Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $65
Pros: Brightest headlamp tested, easy to use
Cons: Low close proximity score, short battery life, heavy
Best Uses: Short and fast nighttime adventures
Boasting an impressive 277 lumens, the Fenix HP11 is one of the brightest headlamps available. In our tests, it had the highest lux measurement and cast a beam the furthest out of over 36 competitors. All of this and it has a street price of only $50-65. While it is like putting a high beam on your head, it also didn't score that well for close proximity and had a short battery life. Unless you just want the brightest headlamp out there, most people will prefer the Coast HL7, our Editors' Choice winner which is half the weight, $20 less expensive and has a much better beam-pattern at close distance.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Few headlamps topped the Fenix for trail finding and those that also scored a 10 od 10 were typically 3-8 times more expensive. The Petzl Ultra may be a little better, but it also costs $430. This beam comparison photo with the Coast HL7 shows much how much more you can see with the Fenix.
Here the Fenix stumbles and gets a 4 of 10. Top scorers in this category cast even light across you entire field of vision. The Fenix keeps the light focused in the middle which makes it difficult to see items in the periphery. Below you can see the Coast (10 of 10 score) cast a nearly perfectly even beam while the Fenix has a glaring hot spot in the middle.
In bright mode, the Fenix does not last that long. In this battery life vs beam distance graph against the Black Diamond Icon, see how the Fenix beam distance drops precipitously after 1.5 hours and is dead after 5. The Icon slowly loses power over 11.5 hours.
The Fenix lasted 2.6 hours in our measured mind mode runtime test using the ANSI standard (learn more about ANSI at our headlamp review. By comparison, the Spot lasted 5.2 hours, the Icon 8.2 hours and the Coast 3.3 hours.
We did not measure the low mode runtime. Fenix claims HP11 will run for 206 hours compared to the Icon (175 hours) and Spot (200 hours).
With a measured max beam distance of 173 m, this is by far the brightest headlamp we tested. The Coast beam went 128 meters and the icon 80 meters.
At 263 grams (9.3 ounces), this is one of the heaviest headlamps tested. You get a lot of power: but you have to be ready to carry it. The Icon weighs in at 230 grams and the Coast is 124 grams.
Because of its weight, this is not the ideal trail running or backpacking headlamp. Its more for nighttime hiking with difficult route finding.
With a street price as low as $50, you get a lot of lumens for your dollar.
If you primary use of a headlamp is trail-finding in short bursts, this headlamp is looking good. If you want to brag about lumens to your friends, look no further. However, it faces some stout competition. The Coast HL7 is $20-30 less expensive, less than half the weight, and casts a much more even beam at close proximity. If you need a bright beam for a long outing, we recommend the Black Diamon Icon which lasts much longer and is better at close proximity.
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 6, 2015
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