Brightest LED Flashlights of 2017: Ultimate Guide
Your search for the brightest LED flashlight in the world has ended!
I’ve gone through a few of these lights that all claimed to be the brightest. Overall there’s a couple that actually live up to this claim and I’m going to tell you what ones they are.
So sit back, relax and read about which flashlights are worth your money…
Brightest LED Flashlight Reviews
1. Acebeam X65
In the search for a versatile and powerful LED flashlight the Acebeam comes in at the top of the list. There are a few different modes on this product that range from super turbo max mode to the dimmer firefly mode.
The most powerful mode boasts 12,000 lumens in the most powerful mode, powered by 5 Cree XHP 35 high intensity LEDs. If you don’t need much brightness, then just easily switch it to firefly mode that uses only 4 lumens and lasts up to 450 hours!
Toughness and durability is a feature of the Acebeam that everybody will love. The aluminum is aircraft grade which is extremely tough. It’s even waterproof up to 2 meters.
Features and Specs
- Has a maximum runtime of 450 hours.
- Maximum brightness is 12,000 lumens.
- X65 weighs 1290 grams including the battery.
- Smooth reflector enables perfect beam.
- X65 is made of durable aircraft grade aluminum.
- X65 has a hard anodized and anti abrasive finish.
- Has a whopping 7 brightness modes: Firefly, low, medium, high, strobe, turbo, turbo max.
- The 5 Cree XHP high intensity LEDs have a throw of 1300 meters.
- X65 has a built in rechargeable Li-ion battery.
- Comes with an AC adapter, replacement O-ring, shoulder strap, and NiteElf keychain.
2. Brightest 18650 Flashlight: Olight X7 Marauder
If you’re wondering what my favorite option for the title of brightest LED flashlight is, it’s this one here. The best part of this is that it has all that power while still being very compact. It measures 5 inches long, making it a good flashlight to easily fit in your pocket.
It has a whopping 7 brightness modes that vary from 9000 lumens for the highest down to 3 lumens for the lowest. This flashlight works great for mid and close range illumination, almost like having a floodlight in your pocket.
The construction of the X7 is great as well with it receiving lots of praise online.
Features and Specs
- Comes with a holster, car sticker and LegionArms 18650 battery case.
- X7 weighs 471 grams.
- Is 5 inches long with a 2.68 inch bezel and 2.05 inch body.
- X7 has active thermal management which means that an internal thermal sensor monitors the temperature and lowers the output when necessary to stop overheating.
- X7 is waterproof to the IPX-8 standard of 2 meters.
- The beam can do middle, close and wide range illumination.
- Has 3 white CREE XHP70 LEDs.
- Has an orange peel aluminum reflector.
- Compact design is roughly the size of a soda can.
- 7 different brightness modes: 10hz strobe, 9000 lumens, 5500 lumens, 3000 lumens, 1000 lumens, 300 lumens, and 3 lumens.
- Runs on 4x 18650 rechargeable lithium batteries.
3. ThruNite TN36 UT
This flashlight is an upgraded version of the TN 36 that you may be familiar with. It features a maximum beam of 285 meters and a whopping 7300 lumens.
Not only is this flashlight powerful but it’s also affordable. Considering that it has a high quality build it is a great deal in my opinion. There are models that cost double the price, yet aren’t much brighter.
If you like to have a lot of different settings for brightness then you won’t be disappointed with the TN36. IT has 6 different brightness modes that are almost on the level of more expensive models, as well as a low voltage indicator and overheating protection.
Features and Specs
- Comes with 2 holster rings, 2 O rings and a battery carrier.
- ITC technology automatically reduces the power level when the flashlight gets too hot.
- Low voltage indicator tells you when it’s time to replace the batteries.
- Memory function for returning to the same mode that you want.
- Measures 4.95 inches long and 2.52 inches in diameter.
- Weighs 390 grams without batteries.
- Waterproof to IPX-8 standards up to 2 meters.
- Impact resistant up to 2 meters.
- Has a beam distance of 299 meters.
- Battery will last 33 days in Moonlight mode (1.6 lumens) and 119 minutes in Turbo mode (6510 lumens).
- Uses 4x 18650 rechargeable lithium batteries.
- Six different brightness modes: strobe, 1.6 lumens, 116 lumens, 785 lumens, 2280 lumens, 6510 lumens.
4. Fenix RC 40
A feature that really stands out with the Fenix RC40 is that it’s a heavy duty and very tough flashlight that’s also waterproof and impact resistant.
It has a built in rechargeable lithium-ion battery and even includes a car charger and AC adapter.
Seven different lighting modes on this flashlight will satisfy pretty much everybody with a power level up to 6000 lumens. It is capable of shining 730 meters, making it one of my favorite picks these days.
Features and Specs
- Includes a shoulder strap, AC adapter, spare O-ring, DC car charger and an anti dust plug.
- Has a lifetime limited guarantee from Fenix Lighting US.
