Ultimate Guide to Select the Best and the Brightest Flashlights
So you are looking for one of the best and brightest flashlight right? You have come to the right place and in this guide, we look at some of the most popular flashlights and tried to organize them based on the type of batteries included and the quantity. But before going over these categories, we also need to determine the best light output measurement a flashlight can have and also need to look for a flashlight with all these criteria and also be in a price range that is affordable. When you are planning for camping, trekking or hunting, a flashlight should be a must have item on your travel list and only if the flashlight is bright, it will be of any use to you during your outing. So please read on to zero in on the best and the brightest flashlight.
How Is Brightness Measured?
The ANSI FL1 standards are the guidelines used by the flashlight industry to standardize the measurement of flashlights. The FL1 standards state that the light output can be measured in three different ways namely:
Measuring the light output by lumens
Measuring the beam distance in meters
And measuring the peak beam intensity in candela
The candela helps us know the brightest point of the beam easily and the beam distance makes us understand how far a beam can travel before it reaches 0.25 lux.
But the best and standard measurement is lumens as both the measurements made through beam distance and peak beam density can be altered easily based on the angles and the reflector size etc. having said that, it doesn’t mean that the flashlight carrying the highest lumens will be flashlight that can provide you the brightest light and a flashlight that can throw light to a greater distance. So you need to understand your requirements before buying a flashlight, whether you need a flashlight that provides you a bright light at a shorter distance or flashlights that throw light to a long distance but with some less brightness.
One more thing that needs to be considered before buying a flashlight is the lumens number. It should be the number based on the FL1 standards, the measurement of light coming from the front of the flashlight and not the prescribed lumen number of the LED emitter. This maximum output of lumens from the LED emitter is just a theoretical measurement and not the actual one. No one knows that is prescribed in the flashlight by the manufacturer, so it is better to believe the lumens measurements made from the front of the flashlight.
Types of Flashlights Considered
When it comes to flashlights, there are various light sources used and the most common light source are the LED emitters. Flashlights that were produced in the earlier years used a metal filament that gets heated up to produce light, but when it comes to brightness, they are not so bright like the present day LED emitters. Apart from LED emitters and incandescent lights, HID lights were also used as light source for the flashlights. High Density Discharge (HID) lights have a quartz capsule filled with gas and once electricity comes into contact with the gas, it produces light. But the HID flashlights are too costly and the cheapest HID flashlight that you can find is about $300 and the incandescent is not durable like the LED and HID. So in this article, we only consider the LED flashlights and not the HID or the incandescent ones.
Brightest Flashlight by Battery
Brightest AAA/10440 Flashlight
Flashlights that run on AAA batteries are the most preferred one because the AAA batteries can be easily found in any local store and also very compact in size. It is not recommended to use 10440 batteries in AAA flashlights and most of the manufacturers are also don’t recommend that as the use of 10440 can cause severe damage to your lights. The reason it should not be used is that the 10440 runs at 3.6 volts, while an AAA battery runs at 1.5 volts. But check if your flashlight can work with 10440 and if it can, then certainly your flashlights lumen output will be a lot better. It’s always better to check with your friends or look into some forums to see their experience with the flashlight.
One other thing to consider when you looking for the brightest flashlights is the batteries and we have some recommendation of batteries for you. When it comes to batteries, you can have either rechargeable or non-chargeable batteries. As far as our analysis and based on the recommendations from experts and consumers, the Eneloop AAA ni-MH is one of the most preferred and used rechargeable batteries. But you also need to have a good charger for your batteries and the La Crosse BC-700 is the best suited charger for the Ni-MH kind of batteries. And the Energizer L92 Lithium batteries is the one that is recommended in the non-rechargeable category.
