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Thread: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

  1. #1

    Default Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    I'm reassessing my lighting needs and I'm looking to be in the market for a new headlamp. My existing headlamp is an older Black Diamond Vectra IQ hybrid headlamp:

    - 4AA
    - Roughly 9.1 ozs. with batteries
    - fairly large
    - I have a couple annoyances that I've just lived with

    I'm new to the community here and never heard of Fenix, Zebralight, or many others until I came here. What is the overall opinion of the Fenix HL35? It appears to get good reviews and ticks most of my boxes:

    - Brighter than the Vectra (by a lot!)
    - Lighter than the Vectra (by a couple ounces)
    - Sealed unit - no wire to a battery pack on the back
    - Red or dim lighting preserve night vision (for early mornings into the deer blind)
    - AA battery compatible (I like using equipment that has redundancy with batteries from other gear; I don't have anything against more specialized batteries [eg. CR123] other than they can be hard to find and I own nothing else that uses them)
    - Reportedly, minimal or no battery drain when off (Vectra will kill batteries with its constant locator LED blinking if I leave the batteries in)
    - Has the overhead strap (sometimes the headband-only headlamps shift around on my pin-head)



    The Vectra will become my "beater" headlamp for around the house (chores, car repair, etc.) where a nicer light stands the risk of being damaged.

    The other Fenix headlamp that caught my attention was the HL60R but I'm not sure how I feel about a strictly rechargeable battery (or use CR123). Using AA Eneloops with the option to use any off the shelf AA in a pinch makes me feel less pigeon-holed. Plus the HL60R cost is much higher.

    My uses are for pretty much....everything - hunting, fishing, camping, night chores, hiking, maybe some biking (road and mtn), taking the garbage out, running, cross-country skiing, alpine touring, and anything else that I could use a headlamp for.

    My basis for comparison are current offerings by Black Diamond (Storm and Spot). I can get the BDs at a discount but I'm also looking at new flashlight to carry in my work bag (eyeing a Fenix LD12) so I wanted to vet the Fenix options and take advantage of the $20 off 100 promo they are offering if I buy enough. I've read some reviews/articles claiming that headlamp companies tend to be good making headlamps (and make a poor flashlight) and flashlight companies tend to be good at making flashlights (and make poor headlamps). I don't know if such a statement holds true for Fenix; from what I can tell, they focus more on flashlights.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by zanq; 05-12-2017 at 11:58 AM.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* hiuintahs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by zanq View Post
    .......I've read some reviews/articles claiming that headlamp companies tend to be good making headlamps (and make a poor flashlight)
    Ya, I'd say that may be the case. However some don't even make great headlamps.

    Quote Originally Posted by zanq View Post
    and flashlight companies tend to be good at making flashlights (and make poor headlamps). I don't know if such a statement holds true for Fenix; from what I can tell, they focus more on flashlights.Thanks!
    My feel is that the companies that have made great flashlights end up making great headlamps too because the years of experience with innovation, designing efficient drivers, etc just carries over into their headlamps. Headbands and that mechanical part of the headlamp could be better than flashlight companies, but I doubt their electronics and driver efficiency could match that of an established flashlight company.

    I think what it boils down to is to research out some options in a headlamp that you want and you're going to be happy with whatever that brand and model turns out to be.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* seery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Can't speak for the HL35, but can give you my opinion on the HL55.

    Our barn beater HL55 has been used (minimum) 2 hours every day/night for the past year or so.

    It's rugged and simple. Rain, snow, sweat, dust, bangs, bumps, and drops...it's never missed a beat.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Plus 1. HL55 is superb for all general tasks and neutral white tint outdoors is great. Wide beam, lights up everything in front of you. HL60R is same (but rechargeable). To be honest, can't go wrong with a Fenix, great lights. Just wait till you compare it to Black Diamond / Petzl. Totally new world, you will never go back.
    Lighten up!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    I'm not well versed with headlamps and really only had a few needs to meet...something for 1) occasional night/morning runs 2) general utility around the house

    The big thing here was size - I wanted something light and comfortable, not like I had a rock stuck to my forehead.

    I picked up a Fenix HL10 mainly due to size and prior experience with their products. Runs on a single AAA and weighs about 2 ounces loaded.

    I wasn't exactly looking for something to turn night into day, but it's decently bright and light as a feather. I've only had it for 5 months now and if it's anything like other Fenix lights I own it will definitely hold up well over time.

