I did a thing, I took the plunge and bought a Fenix HL18R-T headlamp. This was one of those purchases that I was overthinking way too much. As you continue to read below, remember this is my Fenix HL18R-T Review, paid for with my own money and my own opinion.
What I was looking for was a hand-free lighting solution for fishing at night, hunting, night hiking/walking, and any need for light without using my hands to hold it.
I had some requirements, and this headlight had to have these things or it would not be considered. One, it had to have a headband. This lamp would have to fit on my fat head, on a baseball cap, and on a winter hat. Two, I wanted this headlamp to have dual power sources. It has to have the ability to charge via USB and it had to have the ability to be used with conventional batteries (AA or AAA) that can pretty much be found anywhere. Lastly, I didn’t want to spend a million bucks. I’m the type of person who will put it down and leave it somewhere or just lose it period. To this day I find stuff around the house that I lost years back. Some things will never change.
After a bunch of research, I ended up going with the Fenix HL18R-T rechargeable headlamp. This lamp retails for $55 but with the deals, they were running I was able to get it delivered to my house for $44, and that included a free Fenix APB-30 Storage Bag.
Ok, so it’s not an earth-shattering deal, but the bag itself retails for $10. Anytime I see the word free attached to something I’m buying, I feel like a winner. This storage bag is perfect for all the charging cables and batteries for all of my peripherals.
Fenix HL18R-T Review
This is a real review, let’s get that out of the way. I paid for this with my own money, and am not affiliated with Fenix in any way. If I got this for free, I would let you know. If you’ve been around long enough you know this is the case with me.
Let’s start with the headband. The headband fits my huge dome perfectly. I really dig the new patented SPORT headband system. It’s a little dial that you pop out to loosen, put it around your melon and then push it back in and twist it until it’s snug. To loosen, just pop it back out and it loosens. I love this, no seriously, it’s legit and easy to put on and take off. Forget old-school band adjusting, this is the real deal. Now, while it looks and feels beefy, there’s no way to tell how this system will last over time. Again for $44, If it lasts a few years, I will have gotten my money’s worth. It was designed for runners, and that’s not me so all is good. I’m not a fan of the color but that’s just me. I’ll live.
Next up is the Battery situation. Again, one of my requirements was a dual power source. I wanted to have the ability to charge via USB but also use common batteries if needed. While my numbers are not scientifically accurate, I can say that I have gotten close to the runtimes advertised by Fenix. I haven’t had the opportunity to test with regular batteries, nor do I plan to. I’m going to throw a bunch of AAA’s in my backpack, fishing bag, truck, wherever I go as these will be just for backup.
I’m not an adventurer that goes off the beaten track, but for deer hunting (tracking in the big woods), I will carry 3 to 4 sets of AAA’s with me anyway. To be clear, this headlamp will not be my only light source. I always have multiple flashlights and even one on my keys. Paranoid? Maybe. I will vouch for the run times on high as stated by the Fenix data sheet below. I walk for roughly an hour every night and I was able to make 3 trips before needing to recharge the headlamp.
Do I like the Fenix HL18R-T headlamp? The answer is yes, It does what I need and it covers all my requirements. To be clear, the lamp is not perfect. Where I ding the light and what I feel everyone needs to know is that while the light might be able to reach 82 meters, it is completely useless for anything past 30 meters in my opinion. And that is on the high setting. If you’re looking for more throw, then look elsewhere. If you want a decent light to walk out of the woods with, work on your vehicle, or do anything fairly no more than 30 meters, you might want to consider this headlamp.