A great deal can be said about having quick access to intensely bright light. Whether you're fending off an attacker in a dark alley by blinding him with a quick burst or searching for survivors of an office building collapse, sometimes only massive levels of illumination can get the job done adequately.
Eye-stinging devices come in all shapes and sizes. A spotlight mounted on a helicopter can definitely provide plenty of light for emergency uses, and even the high-intensity discharge headlamps of a vehicle could be a source of lighting in a pinch — but their lack of portability and their power requirements limit their practicality. Fortunately, there are high-lumen flashlights. These go-anywhere tools can be carried in a pocket, mounted on a belt, or stuffed into a pack to be used virtually anywhere. Plus, they use small disposable or rechargeable batteries that are readily available.
So what does “high lumen” mean? Lumens measure the amount of light produced by a light source. Generally speaking, the higher the lumen number listed for a flashlight, the brighter the light you can expect to see. There are some caveats to this rule, however.
There's currently no uniform method of measuring and listing lumen ratings. Flashlight manufacturers each have their own means of measuring lumens; so don't be surprised if a 700-lumen light seems to outperform one that is rated at 1,000 lumens. This is because, other than the lightbulb or emitter's brightness itself, a flashlight's reflector, delivered power, and lens quality can also affect how its beam of light is projected, perceived, and ultimately rated. For this reason, it's recommended that you do your homework before committing big bucks to one.
Thanks to constantly evolving technologies, there is an ever-flowing parade of flashlights that are or are nearly pocket-sized yet can blast many hundreds (if not thousands) of lumens of light at the push of a button. As daily users and avid enthusiasts of flashlights ourselves, we understand that it's easy to get caught up in the escalating lumen war that manufacturers are participating in. It's a great time to be a flashlight user, isn't it? Join us as we examine six portable flashlights that range in lumen rating from a squint-worthy 600 to a retina-searing 4,000.