This is my first review of a Fenix headlamp, supplied by Tinydeal.com. The HP30 is a higher-end model from Fenix that has been available since early this year (2014).
The HP30 is distinctive for its belt-attached battery compartment (2x18650), and its ability to recharge common USB devices directly from the battery compartment. Since it appears that this USB-charging battery compartment will be available on a number of new models, I thought you might like to see how it performs.
Manufacturer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- Utilizes Cree XM-L2 LED
- Output/Runtime: Turbo 900 Lumens – High 500 Lumens / 3hr50min – Mid 200 Lumens / 12hr – Low 65 Lumens / 32hr40min – Eco 4 Lumens / 300hr – SOS 200 Lumens
- Beam Intensity: 13,538cd
- Beam Distance: 233m
- Uses two 18650 batteries or four CR123A batteries
- Light size：69.9mm (Length) ×55.9mm (Width) ×43.8mm (Height)
- Battery box size：116.6mm (Length) ×56.3mm (Width) ×29.6mm (Height)
- 276.5-gram weight (excluding batteries)
- Digitally regulated output maintains constant brightness
- Lockout function – prevents the light from accidental activation
- Detachable diffuser lens
- Remote battery case with USB output
- 60-degree tilt mechanism
- Reverse polarity protection guards against improper battery installation
- Made from durable aluminum alloy and performance plastic
- Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
- Impact resistant: 1m
- Waterproof: IPX-6
- MSRP: $90
The packaging is a sturdy box with specs print on the outside. Inside, in cut-out foam, are all the component pieces: headlamp head with cables, head straps, battery compartment, removable diffuser cover (with flip), extra o-rings, headband clips for holding the wire, product insert and multi-language manual.
From left to right: AW Protected 18650 2200mAh; Fenix HP30; Petzl Tikka XP; Olight H15S; Spark ST5.
All dimensions directly measured:
Fenix HP30: Head unit alone: 99g, Head unit with diffuser, head strap and wire: 169g, Battery compartment alone: 129.4g, Battery compartment with 18650 batteries 219g, complete unit (with headband, compartment and batteries): 388g
Nitecore HC50: Weight 85.4g, Length: 86.0mm, Width (widest) 36.4mm
Olight H15S Wave: (1xLi-ion, 4xAAA): Head alone: 42.2g, Battery compartment alone: 31.0g, Battery compartment alone with OPS-H15S Li-ion battery: 58.3g, Battery compartment alone with 4xAAA: 77.3g, complete unit (with basic headband and Li-ion battery): 118.1g
Petzl Tikka XP2 (3xAAA): 52.3g, 88.4g with batteries
Skilhunt H02: Weight: 61.3g, Length: 110.8mm, Width (widest): 28.0mm
Spark ST5 (1xAA): Weight, 41.5g, Length 58.4mm, Width 42.8mm (max body), Width 24.0mm (bezel)
Zebralight H31w (1xCR123A): Weight: 28.6g, Length 66.9mm, Width (bezel) 22.1mm.
One of the key points to note above – the headlamp alone weighs much more than typical for this class. This is due to the use of metal in the casing (to provide proper heatsinking). This should allow for sustained higher output performance. Note that overall weight is still fine, as the battery compartment has been off-loaded to the belt-attachement.
This is a substantial headlamp – and a quality one in my opinion.
Many headlamps that I have used have a cheap plastic feel to them, which raises concerns about long-term stability. The HP30 feels like what you would expect from Fenix – a solid headlamp unit (with metal components), and good quality head straps. The headlamp angle mechanism is firm, with well-defined detents as you adjust the headlamp relative to its attachment base. Note that there are two body color choices when choosing the model – gray (as shown here) and orange.
Controls on the headlamp are easy to access – accept when the headlamp is angled fully straight ahead (there is a plastic "lip" to the attachment base that covers the buttons, presenting accidental mode changes). The rest of the time, there are two buttons – an elongated gray one for on/off and mode level changes, and a raised orange one for momentary Turbo mode. Both are electronic. Scroll down for a discussion of the user interface.
Given the headlamp nature of the light, it makes sense to me to keep Turbo restricted to momentary access.
The headband itself is well-made, with good quality stitching. I particular like the nice touches like the extra clips (to keep the power wire under control). The connection point of the wire to the battery pack is solid (although I would have liked a screw-down connector instead of the clip-together style). The wire itself is fairly stiff - a coiled spring-style cable might also have been good, although I found the included length fine for my above-average height.
The 2x18650 battery compartment has been offloaded to a separate belt attachment. Although I suppose you may be able to jury-ring something to the back of the headband, this design is really meant for belt/pocket carry of the battery compartment.