1 x AAA
Brightest: Thrunite Ti3
People looking for a handy flashlight that can be tucked into your keychain, then the Thrunite Ti3 is the best option for you. The Thrunite Ti3 comes with a Cree XP-G2 R5 LED that can last for 20 hours easily on a single charge. Even though the Ti3 is much smaller, when you look at the lumen output, it can produce upto 120 lumens, which makes the Ti3 as one of the brightest flashlights powered by a single AAA battery. Built using strong aluminum coated body that is mostly used in aircraft building, it also comes with an anti-abrasive finish to protect your lights from any scratches or damages from accidental drops. With four different lighting modes that include low, high, firefly and strobe, the Ti3 can be operated with a single hand effectively.
Weight : 0.42 oz. w/out battery
Dimensions : 2.76 inches long and 0.55 inch diameter
Lowest Setting : 0.04 lumens for 115 hours
Highest Setting : 120 lumens for 21 hour
2 x AAA
Brightest: ThruNite Ti4
When it comes to flashlights that are operated using 2 AAA batteries, then the ThruNite Ti4 is the best choice for you. It is a must have flashlight in every house and could prove very much helpful in emergency situations. The Ti4 is easy to hold and operate and also because of its compact pen-style, it doesn’t take much space for storage. Earlier days, torches were huge and heavy and sometimes your hands feel tired when you hold it for a longer time. But with the latest LED flashlights, the sizes have been reduced to a great extent that you can easily hold the flashlights with a single hand and also hold it for a long time without any pain. Similar to the Ti3, the Ti4 is also built using aluminum coated body design equipped with an anti-abrasive finish. Also, the Ti3 comes with 4 different modes like the Ti3.
Weight : 0.79 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 5.23 inches long and 0.56 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 0.3 lumens for 137 hours
Highest setting : 252 lumens for 1.5 hours
Brightest AA/14500 Flashlight
In the category of double AA or 14500 battery powered flashlights, the Ni-MH batteries are recommended against the 14500 Li-on batteries, as most of the flashlights aren’t manufactured with the size to occupy these Li-on batteries as well. But if you still opt to choose the 14500 batteries in these lights, then it is better to get some advice from friends or through research on the internet, whether it is the best solution. The reason AA batteries were recommended is similar to why AAA batteries were recommended in flashlights of different sizes. The Eneloop AA Ni-MH are best recommended rechargeable AA batteries and the la Crosse BC-700 the best charger for these batteries.
1 x AA
Budget: ThruNite Neutron 2A v2
The ThruNite Neutron 2A v2 is one of the best budget flashlights in the 1 AA segment. These flashlights comes equipped with extension tubes, so that it can be run with a single AA or double AA batteries. But since this segment talks about the 1 AA segment, let’s focus on flashlight using 1 AA alone. One of the important reasons that the Neutron 2A v2 is considered as the brightest flashlight is because they are affordable and also provides a maximum lumen of up to 408. The Thrunite Neutron 2A v2 is also considered to be best in this category because of its compact size and apt for everyday use in an effective manner. Similar to other Thrunite flashlights, the Neutron AA v2 also come with a side switch for easy accessibility and to control the various lighting modes. Unlike other batteries that come with 4 modes, there are 5 different modes in the Neutron 2A v2 including the moonlight, low, medium, high and turbo modes.
Weight : 2.01 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 3.76 inches long and 1 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 0.04 lumens for 288 hours
Highest setting : 408 lumens for 1.63 hours
Brightest: Zebralight SC5
If the ThruNite Neutron AA v2 is the best budget flashlight in the 1 AA battery segment, then the Zebralight SC5 is the brightest in this category. The first thought that arises in your mind about the Zebralight SC5 is its size, it is very compact and small that it can be considered to be a handy flashlight as well. One major reason that the SC5 is considered to be the brightest in this category is because it can provide a maximum lumens output of 535. But the output also drops to 325 lumens after 5 minutes of use. But 325 lumens in not bad for any Every Day Carry (EDC) flashlight too. Another highlight of the Zebralight SC5 is that when the battery reaches a low battery level, the lighting mode automatically switches to a low light output lighting mode, say from high to low lighting modes. The SC5 is also equipped with the battery capacity indicator, which flashes when there is little or low power left in the battery. One can also loosen the tail cap to prevent battery drain in the flashlight. The user interface is handy to effectively access the lighting modes and easily switch on/off switches.
