Fenix HM50R Headlamp Review

Headed out for a pre-dawn jog? Are you a little tired of strapping on a heavy 18650 battery and wanna travel light and even leave the charger home? Are you fed up with other headlamps sliding all around? If so say hello to the 500 lumen Fenix HM50R with built-in USB charging.

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Fenix HM50R Headlamp Review CivilGear 005

 

 

 

Included:
ARB-L16-700 Li-ion battery, spare O-ring, spare rubber anti-dust cover, spare silicone holder, charging cable, instruction booklet, and warranty card.

Specs

Below are specs copied from the manufacturer’s website.

330 Aug. 23

Other Features

  • Uses Cree XM-L2 U2 white LED with lifespan of 50,000 hours
  • Powered by one rechargeable 16340 Li-ion battery or one CR123A Lithium battery
  • Micro USB rechargeable (16340s only)
  • Premium type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
  • Material is quality aluminum
  • Easy operation with only 1 switch
  • Can be used as a mini flashlight
  • Reverse polarity protection to guard against improper battery insertion
  • Sweat-channeling, reflective headband
  • Capable of withstanding temperatures down to -40º (CR123’s ONLY)
  • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
  • IP68 rating – underwater up to 6.6 feet/2 meters and dust proof

Dimensions

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

Performance Observations

While using the light I’ve made a few observations:

  • In some instances, as the battery gets low the light flickers a bit, likely due to it trying to maintain the highest output possible.
  • For a total battery drain, I got 5 hours from Turbo to off
  • The battery took about 1 hr 20 min to charge using the built-in charger

Look & Feel

This is my first 1xCR123A style headlamp and I was a bit shocked how small it was compared to other 1×18650 sized headlamps. Since the light is so small there isn’t much to see except the head of the light with the switch and a bit of the tail. The look of the head is a little square shaped which I think helps add a bit of ruggedness which helps balance the short overall size. The squareness also allows for more finger purchase when tilting the light.

Compared to the predecessor HM50 , many things have changed but, I think that the most innovative of the look or feel is the addition of USB charging and the new sweat-stopper ring on the inside of the headband. Other notable changes are changing the headmout to rubber instead of metal, the ‘bezel’ of the light now has a circular look, the headband has the new navy and orange pattern, and the tail cap has a new knurling style.

About the light itself, I like the large switch and the tail cap has several extra threads so it’s really easy to screw on the cap.

I also think that the USB cover is done really well as you can pull the whole thing off if needed, without damaging it.

The head mount could be improved a bit. The part that holds the light feels too tight which affects both ease in taking off the light and putting it back in plus the added force needed to tilt the light. Instruction manual does say you need to remove the tail cap before taking the light out of the mount but I would never do that outdoors or at night for fear of dropping something in the dirt or losing a component altogether. This headmount style is probably a step back from the ease of the predecessor HM50. Also as a note, the mount is not symmetrical so you need to pay a little attention to that. Also the mount’s brackets for the head band are thicker which is nice for durability but is felt a bit more on the forehead. Since they provided an extra mount maybe they could have lightened up the specs a bit on the rubber gauge.

The headband is pretty neat. I like the new sweat stopper and I feel it works very well. I was nervous at first of it gripping too much and pulling out hair but it is actually very soft. Overall I like how it  helps prevent headband movement while in use.

 

 

 

Beam Profile

In combination of the domed CREE XM-L2 led, the light uses a smooth reflector. Using a printed protractor, the total spill angle is about total 80 degree angle with a slight spot with 20 degree total angle.

The beam color is pretty neutral in the center but the spill is fairly cool with light purple tint.

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User Interface

The UI is fairly straight forward with no hidden modes or shortcuts to turbo or low. The light is controlled by a single electronic switch. To turn on and off the light press and hold the switch. When the light is on, a quick press on the switch cycles the modes.

The modes cycle beginning in LOW -> MED -> HIGH -> TURBO. The light has mode memory.

When off, a single tap of the switch initiates a battery level check:

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

The light can be locked out, to prevent parasitic drain or accidental activation, by unscrewing the tail cap a quarter turn or more.

Overall, I like the UI but wish it was quicker to turn on the light. It is also a bit of a surprise that there are no special modes like a constant flash mode or SOS, which could have been accessed from off using a quick double press perhaps.

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Battery

By default, the HM50R does come with a single 16340 with 700mAh capacity, product number ARB-L16-700. The battery takes about XX hours to charge in the light which charges around 1 amp. During charging the indicator light will be constant blue; when full it will turn constant green. Also while plugged in, the light can operate on HIGH pretty much continuously.

Here is a full list of compatible batteries for the HM50R:

hm50r-battery-chart.png

 

 

 

Warranty

Fenix provides a lifetime warranty for free repair, so make sure you only buy from an authorized dealer (you can contact Fenix’s customer service to find one) or you will waive your rights to the warranty. Check their website for their full Warranty & Repairs.

Highlights

  • Lightweight 1xCR123 type light
  • Sweat stopper band plus updated graphics
  • Built-in USB charger
  • Great tail stand ability
  • Quick battery status with colored indicator lights
  • Package includes a 16340 battery
  • Certified IP68, water proof and dust proof
  • Built to withstand very cold temperatues
  • Tail cap really easy to remove and replace by user
  • Package provides output vs. run time graphs so you can have an idea about it’s performance
  • Spare headmount included, first package I’ve seen include that.

Observations

  • Headmount grabs light a little tight which makes it hard to remove the light or tilt it up or down.
  • Takes time to memorize batter indicators.
  • Sometimes battery indicator gets confused, if the level is on the border between 2 indicators, you may get different indicators depending on how quick or slow you tap the switch
  • Sometimes there is a slight modulation of the output as it tries to maintain maximum output
  • A pocket clip or a lanyard might have been a nice addition

Outdoors

All pics taken on the highest mode. I’ve also included my beamshots preview which goes through all the output levels to help you get a real-world feel.

 

 

 

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Price

The current price for the light is about $60 USD . If you appreciated my review and would like to support me, feel free to check out this product on amazon using my affiliate link (does not cost you more, amazon gives me very small % of their profit):

Fenix HM50R 500 Lumens Multi-Purpose Compact LED Headlamp

 

THANKS FOR READING!

Disclaimers:

  • CivilGear Reviews received this product for testing and providing an honest review.
  • CivilGear Reviews is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com
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