Gear Review: Fenix HL20 Headlamp


A headlamp is a just a headlamp, RIGHT? Not really anymore. The headlamp has come a long way since the first headlamps used by miners. With so many options out there to choose from, it is important to look for features that you want or need in a headlamp. The Fenix HL20 is a great all-around headlamp for anyone going into the backcountry.

The HL20 has 3 output levels to adjust the amount of light needed for certain tasks. It has a flashing mode, or in this case, a signaling mode that flashes S.O.S. automatically. This is a really nice feature in times of need, this will enable hands free signaling. The only down side to this is that it only flashes S.O.S., so naturally this would not be a good light to use in flashing mode other than in an emergency.

At high or max the light gives off 105 lumens and on the low just 4 lumens. This light runs off just 1 AA battery. This is nice because AA are easy to come across and inexpensive. With just one battery the HL20 will last 1.8 hours on high and 56 hrs on low. In the S.O.S. mode it will last 15 hours.

The band of this light was easily adjusted and stayed put. A few of the nights I wore it over the top of my baseball cap and it worked great. The light has a vertical adjustment in order to direct the light where you want it. This is a nice feature to have in a headlamp. It makes it easy to adjust the light from hiking into camp to setting up camp and then reading a book at night.

To switch from each mode there is a button on the side of the light. This makes it easy to turn on the light with or without gloves. To adjust the brightness of the light, you simply press and hold the button for 1 second. The light memorizes which brightness setting the light was on when last turned off. Also to turn on the S.O.S mode simply double press the button and it will switch modes.

Another great feature that came with the HL20 was the diffuser lens. The diffuser can be flipped down on the front of the light and makes this a great light to use in a tent. It will light up a tent with the diffuser over the light.

I have been very pleased with this light. I would recommend checking it out to see if it has the features that you are looking for in a headlamp.

Pros: Button Switch, Diffuser, Tilting Head and S.O.S. mode

Cons: It seemed a bit tricky at first to get used to switching modes, There is not red light for night travel or use.

Features and Specs:

  • LED: Cree XP-E (R2)
  • Waterproof: IPX-8 Standard
  • Battery: 1 x AA (Alkaline, Ni-MH, Lithium)
  • Weight: 1.6 ounces (exc. batteries)
  • Max Bright: 105 lumens (1.8 hr runtime)
  • Output: 4 types
  • Low Bright: 4 lumens (56 hr runtime)
  • Size: 2.5"(L) x 2"(W) x 1.5" (H)

Additional Information:

  • Lifespan = 50,000 hrs
  • Types of Output: 4
  • Lighting Modes
  • - High (105 Lumens, 1.8 hrs)
  • - Mid (48 Lumens, 5.5 hrs)
  • - Low (4 Lumens, 56 hrs)
  • Flashing Modes:
  • - SOS (15 hrs)
  • Max beam length: 70 meters
  • Electronic switch
  • Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
  • Output automatic memory functionAssembled structure design
  • Lighting head: aircraft-grade aluminum, body: high quality plastic
  • Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
  • Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
  • Included accessory: Fenix diffuser lens
  • MSRP: $34.95