Weight : 2.0 oz w/out batteries
Dimensions : 3.2 inches long and 1 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 3.2 lumens for 96 hours
Highest setting : 535 lumens for 0.05 hours
2 x AA
Brightest: ThruNite Neutron 2A v2
In the 2AA category, the Thrunite flashlights still reign supreme and the Neutron 2A v2 is the brightest flashlight. The Neutron 2A v2 is also the brightest in the 1AA category as well, as it can run both 1AA and 2AA batteries, as the Neutron 2A v2 is equipped with an extension tube to accommodate both these types of batteries. An output of 730 lumens can be delivered by the Neutron 2A v2 and it is much brighter when used with a 1 AA battery. Similar to other ThruNite models, the side switch is provided for easier accessibility and switch between various lighting modes including Moonlight, low, medium, high and turbo modes. Even though the size and weight of the flashlight increases when you use the extension tube to fit the 2AA battery, it is still compact that you can carry it along with you in your pocket easily. You can never find a brightest flashlight at such a low price.
Weight : 2.58 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 5.7 inches long and 1 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 0.04 lumens for 288 hours
Highest setting : 730 lumens for 3.53 hours
3 x AA
Budget: Lumintop SD10
In the 3AA battery segment, the Lumintop SD10 is the most affordable and budget friendly flashlight you can find in the market. It can reach a maximum brightness of upto 800 lumens and can stand for 15 hours on a single charge. The SD10 is equipped with a CREE XM-L2 (U2) LED bulb that has a lifetime of up to 50000 hours. So you don’t need to worry about replacing your bulb for years. Equipped with a micro-textured reflector, the bulb is protected against all kinds of damages. Many flashlights that boast to be the brightest have a slight disadvantage that it loses its brightness as the battery starts losing power. But the SD10 is provided with a digitally regulated circuit, so that the brightness level stays the same, even when the battery loses power. Unlike other flashlights, the SD10 comes with a front side switch for easy accessibility and also to handle it much easier than other models. The SD10 also come with 4 light modes namely the low, medium, high and the strobe modes. With an inbuilt memory, when you switch on the flashlight the last lighting mode is recalled except for the strobe mode.
Weight : 4.05 oz. w/batteries
Dimensions : 4.72 inches long and 1.57 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 10 lumens for 280 hours
Highest setting : 800 lumens for 15 hours
Brightest: EagleTac GX25A3
In the 3AA battery segment, the Eagletac GX25A3 is one of the brightest flashlights on the market. It is such a handy flashlight that you can use it as an EDC flashlight. The Eagletac GX25A3 also comes in two mode called the regular and tactical mode. Each mode has its own characteristics, as the regular mode has only low, high and turbo brightness levels, as the tactical mode has separate brightness levels that include the strobe, medium and turbo modes. An easy to use dial is provided to switch between the two different modes. There are around 7 auxiliary modes in the GX25A3 namely the Strobe I, Strobe II, Flash, SOS (fast), SOS (normal), beacon, turbo. An energy saving mode is also available in the GX25A3 mode that can lower the lighting output by 45%.
Weight : 5.2 oz
Dimensions : 4.3 inches long and 1.5 inch diameter
Lowest setting2 : 9 lumens for over 100 hours
Highest setting : 915 lumens for 1.3 hours
4 x AA
Brightest: ThruNite TN4A
The ThruNite TN4A is the brightest flashlight in the 4 AA battery category. The reason it said to be the brightest is that it provides a maximum lumen output of 1150 for a short span of time. But if you use a lower lighting mode like low or medium, you are going to have the batteries for a very long period of time when compared with 1AA, 2AA or 3AA batteries. The ThruNite TN4A comes with 6 various lighting modes namely the low, medium, high. Turbo, firefly and strobe modes. One important aspect of the ThruNite TN4A is that it comes equipped with the latest LED bulb technology so that that you can get the maximum efficiency from the flashlight. It also comes with glass lens that is tempered and have an anti-reflective coating, so that you always get an ultra-clear and the brightest light possible at all times. An electronic switch is provided unlike the other AA models, so the on/off operations produces no noise. The brilliant Intelligent Temperature Technology (ITC) prevents the flashlight from getting overheated.
