Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review

I’m very excited to see Nitecore re-releasing previous models with brand new XHP35 LEDs which have a bunch more lumens than previous XM-L2 emitters. One of the those models is the HC33, a successor to the popular HC30, and is one of Nitecore’s ~2k lumen headlamps. Other new features include: magnetic tailcap, battery level indicator, and sanctioned use of an IMR battery. New features aside, the L-shaped format is fantastically versatile and the UI is very quick. So to fans or owners of the previous HC30, say hello to the HC33 headlamp!

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 002


  • Light
  • Headband + rubber headmount
  • 1 replacement set of 2 o-rings
  • Pocket clip
  • 1 replacement rubber switch cover


Here is the spec sheet from Nitecore, check out the HC33 on their website here. HC33 user manual here. It’s nice to see that they are starting to include how bright the special modes are.

HC33_EN_17 - Copy

Specs of the previous HC30 are here.

LED Specs

Type: (1) XHP35 HD by Cree @ ~1,800 lm
Color: The HD version has a warm hot spot while the spill is a bit cooler

Other Features

  • Magnetic tail cap *NEW*
  • Patented battery level indicator *NEW*
  • Compatibility of IMR batteries *NEW*
  • 100 degree beam angle
  • Freely swivels 360 degrees in headmount
  • Constant current circuitry (non-PWM)
  • Smooth reflector

Standard Features

  • IP68 rated waterproof and 2-meter submersible
  • “Advanced” temerature regulation (ATR)
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • Impact resistance of 1.5-meter drop
  • Aero grade aluminum alloy with HAIII hard-anodized finish


  • Length: 4.15″ (105.3mm)
  • Head diameter: 1″ x 0.95″ (25.5mm x 24.2mm)
  • Tail diameter: 0.94″ (23.8mm)
  • Weight: 1.81ox (51.2g) (battery excluded)

Look & Feel

I totally love the L-shaped design for it’s versatility as being a headlamp but also a great EDC light. The HC33 body is a little bit longer than the previous version so the pinky finger now has a little more grip on the light. The tail cap is a bit longer too which makes it a little easier to open which helps since you need to take the battery out to charge it. The tail cap also has a much beefier spring. This new version also has a magnet in the tail cap which is a welcome addition for secure tail standing and some horizontal use. Overall, the feel is very smooth which is great for EDC.

The look of the light is better shown with pictures.


Below is a overall shot of the new HC33 vs the previous HC30. Most of the length difference is in the battery tube and tail cap.

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 017

The HC33 tailcap on the left and the HC30 on the right.

Beam Profile

Nitecore advertises the total beam angle as 100 degrees but I measured the spill to be about total of 80 degrees but also having a bit of a hotspot having about a total 20 degree angle.

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User Interface

The HC33 has the exact same UI as the previous HC30, except for an added battery level indicator.  The HC33 utilizes a single electronic switch which can be singled click or long pressed.

The UI is broken into 2 different profiles, Primary and Special. A “profile” is a set, or group, of easily available outputs. A “mode” is an individual output such as HIGH or STROBE. I sometimes refer to the Primary Profile and Primary Modes.

There is also a physical lockout mode, which is enabled by unscrewing the tail cap >1/4 turn. This prevents accidental activation and helps eliminate parasitic battery drain.

The basics of the Primary UI; from off, a single tap brings the light into primary profile on the “ULTRA LOW” mode; a single tap will increase the output brightness to the next mode and eventually begin again at ULTRA LOW. Turn off the light with a long-press.

Below is a diagram of the user interface:

Nitecore HC33 User Interface UI CivilGear v3


Unfortunately, no battery comes with the light but Nitecore has recently come out with a newer 18650 batteries with 8A of current (the NL1835HO) to help power all it’s new XHP35 lights and reach that 1,800 lumen output. It’s also nice to see IMR batteries on the approved list. Below is a full list of compatible and non-compatible batteries for the HC33.





So I got some new equipment and I’m still very much a beginner with runtime charts, but to at least provide some info on performance, below are some runtime plots for starting in TURBO mode and starting in HIGH. The TURBO mode seems to run for about 5 min and gradually reduced in brightness till it hits the HIGH mode. For both modes, HIGH mode is held pretty steady until it drops suddenly at the last 15 min at the end.