- RC40 weighs 1234 grams if you include the battery.
- RC40 is 10.7 inches long and 2..1 inches wide, with the head at 4.6 inches.
- Impact resistant up to 1 meter and water resistant up to 2 meters.
- Runs on a built in rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
- A discharging port enables it to power USB devices.
- Has an intelligent memory circuit and lockout function.
- Charging indicator and battery power level are built into the base of the flashlight.
- Impact resistant bezel and enhanced heat dissipating fins.
- Aerospace grade aluminum with a Type III anodized finish.
- Lockout function prevents accidental turning on of the flashlight.
- Built in overheating protection.
- Lasts up to 125 hours on one battery charge.
- Has a maximum brightness of 6000 lumens.
- Light can shine up to 730 meters.
- Has an intensity of 133,200 cd.
- Five different brightness levels (6000, 4000, 2000, 500, 45 lumens, as well as strobe and SOS mode.
5. Nitecore TM16GT
Another very bright flashlight that you should consider is the Nitecore TM 16 GT. Not only does it look nice but the affordable price makes it a top pick among many people.
One thing that blows me away with this flashlight is it’s 1003 meter throw. That’s right, the beam can reach over half a mile.
Eight brightness modes will be sure to keep everyone happy along with 3 special modes. There are also some cool features like temperature regulation and an integrated power indicator.
Features and Specs
- Impact resistant up to 1.5 meters.
- Water submersible up to 2 meters.
- Weighs 521 grams.
- Measures 7.17 inches long, tube diameter is 2.09 inches, and the head is 3.5 inches.
- Has ultra clear mineral glass with anti reflective coating.
- Made from aircraft grade aluminum alloy.
- Easy to mount to a tripod with the receptacle.
- Direct access to turbo and ultra low brightness modes.
- Reverse polarity feature stops damage from batteries being inserted the wrong way.
- Power indicator shows how much battery is left.
- TM16GT has advanced temperature regulation technology.
- Maximum run time is 610 hours.
- Peak beam intensity is 252,000 cd.
- Runs on 4x 18650 batteries that are setup side by side to keep the handle compact and comfortable.
- Max output is 3600 lumens.
- Has 5 brightness levels: 5, 200, 500, 1500, 3600 lumens. As well as special modes: location beacon, SOS and strobe.
- Has 4 CREE XHP70 high intensity LEDs.
How to Measure Brightness
Different brands across the world are trying to standardize the measurement of brightness by creating a standard called ANSI FL1. This enables there to be a unit that everybody can use for flashlights and other light sources and know quickly just what a product is capable of.
There are a couple ways that the ANSI measures light performance. One way is through the beam distance. The distance is defined as the distance that the beam will travel before hitting the brightness of the full moon on a clear night which is .25lux.
Another way that it is measured is through measuring the light output in lumens after the flashlight has been turned on for over 30 seconds.
The last way is through measuring the peak beam intensity. This takes the brightest part of the beam and measures it in candela or CD.
Something else that isn’t about light but is still a part of the ANSI FL1 is runtime. This is defined as the amount of minutes that the light can run before the light output goes below 10% of the original brightness.
Batteries and Brightness
Overall there are a few different types of batteries that are used in flashlights these days.
One is the classic AA and AAA batteries that you surely know about. They are so widely used because they are cheap and sold everywhere. There are even rechargeable types available.
The problem with these traditional types of batteries is that they typically don’t last all that long and don’t produce as much power as other types.
Another type of battery is the CR123A lithium cells that are commonly found in electronics such as cameras. They are smaller than AA batteries but were designed to be powerful. You can get both rechargeable and non rechargeable versions of these.
The last type of battery that I will go over here is the 18650 rechargeable lithium ion battery. This battery is very popular due to it’s low memory effect, strong ability to hold charge and it’s energy density. What is meant by memory effect is when a battery is charged many times it tends to lose it’s maximum storage capacity.
Many people think that battery life is only about convenience, but in reality there’s a huge safety compontent involved for some people. Anybody from law enforcement, to security, to people that like to go out at night could potentially be saved by having a strong flashlight.
One of the brightest LED flashlights can make a good deterrent for women in self defence situations. A potential attacker is much less likely to proceed if the area around is lit up. Also the flashlight itself can be used as a weapon in self defence situations.
So what affects battery life? Well the main factors are age, temperature, the battery type and build, as well as where it’s stored.
One thing that most batteries have in common is that they will be much better used with an LED than with an incandescent bulb, this is why I’ve reviewed all LED flashlights in this article.
Alkaline batteries don’t last as long as lithium ones do. Lithium ones tend to last around 10 years typically, while alkaline ones have a life of around 5 years.
If you want to extend the battery life of your LED flashlight then the best way to do that is to use it on the dimmest mode if possible. This will extend the life by a TON.
That wraps up my reviews of the brightest LED flashlights. If you want to see some other options but don’t need anything super bright then check out my tactical flashlight reviews for some more general options.