Weight : 7.71 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 4.39 inches long and 1.8 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 0.5 lumens for 1920 hours
Highest setting : 1150 lumens for 2.5 hours
Brightest CR123A Flashlight
Next, we come into the flashlight category that can handle higher voltage and where both lithium and Li-on batteries can be used to provide the maximum lumen output. The CR123A batteries are similar to other camera batteries in size, but when compared to the 18650 Li-on battery, the CR123A is only half the size of it. Go for US manufacturers when buying CR123A batteries, as they provide the best quality batteries.
1 x CR123A
Budget: ThruNite Archer 1C V2
The Thrunite Archer C1 v2 is one of the best tactical flashlight in the 1 x CR123A battery segment. It also serves as the best EDC and hence the Thrunite Archer C1 v2 makes a perfect choice people wanting for a tactical as well as an EDC flashlight. The stainless steel bezel that comes with the flashlight helps you to defend yourself during emergencies. The archer provides you a strong grip with the help of the tactical knurling. Even though it can accommodate only a single CR123A battery, it still can output up to 500 lumens and with the help of the new reflector the beam is excellent. With the help of the latest reverse polarity protection, the batteries are prevented from getting damaged, even if the batteries are placed wrongly.
Weight : 1.83 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 3.70 inches long and 0.91 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 0.055 lumens for 168 hours
Highest setting : 500 lumens for 0.83 hours
Brightest: Lumintop ED11
And in the same 1 x CR123A battery category, the Lumintop ED11 bags the prize for the brightest flashlight. The ED11 can produce a maximum lighting output of up to 500 lumens. But this itself doesn’t make the ED11 the brightest in this category, but other features that aid in maximizing the output is what makes it stand ahead of the competition. The lens is totally protected from any damage with the help of a tempered window and anti-reflective coating on both sides. The new reflector that comes in the ED11 is termed by the manufacturer as ultra-precise, as it maximizes the distance of the beam to a greater extent when compared with other models in the same category. The push button tail switch present on the bottom provides easy access for switching on/off the light as well as control the lighting modes in the flashlight.
Weight : 1.58 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 3.29 inches long and 0.88 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 5 lumens for 80 hours
Highest setting : 560 lumens for 2.5 hours
2 x CR123A/ 1 x 18650
Budget: ThruNite TN12
The next category in our review is the 2 x CR123A or the single 18650 battery range. The Thrunite TN12 can produce a maximum output of 1050 lumens, no matter what kind of battery you use, either the 2 x CR123A or 1 x 18650 batteries. And the LED bulb has a lifetime of around 50000 hours. The Thrunite TN12 comes with an upgraded and modified switch in response to people cries about the difficulty in handling the switch in controlling the light modes. The switch is located on the side of the light and made from stainless steel, so you don’t need to worry about the switch getting damaged or broken for a long time. The TN12 is built using aluminum used in aircraft building for stability and also comes with a type 3 ant- abrasive finish to protect the flashlight from accidental drops.
Weight : 2.89 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 5.63 inches long and 1.00 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 0.4 lumens for 1776 hours
Highest setting : 1050 lumens for 1.58 hours
Brightest: Zebralight SC600 Mk III
The Zebralight SC600 MkIII is the brightest flashlight in the category of flashlights that runs on 2 x CR123A batteries or 1 x 18650 battery. One can get uninterrupted bright light output of 1150 lumens for 2 hours. But with such high light output the device may get overheated sometimes and in order to prevent that the SC600 is equipped PID thermal regulated outputs. With the over discharging protection feature, one can be assured that batteries discharge only the required power and not above. The SC600 comes with 4 lighting modes in beacon strobe, high, medium and low. The battery indicator alerts you at times of low battery power, so you can recharge your batteries or use alternate batteries.
