has been adopted by flashlights as well. The pattern is first three short burst of light. This is followed by three long burst. That is again followed by three short bursts. Nowadays, most flashlights have the SOS signal built in. You don’t need to operate it manually.

Beacons

Beacons usually are meant to draw attention to a particular spot. It is usually used when the members of a group are separated, or anyone is lost. Flashlights are of course equipped with this mode, lending the signal portability. This is signified by long flashes of light that are slowly repeated at intervals.

Strobe

This, on the other hand, is a defense mechanism. This is usually used as a disorientation technique. It includes a burst of light cycling at speed on and off continuously. The attacker is rendered temporarily blind. Their night vision is disrupted, or they can go into shock. Either way, the defender can escape in the meantime.

Switches

Different flashlights have varied switches. The switch type determines the convenience level of a flashlight.

Tailcap Switch

A tail cap switch is one that is located at the rear of the flashlight. If you hold it in a reverse grip, the switch can be operated with your thumb. For tactical flashlights, you can navigate the different modes by pressing and holding the switch. Most flashlights with a tail cap switch can recall the last setting. So when you turn it on, it will revert to what you used the last time.

Twist Switch

This kind of flashlight is usually used by backpackers and hikers. The light is switched on by twisting the bezel. The same process is used to change the modes. Even though it takes both hands to operate, it has an advantage. The light cannot be switched on by accident.

Side Switch

These are useful if you have an overhand grip on your flashlight. The switch is a hidden button that saves length on the light. Most flashlights are equipped with this kind. You will usually find it on more inexpensive models. These are pieces of plastic that you can flick forward or back.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the brightest flashlight for your particular needs won’t be a cakewalk to be honest. Although I have narrowed down the options and spoke about every important feature to look for in a flashlight, you still have to do your diligence. As long as the model you’re opting for fits your needs perfectly without overcharging you, you’re making the right investment.

Additional Buying Guides

You may also be interested in our LED Headlights Guide, LED Light Bar Guide,  Jump Starters Guide and Multimeters Guide.

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