Alfred North Whitehead, after working with Bertrand Russell on reforming the foundations of mathematics and logic, wrote a book called Process and Reality. It is a challenging book, both in terms of its language and its ideas, but the key notion of becoming is a fascinating way of looking at the world, a rewriting of the most basic notions of reality. For Whitehead, Western thought had long focused on the wrong idea--the permanence of things. Instead, for Whitehead, reality is marked by perpetual change.
And so it is with the Torchlab BOSS 35. This torch is a platform--a wonderful modular body tube with a bevy of accessories and interchangeable parts. It is also host to the most advanced and yet easy to use light engine in the world. And finally, in a coup de grace that puts the BOSS lights in a class of their own, the most sophisticated and customizable programming ever seen in a flashlight. The legendary Indium Smart (click here for more on this rarest and most legendary piece of gear) looks like a Model T compared to this Bugatti Chiron of a light. The beauty of the BOSS 35 is that it is a platform, like Whitehead's conception of reality, that is always in a state of becoming, and in this case, it is becoming better.
Be prepared for an abundance of superlatives. This is the best light on the market. This is the most advanced light on the market. Its the most advanced piece of gear on the market, excluding firearms and optics. Only a truly sophisticated pack from Mystery Ranch is even in the conversation. The BOSS 35 makes the Triple Ubers look like napped obsidian tools by comparison. And in fact, other than maybe the aforementioned Indium Smart, this is the most advanced light ever made, compared to other flashlights available at the time of its debut. The impressive thing is that while the Indium was a onesie or twosie kind of light, the BOSS is a small batch production light that Torchlab and Oveready have produced in regular numbers since the light's debut.
This is a perfect piece of kit. Make no mistake. I have carried and used this over the period of almost a year before I made that statement. But I took so long, not because it wasn't amazing from the outset, but because it took me that long to really learn the ins and outs of the light. I just recently used the programming features and they sealed the deal. Even WITHOUT the programmability, the BOSS 35 is the best light on the market. With it, it could very well be the best light on the market, performance-wise, for years to come. Be prepared, this review is 2,000 or so words of me totally geeking out.
Here is the product page. There are two battery formats--the BOSS 35 in 18350 and the BOSS 70 in 18650. All BOSS lights run white LEDs for primaries, but you can get secondary emitters in either red or amber. You can get it in cool, neutral, or Hi CRI (you know which I picked) primary emitters. There are a ton of material variants. I was lucky enough to score the original aluminum version in 7075 aluminum. There has been a run in vintage brass, another in vintage copper, and another run in black satin hard anodized aluminum. There are accessory crenellated bezels, extra clips, and lanyard beads. There are new parts--clickies, clicky covers, and screws (which are beautiful custom screws that still use regular torx bits...go figure). There is also a traffic wand diffuser. The heads are, of course, interchangeable between the 35 and the 70 and between material runs. You can mix and match, even making an Iron Man BOSS 35 in copper and brass. The aluminum version I got cost $392. Here is a written review. Here is a video review. Here is my video overview. The BOSS 35 is available only from Oveready.
And here is the review sample (purchased with my own money and mine to keep):
Twitter Review Summary: Unchallenged flashlight supremacy.
Serge over at Lux RC knows how to do a light engine (the emitters and CPU they are attached to). The latest version of the 371 light engine powers this light and it is amazing in terms of performance and flexibility. But, as with all great lights, you come for the lumens, revel in the programming, and stay for the perfect body tube. This is one of the best designed lights I have ever used, right up there with the HDS Rotary. Its also just the right size. Sure, its diameter at the widest point is significantly larger than the Aeon Mk. III, but its length isn't all that different, maybe a half inch. The BOSS 35 is quite short for a 1x18350 format light (an 18350 is the same length as a CR123a, but just a smidge fatter around). The entire light fits nicely in the palm of your hand.
Those are the big points. The small touches are just as cool. The standard bezel has light escapes cut into, giving you notice that the light is on even if its placed face down. The clip hits just in the right spot to accentuate the grip of the light. The length to diameter is just perfect, having that magic ratio that feels right in the hand and works in the pocket. And the Triad tailcap is the best tailcap ever made.
