Fenix HP25R Review
Cons: Heavy, bright beam only lasts 2.8 hrs, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Fenix HP25 is a specialized light-generating machine. It is the brightest in our test, but is otherwise only about average in performance, and significantly heavier and bulky.
The big, bright and wide beam of the Fenix offers terrific performance for trail finding, tying for first place with the Zebralight H600w Mk IV and besting the other top contender Black Diamond Storm.
As you can see in the beam comparison photos below, the Fenix (left) is really about exactly the same as the Zebralight (right). Both offer a huge beam and lights up the path ahead, both wide and far.
In the photos below you can see that the Storm (below right) can't see as far as the Fenix, and although excellent, isn't quite as good. They both earned 9 of 10 scores, and both offer amazing trail finding performance, but the Fenix is objectively better (just not good enough to go to a 10 of 10 score).
The Fenix sends out a perfectly functional flood light, in your choice of four brightness levels, but it has a somewhat hot center that is not as evenly lit as better floods like the BD Spot or BD Storm. While the Spot earned a perfect 10, the Fenix was really only about average when compared to the competition and earned a 5.
For such a bright light, it is appropriate to be somewhat forgiving when it comes to high mode battery run-time. The Fenix delivered pretty good performance, considering its brightness, at 2.8 hours
Comparing the Fenix versus the Zebralight in our graph below that looks at beam distance over time, you can see that the Zebralight (in H2 mode), delivers a longer, and quite well-regulated 120 meter beam, while the Fenix drops below to 113 meters after a strong initial 20 minute run from 182m to 166m.
Just as it is the brightest light in our review, it is also the heaviest at a half a pound. Just as it dominates the brightness of the next brightest product by 20%, it is 21% heavier than the next heaviest. While it sure seems as though the Fenix could be made lighter with no compromise in brightness, our testers didn't seem to care. One would not carry this light anywhere that weight matters. It is a pure light-throwing beast!
Ease of Use
Just like everything else about the Fenix, we overlook some quirks on account of the brightness. With two bulbs and two buttons, usage is even less intuitive than some of the other multiple moded products we reviewed. In an issue ubiquitous to all two-part lights (lights with battery pack at the back of the head and bulb unit on the front), and exaggerated by a somewhat floppy cord connecting the two, the HP25R is easy to be get tangled up in pocket or pack. Before putting it on, you must sort out the straps and cord in order for everything to line up correctly.
Finally, in terms of ease of use, there is some assembly required. Out of the package the Fenix arrives with straps and hardware all separate. You must put it all together in a 10-minute project.
When you need to see a long distance, the Fenix is a solid contender. But, be aware that it isn't the only one with this kind of performance.
In terms of value, the HP25R is not a slam-dunk. It is quite expensive, and only worthwhile if you really need a very bright, long-distance beam. But, the Zebralight sells for about the same price, and we feel it offers a better value because it works better in a lot of ways, not just in terms of beam distance and brightness.
Many people will also want to consider a lower cost light, like the BD Storm, which sells for about half the price, and offers nearly as good beam distance performance. Plus, the BD is smaller, lighter, and offers better performance and features for use around camp.
We love specialized, no-holds-barred products. With such powerful lighting performance, it is easy to overlook the shortcomings. This is not a light for everyone. In fact, very few are apt to need this sort of performance, and even those who do may not find the Fenix's top beam performance enough to overlook similarly bright headlamps that offer better all-around performance like the Zebralight or Storm.
— RJ Spurrier