I am of the mind that you can’t have too many headlamps. So when I received three of them for Christmas it was not a problem. Keep one in your vehicle. Keep one in the drawer by your bed. Keep one in your toolbox. You get the picture. Hands-free is the way to go. But when I received the Fenix HL60R headlamp for Christmas I was skeptical. I had never had a rechargeable headlamp before. Would it leave me in the dark and crying in the backcountry? Would the wolves have me surrounded, gnashing their teeth, just waiting for the last weak light to fade from my dying rechargeable?
My only request was a headlamp of good quality with at least 350 lumens. It came out of the package feeling a bit heavier than I was used to. Upon further inspection I saw that was because the lamp and battery case were made of metal. These, along with the battery itself, made up most of the weight and seemed like I could drive a truck over them. The only plastic was on the strap clips and the forehead plate. It had passed my first quality inspection.
The HL60R boasts six modes including a red light, and then ranging from a 5 lumen Eco mode all the way up to… wait for it… a 950 lumen TURBO mode. That’s right, TURBO. I had to try this right away so as soon as it was fully dark (which in northern Indiana in December is about 1:30 in the afternoon) I hiked along the paths behind my house for about 1 1/2 miles in TURBO mode. It lit up the night. I had become Cylcops, ready with my optic beam for that pack of wolves to creep out of the brush in front of me.
I hiked in TURBO for about 35 minutes with no battery issues and no wolves, though I did frighten a few bunnies and one guy whose vehicle had broken down on my road. The user manual states you can get up to 48 minutes of TURBO, so after my hike I made sure it had a full charge and then put in on a timer and left it on. I went about my business as it lit up a corner of the kitchen, checking on it occasionally. Some time later, my wife came into the bedroom and informed me that I had left my headlamp on and so she had turned it off some time ago.
I recharged again the next day, and turned on the TURBO again (after informing my wife of my new test). After more than 3 hours the lamp was still going, though it was nowhere near 950 lumens any more. The user manual lists outputs, run times, and distances as follows:
TURBO: 950 lumens, 48 minutes, 118 meters
High: 400 lumens, 3 hours, 76 meters
Mid: 150 lumens, 10 hours, 46 meters
Low: 50 lumens, 29 hours, 27 meters
Eco: 5 lumens, 100 hours, 8 meters
Red Light: 1 lumen, 100 hours
I put the Fenix to a real test in February in Colorado Bend State Park in Texas. My plane was delayed by eight hours, so by the time I picked up a rental car and drove the two hours to the park, it was 10:30 pm when I finally hit the trail. I had about 3 1/2 miles to hike in the dark, on strange terrain, to get to my campsite. It would be a good test for the Fenix. Fortunately the trail did not have any exposure and was relatively flat. I hiked with 400 lumen High mode, and could see just fine. A light mist was in the air, like I was walking through a cloud the entire time. This didn’t bother the Fenix which is waterproof to 2 meters.
I used my headlamp from about 10 pm Friday night when I parked, until 12:40 am when it was finally lights out. I used it again on Saturday night for some time in Low and Mid modes as I prepared pozole for dinner, followed by cinnamon chips, and banana nut bread pudding for dessert. Yes, two desserts. Don’t judge me. I had packed over fifteen miles that day so I was famished. On Saturday morning the Fenix was working hard again as I packed up and hiked out 4 miles, mostly in the dark.
For a short trip the HL60R got some good use without a noticeable diminishment in the beam. I had removed the top strap and never needed it, as the lamp stayed securely in place without it. Perhaps it would be useful for joggers. The only thing I didn’t test was the claim that it was shock resistant to 1 meter. I did not do a drop test thankfully. You can find slightly lighter and much cheaper headlamps, but if you plan to do any serious night work, the Fenix is a great addition to your gear.
Cost: $70 – $90 depending which battery package you get
Weight: 4.9 ounces
Dimensions: 3.4″ x 1.8″ x 2″
Things Not Yet Tried: Longevity and durability over multiple trips. Drop test. Use with regular batteries.
Would I Recommend: Definitely