The performance numbers are meaningless because you can customize the output to be whatever you want.
Fit and Finish: 2
The threads are perfectly cut ACME threads. The clip screws are beautiful custom numbers with torx compatibility.
There is no slop or wiggle between body pieces. The trio of emitters, part of the Lux-RC light engine, are mounted and the optic is exceptionally clean. The finish to the aluminum is spectacular and full of character. Nothing on the BOSS 35 is short of perfect.
The Triad tailcap, previously seen on the Moddoolar, is simply the best tailcap in the world and that, combined with the tapered body tube, make this a light that stays put in the hand almost regardless of what comes your way. Its a lot of complex machining, to be sure, but the end result is the best body tube I have ever used and the best grip I have ever seen in a flashlight. Again, the BOSS 35 is top of the class.
The BOSS 35 is a bit too fat to comfortably fit in every jeans coin pocket. If it was small enough in that regard it wouldn't be as good in terms grip. Fortunately the BOSS 35 hangs on its clip, resting in the pocket perfectly. This is just about as nice as a light with a great grip can get. This is one place where I can see an argument to prefer a smaller light. That said, the size to versatility ratio of the BOSS 35 makes that a tough argument to win. This is also a clear upgrade over the BOSS 70, which is small for an 18650, but still a bit too big for pocket carry.
With a high that is more than half as bright as a car's headlight (hitting 1200 lumens) and a low that is less than 1 lumen, the BOSS 35's factory settings are damn near perfect. Note that the Hi CRI version here does take a visually noticeable hit in terms of lumens given how high the high is. Also note that the low is incredibly low given how high the high is, something I have seen on no other kilolumen light.
But just in case they aren't perfect for you, the light can be fully programmed. The number of options are insane. To program your BOSS 35 you need to go to the Lux RC website. By making this a web-based platform, the BOSS 35 can be programmed anywhere or on any type of computer, Mac or PC. First, you have 23 different output levels in four different slots. You can have it go L-M-H-Turbo, mimicking the factory settings. Or you can switch that around to your heart's content. Then you can add in a strobe if you want. Inside the strobe setting you can even set the speed of the strobe. You can choose an SOS mode. If you got a secondary LED (either red or amber) you can also program that in one of the four slots. Once you choose all of your modes, you receive a hyperlink. Following the link takes you to a video. Prior to hitting play you are given instructions to set your light into "receive" mode. Once you have confirmation of that via a few light pulses, you hold your light facing the computer screen and press play. The computer then displays a video of light pulses which are received by your light and tell it what programmed modes you want. Once this is finished your light is set in the user selected modes. This entire process is relatively simple and worked flawlessly. Even cooler is the fact that because you are sent a link to the programming video you can share that link with others, as one of my readers did. This lets you easily try out other programmed set ups.
Nothing comes close to this level of customizability and simplicity. Even the legendary Indium Smart had a cumbersome computer program and a USB connection. The BOSS 35's programming mode is all web based. Once you have a log in, you can program your light anywhere in the world so long as you have web access. The fact that you can easily share your set ups with others is cool. And the method of programming feels incredibly advanced, almost like your computer is sending subliminal messages to your flashlight. Alas, for all of this programming geekery, nothing I could come up with or that others sent me to try matched my needs like the factory settings. I went back to them after I played around. In all likelihood, I probably will never change them again, but if my needs change, its nice to know that I can. Flashlight programmability is a lot like moveable shelves on a bookcase--once you find your right setting your unlikely to ever change them again. But knowing you can is really great.
This level of programmability is really without peer and even without it, the outputs from the factory were perfect. I seriously considered breaking the scale here, this is the closest any gear has come to doing that, but in the end, what's the point? The score and the words should convey to everyone that this is the best light in the world.
Note that there are whole series of uber-pricey Lux RC lights that run this same light engine with the same programmability. They are all much more expensive and most have blinged out finishes that I find unsuitable for EDC use. Its nice to know they exist, in case, you know, I win the lottery. But for $400, which is about $200 to $1000 less than the other lights running this light engine, you get the exact same performance. Yep, this light is even a good value.
