Here’s a Bright Idea for Your Head – Reviewing the Fenix HL60R Headlamp

Want to see in the dark?  Don’t we all… Whether you are hunting pigs at night, camping in the snow on an elk hunt, or simply moving child car seats from one car to another at night, a good headlamp goes a long way.  I started using headlamps when I was working as a mountaineering guide in Colorado. That first headlamp’s little halogen bulb seemed to have an output similar to a Ford Model T headlight.  It looked like a classic Wyllis Jeep headlight sitting on my forehead.  Thank God technology has come a long way since then. Case in point, I’ve been using the Fenix HL60R recently. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Living today in the urban jungle of North Texas, I’ve taken to cycling instead of hiking for exercise.  Like hunting, having excellent gear makes a world of difference. I often ride at night and my quest to light the darkness led me to the Fenix HL60R. We’re talking about a light that is at home in my hunting gear, cycling gear and Dad Life tools. 

Fenix HL60R Specifications

Fenix HL60R Headlamp

The specs on this light are great.  The HL60R has six brightness settings ranging from 1 lumen to 950 lumens.  Claimed battery life is 48 minutes at 950 lumens to 100 hours at 1 lumen.  Maximum distance is rated at 381 feet, it is shock resistant to 1 meter, and is rated as IPX-8 waterproof or submerged to 2 meters.

It is comes with one 2600 mAh 18650 rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery.  It charges via micro USB.  The Cree XM-L2 T6 Neutral White LED has an expected lifespan of 50,000 hours, which would be most of six years straight.  The body of the light is made from type III hard-anodized aluminum.  Like most quality flashlights, the power is digitally regulated to insure constant brightness.

All functions of the light are controlled by a single easy to operate button on one end of the body.  Tap the button once to get a flashing sequence that indicates battery level.  Press and hold for about ½ second and it turns the light on to it last used brightness setting.  This is just as easy to do with or with out gloves.  

Brightness setting are 1, 5, 50, 150, 400, and 950 lumens.

This all sounds good on paper.  Getting out and doing things in the dark gave me the ability to get a feel for how well the numbers translate to reality.

Fenix HL60R Field Use Results

Fenix HL60R Headlamp Review

The color temperature of the main LED is warmer than some other lights I have.  Fenix calls it “neutral white” and claims it provides better color rendering in your surroundings.  I found it to be effective and it seems less harsh and easier on the eyes than the cooler color temperature lights.

The beam pattern on the Fenix HL60R is fantastic for a general use light.  This is not designed to be the ultimate pierce the night, long-range light.  It has a somewhat broad “hot spot” with a wider spill that remains focused and not washed-out.  

The 1 lumen setting utilizes two small red LEDs with the idea that it will preserve your eye’s natural adaptation to the darkness.  This works for tasks that are generally within arms reach.  

Using the Fenix HL60R 5 lumen setting for walking on a trail won’t ruin your natural night vision though it will take few minutes to get the most of your eyes after you turn the lamp off.

For most tasks around the house, car or for walking around, I found the 50 and 150 lumen settings to be my favorites.  50 lumens allows me to walk on paved or unpaved trails with confidence.  150 lumens gives me the ability to see far enough to run or see the eyes of an animal at comfortable distance.  

The 400 and 950 Lumen settings are great for seeing long distance.  While the official maximum range of the light is 381 feet, I have found that at full tilt it will illuminate trees at 390 yards in extreme humidity.  Honestly, that’s not enough to be of much use to the naked eye.  Given the right optics (like good binoculars) and clear air, it might be possible to identify larger wildlife at that distance using the Fenix HL60R.

Fenix HL60R Headlamp Review

The one downside to this light is its weight.  The durability and waterproofing comes at a price.  The unit weighs 4.3 ounces without a battery.  Add a battery and it has some heft when it comes to strapping it to your forehead.  Thankfully, the included strap and mount are very comfortable and make the weight seem much less.

With an MSRP of $96 the Fexix HL60R is a good value.  It’s on higher side of consumer level headlamps but when it comes to the tactical lights I’ve become accustomed to, it is a great deal.  The best part is that of this writing, Fenix is selling the light on their website for just $74.95.  Need more battery life?  Step up from the 2600 mAh battery that comes with it and get the 3500 mAh battery offered on the Fenix site.  

Everyone should have a quality headlamp and this is one of the better ones out there.  Full disclosure: Fenix provided the HL60R I used in this review.  That said, this is now my go-to headlamp and I get nothing in return for saying so.  It’s the best headlamp I’ve used.  Period.

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