Buyers guide for powerful flashlights

What to look out for when buying a flashlight

When buying a flashlight the main thing you think about is having the highest lumen flashlight. The IMALENT MS18 is the brightest flashlight in the world so if all you want is the strongest flashlight then that's the one to go for.

But when buying a flashlight there's other things that are important too. The IMALENT MS18 is a great flashlight but a different light might be better in certain situations.

  • Lumens

    Lumens are the first thing to look out for in a flashlight. Having more lumens (lm) means more light is produced and things will look brighter. Keychain flashlights are around 100 lm. EDC flashlights are 500 to 2000 lm but some powerful ones are 4000 lm or more. The most powerful flashlights are 10,000 lumens or more.

  • Beam distance

    As well as the brightness, the maximum range or throw is useful to know. The max range means how far the light can reach and still be useful. The strongest flashlights with the most lumens normally have the highest beam distance but you can also get flashlights that are more focused and throw a long way without needing to be as bright. For example the IMALENT R90TS has a further max beam distance than the MS18 but is not nearly as many lumens.

  • LED

    The LED or LEDs that a flashlight uses is important too. The most powerful flashlights normally use LEDs made by CREE but sometimes LEDs from Luminus, Osram, Samsung or Nichia can be just as bright. LEDs come in different color temperatures like cool white (nearly blue) and warm white (slightly yellow).

  • Waterproofing

    Other things to look out for in a strong flashlight are how waterproof it is and impact resistance. Waterproof is normally measured in meters underwater and an IP rating. IPX6, IP56 or IP66 means water resistant. IPX7 or IP67 means fairly waterproof and IPX8 or IP68 means fully waterproof.

Buyers guide to powerful flashlights

So, now you know the basics of flashlights, how do you know what to buy?

Picking the best powerful flashlight all depends on how and where you are planning on carrying it. One of the most important things about flashlights is their size and weight. Flashlights range from a few inches or cm that will fit in a pocket to bigger lights over a foot or 30cm that will light up a massive area. Here we are talking about high-lumen flashlights: the kind that are powerful enough to light up a few football pitches.

Powerful EDC flashlights

If you do need a rechargeable EDC flashlight that's incredibly bright then the IMALENT MS03 and R30C are both great options. These are both around 4 or 5 inches (12cm) long and will easily fit in a pocket. The MS03 is the brightest, at 13,000 lumens, using 3 CREE XHP70.2 LEDs - some of the brightest available. The R30C has the furthest beam distance at 560m, using 3 Luminus SST70 LEDs - which offer a great balance of high power and long distance. So if you want the most light around you then the MS03 is best but if you want to see further away then the R30C is the best EDC flashlight. Even these small lights are brighter than car headlights on full beam!

Powerful soda can flashlights

The next step up is soda can size flashlights. These are normally the same length as high power EDC flashlights but are wider, with 3 or 4 cells. Some of the strongest output for their size are the IMALENT MS06, R60C and RT90. The MS06 is 25,000 lumens: like having 2 MS03 flashlights in your hand. This is thanks to the 6 XHP70.2 LEDs. The RT90 isn't as bright but it has a max beam distance of 1308m. At 4800 lumens from the highly focused Luminus SBT90.2 LED it's still a lot of light though. The IMALENT R60C is the best of both worlds: 18,000 lumens and at 1038m throw it's still over 1km beam distance. These all all have built-in magnetic USB charging.

The most powerful large flashlights

The next step up from high power soda can flashlights is massive high lumen lights. You should buy one of these when you need the maximum possible brightness or when you need lots of light for a long time. Some of these high output flashlights are around 2kg (4 lb) and need a shoulder strap if you're carrying them for a long time. The 2 best options for extreme power flashlights are the IMALENT MS18 and IMALENT R90TS.

The MS18 is an incredible 100,000 lumens on turbo with a beam distance of 1350m - close to a mile. If you just want the brightest flashlight possible then pick the MS18: the beam is very floody but there's no other flashlight as bright. It has a built-in fan to keep it cool. This means it can sustain about 25,000 lumens for an hour. As with nearly all modern lights, it has lower modes too, so you can get more run time from them. You might have guessed from the name but the MS18 has 18 XHP70.2 LEDs to give it this amazing output.

If you want lots of lumens but want to see further than the MS18 then the IMALENT R90TS is the option for you. It has a more focused beam that reaches 1750m (well over a mile) but it's still high power brightness at 36,000 lumens. This is because of the 18 CREE XHP35 HI LEDs, which are a good balance of throw and flood.

High-lumen flashlights from other brands

IMALENT aren't the only flashlight manufacturer but generally they have the highest lumen flashlights for a particular size light. So how do other brands compare?

  • Acebeam X70, Acebeam X50 and Acebeam X80-GT: Acebeam's brightest light is the X70 at 60,000 lumens and a beam distance of 1115m. This is very bright but still no match for the MS18 in lumens or throw. Acebeam also has the smaller X50 that outputs 40,000 lumens. The X50 is like a large soda can flashlight, quite a bit bigger than the MS06. Finally, Acebeam has the X80-GT, which outputs an impressive 32,500 lumens for its size but has a beam distance of just 369m. This is pure flood and whilst it's bright, after a few seconds the beam won't reach very far.

  • Lumintop GT94 and Lumintop GT3: Lumintop has the GT94, which is their brightest and farthest throwing light. At 20,000 lumens it's not as bright as most of IMALENT's high power lights but it does throw 2450m (1.5 miles). Lumintop also has the soda can size GT3 at 18,000 lumens. 

  • Fenix LR80R: Fenix doesn't have any flashlights over 20,000 lumens. Their brightest is the LR80R, which is about the same size as the MS18 but only 18,000 lumens. It throws 1130m, so it's similar in performance to the much smaller IMALENT R60C.

  • Olight X9R Marauder: Olight's most powerful light is the big X9R Marauder at 25,000 lumens. That's still very bright but again it's nothing compared to the MS18.

  • Nextorch Saint Torch 31: Nextorch has the Saint Torch 31, with similar size and specs to the Olight X9R at 20,000 lumens and beam distance of around 700m.

  • Manker MK34 II: Manker has the soda can size MK34 II, which outputs 26,000 lumens. Very impressive for its size but like the Acebeam X80-GT, this is pure flood and the lumens only have a beam distance of 283m. This is less throw than many EDC flashlights.

Conclusion: what powerful flashlight to buy

The number of flashlights available might seem overwhelming but it's easy to pic once you know two things.

Firstly, what size powerful light do you want? Once you know this then you'll know whether to pick an EDC flashlight, one of the highest lumen soda can style lights or something even bigger and better. That should narrow your choice down to just a couple of flashlights. Then you need to consider whether maximum brightness or maximum beam distance is most important to you.

If you want more beam distance then you should pick a focused thrower, like the IMALENT R90TS. If all you want is lots of lumens then a pure flooder is best, with the IMALENT MS18 being the brightest light available. In fact the MS18 is so bright that it also has a very impressive beam distance due to the sheer brute force of the lumens.