The compartment is solid, and I like the removable metal holster (i.e., you don't need to use it). One thing to keep in mind is the battery orientation – despite how it looks, the cells are arrange in series. Given the symmetrical design however, you need to make sure you follow the + and – label instructions on the base and head of the compartment when inserting cells. Since the cells can fit either orientation, you run the risk of reversing (or cross-connecting them) if you are not careful.
There is a central screw on the top cover compartment – this is what keeps the lid tight against the body, allowing contact and operation. Tension can be a bit stiff (especially when using longer batteries), so I recommend you manually hold the lid part down over the bottom compartment when tightening or loosening the screw. There is an o-ring here for waterproofness. Note that I found thicker high capacity cells could be a tight squeeze inside the compartment.
There is a small button on the head – press it once to display the charge capacity of the installed batteries (1-4 blue LEDs will light up). To use the remote USB-charging feature, press and hold this button for 3 seconds (lights will flash in sequence).
Under the side-mounted rubber cover on the lid of the battery compartment is a standard USB port. When in the mode to accept remote charging, simply plug any standard USB-rechargeable device.
As you can see, the battery compartment can easily charge up to the standard USB 2.0 specs of 5V and up to 500mA. This is a great feature if you are in a remote environment and decide that using your cell phone is more important than the headlamp.
As an aside, there are number of USB charging devices out there that will exceed the USB 2.0 spec, and charge up to 1A (for a faster charge). While I don't recommend exceeding specs, I notice the HP30 will allow charging up to this level on devices that request it:
The HP30 comes with a basic – but functional – flip-style diffuser cover
Let's take a closer look at the business end of the light:
The HP30 has a good size smooth white reflector, with a cool white XM-L2 at the base (well centered on my sample). Combined with the diffuser cover, you have a lot of flexibility here in the beam pattern.
Turn the light On by a single click of the gray electronic switch (i.e., rapid press release). Turn the light Off by a sustained press-hold of the switch for ~1 sec.
There are four main output levels controlled by a click of the gray electronic switch. Mode sequence is Eco > Lo > Med > Hi, in a repeating loop. The light has mode memory, and retains the last level set when you turn it Off/On.
There is a momentary Turbo mode, accessible from On or Off, by a press-hold of the raised orange electronic switch. Release to turn off Turbo.
When On, press and hold the main gray switch for ~3 secs to activate SOS mode. There is no typical strobe mode on the HP30. Click to exit SOS and return to the memorized constant On mode.
Note that this interface is different from most lights, in that you need a sustained press to turn off, and a simple click to change modes. On many lights, it is the other way around.
You can lock out the headlamp by disconnecting the power cable.
For information on the DS-series lights and the H02 - including the build and user interface - please see my video overview:
As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.
Like most Fenix lights, the HP30 is current-controlled – there no indication of pulse width modulation on any level. :thumbsup:
I did observe some faint circuit noise on the Med/Hi levels, but this not visually detectable in the beam. Again, it is quite common to see circuit patterns on current-controlled lights. Consistent with my standard review policy, I report on anything I can measure. But rest assured, it is not PWM, and it is not visible (i.e., the HP30 is fully flicker-free in all modes).
A fairly standard SOS mode is available.
As the headlamp switches are electronic in a nature, a standby current drain is always present when batteries are installed. With the headlamp unit attached, I measured the total standby drain as 101uA. For standard 3100mAh cells, that would mean your batteries would be fully drained in about 3.5 years. Not much of a concern – and you can always disconnect the cable to prevent accidental activation and lower this drain even further.
Without the headlamp unit attached, there is still a small standby drain (due to the button for the battery charge and USB-charging features). However, this drain is lower, at 39uA. As such, you could expect 9 years before fully-charged batteries would be drained – which is definitely not a concern.
For white-wall beamshots below, all lights are on Max output on their respective battery source (AW protected 18650 for the HP30). Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall). Automatic white balance on the camera, to minimize tint differences.
Note the HP30 is on its highest level for these beamshots (i.e. Turbo).
Let's start with a comparison with and without diffuser:
Due to up-close distance, this doesn't really show off the diffuser well. In real life, it provides a fairly typical level of diffuse white light.
And now a comparison to some headlamps I've tested:
The HP30 is clearly capable of greater max output than the other headlamp models tested above. It is also a lot throwier without the diffuser cover in place. oo:
Scroll down for actual beam distance and output measures.
All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.
I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.
Throw/Output Summary Charts:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).
As expected, the HP30 is the highest output (and furthest throwing) headlamp I've tested (on Turbo). Not shown above, but for the constant output Hi mode, output is ~550 estimated lumens, and peak beam distance is 9,300cd (193m beam distance) – which is still impressive (especially for throw).
