Winter is coming, and inevitalby days are getting shorter, too. What follows, is a time of long-delayed flashlight shopping. Today we will look at the Fenix HL 35, which thanks to good parameters and reasonable price turns out to be a quite decent headlamp.
Fenix HL 35 can be carried using a set of grey elastic straps with yellow markings of the manufacturer. Among them there is a stabilizing strap running through the center of the head – necessary for a headlamp of such weight (without batteries HL 35 weighs 122g). The tape itself is soft, comfortable, and can be easily adjusted. In case of any damage, the design of the flashlight makes it easy to replace the straps.
The HL 35 is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with black coating. The main body and the straps are connected by a plastic mounting with position lock. As a result, the adjustment of the beam’s angle is accompanied by pleasant “clicks”.
The headlamp is powered by two AA batteries or 14500 rechargeable batteries. This solution makes it possible to buy spare batteries in virtualy any part of the world – what is not possible for more advanced power sources. On the other hand, the disadvantage of using two AA batteries are the higher weight and size of the headlamp.
On the side of HL 35’s body the manufacturer placed a rubber switch. Actually, two switches – a large one for normal modes and a smaller one, controlling special modes (red, red strobe and white SOS strobe). Unfortunately, the larger of the buttons slightly sticks out beyond the case, what coupled with its low stiffness and large surface makes it quite common for Fenix HL 35 to accidentally turn on inside the backpack.
Fenix HL35 can be turned on with a single pressing of the switch. Subsequent pressing of the button results in a change of mode, while holding it down turns off the flashlight. Pressing the smaller button with the lantern turned on will cause you to switch to special modes (and vice versa).
The Cree XP-G2 R5 LED emits pleasant neutral light (neutral white). It is worth mentioning that the in the stronger modes emited lightbeam has easily noticeable spot and spill – a heavily illuminated point in the center, allowing to cast light on the further objects, and a slightly weaker light “spilling” around, allowing you to see the nearest area. It is also worth mentioning, that the red diode serves as a low battery indicator.
The Fenix HL35 features the following modes:
– BURST 450 lm (on 14500 Li-Ion) / 260 lm (AA or Ni-MH rechargeable batteries)
– High 200 lm
– Mid 70 lm
– Low 30 lm
– Moonlight 0.5 lm
And 3 special modes
– SOS 50 lm strobe
– Red light
– Red strobe
Fenix’s headlamp has IPX-8 certified water resistance. Based on manufacturer’s specs, this means that the torch can withstand continuous immersion of up to 2m. According to the manufacturer, the Fenix HL 35 will also survive a 1m fall. The tested HL 35 turned out to be even more resistant – the only sign of a fall (on a rocky-gravel substrate) from ~3 m is a slight scratch on the external edge.
After more than 1.5 year of testing I can confidently say that Fenix HL 35 works well. And not only during the “normal” use, but also (as shown by the 100 km in 24 hours march) in more demanding applications. All-night wandering with this headlamp on top of your head hasn’t been particularly difficult. However, its weight can be also felt during the use.
The range of mode offered by the Fenix flashlight is good – moonlight for tasks that require only a hint of light, low and medium for the march and other operations, and high / burst for adding more light when required. On the other hand, it would be nice to have an additional mode that would be something between moonlight and the current “low” – which is a bit too strong for ex. for reading and strong enough to make people close by complain of being dazzled.
A nice addition is the presence of a red diode – especially that it’s strong enough to illuminate the road ahead during a walk. Plus, it’s also easy to access with an extra button.
It is worth mentioning, however, that the operation of flashlight itself can be quite problematic at first. Knowing the mechanism of action you can get used to it rather quickly, but if some “normal” user tries to use it the whole experience can turn out to be a bit traumatic.
The-friend-we-all-have who borrows the HL 35 “just for a moment” will most likely give himself a burst of strongest light in the eyes trying to turn off the flashlight. And if he is unlucky, then after mistaking the buttons he will soon return to you with a red-flashing HL35 because “something broke”.
One solution would be to use one large button and switch between normal and special modes by pressing it twice.
One noticeable disadvantage is also the lack of digital brightness stabilization. During prolonged use, you will suddenly realize that the headlamp emits less, and less light… It would seem to be on a proper mode, but it’s still rather dark around… On the other hand, it is hard to expect wonders from a lantern from this price level – and given the high resistance to falls and water, the Fenix HL 35 still has quite a lot to offer.
If it is your priority to find a good flashlight with a satisfactory variety of modes, easily replaceable power source, high fall and water resistance, and in the range of ~50$, Fenix HL 35 will meet these requirements. But if you want more versatility, more compact (and lighter) form and you have a bit higher budget, then it might be worth looking at other models – be it Fenix or competition. For about ~60$ you can even have a basic version of the Armytek Wizard headlamp with a wider range of modes, lower weight, rechargeability and full light stabilization. And this is just one of the options.
+ Decent variety of modes
+ Red diode
+ Powered by AA
– Powered by AA
– Changing between modes
– Lack of full light stabilization
The Fenix HL 35 was tested courtesy of Kolba, thanks!