  6. #6
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    If it's any help from a trail running perspective, I've run the HL35 and HL50 (literally) through the mud over the past year and a bit in Ottawa, Canada. They're good headlights if you don't want to have to fret it suddenly not working.

    You mentioned your BD light. I swapped out my BD for a Fenix and found that aside from getting used to the metal weight of the unit, it's a tank. Can take a pic of the Fenix to show you how it's survived being clipped by tree branches and swimming in mud puddles!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    I have a couple older Fenix fp11 iirc, TK 70 flashlight and a P2D. I wore the switches out on the headlamps, have to get repaired; I like them that much. The TK70 is great but the switch can be finicky. I have heard Fenix switches to be one thing to be improved, otherwise I really like their lights. Haven't bought any Fenix lately to know if the switch has been improved. FWIW.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Tac Gunner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Reliability, NW and moonlight mode, the most important factors in a light

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Hey folks,

    I am am new here (first post), so be gentle.

    I am looking to buy a headlamp primarily for camping and running and have my eye on the Fenix HL55 as it seems rugged, not overly expensive, used 18650 batteries (which I have a lot of) and it has good features.

    Before I place my order, I thought I would ask the fine CPF community for options in the same range (under $50USD) as the HL55 if there is something better out there.

    I will likely be buying from Fastech, so likely one of the usual suspect brands from China.

    Thanks all!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Well, my feeling is that the company has made great flashlights and headlamps as well, because years of experience with innovation, research and development, etc also carries over into headlamps.
    From my own experience with the flashlights and headlamps I bought, you definitely can trust this company and the products. They never betray you.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* seery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Fenix makes some tough headlamps.


  12. #12
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Thanks.

    I believe it was an earlier post of yours with this pic (barn headlamp?) that made me lean towards the HL55.

    Not too heavy or uncomfortable? I doubt I would be wearing it for more than an hour at a time.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic*
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    In my book Fenix has never been that tough. Besides E01, anything else Fenix broke on me.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    I have Fenix HL23 for over a year. It got a lot of usage in canoeing, fishing, camping, hiking - headlight was dropped few times, was under rain - so far it works well - no issues.. My only complain that battery lasts only just a bit over an 1 hr in high but you have to pay for small size and light weight. So my experience with Fenix is positive so far.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* seery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sharpie View Post
    Thanks.

    I believe it was an earlier post of yours with this pic (barn headlamp?) that made me lean towards the HL55.

    Not too heavy or uncomfortable? I doubt I would be wearing it for more than an hour at a time.
    We don't find it too heavy at all, the top strap distributes the weight very well.

    2 more years of daily use and it's still going strong.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    I purchased my first Fenix headlamp in 2012, it was an HL21. I later purchased an HL30. I think I bought my first HL55 in 2014 and now I own two of them. I didn't like the 10-lumen low at first thinking it was too bright but in the end it turned out to have ideal spacing for outdoor use. I probably do close to 1,000 Km a year hiking and ultrarunning in the dark while wearing a HL55 on my head. It's a real workhorse: realiable, easy to use, and with very good runtimes! Recently, I accidentally dropped it on a rock: it got a scratch on the aluminum body but didn't even turn off! I also own the HL23, HL25, two HL30, and a HL35: all solid headlamps! I really like the UI of the HL35 and use it a lot indoors but unfortunately it can't handle Energizer Lithium AA batteries.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* Tac Gunner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    I used my HL35 religiously until the end of 2017 when I switched to an Olight H1 because of it's floodier beam and smaller size. The only complaint I had was the headband stretched out to non useable but it had seen a lot of use up that point. I need to order a new band.
    Reliability, NW and moonlight mode, the most important factors in a light

  18. #18

    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    I use 4Sevens Mini 123 + Fenix headband as my head light, sits on side of my head not middle, super light and bright.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Have used the HL50 for few years when backpacking, then used it as my bike light.
    The main complaint is that the parasitic drain is too high; the AA battery is drained off in about 2 weeks even the light was nevered turned on.

    Not sure if it only occurs on their single AA light.
    I also have their 2 AAs models, they performed pretty well and have not problems with the drain.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Fenix HL35 and other Fenix headlamps - long term experience?

    Have owned an HL23 for quite awhile now. Zero issues with reliability.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity, here and there... Not the other way around!" - John Cleese.

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