(Picture From Amazon.com)
A good, solid headlamp is a necessity for a serious herper. Photography, animal handling, scrambling up rock faces: none of them can be done well with one hand tied up with a flashlight. For the longest time, the Fenix HP10 was my go-to light – and I still bring it with me as a backup and a ‘loaner’ for friends to use. But nowadays, the HP11 is my main headlamp, and well worthy – even moreso than its predecessor – to be so.
Yes, this light has been through a lot in the year and a half since I first purchased it – in the swamps of the northern Everglades, the mangrove forests of the Keys, rock cuts on the legendary Pigeon Mountain, shining wee Cave Salamanders at snake road. It’s stood the test of time, so it’s about time it get my official endorsement and review. There have been some great improvements between the HP10 and HP11, not least among them a brighter LED and a brilliantly made diffuser. But we’ll get in to all that as we go through the scores.
Overall brightness – 8.5/10 – With an output of 277 lumens, there’s not much beating this headlamp. Despite only a slight improvement on paper over the HP10 (about 50 lumens brighter), the difference is palpable.
Width of Beam – 10/10 – Having a wide beam VS a narrow beam comes with a lot of tradeoffs: wide beams mean you can see more of the landscape and have better periphery vision, narrow beams mean more “throw.” Whatever you want, the HP11 will do it for ya’. That’s because the HP11 comes with a beautifully made, hardy diffuser that’s worlds better than the HP10’s, and what’s more – the diffuser actually comes included with the light. If you read my review of the HP10, you’ll know that the former model did not come with the diffuser, which I was not very happy with. Thankfully, this diffuser does penance for the sins of its predecessor and snaps down for an easy, wide reaching, and bright light. I could go on for a page singing the praises of the diffuser, but for the sake of the readership I’ll describe the light’s usefulness in one(ish) word: A-freaking-mazing.
Throw – 9/10 – Once again, the diffuser is beautiful and part of its beauty is the fact that one can flip it up in a second, and it doesn’t sag down and obstruct the view like the diffuser of the predecessor. Although I typically use more firepower for out-of-car shining, the HP11 has sufficient throw for a good night of spotlighting.
Water/Light Penetration – 7/10 – Good as with most Fenix lights, though if you’re doing some serious swamp walking, culvert shining or other aquatic uses, I’d recommend going with one of the brighter handlights, like the TK41.
Battery – 9.5/10 – I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: you can’t go wrong with AA’s. The 4AA’s last a good bit, though with more lumens they last a little less longer than the HP10 – But for the vast majority of uses, batteries wont be an issue, and if they are, just carry and extra pack in your pocket. Typically, they’ll last about 3-3.5 hours for me on turbo before they tick down to high.
Size – 8.5/10 – A bit larger than the HP10, but still no complaints
Price – 9/10 – Typically ~$65 if you get it from Fenix Outfitters (which I’d recommend.) You can also get them lightly used/etc. on Amazon for ~$40.
Dependability – 8.5/10 – The only malfunction I’ve ever had with mine was with the plastic hinge, but no problems with the light function itself.
Ruggedness – 8/10 – As I said above, I had issues with the plastic hinge, but I sent it back to Fenix Outfitters and they sent me a loaner while it got fixed.
Other – 8/10 – Generally much better than the HP10, though still it can be glare-y if one doesn’t wear a brimmed hat with it.
OVERALL SCORE – 86/100
Overall, a worthy successor to the HP10, with some certain and vast improvements.