The lowest output level is reasonable, but it is still not a true "moonlight" level (i.e., I can see why Fenix calls this "Eco" mode instead). Not sure why Fenix can't/won't produce lower Lo modes on their various models (i.e., other current-controlled makers seem to accomplish this regularly). :shrug:
Here are the lumen estimates for all levels:
It's a good range of outputs. And as usual, Fenix seems very accurate in their output specs. :wave:
All my 18650 runtimes are done on AW 18650 protected 2200mAh cells. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan.
Let's start with a comparison to other recent headlamps I've tested:
I've thrown in a protected NCR18650A (3100mAh) on the Hi mode run above for comparison purposes. Note that I haven't done a Turbo run, as this is a momentary-only mode.
Max levels (i.e. Turbo and Hi) are consistent with other 18650 headlights. But of course, runtime (and flat regulation) will last for a lot longer on the HP30, thanks to 2/4x batteries. There are defined step-downs to lower levels as the batteries run out of power, giving you plenty of advance warning to change batteries.
Overall output runtime efficiency seems excellent. But to really compare, I'll have to bring some other 2x18650 lights into the mix:
As expected, the HP30 output/runtime efficiency is consistent with an excellent current-controlled circuits. :thumbsup:
Due to the use of 2x18650 (allowing for higher output and greater runtime), the relatively heavy battery compartment has to be carried separately from the headlamp unit. This means that there is a necessary cord running between the two units. The cord is fairly stiff on my sample, but long enough to be used comfortably at my 6-foot-2 height.
The battery compartment is designed to be carried on a belt, or in a pocket – it is not meant to be carried on the back of the headband. While you could potentially jury-rig something for this, the extra weight of this particular carrier (and cord length) would likely make it ungainly.
As with most headlamps, the HP30 uses electronic switches and therefore requires a small stand-by current. Similarly the USB-charging and battery capacity-checking features also require a small standby current. However, these standby drains were both negligible, and the headlamp drain can be easily disconnected (see discussion above).
Accidental activation is always a potential concern with electronic switches. However, the protective "lip" on the headlamp attachment base should help limit this.
Turbo output is momentary only (although this is reasonable to me, given the high output level).
Lo mode is lower than many Fenix lights, but still not a true "moonlight" mode.
The HP30 is a quality headlamp, intended for people who actually need to use a headlamp in whatever activity they are doing. :wave:
I find a lot of headlamps are really after-thoughts for most makers. Even the dedicated headlamp makers tend to produce a much greater number of, shall we say, "budget-conscious" models. The implication of this is that for most people, a headlamp is a nice-to-have convenience – but not a serious tool. And there is nothing wrong with that – one year at Christmas I gave out a dozen <$3 headlamps to friends and family, and they all loved them (particularly the red light option – it looked like the Borg had invaded my home). :laughing:
The HP30 fills a niche at the higher-end of headlamps. It is a solid unit (note the battery-free HP30 headlamp unit is about twice the weight of typical headlamp – due to the metal framing/heatsinking). The separated battery pack is not going to be everyone's preference – but combined with the quality headlamp unit, this allows for greater output and runtime, compared to traditional models. One place where I can see this unit doing really well is for bike riders, especially with the nice throwy beam (with option for full flood by flipping down the diffuser cover). :thumbsup:
One thing I really like about this model is the ability to charge USB-devices right from the battery compartment. In an emergency situation, you may find it more useful to cannibalize battery life from your 2x18650 cells to support your cell phone.
Performance is exactly as you would expect for a 2x18650/4xCR123A light from Fenix – excellent output-runtime efficiency, and a good spacing of levels. :thumbsup: Although I'm glad to see the addition of the "Eco" low mode here, I'm still puzzled as to why Fenix doesn't move to true moonlight options. I would also like to have seen a red emitter option for true low-light level work, as this is something I tend to use a lot in any field work. I understand a red LED will be an option on the soon-to-be-released Fenix HP40, which shares the same battery pack design (although that light is likely to have less white throw, due to the dual-emitter head).
Speaking of the battery pack, I would also like to see a revised battery compartment orientation (i.e., it is too easy to put the cells in wrong here – you need to pay careful attention). But the battery compartment design itself is sturdy, and I particularly like the removable clip design. The remarkably low standby drain (and battery voltage checker) are also appreciated.
I realize not everyone is in the market for such a dedicated headlight tool. But if you have serious hands-free needs, I think the HP30 is a good light to consider. :thumbsup:
Fenix HP30 was supplied by Tinydeal.com (SKU: HLT-285782)