Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Incredible brightness (especially for its size), tremendous value
Cons: Short battery life
Best Uses: Serious nighttime trail finding
The German-engineered LED Lenser H7 offers an innovative design with a focusing lens and a dimmable beam. It feels solid, with a precise metal front bezel, and close tolerances. Yet, it is relatively lightweight and small in format. The ability to focus to a narrow beam at full-brightness, has the H7 outdistancing all other AAA battery headlamps and most AA headlamps. With one exception: it's very similar looking sibling the Coast HL7. The coast does not have quite as bright a beam, but it makes up for that with more even cast light at close proximity.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This light has an exceptional trail finding score, 9 of 10, especially since almost every headlamp (other than the Coast) with a similar score was more than twice the weight and money. As you can see in the beam comparison photo with the very similar Coast HL7 below and the Black Diamond Spot the Lenser/Coast Illuminate a lot more.
This is where the LED Lenser (7 of 10) fell behind the Editors' Choice Coast (10 of 10). The coast casts a perfectly even being that was very easy to control. The LED Lenser scored very well, but was not as great at seeing what was in your immediate field of vision.
This score is not that impressive: the Lenser lasted 2.9 hours in our ANSI measured high mode run-time test. That is about the same as its sibling the Coast (3.3 hours). That said, it's on par with other superbright headlamps, the same ones that are generally twice the weight and cost.
The brightness is quite impressive, especially for a headlamp this light and inexpensive. With 154 meter measured max beam distance, only one competitor, the Fenix HP11 beat it out with 173 meters. This is quite impressive considering the Petzl Ultra, a $430 headlamp had about half that. The LED Lenser was also about 30% brighter than its sibling, the Coast.
At 125 grams (4.4 ounces), this is right in the middle of pack for weight. Compare it against other super bright headlamps however, and it look like a feather. It is half the weight of the Fenix HP11, the only brighter headlamp we tested. It is a third the weight of Petzl Ultra.
Ease of Use
This is one of the easier headlamps we tested. Most manufacturers use a button to scroll all the functions. This is easy if you just have a few functions, but once you ad in a bunch or possibilities, learning to use a headlamp can feel like learning morse code. The LED Lenser (and Coast) are refreshingly simple: an on and off button and a lever that adjusts the brightness and beam diameter. We hope more manufacturers think of easy systems like this
This is an ideal light for serious nighttime trail finding, especially if you were moving fast. The team travels so far that you can really see what is way up ahead of you.
The list price is $45 but the street price is around $32. This gives you a price for brightness ratio that can't beat. Like the Coast, if this light was not an Editors Choice, it would have likely won a Best Buy for the most affordable headlamp with a good beam.
This is an awesome headlamp for money. It's very similar to the Coast HL7, our Editors Choice winner. It is brighter than the Coast, but just does not have the same perfect beam evenness at close proximity. The two lights are so similar, that if you have your heart set on the Coast, but can't find it, you can easily substitute it with the LED Lenser. The only major downside to this headlamp is short battery life. If battery life is important to you, consider the Black Diamond Spot or Black Diamond Icon. The Icon has over twice the battery life and similarly awesome trail finding, but costs twice as much and more than twice the cost. The Spot is an Editors Choice winner because it gives solid beam performance, has a good battery life and comes in a very compact package for only $40.
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 14, 2014
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