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When we were contacted by Imalent, asking if we’d like to review the MS18, a smile appeared on my face. I knew the brand, and the MS18 flashlight, from various forums, subreddits, and YouTube videos, where people were demoing its incredible brightness.
And now, thanks to the kind people from Imalent, I, too, was able to get my hands on the brightest flashlight in existence.
The Imalent MS18 is a monster. It’s big, it’s heavy, and it pushes the boundaries of LED and battery technologies. While its dimensions aren’t exactly compact, it’s still remarkable how the engineers from Imalent were able to pack so much power into a hand-held torch. This definitely required ingenious engineering. After all, there’s no other manufacturer that makes a 100,000 lumens flashlight.
I’ve had this flashlight for a while now and used it both in everyday situations, and to impress my friends. Every single one of them was flabbergasted when they saw it in action. With time, and on a word-of-mouth basis, more and more friends have requested to see it.
So, let’s dig in to the MS18, and find out what makes it so special.
In This Article
- What’s in the Box
- Main Features and Technical Specifications
- Output Modes, Lumens, Runtimes
- The Beam
- The MS18 in Detail
- Operation / User Interface
- Uses For The MS18
What’s in the Box
The box itself is made out of strong cardboard and has a faux leather finish. It has a sturdy carry handle, and it closes with two metal clasps.
Apparently, the earlier versions of the box had a magnetic closure, then they were upgraded to a single clasp, and the current versions come with two clasps. This upgrade was introduced after some customers reported that they didn’t feel confident carrying the flashlight with such a flimsy closure. I haven’t seen the previous versions, but the current version is definitely very robust, and the clasps hold the carry box firmly closed.
The box itself contains:
- Imalent MS18 flashlight
- Two spare O-rings
- Shoulder strap
- User manual
Main Features and Technical Specifications
Let’s list all the main features before we go into more detail:
- 18 American CREE XHP70 (2nd Gen) LEDs, with a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, and a maximum output of 100,000 lumens (throw distance 4,430 ft / 1,350 m)
- Battery pack with eight (8) 21,700 high-performance lithium-ion cells (32,000 mAh)
- OLED info display
- Switch indicator light
- 8 output modes + strobe
- Memory mode function (it will always turn on in the same mode as it was turned off)
- Integrated self-testing, intelligent charging circuit, for fast and safe charging
- High-efficiency circuit for maintaining constant current supply (no flickering)
- Thermal control system (copper heat pipe radiator) that adjusts the brightness output to keep the temperature at a safe operating level
- Ultra-clear mineral glass, and anti-reflective coating
- Multi-parabular reflector with OP (Orange Peel) treatment
- Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy body, with Type III hard-anodized surface treatment
- Impact resistance up to 4,9 ft / 1,5 m
- Dimensions: Length: 10.4 in / 26,5 cm; Head diameter: 5 in / 12.9 cm; Body diameter: 2.3 in / 5.9 cm
- Weight: 4.18 lbs / 1.9 kg
- IP rating (intrusion and moisture protection): IP56
- Can tail stand
Output Modes, Lumens, Runtimes
The MS18 has 8 output modes, as well as a strobe function.
- Low: 700 lumens, runtime 14 h 52 m
- Middle Low: 2,000 lumens, runtime 9 h 15 m
- Middle I: 5,000 lumens, runtime 6 h 50 m
- Middle II: 10,000 lumens, runtime 3 h 40 m
- High I: 22,000 lumens, runtime 67 min
- High II: 30,000 – 25,000 lumens, runtime 3,8 min + 60 min
- High III: 60,000 – 25,000 lumens, runtime 70 sec + 55 min
- Turbo: 100,000 – 25,000 lumens, runtime 60 sec + 52 min
At the max output of 100,000 lumens, the throw distance is an impressive 4,430 feet / 1,350 meters!
Related: 9 Brightest Flashlights in the World
If you’re new to high-performance flashlights, you may wonder why there are different lumen and runtime values starting at the “High II” output mode. That’s because high-performance flashlights get very hot, near or at their maximum outputs, so they need to drop the output power, after a certain amount of time, to cool down. Failing to do so could result in a damaged flashlight and burned hands.
It’s worth noting that some reviewers who specialize in flashlight reviews and possess high-end lux meters for measuring actual vs. declared outputs, have noticed some discrepancies. The discrepancies range from approximately +20% to -20% actual values, compared to declared values. But that’s to be expected with all high-performance flashlights, with some faring better, and some faring worse.
