Review: Oveready BOSS 70 - the most expensive flashlight I've ever used

This Oveready BOSS was loaned to me by zeroair.

I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do for a review. Mine wouldn't have been as good as those in zeroair's review anyway. Note that it's exactly the same unit being reviewed in both.

Concept

The BOSS (Big Output Small Size) is a luxury EDC flashlight based on the Lux-RC 371D integrated light engine and a custom host built by Oveready. It's meant to be an ultra-high-output light, with its claimed output of 3498 lumens in the brightest configuration exceeding what's typical of hobbyist-built direct-drive triples using the same emitters. When the BOSS was first released, it would have been hard to find a factory EDC light claiming more output, as the Emisar D4 was not yet available. The price is $409 for the 18650-length aluminum version, making it the most expensive flashlight I've ever used.

I must admit I may not be the best at evaluating luxury product concepts, but I can say the concept here is subtle: a well-tailored suit rather than a huge gold chain, and I like that. There are 18650/2x18350 (BOSS 70) and 1x18350 (BOSS 35) bodies available separately.

Design

The BOSS is a triple-emitter light with a choice of Cree XP-L HI (~70 CRI) in 5700K, 4000K, 3000K or Nichia 219C (90+ CRI) in 4000K. There's a secondary emitter in a choice of red or amber. It uses the popular Carclo 10507 optic, so the beam pattern will be similar to many other EDC-size triples. Previously, "redomed" emitters where the original dome has been removed and replaced with something flatter have been available, and possibly some other options. This was a competitive emitter selection when the BOSS was released, but in 2019, it would be nice to see some of the more recent popular options like the Samsung LH351D and Luminus SST-20.

There's a glow in the dark O-ring in the head putting out a strong green glow after use. The switch is a McClicky from McGizmo. The body has an unusual shape, tapering gradually from the head to the tail, then flaring outward abruptly just before the tail. This shape provides excellent retention in the hand despite a smooth surface. This BOSS is satin-anodized aluminum, but several other materials are available including copper, titanium, and zirconium.

The driver has some uncommon features, including a unique optical programming system. A web application on the Lux-RC site allows customizing the set of modes (up to 4), low-voltage protection, mode memory, timed rampdown ("battery stretch") and "bounce" sensor to shut off the light if an object comes too close to the lens. The UI is a blink-to-change-mode design typical of mechanical switch lights. As the switch is a forward-clicky with half-press for momentary, it's easy to set the mode when first turning on the light, and less easy to change modes later.

Execution

I hereby retract every review I've written in which I said anything else was "well-machined". The construction of this host is amazingly precise. The threads are amazingly smooth. The anodizing is thick and smooth in a way that's hard to describe. I should note the longer body included with this light was actually a QC reject given to zeroair for testing purposes, but I couldn't find anything wrong with it. The machining standards must be very high indeed. The ergonomics, at least with the longer body, are perfect. The clip slides into the pocket easily, but has very strong retention. Everything about the host just feels well-done. It's quite compact as well for a light with a mechanical tailswitch.

But there are a lot of fancy hosts in the luxury flashlight market; what really sets the BOSS apart is the Lux-RC 371D driver. Unfortunately, that's where the BOSS falls short: full output in "30W" mode with XP-L HI emitters and two IMR 18350 cells is advertised as 3498 lumens. I measured 2236 lumens at 30 seconds. With a single Li-ion, max output is advertised as 2000 lm. I measured 1070 lm @ 30s. Efficiency on max mode with a single 18650 is a terrible 52 lm/W. Lower modes are as high as 111 lm/W, which isn't bad, but not what I expect from such an expensive light where a fancy buck/boost driver is a major selling point. The Thrunite TC15 is 1/8 the price and hits 141 lm/W in its 250 lumen medium and 110 lm/W at 1050 lumens on a single 18650.

I'll repeat that I probably don't have the right mentality to evaluate luxury products. The decision to buy a $400 EDC flashlight is going to be based primarily on aesthetic and emotional motivations, and my review style focuses primarily on functional use as an illumination tool. In that role, the BOSS is fine, but doesn't really stand out and falls well short of what it promises. As a luxury product... if it makes you happier than $400 does, I certainly won't try to talk you out of it.

Highlights

  • Spectacularly good build quality
  • Excellent ergonomics
  • One of the best pocket clips ever put on a flashlight
  • Beautiful satin finish
  • Common, easily changed/customized optics (this one had trits added to the legs)

Lowlights

  • Falls well short of advertised performance
  • Driver efficiency ranges from middling to terrible, especially on a single Li-ion cell
  • Emitter options are a bit dated in 2019; it would be nice to see the SST-20 and LH351D, perhaps the LH351C as well

Details and technical analysis

Versions

The BOSS comes in any combination of 18650/2x18350 or 1x18350, XP-L HI (neutral or warm) or 219C (neutral) and a choice of materials. Currently offered are satin black aluminum, brass, copper, and titanium. Raw aluminum and zirconium have been offered, and there have been other emitter options.

Accessories

The BOSS does not include any accessories, but some are available for purchase, including a disassembly tool and a cap to use a spare body as perhaps the world's most expensive battery carrier.

