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The brightest flashlights you can buy: Expert recommended

Ranging from 1,700 to 200,000 lumens, these are the brightest flashlights that experts say illuminate just about anything, for emergencies and more.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Reviewed by Nina Raemont
Imalent MS32 | Brightest flashlight overall
Imalent MS32 brightest flashlight
Imalent MS32
Brightest flashlight overall
View now View at Amazon
Imalent SR16 | Brightest flashlight for camping
Imalent SR16 flashlight
Imalent SR16
Brightest flashlight for camping
View now View at Amazon
Olight Marauder 2 | Brightest flashlight for battery life
Olight rugged flashlight
Olight Marauder 2
Brightest flashlight for battery life
View now View at Amazon
TrustFire DF50 | Brightest flashlight for photography
Scuba diving flashlight
TrustFire DF50
Brightest flashlight for photography
View now View at Amazon
Fenix PD35R | Brightest versatile flashlight
Black tactical flashlight
Fenix PD35R
Brightest versatile flashlight
View now View at B&H Photo-Video

Flashlights are an essential item for emergencies, for nighttime outdoor activities like camping or walking the dog, or for whenever you need an alternative, portable light source. While the average handheld or phone flashlight shines a decent beam, there are significantly brighter options available built for more pressing circumstances or simply easier navigability. 

Also: The best portable power stations

An outdoor enthusiast myself, I rounded up some of the best and brightest flashlights I've come across, keeping in mind real-life factors that can decrease a light's output, which raw lumen outputs don't usually represent. I also spoke to survivalists, campers, and flashlight enthusiasts who have used and recommended some of their favorite models. 

What is the brightest flashlight right now?

The world's brightest flashlight, the Imalent MS32, clocks in at 200,000 lumens and has a built-in fan to keep the unit from overheating in your hands. While this is the most powerful option, it does have a steep price tag, and the flashlight enthusiasts and experts I spoke with agree that it's not the only option for outdoor pursuits, severe weather supply arsenal, or even photography lighting. Read on to see all of the best brightest flashlight options for you.

The brightest flashlights of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • World's brightest flashlight
  • Long distance reach
  • Impressive battery life
  • 8 different settings
  • Not ideal for everyday use
  • Heavy at almost 12 pounds
More Details

The brightest flashlight you can currently get is the Imalent MS32. Its maximum output gets up to a blinding 200,000 lumens -- beating its previous title-winning 120,000 lumen iteration (the Imalent SR32). This model has eight settings, including cold and warm light options and a moonlight and strobe mode. When switched on, the Imalent MS32 emits the highest brightness level for about 45 seconds before dimming to 40,000 lumens, which it can sustain for about 40 minutes. 

As the world's brightest flashlight, the Imalent MS32 also has a heat pipe cooling system that uses three cooling fans to ensure high performance (and to prevent overheating in your hands). In addition, the IP56 rating means the flashlight is water and dust-resistant. 

While not for everyday carry, this flashlight would serve well for emergency use cases or if you want the bragging rights of owning the world's brightest flashlight. However, at $800, it's clear that the cost of the world's brightest flashlight is a luxury.

Imalent MS32 tech specs: Lumens: 200,000 lumens | Beam distance: 5,308 feet | Peak beam intensity: 655000cd | Battery Life: 18 hours on lowest setting | IP Rating: IP56

Pros & Cons
  • Powerful to protect in emergency outdoors situations
  • Can sustain 11,000 lumens for almost an hour
  • Solid beam distance
  • Customer service could be better
More Details

Another option from Imalent may not beam as bright as the world's brightest flashlight, but is still a shining star, packing in 55,000 lumens with 16 LEDs. The turbo setting puts out 55,000 lumens for 42 seconds before going down to 11,000 lumens, which it can sustain for 50 minutes. 

There are six total settings, including a middle output of 4,200 lumens and a low output of 1,200 lumens. A built-in thermal control module will automatically adjust the brightness output so that you can use the flashlight comfortably without overheating. Amazon reviewers also note and were impressed by the flashlight's 736,000 candela rating, the unit of luminous intensity in the International System of Units (SI).

Steven Short, a flashlight enthusiast and who reviews flashlights and everyday carry (EDC) items on his YouTube channel, said that at 55,000 lumens, it's definitely bright enough to temporarily blind an attacker if you are ever in a situation when alone at night.

"I've used it on camping trips to light up the campsite at night. Instead of using a smaller one and having to move around with it wherever I needed to see, the Imalent SR16 is bright enough to illuminate the whole area for me," Short said. 

