Fenix HL40R

In Review by Jawor | Leave a Comment

Fenix HL40R is one of the few headlamps with adjustable width of the light beam. This alone is enough to distinguish it from a fairly large competition or other Fenix models. On the other hand, this model also shows that making a ‘feature rich’ torch isn’t everything – even though, in general, Fenix HL40R can be considered to be a quite good headlamp, it also has quite a few flaws …

The set includes:
◦ Fenix HL40R headlamp
◦ Head strap
◦ Charging cable
◦ Warranty card
◦ Manual

Design

Body

The body of Fenix HL40R is made of plastic and metal. It complies with the IP66 standard, which according to the manufacturer’s description equals complete resistance to dust and protection from splashes of water (but not against submersion). In addition, the headlamp is also able to withstand a fall from a height of 1m.

Head Strap

On the back of the body there is a plastic mount which allows you to attach the head strap. The color of the strap fits the more outdoor-tourist target of the headlamp – it is orange and navy blue with reflective inserts. On the back of the head the tape splits, thanks to which the Fenix HL40R gets additional stabilization without need to use the strap running through the center of the head.

Power Supply

Fenix HL40R is powered by a built-in (non-removable) battery with a capacity of 2000mAh. Charging the headlamp is allowed by a microUSB port located at the back of the case and covered with a rubber cap. At the front of the Fenix HL40R there are also four LEDs informing about the current battery level.

Switch and use

The Fenix HL40R headlamp has two rubber buttons – a switch and a smaller ‘function’ button labeled with a symbol of lightning.

  • Pressing and holding the main switch will activate the Low mode (70 lm). Subsequent clicks result in a change of modes in the following order: Low → Med → High → Eco. Holding the switch again will turn off the flashlight.
  • Holding the switch longer will activate the turbo mode (600 lm)
  • Pressing and holding the function key will start the “Reading” mode with a power of 4 lumens.
  • Pressing the second button will start the SOS mode (stroboscope). Each subsequent ‘click’ will switch between these modes. Pressing the button longer will turn off the flashlight.
  • A short press of the function button results in lighting of the diodes indicating the battery level.
  • Pressing the function button in one of the “normal” modes will start the reading mode

Furthermore, holding down any button for approx. 3s, locks the flashlight to prevent accidental switching – eg inside the backpack (Fenix HL40R will signal the activation of the lock with four flashes). Attempting to turn on a blocked headlamp will also result in a flash. Unlocking the flashlight requires pressing both buttons for approx. 3s, it will also be confirmed by another four flashes.

Diode

Inside the headlamp, the manufacturer has placed a single Cree XP-L HI V2 diode providing the Fenix HL40R with a maximum power of 600 lumens (in turbo mode). The other ‘normal’ modes are respectively 300, 130, 70 and 30 lumens, there are also two special modes with 30 (SOS) and 4 lumens (Reading). In addition, in each mode the rotable head of the Fenix headlamp provides the possibility to adjust the width of the light beam in the range of 13 ° – 52 °.

Theoretical runtimes of the Fenix HL40R are as folows:

  • Turbo (600 lm) – 1 h 20 min
  • High (300 lm) – 4 h 30 min
  • Medium (130 lm) – 11 h
  • Low (70 lm) – 22 h
  • Eco (30 lm) – 50 h
  • SOS (30 lm) – 100 h
  • Reading (4 lm) – 200 h

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The runimes should be treated as theoretical due to the ‘partial stabilization’ system – eg in the 300 lm (High) mode, the Fenix HL40R will shine at full power for 2.5 hours and then it will automatically reduce the amount of light to 130 lm (Medium). In this mode the headlamp will shine for 2 hours, and then the mode will be reduced once more, this time to 30 lm (ECO), and after a short while it will turn off. This has its drawbacks, but in the case of a built-in, unreplaceable, battery it also prevents using up the battery too quickly by accidentally leaving it in a too strong mode.

Our thoughts on Fenix HL40R Headlamp

To begin with, the Fenix HL40R is an intuitive and user-friendly headlamp. It is comfortable, and its features are sufficient to satisfy the “average tourist”. On the other hand, the available modes are not as practical as it might seem – there is no mode weaker than these 4 lumens, so that you can, for example, read or work in a tent without waking up the rest of the people sleeping inside. Furthermore, it would be also useful to have a mode in between the Med and High outputs – the difference between them is quite significant, and the headlamp is missing a “quite strong” mode suitable, for example, for dynamic walking or running, which would be also weak enough as not to drain the battery too quickly.

It would also be useful to have a memory of last used mode – the need to “click through” all the modes to get to the Eco is quite frustrating when we often turn the flashlight on or off, or when the change of modes will mean shining 600 lumens into someone’s face…

The aesthetic design and build quality of the Fenix HL40R definitely deserve to be mentioned. On the other hand, the possibility of focusing the beam (which is one of the features most pointed out by the manufacturer), wasn’t really that useful and I have used it maybe a dozen times over the last four months.

In addition, the space between the body of the headlamp and the rotary head tends to gather all the dust and dirt to which the HL40R is exposed. Fortunately, rinsing the flashlight under running water allows you to clean it without any problem. It is also worth mentioning that the possibility of changing the width of the beam doesn’t really provide any exceptional versatility – while staying in the camp, working with wood and doing other bivouack-related I often missed having a wider beam, which would allow to illuminate a larger space around me.

While the Fenix HL40R works just fine during the “weekend” trips, it isn’t really that suitable for longer trips or activities requiring continuous light for a long time.  The non-removable battery means that the ’empty’ Fenix HL40R requires has to be removed from forehead and connected to powerbank, what makes it imposible to use it for along while. In addition, in my opinion, on longer trips the powerbank should be used primarily to charge the phone and to ensure that we can communicate with ‘civilised world’ as necessary, and each item depending on the powerbank’s capacity increases the risk that when you’ll really need to use your phone it’s battery will be empty.

A separate issue is the question of warranty (which, of course, is closely related to the lifetime of the built-in battery). With Fenix HL40R we get two years of warranty that are required by the EU law and that’s it. For comparison – Fenix’s flashlights with normal, removable, batteries have 5 years of warranty (and ArmyTek’s torches have 10…). Such approach of the manufacturer seems to suggest that the Fenix HL40R isn’t a headlamp designed to last for years, but that it will rather require replacement every second season …

Conclusions

Fenix HL 40R has quite a few flaws, but such features as a very good quality, interesting set of functions and general ease of use make it, despite everything, quite a good headlamp. The price (60 USD) is acceptable, and appropriate the headlamp’s specs. On the other hand, taking into account such issues as the lack of the last mode memory, set of modes that could be improved, a non-replaceable battery (and a short warranty) make it difficult to consider the Fenix HL40R as a competitive model. In a price of 65 USD, you can buy the ArmyTek Elf C2 headlamp, powered by a (replaceable) 18650 battery (with a microUSB charging), with a 10-year warranty, much higher water resistance (10m submersion) and mode memory.

Many thanks to the manufacturer, Fenix, for giving us a chance to test the HL40R headlamp!

~Wojtek

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About the Author

Jawor

Hikes since he learnt to walk. Happy to spend hours discussing jackets, backpacks and other gear. Caver, diver and a leader of the Gear Insider project.

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