The Fenix HM50R is an exceptionally high-quality headlamp constructed with a full aluminum housing, a rechargeable battery, and a high output 500 lumen LED. Simple and powerful, I came away rather impressed. This is my review:
The HM50R, as mentioned above, is a stout little headlamp. The full aluminum body includes an IP68 rating, making it waterproof to about 6.56 feet/2 meters submerged. It is compatible with two types of batteries; Rechargeable 16340 batteries (included) and CR123 batteries, the latter of which are not rechargeable but do continue to work well in sub-freezing environments. The lamp gets anywhere between 2 and 128 hours, depending on the battery installed and light output mode. As provided, it will last 90 hours on low, 24 hours at medium, 10 hours on high, and 2.5 hours on turbo (max distance and brightness). It has a toughened glass lens, micro USB charging port, and a grippy/adjustable headband and includes a replacement lamp holder and o-ring. It retails for $59.99.
Using the headlamp is a breeze. Turning the lamp on and off is as simple as holding in the single button located on the side. Once activated, clicking through the satisfying tactile button cycles through the available brightness modes. Being required to hold in the button helps prevent accidental activation of the lamp, and in turn saves many batteries from draining inside a backpack. Now, a quick click of the button while the unit is off will display the battery percentage, shown as a slowing or pulsating LED that is placed under the button itself. A solid green glow represents a charge of 80% or more, while a flashing green LED is 50% or more, blue is 20-50%, and flashing blue is less than 20% battery remaining. While easy enough to read, I would have preferred the color representation go from green to red, instead of blue to green. To me, green being fully charged and red being a low charge is far more intuitive than the chosen blue and green coloration as I initially misconstrued blue as being fully charged.
The headlamp itself is impressively bright, providing 500 lumens of trail revealing luminescence. The light it outputs is well diffused and does an appreciable job of providing visibility in both near and far scenarios. Up close, it easily lights up an entire tent, without being harsh or blinding. In the distance, it not only provides excellent penetration but also a fairly wide breadth, resulting in fairly good peripheral vision too. This reduces and often eliminates the need to move the head around from side to side while working in the dark, allowing the eyes to scan around naturally, which a narrow output will not.
The construction quality here is exceptional. The body is strong, sturdy and has great hand feel. The threading for the battery compartment and cap rotate in and out smoothly, creating a reliable seal from water and dust as the o-ring is locked down securely. The power button is robust and provides a nice hearty click when depressed. There is no side to side movement or wobbliness inside, which speaks well of the internal construction. The headband has held up well to repeated stretching and constricting without losing its shape or ability to snap back in place over time, and the rubber lamp holder has held strong, with no signs of dry rotting or cracking. The company does include a spare o-ring for the battery compartment and lamp holder, just in case, which is a great touch and greatly appreciated. So far, I’m yet to need either.
Comfort-wise, the HM50R is one of the most comfortable I’ve ever tested. The metal aluminum housing slips into a soft and grippy rubber holder, which in turn allows the band itself to be slotted inside. This creates two layers of protection from the body, while also creating a naturally curved and flexible substrate for the device to sit against the skull. In my experience, it is completely pressure point free after dialing in the band, which stays in place even while running thanks to the siliconized stripes printed on the inside of the band itself. The lightweight construction allows the headlamp to feel unobtrusive and comfortable over long periods of time, making it rather pleasant to use.
The above statement brings me around naturally to weight: At just 2.22 oz. (2.9 oz. with the included battery), the HM50R is surprisingly light-weight considering the build quality. This makes it light enough for any hiking or backpacking trip, regardless of miles, duration or challenge. Tossing it inside even the lightest day bag is guilt-free, and even leaves a little wiggle room for justifying a spare battery.
Nearly flawless in design, the HM50R is in my eyes one of the best headlamps available on the market today. It is simple to use, extremely light weight, provides more than adequate light output, and above all else, it is reliable, comfortable, and even affordable. The only mild complaint I had with the headlamp was the color choice for the battery indicator. Even so, it’s a minor complaint that barely speckles a nearly immaculate field of praise. For hiking, camping, or just working around the house, the HM50R is officially my new go-to headlamp for all situations.
The Highest of Recommendations
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