Imalent SR16 tech specs: Lumens: 55,000 lumens | Beam distance: 5,627 feet | Peak beam intensity: 736000cd | Battery life: 7 hours (on lowest setting) | IP Rating: IP56

Pros & Cons
  • Can charge other devices
  • Quality build
  • Spotlight and floodlight mode options
  • Temperature can get hot
More Details

Not only does this flashlight have a great battery life, but it's built-in 54Wh power rechargeable pack can also be used to charge your phone when you're exploring the outdoors at night. 

On the bright side (pun intended), the flashlight puts out 14,000 lumens from 12 LEDs, and has two separate modes: floodlight to shine across wide areas and spotlight to zone in on a specific direction. Each of these modes has seven modes that range in lumen count and intensity. 

"A friend of mine owns this flashlight and I have used it while hiking with him at night. It is super bright and really lights up the woods," Jason Hitchcock, founder of emergency preparedness site Survival Stoic, told ZDNET. "It has an adjustable brightness setting which is nice when you don't need the high brightness. When we meet others on the trail or need to look at something in our pack for example I can turn it down."

In addition, customers who purchased this flashlight noted that the quality of its build is top notch, and it feels sturdy and reliable in hand. However, they also said the temperature can get hot holding this one.

Olight Marauder 2 tech specs: Lumens: 14,000 lumens | Beam distance: 2,625 feet | Peak beam intensity: 160000cd | Battery life: 59 hours on lowest mode | IP Rating: IPX8

Pros & Cons
  • UV and red light options
  • Completely waterproof
  • Good battery life
  • Emitted heat can be uncomfortable to the touch
  • Problems with ball joint
More Details

The TrustFire DF50 is technically a scuba diving light, but it also proves to be a pretty useful light if you're a photographer looking to illuminate dark spaces or if you're simply looking for a reliable and decently bright flashlight. It can run for 3.4 hours on the highest setting at 6,500 lumens as well as 6.8 hours at 1,000 lumens. The flashlight has white light, red light, and UV light, making it perfect for places underwater or in a cave. 

"This thing has 6,500 lumens and is made specifically for filming (so no flickering),"said Nick Poulson, a flashlight collector and abandoned mine explorer. 

"It not only provides a bright light but also offers a red light and, as if that were not enough, it also has a black light setting. Truly an awesome and fun feature to use in deep, dark mines where minerals line the walls, ready to be illuminated," he said. 

Poulson added that the only downside to this light is its heat that emits after long periods of use. However, Amazon reviewers said the 12-hour battery life makes up for that. 

TrustFire DF50 tech specs: Lumens: 6,500 lumens | Beam distance: Up to 345 feet | Peak beam intensity: 2756cd | Battery life: Up to 12 hours | IP Rating: Waterproof up to 230 feet 

Pros & Cons
  • Affordable
  • Not bulky
  • Six light modes make for different use-cases
  • Design of flashlight makes it hard to stand on its own end
More Details

If you're looking for a bright flashlight that checks multiple boxes, this one from Fenix is a great pick. Short said it falls into the EDC, pocket, and tactical flashlight categories and can be utilized as each type. 

"I've used [the Fenix PD35R] while walking around at night and had it light a path for me, and at the same time, it could have been used for shining it in someone's eyes if they tried to harm you in some way, or possibly rob you," Short said. "In other instances, I have used it for looking under the couch in my house for a toy my little girl has 'tragically' lost and is in dire need to find." 

The flashlight has six light modes, including Eco mode, which outputs a small number of lumens (10 lumens) but can run for up to 100 hours. If you're using the brightest setting on turbo mode, however, you'll still get a decent usage time of about two hours and 15 minutes. 

Customers who have bought and used this flashlight say it is "rugged, bright, and effective."

Fenix PD35R tech specs: Lumens: 1,700 lumens | Beam distance: 1,158 feet | Peak beam intensity: 31200cd | Battery life: 100 hours on Eco mode | IP Rating: IP68

What is the world's brightest flashlight?

The world's brightest flashlight is currently the Imalent MS32 which has a maximum output of 200,000 lumens that can reach up to 5,308 feet. This crazy bright flashlight also has a heat pipe cooling system that uses cooling fans for ensured safety.




Beam distance

Imalent MS32


Up to 200,000 lumens

5,308 feet

Imalent SR16


Up to 55,000 lumens 

5,627 feet

Olight Marauder 2


Up to 14,000 lumens

2,625 feet

TrustFire DF50


Up to 6,500 lumens

345 feet

Fenix PD35R


Up to 1,700 lumens

1,158 feet

Which bright flashlight is right for you?

