A Headlamp I Call the Back-Country Beast

If you ask 10 backpackers as to what headlamp they use and why, you’ll get 10 different answers.

However, there is a common theme among the backpacking crowd; they want battery life, they want durability, they want a light that is, for lack of a better term: Light. They don’t want 5lbs of lamp, band and battery strapped to the ole noggin. They want a crazy light headlamp, that’s seemingly indestructible, with battery life that goes on forever. Impossible? Well, perhaps. But the Fenix HL26R has really tried to help bridge that gap.

Recently I had the pleasure of taking one of these beauties for an over-nite test drive. It did not disappoint. I walked around the trail in the middle of the night-trying each and every setting, and here’s my conclusion: It’s a serious win.

The HL26R has a nice mix of flood and spot settings. In flood mode you get three settings: 4 lumens with 100 hour run-time. 40 lumens with a 13 hour run-time. 40 lumens SOS flash for 26 hours.

I should note here, the 40 lumen flood is awesome for camp chores. It’s certainly bright enough to hike by, but I’d stay on easy trails with that setting. The four lumen setting was rather nice, as I hung it from the gear loft in my tent and had plenty of light to move gear around in my tent, etc. The strobe flash is bright enough to get anyone’s attention.

And then there’s the spotlight setting. This is where the campsite shock and awe kicks in with other campers. Or, as I put it “That moment in the pitch dark when I discovered BURST MODE”. Do note the emphasis on capital letters there. I’m serious, there are not many lightweight backpacking headlamps that can touch this thing–in terms of sheer lumen horsepower.

So, let’s move on to the spot features.

1st setting is 30 lumens for a run-time of 25 hours. I can hike to this, as the color rendition is good, but I actually used this around camp.

2nd setting is 70 lumens for a runtime of 12 hours. This was the home-run.70 lumens for that long? It’s the perfect amount of light for any trail.

3rd setting is 130 lumens for 6 hours. This is bright, folks. The throw mixed with the flood/spill is astounding. If you’re caving, or hiking in technical terrain, this is the setting for you. A great balance of battery life and illumination.

4th setting is 450 lumens for 1.5 hours, aka burst mode. My lord. When all your backpacking buddies gasp when you hit this setting, you know. It’s pretty awesome. Everything in the path of this thing for over 300ft out is lit up. It’s a beast.

fenix hl26r rechargeable headlamp yellowSo, what makes this light a proverbial backpacking beast of a light? There’s other headlamps out there, they’re bright as well, right?

Here’s where the Fenix HL26R shines (pun absolutely intended) for starters, it’s the weight. this light, with the battery only weighs in at 3.03oz or 86 grams! Alot us backpacker folk are pretty particular about light weight. This is perfect. And considering the power, you’d think it’d be a few ounces heavier.

This light shines because it’s rechargeable. This light has a built in 1600mAh Li-polymer battery, simply rechargeable with a micro USB cord, included, of course.

This light shines from high quality control and construction/materials. Did I mention the headband? It has reflective bits on it, as well of an inner band of silicone like material to keep the light planted on your noggin.

It shines because it’s IP66 Dustproof/water resistant and able to take a hit from 1 meter.

I did mention that it’s only 86 grams, right? and a 450 lumen max, right?

You’re starting to understand why this light is such a stout winner.

One note, you’ll hear many backpackers say “you’ll never need a light over 60-80 lumens!” Perhaps they’re right in one respect. With this light I was quite happy at the 70 lumen spot setting. But, what if, what if I came across a situation that warranted the use of the 450 lumens, it could absolutely happen. What could stop a four legged or two legged critter completely in it’s tracks? 450 lumens.

450 lumens direct to the face will stop anything. At a minimum, you’ve temporarily blinded it, and if you had to do that, you must have had a good reason.

To my readers, don’t limit your self to a light that is restrained in power. Look for that balance of power and runtime. And this is why I so strongly recommend this light.

Final conclusion: It’s a confidence building light. It’s light, it’s comfortable. The settings and memory settings are easy and intuitive. I’d feel confident in a dusty environment, as well as a wet one.

Do check it out, tell em I sent you. Cheers!

Harold Holdren

Buttfeet/Lake walker

2 thoughts on “Fenix HL26R Headlamp Review

  1. Dennis,

    Thanks!
    The light made the review easy. It was just that impressive.

    Doing numerous over-niters and multiday backpacking trips, I’ve seen and used a ton of headlamps. And as you mentioned, it’s great to see how far the technology has come.
    It used to be:
    Get great runtime=poor brightness
    Get great brightness= Poor runtime.

    This light was the perfect fit for me, because it had both excellent runtime and brightness.
    Add in that you can recharge in the wild, it’s limited only by your extra battery capacity-and your consumption levels.
    Additionally, I was able to use a specific setting to match a specific task. With all the settings available, the versatility shined.

    When I coined this light as the “Beast of the back country” It seemed like the perfect fit. It shocked all my fellow campers. One actually mentioned the small size of the light, and thought it’d be larger.

    Cheers!

    Harold H

  2. If I simply read your blog and attempted to conjure up an image of “the Beast”, I would imagine something with two straps, a large battery pack on the back of the head, and large front light pack!
    Not so. Isn’t Fenix and the application of technology wonderful.
    Lights like these used to be weenies in a large heavy package. No longer. I’m a big headlight fan and user, abuser. Nothing like hands free area lighting, spot or flood is there. With significant runtime this light is a home run.
    Thanks for your review.

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