Thanks to a quick 2 day shipping from Peter at Fenix, we were able to do a mass review on a very popular fatass 50k night race. Each person got 6 to 10 hours of use in a single night. This is an initial review based on 35 hours of total use from that run.
A few notes about the Fenix HL30 headlamp. The HL30 is a 200 max lumen headlamp that uses a single LED powered by 2 AA batteries. The light throw, or distance, is 40 meters. Documentation reports a 4:30 burn time at 100 lumens and is equipped with 4 power settings… 4, 45, 100 and 200 lumens.
(After gear reviewers complete their tests we send them a survey where they evaluate each aspect of a product on a scale of 1 to 5 and provide additional written feedback.)
Light Output (Quality and Quantity) 4.65
Positives: “I really liked the 200 lumens. The depth and concentration of light was comparable to other 200 lumen lights.” Another tester said, “I really liked the spread. Good even coverage of light without any halo effect. Loved the red LED for talking with people on the trail and at aid stations.”
Negatives: “I needed it on the highest setting for the most part to get the brightness I wanted…”
Battery Life: 2.65
Positives: “After 2:45 on various settings the battery had drained but it maintained approximately 60 lumen output. I liked how it did not completely die…”
Negatives: “For a 200 lumen light, used for an Ultra, I would prefer a longer lasting light.” Another said of a short battery life on 200 lumens, “lights now-a-days should last 6 hours on their highest function.”
Positives: “Actually more comfortable than my Petzl Myo XP.” A second tester said, “Very comfortable, no bounce and fit flat against my forehead.” And 3rd noted, “In comparison to other 200 lumen lights, it was significantly lighter and more comfortable than it’s competitors. It was easy to adjust and did not bounce.”
Negatives: “Had trouble adjusting it over the head at first but it seems easy enough.”
Positives: “I didn’t have any problems. After reading the box I knew just what to do…” A second reviewer stated, “The on/off button and level buttons could not have been easier to use. The tilt worked and stayed in place. Batteries were super easy to change, maybe 30 seconds.” And a another reviewer said, “Wow, really easy to turn on/off, adjust lighting, etc.. much better then competitors.”
Negatives: “Changing batteries was slightly weird, but once I got it I could do it quickly.”
Positives: “Love the weight of only 2 AA’s.” Another said, “Great weight…”
Negatives: “… you need to account for required extra batteries”
The general consensus was that it seems durable but this was an initial gear test. One tester did take a hard fall while the lamp was in their waist pack and HL30 made it through without an issues. All total there was 35 hours of use without any issues.
Positives: “Great price for the lumens…” A second tester, “For the price it is a fantastic lamp.” A third tester said, “I’d buy 2 of these compared to a petzl NAO and save the rest.” Final tester, “Hell, why not buy two?”
Overall rating: 4.06
In Summary: While the Fenix HL30 got slightly below average ratings for battery life it did extremely well in all other aspects. Some of the battery life is explained by the fact it only uses 2 AA’s but can burn at 200 lumens. The solution for the buyer is to use NiMH batteries, which burn longer, and carry 4 to 6 extra batteries for an all night run. In terms of comfort, usability and light-output we think the Fenix makes a solid ultra marathon headlamp.
We would also like to give a nod to the Fenix LD12 handheld. One tester used his during the majority of a night run and raved about it. He took a hard fall while using it and it came through without even a scratch. The LD12 uses a single AA battery and can go over 2 hours at 115 lumens. It also features a strobe and SOS setting for emergencies.