The Turbo doesn't last long because, from the factory, there are a large number of thermal protection precautions built into the light. A light this small at 1200 lumens gets incredibly hot, incredibly fast. In fact, in playing around with the light, I noticed that it got in hot water, it basically drops out of turbo immediately. I also noticed that when I buried the BOSS 35 in snow (see above), the Turbo stayed on longer. There is real thermal management built into this light. On low, the moonlight setting from the factory, the light can run for weeks on a single charge. And you can program both of these things, setting the thermal cap higher (though the programming warns you against doing this) and setting the battery sipping to a more efficient level. This light does anything and everything you want, and even if you don't want to fidget you will still be treated to performance that is at or close to best in the world.
Beam Type: 2
Three Hi CRI Nichia 219B emitters power my beast and the result is a beam that is not entirely flood. There is no reflector, only optics, but when you crank up the power on high you can hit stuff that is a good distance away. While some form of beam focusing could get you into mega throw territory, that adds length and weight to the light and the current set up of "flood plus" will work in 99% of EDC uses. Its not a spotlight, but with this much power it can function light one in a pinch. It would not be surprised to see a throw head released for the BOSS series somewhere down the line.
Beam Quality: 2
Of course the color rendering is great. And you'd expect nothing but smooth. artifact-free performance given the light's design heritage and light engine. For me, though, I was surprised at just how good the beam was. Typically these three emitter arrays give you some kind of artifacting, especially when used indoors, but here, you get perfect blending at about two feet. I am also pleased at the balance between hotspot and spill. The BOSS 35 gives you clean, accurate, useful light the entire way through its considerable output range, from .18 lumens on low all the way up to the face melting levels on high.
Whoops, this is a forward clicky and not the standard reverse clicky. This means that the switch is engaged when you start to push it, not when you release it after a full press. This is different than most lights and through me off a bit at first. Once I figured that out, I was fine and now I have come to prefer the forward clicky. It is both faster and more responsive. It happens to be quieter too. Aside from that change of pace, this is exactly like what you want--four modes, each accessed by a quick press, with mode memory and no baloney modes. You can, of course, program this little torch do just about anything, but doing so requires a computer and thus "falling" accidentally in to a weird mode is 100% impossible. This is a perfect UI.
Hands Free: 2
The Triad tailcap has long been the best tailcap on a flashlight, going all the way back to the Moddular light I reviewed so many years ago, which is something of a forerunner to the BOSS. It is as stable as a mountain and yet allows for super easy access to the the clicky. Thanks to a tapered body tube you can grab the light between the teeth, though I don't ever recommend this. Finally, even without the clip, the BOSS won't roll away. With it, the light is great. Like with every single category on the flashlight scale, the BOSS dominates its competition.
Overall Score: 20 out of 20, PERFECT
Of all the gear I own, this is the piece of kit I feel most confident in saying that I could sell everything else and be happy with just this light. I'd miss my Aeon and my heavily modified Surefire Titan Plus. Both are a bit better as pocket companions, but the BOSS 35 is very good in that department too, yet it has kilolumen performace and Borg-level programming to boot. Its simply amazing.
Other than limited availability, these gems sell fast on Oveready, there is literally no downside here, assuming of course, you are willing to pay $400 for a flashlight. That's a might big ask, but you are already reading this site so I assume your at least open to the idea. But really, what you get for $400 is a tremendous bargain. This is a light that in many ways has more in common with your uber advanced smartphone than it does with a flashlight. This level of performance in this fine a package is a damn near miracle level bargain at $400. This light is why enthusiast love gear--top flight performance, amazing looks, and great user customization. This is Alfred North Whitehead's light--it is always becoming something more than what you bought. And that, in the end, is why the BOSS 35 is my favorite piece of kit as of 2017.
Let's be clear--there is no competition. The BOSS stands on the peak of Everest and the rest of the flashlight market is still back at base camp. Even the high end, custom lights made of Moku Ti or Zirconium have a way to go to catch up, performance-wise.
In a world where I can own two nice lights, the Aeon Mk. III is an excellent alternative as a simple, small carry, with still the best in the world runtimes. But gun to my head, I think I'd choose the BOSS 35.
CORRECTION: There has yet to be a run of Ti BOSS 35 or 70s. I made the correction in the product page paragraph.