Modes and user interface

The usual UI table doesn't work well here. The BOSS uses a mechanical forward-clicky switch, where a half press supplies power momentarily and a full press locks it on. Briefly interrupting power advances to the next mode in the cycle. In practice, one accesses the desired mode form off by a series of half-presses followed by a full press. Changing modes while on requires switching the light off.

The modes are chosen using the Lux-RC optical programming website. There can be one to four modes, and those modes may consist of:

  • The red or amber secondary emitter on low output
  • SOS
  • 10 Hz strobe
  • A preprogrammed flashing beacon with the secondary emitter
  • A custom blinking mode with one or two flashes from the primary or secondary emitters, with custom on and off time
  • Any of 31 (on one cell) or 33 (on 2 cells) steady output levels

Additionally, the following may be configuired:

  • Memory - none, normal, or hybrid where last-used is remembered, but the mode after will be the first mode in the cycle
  • Low-voltage protection on or off
  • Low-voltage stepdown or constant output
  • "Bounce" - object proximity detection and sensitivity, to keep it from melting things

There are additional options intended to be set by the flashlight vendor. I did not explore trying to override them. They are:

  • Switch timing
  • Temperature limit
  • One-cell output limit
  • Two-cell output limit
  • Programming PIN code

Output and runtime

Notes: not all modes are included. Modes are given in claimed Watts, which do not match measured power consumption. Tests were conducted with a Sony VTC6 3000 mAh 18650 battery, except where "18350" is noted. 18350 tests were conducted with Aspire "1300 mAh" (actual capacity ~1150 mAh) 18350 batteries.

Mode Advertised Lumens Estimated Lumens Percent of claim Estimated throw (FL1 meters)
3W 346 156 45 56
4W - 226 - 68
5.4W - 346 - 81
6.5W 758 440 58 95
8.8W - 590 - 110
17W 1933 1070 55.3 148
30W 3498 2236 63.9 217
Mode Estimated lumens Graph Advertised Runtime Time to 80% Time to 50% Time to 10% Tailcap current (mA) Efficiency (lm/W)
3W 156 - - - - 9 hours 338 111
4W 226 - - - - 6 hours 491 111
5.4W 320 - - - - 4 hours 703 110
6.5W 440 graph - 111 minutes 111 minutes 111 minutes 1014 94.7
6.5W (2x18350) 440 graph - 99 minutes 99 minutes 99 minutes 1014 107.8
8.8W 590 - - - - 2 hours 1457 98
17W 1070 graph 75 minutes 32 minutes 32 minutes 32 minutes - 52.4
30W (2x18350) 2236 graph 20 minutes 6 minutes 22 minutes 22 minutes - 81.3

Where a graph is present, efficiency and runtime numbers are derived from the graph. Where absent, they are estimated from power consumption measured with a full, or near-full battery and do not account for the effect of battery voltage on driver efficiency.

Since a smartphone and a shoebox may not be the most accurate optical instrument, I also measured intensity (11786 cd @ 0s) and got the throwiness of the 10507 with XP-L HI from maukka: 5.1 cd/lm. That's 2311 lm@0s. zeroair measured 11774 cd@30s, for 2308 lm@30s. My measurment of 1070 lm on a single cell does fall a bit short of zeroair's 6658 cd = 1305 lm.

By way of comparison, I measured 54 lm/W from my Astrolux S41/219B in its 1010 lumen mode (one down from max). The S41 has an extra emitter, but 219Bs are known for beauty, not efficiency, and FET drivers are quite inefficient. The Lumintop FW3A, having the same number and type of emitters as this BOSS measured 81 lm/W in its max-regulated (~800lm) mode.

Light quality

This BOSS is an XP-L HI triple with a Carclo 10507 optic. The beam is the same as others with the same emitters and optic: stronger in the center, but no real hotspot, or alternately a giant hotspot with no real spill. There are mild artifacts. The tint is great on a white wall: 4000K and slightly rosy with no significant tint shift or off-colors. I was very aware of the low-ish CRI outdoors, but a high-CRI emitter option is offered.

Construction

The machining of the BOSS is spectacular - the best I've seen in a flashlight. Everything fits perfectly and looks amazing. The threads are silky smooth. I'm running out of superlatives.

I don't see a waterproofing claim on the product page. I did not perform an immersion test, as this light is very expensive and not mine. I do expect it's waterproof.

Ergonomics

The BOSS ergonomics are very good. The taper of the light from the head to just before the flared tail lock the light into the hand without the need for rough textures. The ramp and tension of the pocket clip are great. The flared base allows a cigar grip.

Batteries

With the 70mm body, the BOSS can use one 18650, two 18350, 16340, or CR123A batteries. With the 35mm body, the BOSS can use one 18350, 16340, or CR123A. High-drain batteries are recommended. Correct operation on CR123A requires a different configuration using the webapp and results in reduced output.

Modification potential

This BOSS was modified with tritium vials in the optic legs and a glow in the dark switch boot. As emitters are integral on the driver, emitter swaps without changing the driver are very difficult, though the entire driver package is available for purchase. Optic swaps are easy, and Oveready sells a tool to make removing the bezel without marring it easier.