gear, headlamp,

Fennix HM50R Headlamp

Stephen Stephen Follow Oct 07, 2019 · 7 mins read
Fennix HM50R Headlamp
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I wanted to do a quick review of the Fennix HM50R headlamp that I picked up from REI with a dividend that I had sitting around unused for far too long.

Before I talk about the Fennix, I’d like to share with you the experience that pushed me to purchase this headlamp in the first place. First a little background, all of my camping experience to date has been what most people call car camping. Looking back on these trips I think I had a cheap headlamp at one time, all of the other times when I needed light I had a flashlight.

Looking to the future I hope to start backpack camping. I’m working through some health and weight related issues to get to the point where I can make this a reality, which brings me to the reason why I decided to but this headlamp.

For the last three months I have been using walking as my preferred exercise method to compliment my dieting. It’s low impact and my dog Rocket is a firm believe in it, so we have been walking a three mile loop through my neighborhood four to five times per week.

This loop meanders through part of my neighborhood but it also runs along a bike path that borders a wetland/mini lake for about half of the walk. Most of these walks happen after 10PM CST, usually closer to 11PM.

As a parent of two, between activities, schoolwork, feeding and some time to chillax with my wife at the end of the night, late night walks are really my only option (I’ve considered getting up earlier but I already get up at 4:40AM for work so that’s not an attractive option for me).

I am a big guy, 6’4” tall, have a beard, etc. I’m not afraid of walking in the dark with my dog (he’s big too). I realize that I could still be accosted, but profile is different than my 5.1 and a half foot talk wife (the half inch must be referenced when describing her height!).

About a month into my nighttime hikes while walking along one of the darkest parts of the bike path so weirdo neighbor (I hope) comes walking up and out of the weeds by the water. This particular area is choked in cat tails, so what we was doing down there, who knows.

What startled me was that when he walked across the trail and out he was no more than ten feet in front of us. He didn’t say a word, my dog was freaking out, and I was spooked. When I finished that walk I decided I was buying a headlamp.

Now, I constantly struggle with not wanting to spend money if I don’t need to, and wanting to have quality gear that won’t die or break in a short period of time. Before buying this headlamp I would have never considered spending $60 on headlamp. It just seemed like an extravagant purchase to me with little value over what a $15 headlamp could provide.

But I had this $30 REI dividend sitting in my account taunting me to spend it, and the Fennix had some decent reviews, so I decided to give it a go and on an impulse bought it.

Fennix HM50R Worn

First off, let’s talk about the strap that goes around your head. It’s really quite comfortable and didn’t require me to make any adjustments to wear comfortably. This was a pleasant surprise because I have a fairly big head.

One of the small things I like about this headband is that it has the Fennix name on it. I use this as a convenient way to know that I am putting the headlamp on in the right direction. I mean don’t get me wrong it can be used in any direction you like, but it gives me a way to always know I am putting it on in the direction that I like.

The actual headlamp has an IP68 waterproof rating to 2m and is dust proof. I’ve included some technical specs from the Fennix website below. A solid feeling attached rubber plug covers the charge port on the light.

Yes, this is a rechargeable headlamp! It can also work with CR123A lithium batteries for long multi-day treks where you need the reserve power, but having the ability to recharge the lamp at home or with a power brick was a really appealing feature for me.

The headlamp case is made out of aluminum and has a great finish/feel. One thing that the instruction manual does not point out, is that you need to take off the battery cap when you first get the headlamp and remove a circular plastic insert they install to prevent the battery from losing it’s charge.

I did like most people would do and plugged it in to charge when I first got it. A few hours later it would only turn on when it was plugged in. It took me a few minutes to learn about the plastic piece in the battery but I didn’t recall seeing it in the instructions so I wanted to point it out.

Operationally this headlamp is very easy to operate. At the end of the headlamp is what is more like a soft bulb than a button. You press and hold to turn the light on. Subsequent pushes cycle through the power levels.

They have included a nice way to check the battery level. A quick single push of the power button will cause it to flash the current battery level.

Green constant on: more than 80% Green flashes: 50% – 80% Blue constant on: 20% – 50% Blue flashes: less than 20%

My take away, blue is bad. Flashing blue is really bad. But so far I’ve never gotten to blue on my short three mile walks.

Power wise, it has four modes to cycle through:

  • Low (4 Lumens)
  • Medium (30 Lumens)
  • High (130 Lumens)
  • Turbo (500 Lumens)

When you turn it on it jumps right to Medium. They claim this will illuminate 66ft. In my testing I would say 40 feet is more accurate. The “Low” setting is useless anywhere outside of a tent where you are hoping to not wake someone up in your tent.

That being said, switching to high is fantastic. If I had to guess I’d say it will light up to 100ft (they claim 138ft). Turbo mode is, well let’s just say I feel like I have a train light on my head in turbo mode. Its amazing coming from such a small headlamp.

Most of the time I would find myself using medium mode for all but the darkest of the bike trails. I’d switch to high and leave it at that. Occasionally I would jump to turbo just to feel like the bringer of light to a dark world.

It really did make my nighttime walks feel safer, or maybe a better way to put it would be that I felt like I would know if someone else was out there with me sooner which is a good thing when it’s dark.

Fast forward to two days ago. I am out walking with Rocket, it’s around 11:30PM. I’ve got the light on high when what do I encounter but some guy in a hoodie walking the other direction toward me. I felt in control. I moved Rocket off the path and gave him a wide berth and kept an eye on him.

I still felt a little rattled but it would have been so much worse if I didn’t have the light on. I mean, it’s for their safety too. I am sure this was just another dude like myself out for a walk during the only time he had available. Seeing him gave me time to get Rocket away from him. Who knows how he would have reacted if startled, I don’t want anyone getting accidentally bit after all.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this read, if you are in the market for a headlamp I can definitely reccomend this product.

Headlamp Size (including the lamp holder)

  • Length: 2.7″ (67.5mm)
  • Width: 1.3″ (33mm)
  • Height: 1.1″ (28mm)

Headlamp Weight

  • 2.2 oz. (63g) excluding battery

Batteries

  • One 16340 rechargeable Li-ion battery (Included) or one CR123A lithium battery

In the Box

  • ARB-L16-700 Li-ion battery
  • Spare O-ring
  • Spare rubber anti-dust cover
  • Spare silicone holder
  • Charging cable

Overall Rating

Stephen
Written by Stephen Follow
Dad, Dude, Dreamer, Guy with a Beard & Owner of outdooradventurejournal.com