Discrepancies or not, the outputs are mind-blowingly impressive. The MS18 is optimized for providing ultra-bright light for a long period (25,000 lumens for a full hour). If that’s not enough, you can plug in the charger (if on a worksite, for example), and it will continue to shine for several more hours (note that the flashlight drains more power than the charger can provide).
Let’s jump straight to the beam before we cover anything else. After all, this is what we’re most interested in.
My version has a cool white beam color, but there’s also a warm white version available. If you happen to own an MS18, and you’re not sure which version you have, just check the tailcap. The “warm white” version has an extra “W” next to the model number. Mine doesn’t, so it’s a “cool white” version.
The head of the flashlight is massive and contains 18 CREE XHP70.2 (2nd Gen) LEDs. The reflector is multi-parabolic and has an orange peel (OP) finish. The OP finish, compared to the smooth reflector finish, is bumpy, and grainy looking.
This type of reflector helps to disseminate the beam, allowing the light to spread wider. And indeed, the MS18’s beam is very wide, with the central area being the brightest.
To make sure that nothing obstructs the light, Imalent uses an ultra-clear mineral glass, with an anti-reflective coating.
The max output is, as already mentioned a few times, 100,000 lumens, but you’ll be able to enjoy it for only about a minute before it drops down a notch, and eventually to 25,000 lumens. Still, that’s about as many as 6 to 12 car headlights on full beam (the max output of 100,000 lumens is equal to about 25 to 50 car headlights on full beam).
All this power needs some serious cooling. The cooling fan will kick in at 22,000 lumens and higher modes, but more about that later.
For now, check out this video that I recorded while using the flashlight in various locations.
The MS18 in Detail
The build quality of the MS18 is exceptionally good. The whole flashlight is finely machined, and it can easily match the superb quality of some of their (maybe better known) competitors, such as Olight and Fenix.
For such a big flashlight, it made sense to use an aerospace-grade aluminum alloy, with type III hard-anodized surface treatment. This type of aluminum is not only stronger than most types of steel, but it’s also much lighter. The hard-anodized finish creates a nice matt black look, makes the flashlight scratch-resistant, and improves its overall durability.
The knurling pattern on the body is shaped into squares, with horizontal and vertical grooves between them. Some have suggested that they may also serve as cooling fins, but they seem to be too shallow for that.
Holding the flashlight feels comfortable, even after a longer period, but I do wish that the handle was a bit more grippy. Nevertheless, the MS18 is designed for professional settings, and it would most likely be used with grippy gloves. Also, when it is attached to the shoulder strap that came with it, you don’t need to hold the flashlight tightly. Another thing that helps is how well balanced it is.
The flashlight is IP56 rated, and it has an impact resistance of 4.9 ft / 1.5 m. That’s very impressive for such a big flashlight. There are much smaller, feather-light flashlights that can’t survive a drop like that. The IP56 rating means that it’s not dust-tight, but it is dust-protected. Imalent could not make it dust-tight, simply due to the need for cooling fans. However, the flashlight can easily withstand heavy rain and “direct high pressure jets.”
The MS18 can be disassembled into two parts – the head and the body.
The Body / Battery
The body contains eight (8) 21,700 high-performance lithium-ion batteries with an approximate capacity of 32,000 mAh (115.2 Wh). The included 19V, 2.0A (38W) charger will charge up the battery in about 4 hours and 30 minutes.
The battery has a self-testing, intelligent charging circuit, which makes the charging process safe and efficient. The battery stays quite cool during charging – I never noticed any overheating.
On the tail of the battery, you will find the charging port hidden under the aluminum cover (it also doubles as a connection point for the shoulder strap), which you need to unscrew to access the port.
The red LED light is turned on while the battery is charging, and the green LED light will turn on when charging is complete.
Also, you can check the battery voltage at any time on the OLED screen. When fully charged, the screen will display 16.54 volts, and when the voltage drops to 11.6 volts or below, a blinking battery notification will appear, telling you to charge it up again.
The threads for the head of the flashlight are very well lubricated, and you won’t need to re-lubricate them any time soon.
Since the body is basically just a giant battery, everything else is contained in the head of the flashlight.
We’ve already covered the reflector itself, so let’s look at what else is there.
Thermal Control System / Copper Heat Pipe Radiator
The thermal control system is an active cooling system that utilizes copper heat pipes (which are filled with an undisclosed fluid), two fans, and copper heat sinks.
