Changing gears from my typical flashlight reviews, I’m going to compare two of the newest headlamps from Fenix – The HP 15 and the HP 25. Just a brief introduction to the two – the HP25 is equipped with two separate lights, a 180 lumen spotlight and a 180 lumen flood light; and advertises a combined lumen output of 360 – this light will set you back about $70. The HP15, the successor to the HP11 and HP10, yields a single light that sports 500 lumens and comes with a diffuser that is similar to the HP11’s. Both of the lights have the typical Fenix headstrap, but the ’15 comes with an extra couple feet of cord between the light and battery pack that you can use to keep the battery pack off the head strap if you so desire – a nice little feature, especially when out in cold weather when having the battery pack in a pocket can mean some extra runtime.
Before breaking these lights down, let me get to something I love about each of them: The HP11 has been my workhorse for a couple of years now – that light is a work of art except for its one Achilles Heel: the hinge which the light pivots on, which is absolutely essential for adjusting the light to aim in the trees, on the ground, adjust for a hat, etc. breaks ridiculously easily after a couple of months in the field, leaving you to try to fix it with rubberbands and toilette paper (can you tell I’ve been there?) This is one of the reason’s I’d recommend getting these lights from a vendor with good customer service. This problem, it seems, is remedied in both of these lights: the hinge is similar to the one found on the HP10, which still works flawlessly for me after many a year of service. But let’s get to the specifics of the two lights.
HP15 – 9.5/10
HP25 – 7/10
I’d hate to go in for the kill so quickly, but this is the area where the HP15 shines (pun intended) and the HP25 gets pummeled. The HP15 is just about as bright as a car’s headlight, piercing through the deepest night with ease. Another nice feature is the fact that there are five instead of three brightness levels, giving a little bit more opportunity for battery conservation if it’s needed, while still being ready to punch it up to turbo power. The HP15 get’s a shellacking here. Not that it’s not bright: it’s just no where near what one expects from a Fenix headlight – functionally it’s only 180 lumens, not 360. Not because one can’t have both bulbs on at the same time: you can, but who on Earth needs both a flood and spotlight at the same time? Realistically most of us are only going to use one at a time, leaving us with half the lumens.
Width of beam
HP25 – 10/10
The obvious advantage of having twin light heads on one headlamp is that even without the brightness, each light will (hopefully) be good at their job. The HP25 is nice for a leisurely walk with its floodlight, so it gets positive points there. The HP15 has a similar diffuser to the HP11, which I love in both cases; but the HP15’s diffuser seems a little flimsier to me: thinner plastic and it’s not spring loaded; but it still does the trick, and does a good job at it
HP15 – 9/10
HP25 – 8/10
The HP15 does every bit as good at getting light out there as most hand torches do (at less cost); the lack of overall lumens in the ’25, however, translate to less throw. I gave it an extra half point for making the best of its luminous limits by having a narrow beam, but still the HP15 wins out again
HP15 – 8/10
HP25 – 7/10
Even CREE LED’s have trouble keeping up with the classic halogens in terms of water penetration, but the HP25 stayed close to the HP15 despite having about a third the effective lumens because of the tightness of the spotlight beam – it does make a difference
HP15 – 9/10
Both of these lights suffer from running through batteries if you ask of them the best they can put out. It’s not really a problem with the light, but more a problem with the user to remind oneself that you don’t need to do maximum warp on the lights at all times – but it’s kind of hard to remember when you know you can buy more AA’s at nearly every corner store on Earth.
They both admittedly look a little awkward and flat to me, but still a good size all around.
HP15 – 9/10
HP25 – 9/10
They’re both going for around the same price, and I’m honestly still impressed for the quality lighting you can get for such an inexpensive price.
HP15 – 9/10
HP25 – 9/10
I haven’t had a problem with either yet, but will continue to carry out my punishing herping exploits and report back if problems arise.
HP15 – 8.5/10
HP25 – 8.5/10
Despite being overwhelmingly plastic, I’ve been impressed at how both have held up: especially given that I bang my head a lot.
Ok, I’ll admit it: the ’25 is kind of ugly.
OVERALL SCORE –
HP15 – 87.5/100
HP25 – 81/100
The HP15 is really a work of beauty, and has replaced the HP11 as my primary light. On the other hand, the HP25 suffers from having the two bulbs and, in a phrase, being a jack of all trades and master of none. This actually might work for some field ventures such as camping or stargazing where raw brightness isn’t really the issue, but for the majority of stuff, I’d go with the ’15.
Edit: The HP15 has gone through a couple revisions since the model I used. The overall lumen output has gone up (900 lumens burst with a 400 lumen high), but one unfortunate development is the HP15 no longer comes with a diffuser – that honestly was my favorite part of the headlamp. I can only give my stamp of approval to the older 500 lumen edition until/unless I get a newer HP15 to test it out.