Every flashlight on this list is bright, and some emit more lumens than others. The best bright flashlight for you really depends on the size you're looking for, and how much you're willing to spend.

Choose this bright flashlight...

If you want...

Imalent MS32

The brightest flashlight overall. The Imalent MS32 is for flashlight enthusiasts willing to spend $800 on a flashlight.

Imalent SR16

A flashlight built for outdoors situations. It gets up to 55,000 lumens, but can sustain 11,000 lumens for almost an hour.

Olight Marauder 2

A flashlight with a great battery life that can also charge other devices with its battery pack. It has two modes: spotlight and floodlight.

TrustFire DF50

Something for photography. It has red and UV light to shine light in extra dark places, like underwater or in a cave.

Fenix PD35R

An affordable flashlight with versatile uses. This flashlight has six light modes. 

Factors to consider when choosing the brightest flashlight

If you're looking to buy a bright flashlight, you should consider the following: 

  • Lumens: Look at each flashlight's lumen counts, paying attention to higher lumens that shine bright. Remember to be mindful that the lumens claimed by manufacturers are not always 100% certain. 
  • Beam distance: Light won't matter if it can't go far. Consider each flashlight's beam distance to ensure the top picks had long throws. 
  • Durability: The brightest flashlights should be built with ruggedness and durability in mind, since their use-cases are mostly for the outdoors. 
  • Price: While the brightest flashlight in the world is expensive at $800, there are more affordable options for different price points. 

How did we choose the best and brightest flashlights?

ZDNET ranked the brightest flashlights by researching each flashlight extensively and spending time reading real customer reviews of each product (both the good, and the bad). We also sought out and spoke to experts such as flashlight enthusiasts and collectors, survivalists, and explorers who have personally used these flashlights and recommend them. 

What are lumens?

A lumen is a unit of measurement for the intensity of the light coming out of a flashlight. A high lumen output means that the flashlight shines bright. 

These brightest flashlights emit the most lumens of all flashlights on the market, when on the brightest setting, although many have multiple brightness options.

Keep in mind that many flashlight manufacturers exaggerate their claimed lumens, and the lumen output may vary depending on your use case with the flashlight. 

How many lumens does a good flashlight emit?

The average flashlight emits about 100 lumens. However, any "good" flashlight worth buying will be greater than 1,000 lumens. It really depends on how you will be using your flashlight, and you probably don't need the world's brightest flashlight to look under the seats of your car. 

Is brightest always best?

Bright flashlights that have a high lumen output are good for some scenarios, but they are most certainly not always the best. Short said super bright flashlights can actually make it harder to see. 

"Brightest isn't always best for a lot of people. When flashlights are really bright, you get a lot of the beam shining off of things and back towards you, sometimes making it hard to see," he said. 

Poulson agrees and said that a higher lumen count will drain your flashlight's battery quicker. 

"12,000 lumens do me little good if I can only use it for an hour or so. If I can get all-day use out of a 1,000-light, then that's what I want," he said. "Also, a rechargeable battery is far more valuable to me than one that takes non-rechargeable ones. The way I use them, it would cost too much to have to replace batteries." 

However, use cases for a bright flashlight still exist, and you may find yourself needing the brightest in a situation. 

"[Bright flashlights] could be used by a search and rescue scenario where you need to illuminate a wide broad surface area," Short added. "You could also use a high lumen output light for self-defense to temporarily blind an attacker so you can remove yourself from a potentially horrible and scary situation."

What is an EDC flashlight?

EDC stands for everyday carry, and these flashlights are characteristically smaller than other models and can easily fit in your pocket. EDC lights are also known for being durable and have waterproof and shockproof features. 

Are there alternative bright flashlights worth considering?

The market is flooded with flashlights, but not all are as bright as they claim. Here are a few other trustworthy options to consider:

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

Meet the experts

ZDNET sourced external industry experts for this article. Here is more information about them:

  • Jason Hitchcock: Founder of Survival Stoic. He has an engineering degree, a problem-solving background, and has enjoyed being an outdoorsman for over 45 years.
  • Steven Short: A flashlight enthusiast and who reviews flashlights and everyday carry (EDC) items on his YouTube channel. He currently has over 170 videos. 
  • Nick Poulson: An avid flashlight collector and abandoned mine explorer. He has his own YouTube channel with more than 4.5K subscribers where he explores old mines. 

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