The fans are activated once you select the “High I” mode, or when the temperature reaches 158 °F / 70 °C. The fans start loud, and they get even louder as the lamp builds up heat. The head can get extremely hot, and it will easily burn your skin upon touching, so you need to be very careful.
If you put your hand close enough to the fans, you’ll feel how one fan sucks the cool air in, and the other blows the hot air out. The fans are, as mentioned, quite loud, and at first, scary sounding. But passive cooling could never provide enough temperature dissipation with so much energy being released.
The small OLED screen will display the following info:
- The lumen output and the battery voltage (these two values are interchanged every two seconds)
- Low battery warning
- “Fan only” mode (when activated)
- Lock / Unlock mode (open or closed padlock icon)
Since there are no commas between the lumen numbers, it’s sometimes difficult to read which output is active, when you take a quick look.
Switch Indicator Light
This little light, that helps you locate the power switch, can be turned on when the flashlight is off, by pressing and holding the power switch for 2 seconds.
If you forget to turn it off, it will switch off automatically after 3 hours.
Apparently, the indicator light wasn’t present on earlier models, but it was added after Imalent reviewed the user feedback.
The power switch is the only thing on this flashlight that I’m not that impressed with. It’s made out of metal, but for whatever reason, it’s quite flimsy, and the tactile feedback feels a bit cheap.
I know that this can be done better because I own several flashlights—among them a $30 keychain flashlight—which have perfectly solid power switches.
I’m sure that this will be sorted out for the next generation of MS18s, as Imalent takes user feedback seriously, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who feels this way about the power switch.
The bezel is mainly there to protect the ultra-clear glass. But in an emergency (to break a car window, for example) it would work like any other bezel.
Double Copper Spring
The back of the head has a short and thick copper spring, which is needed to handle all the power from the mega battery. A good spring will minimize the resistance as much as possible, conserve the power from the battery, and always return to its original length. Springs don’t look important, but they are, and I’m sure that Imalent spent a lot of time perfecting this one.
Operation / User Interface
The MS18 is operated with a single switch. Here’s how it works:
From “Off” mode:
- Single press to turn the flashlight on (it will turn on in the last mode that you used it in, excluding Strobe)
- Press and hold the switch for 2 seconds to turn on the switch indicator light
- Triple press to show the battery voltage
- Press 4x to activate the fan (if you need to cool down the flashlight quickly, which is recommended if you’ve been using it for a prolonged time)
- Press 5x to lock/unlock the flashlight (I recommend that you always keep it in locked mode when not in use)
From “On” mode:
- Press and hold to cycle through 7 brightness levels. There’s no way to cycle down, though. If you’re on “Middle I” mode (5,000 lumens), for example, and you want to go down a notch, you can’t. You have to go all the way up to 60,000 lumens before you are returned to the first mode (Low, 700 lumens). From there you need to work your way up again
- Double tap for Turbo
- When in Turbo, double-tap to enter Strobe. The strobe works at 100,000 lumens, so be extremely careful with it
As mentioned earlier, you can also use the flashlight while charging. This is a great feature that will come in handy on work sites.
Uses For The MS18
This flashlight produces more power than any other portable lighting device. It’s perfect for:
- Search and rescue on land and water
- Surveying of disaster sites
- Checking river embankments or dams, during the night
- Useful for cargo ships in the middle of the ocean
- Fishing and hunting
- Military operations
- Construction sites
- Cave exploration
- Emergency power during power outages
If you’re in a life and death situation, you can even use it to light a fire.
The MS18 is (relatively speaking) an expensive flashlight ($669.95 at the time of this writing), so it’s very reassuring that it comes with a 5-year warranty! That’s just another testament to its quality. The customer service is also friendly, and quick to respond.
The MS18 is a jaw-dropping flashlight. Everything about it is special. It’s big, it’s powerful, and it’s made to withstand the harshest conditions.
Every single friend or family member who saw this flashlight in action was stunned. Some still ask me to bring it out at night—to create daylight. After all, the “Tame The Sun” slogan isn’t there without reason.
But the MS18 wasn’t just made to show what is technologically possible, or to impress your friends (although, that’s a good use for it, too) – it was made with professionals in mind. There are many lines of work that will welcome a powerful and portable torch like this.
So, if you’re looking for a 100,000-lumen flashlight, there’s no other than the Imalent MS18.