Review of Fenix HP-01 Headlamp

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Review of Fenix HP-01 Headlamp

Postby icave » Apr 7, 2014 8:49 am

Review of Fenix HP01
by J. Michael Spencer
NSS 48165
April 7, 2014

First Impression:
Very small and lightweight for output.
Consistent brightness through entire published runtime.
Nice feature that light remembers last brightness setting when turned off and then back on.
Easy to change batteries.
Beam pattern is spot with side bleed to perform fill.
Little concerned about water resistance and ability to clean light for White Noise Syndrome (WNS) decontamination.

Main Beam: Single Regulated Cree XP-G R5 5W Cool White LED
Other: Single Nichia red light LED
Batteries: 2x AA Ni-MH recommended, or Alkaline, with quick-release battery case

General Note: The original Fenix HP01 headlamp reviewed here was part of a Global Testing Campaign and not a mass production unit. Later, a mass production unit was received and showed an improvement in the plastic on the headpiece enclosing the LED feels, compared to the Global Testing Campaign headlamp.

Field Testing Conditions: 4 hours underground in Pennsylvania cave. This was not a particularly wet or muddy cave trip. All runtime tests were performed indoors.

Light Output: The Fenix HP01 uses a Cree XP-G R5 LED, which has been out for about 3 years and has been well reviewed. While slightly less efficient than the newer Cree XP-G2 series of LEDs, it provided more than sufficient light output during the caving trip. I preferred the medium setting. High and turbo really lit up the cave. The color temperature of the light was a more preferable white, and slightly less blue, than the output from the Princeton Tec Apex, which has been my normal caving light for years. The light output was even and symmetrical, with no rings or artifacts, other than the separation between the center spot and the side lighting. The Fenix HP01 also runs noticeable cooler than my Princeton Tec Apex.

The low setting was a bit to dim for good navigation in a cave, but is probably sufficient for work at camp or reading in a tent. The red LED is not something I would typically use during a cave trip.

Runtime: Unlike other headlamps I have owned, Fenix's claimed runtimes appear to be reasonable accurate. I only tested the headlamp using 2500 mAh Ni-MH AA batteries, so I cannot comment on the performance using other battery types.

High - Approximately 4 hr 30 min regulated using two freshly charged 2500 mAh Ni-MH AA batteries. After that the light scaled back to medium, and continued to run regulated on the medium setting for another hour, before dropping down to the low setting. The light then ran on low for about 10 minutes before shutting off.

Changing Batteries: The Fenix HP01 comes with a patented quick-release battery case. I performed a test battery change in the cave and found that the new quick-release battery case made for a very easy battery change. I was even able to change the batteries in the dark. However, the battery quick-release opened at one point in the trip. This could be dangerous if it happened while on rope and the battery case were to fall. It also may be more likely to open easily over time, especially after exposure to mud and grit. More familiarity with this lamp may prevent this from happening in the future.

Durability: The Fenix HP01 is very lightweight and while the battery compartment feels solid and well constructed, the molded plastic on the headpiece enclosing the LED feels a bit thin and flimsy. Upon cleaning the headlamp after the trip, I noticed that the small screw that holds the base of the front cover was missing. Looking at the cover it appears that the plastic that the screw attached to may have cracked. The lamp was well cared for during the trip and received no bumps or dings, nor was it a particularly muddy trip.

April 7, 2014 Update on Durability: The mass production unit seems to have improved on either the weight of the plastic, the assembly process or both. The plastic on the headpiece enclosing the LED feels very solid and is better sealed to the rest of the headlamp.

Cleaning: While cleaning is not typically part of a headlamp review, it has particular importance to cavers who need to decontaminate caving gear to reduce the possible transfer of organic matter between caves. The Fenix HP01 is rated IPX-6, which means it is protected against heavy splashes and rain, but not immersion. It is important to keep this rating in mid during cleaning. Due to the small clearance between the battery pack and the strap mounts, the battery pack may be difficult to clean.

Product Warranty: Fenix will replace any HP01 with manufacturing defects within 15 days of purchase and repair a light free of charge within the first 24 months. After 24 months, they will charge for parts. This warranty is not nearly as robust as Princeton Tec's lifetime warranty, but only slightly shorter than Petzl's 3 year warranty. Caving can be hard on headlamps, and it is important to know if the light fails, it can be replaced. A two year warranty seems adequate to cover manufacturing defects.

Overall Impression: This was the first Fenix headlamp I have tried. I found the light output to be impressive for the size of the headlamp, and liked the color temperature of the light better than my beloved Princeton Tec Apex. The runtime of the light was also impressive considering it only uses two AA batteries.
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Posts: 214
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 8:50 am
Location: Fountain Hill, PA
Name: Mike Spencer
NSS #: 48165
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Greater Allentown Grotto

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