Strobe Frequency

Using my new tool, I preformed a 300 millisecond test using 1000 samples per second. Below is the output I got. It shows the frequency to be 56 milliseconds per cycle (wavelength), which means about 17.9 flashes per second (or about 17.9 hz).


PWM Check

The HC33 is advertised as being constant current output and that no PWM is used. I have confirmed that there is no PWM on any constant output level. Below is a plot of the MID mode, which shows the LUX only varying by 3 or 4 over a 50 millisecond test (graphs are shortened for ease of visibility) sampling 3000 times per second. For comparison, the second graph shows PWM variance of 120 LUX used in the LOW mode on the Nitecore R25 flashlight.

Nitecore HC33-MID mode
Nitecore R25-LOW mode


Below is Nitecore’s warranty statement. Worth mentioning that it is also important to purchase Nitecore products from authorized dealers so not as to jepordize the warranty.

All Nitecore products are warranted for quality. Dead-on-arrival or defective products can be exchanged for a replacement through a local distributor/dealer within 15 days of purchase. After 15 days, all defective / malfunctioning Nitecore products will be repaired free of charge for a period of 60 months (5 years) from the date of purchase. After 60 months, a limited warranty applies, covering the cost of labor and maintenance, but not the cost of accessories or replacement parts.

The warranty is nullifed in all of the following situations:

  1. The product(s) is/are broken down, reconstructed and/or modified by unauthorized parties.

  2. The product(s) is/are damaged through improper use (i.e. reverse polarity installation).

  3. The product(s) is/are damaged by leakage of batteries.


  • Love the versatile L-shape design! It can be headlamp, EDC light, or a belt light.
  • Fantastic UI, super fast to start up and cycle through primary outputs; this single button system even has MODE MEMORY and shortcuts for ULTRA LOW and TURBO
  • New battery indicator help you keep track of remaining power
  • Very lightweight for an 18650 headlamp
  • Still works great while using medium-duty gloves
  • The belt clip is very secure
  • Smooth knurling makes this light very safe on pockets and fingers
  • Anodized threads allows for smoother screwing and prevents metal flaking, plus allows for lockout capabilities
  • Great tail stand since it has a completely flat tail cap and also now has a magnet!
  • Head shape makes it anti-roll without needing additional knurling
  • Temperature regulated, so the light never reaches the point of melting the internal circuits or burning out the LED
  • Strobe mode is easily accessed by double-clicking the light. This would more of benefit is you are using it as a hand-light.


  • The head of the light can become loose while rotating the light on your head and potentially loose contact. I’d recommend rotating the light on the tail cap side to avoid this.
  • For checking the battery level, you don’t have to completely remove the battery, you just need to loosen the tail cap a full 180 degree turn then tighten and the light will blink out the voltage.
  • I would like to see future Nitecore headbands have a bead of silicon “sweat-blocker” (pictured below) for those using this light in a more active way, plus it would helps keep things nice and secure
    Fenix HM50R Headlamp Review CivilGear 014
  • If using this with a hardhat, you may want to check out Nitecore’s new hard hat clips: NITECORE NHC10 Headlamp Helmet Clips

  • The main battery tube of the body seems strong enough but I would hesitate to store this light empty in the trunk or in your toolbox because if you accidentally dropped a heavy tool on it, it may get dented. May want to pick up a hardshell case like this one: Case Logic MSEC-4 Case
  • The switch is a little flat but still is tactile and depresses in just enough for me.


All the pictures below are taken with the light in TURBO. I’ve also included my beamshots preview video which goes through all the output levels to help you get a real-world feel.

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 019

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 020

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 021

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 032

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 034

Nitecore HC33 Headlamp Review CivilGear 035

Video Review


The current price for the light is about $65 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):

Amazon: NITECORE HC33 1800 Lumen High Performance Versatile L-Shaped Headlamp


Gearbest: Nitecore HC33 Versatile L-shaped Headlamp
Gearbest GearBest: Nitecore HC33

Recommended Accessories

Nitecore NL1835HP 3500mAh 18650 High Performance Li-ion Battery



  • 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

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