Weight : 2.75 oz w/out batteries
Dimensions : 3.8 inches long and 1.2 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 0.01 lumens for 7.1 months
Highest setting : 1126 lumens for 2.2 hours
4 x CR123A/2 x 18650
Budget: Nitecore P36
The Nitecore P36I is one the most affordable and durable flashlights in the 4 x CR123A or 2 x 18650 battery segment. The Nitecore P36I is also easy to handle with the help of its multifunctional rotary switch. You don’t need to count the no. of clicks no more with the switches, but you just need to rotate the switch to perform the desired action. The built in memory function helps in recalling the last operated lighting mode when you switch on the flashlight. With the maximum output ranging up to 2000 lumens, there is every chance that your flashlight can get damaged from overheating, but the Nitecore P36I comes equipped with an Advanced Temperature regulation (ATS) feature that helps in protecting the device from overheating.
Weight : 8.89 oz
Dimensions : 6.81 inches long and 1.97 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 2 lumens for 325 hours
Highest setting : 2000 lumens for 0.75 hours
Brightest: Fenix TK35 UE
If the Nitecore P36I is the most affordable light in this category, the Fenix TK35UE is the brightest flashlight in the 4 x CR123A / 2 x 18650 battery segment. The TK35UE provides an extensive beam and increased lighting output than its predecessor TK35. It also comes with the latest Cree XHP 50 LED bulb technology and the first Fenix flashlight to use these kind of LED bulbs. With a maximum of 1800 lumens and featuring 6 different lighting modes in low, high, medium, SOS, Eco and turbo. The digitally regulated output helps the flashlight to retain maximum light output, even when the battery is low. Handling the flashlight is easier with the dual button switch and it is also designed to avoid accidental falls or drops of up to 3 feet and also is waterproof.
Weight : 9.35 oz w/out batteries
Dimensions : 4.50 inches long and 2.05 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 25 lumens for 150 hours
Highest setting : 1800 lumens for 1.5 hours
3 x 18650
Budget: Olight SR-Mini
In the 3 x 18650 battery segment, the best budget flashlight award goes to the Olight SR Mini. The maximum light output is an overwhelming 2800 lumens and that is really heavy lighting and the lowest lighting output is 200 lumens. The Olight SR-Mini comes equipped with a soft side switch for easy handling and to for switching between lighting modes easily. With a lock-out feature, you can’t accidentally switch the flashlight to recharge. With an inbuilt memory, the last operated lighting mode is remembered and used after you switch the flashlight.
Weight : 10.1 oz w/out batteries
Dimensions : 5 inches long and 1.89 diameter
Lowest setting : 200 lumens for 16 hours
Highest setting : 2800 lumens for 2 hours
Brightest: Fenix LD60
In the 3 x 18650 battery category, the Fenix LD60 is the brightest flashlight. It does come with 3 LED bulbs as opposed to 1 LED in other flashlights and 3 LED bulbs mean that it produce lot of heat to the device and the Fenix LD60 is equipped with a thermal control technology to protect the device from getting overheated. The maximum lighting output the Fenix LD60 can produce is 2800 lumens.
Weight : 12.8 oz. w/out batteries
Dimensions : 6.1 inches long and 2.5 inch diameter
Lowest setting : 30 lumens for 150 hours
Highest setting : 2800 lumens for 1.5 hours
We hope we’ve provided a fair review on the brightest LED flashlight and hope it fulfills your requirement in selecting the best flashlight based on your needs. Before going for a flashlight, decide the size, lighting output and the type of batteries for a flashlight.
Through all of our research and reviews we have decided that the brightest LED flashlight by Lumens currently is the Thrunite TN36 UT with a class dominating 7300 Lumens. Just because the TN36 UT might be the brightest flashlight ever does not mean that it is the right flashlight for you. The first thing to consider is what you are going to be doing with the light and decide the size that you need. From there you should consider the types of batteries you are willing to work with. In most cases you will get a large jump in output from li-ion batteries as opposed to alkaline or Ni-MH. Please take these considerations into account before purchasing a flashlight, we want you to be happy with your purchase.