Grzybek Reviews

Headlamp Comparison | What’s worth considering

Table of contents

Intro

This headlamp recommendation list was created for the Polish Flashlight Enthusiats group on Facebook, as we often get questions about what headlamps to get. That also means there are only headlamps that are available for purchase for us in Poland (hence no brands like Thrunite or Zebralight).
I translated it to English, because I realized it might be useful for people that just want to compare the more popular models.

Check out the u/BrokenRecordBot headlamp recommendation list for best headlamps to get in the USA.


Below you will find a list of headlamps that I personally recommend. There are divided into different budgets and also by the special features they offer (colored light, small size etc.).

Headlamp types

At the moment there are two main popular headlamp types. A standard shape (with the LED in the center) and a right-angle configuration (in a shape of an L).

The right angle headlamps are often more versatile than the standard ones, as they can not only be used in a headband, but also in hand as a right-angle light. Such L-shaped flashlights can be placed on a surface or even stuck to metal with their magnet.

What’s driver regulation?

Driver is a device inside the flashlight that regulates power from the battery to the LED’s. This allows the user to adjust the brightness of the light
Driver’s regulation defines how well the driver can sustain a stable brightness. A driver with poor regulation will decrease brightness as the battery discharges. A driver with good regulation will keep the brightness stable till the battery drains fully.

Driver’s regulation isn’t the same as it’s efficiency. There exist drivers that can sustain a stable output, but aren’t very efficient at it (ofcourse, I’m not going into too much detail here).

Interactive photos

Each model on the list has a couple of photos. You can change between them with a swipe.

Flashlight’s info is contained in its card. You can fold the card to make comparison between models easier.

Graphs and photos with a watermark “GRZYBEK REVIEWS” can be compared against each other, as they were all created will the same settings.


Prices of the headlamps may vary, so please check the links to get the current price of each headlamp.
Most of the specs below are actually my measurments. Brightness and throw were measured 30 seconds after turning the flashlight on.

20$ – 30$:

Wurkkos HD15

Wurkkos HD15

Aliexpress.com | Wurkkos.com (~22$)


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 118g (w/ cell, w/o headband)
Brightness: 1690lm
Throw: 160m
Cd/lm*: 2 – 7
Light: White (Wide & Focused)
CRI*: ~90
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: USB-C
Magnet: Yes


HD15 has a broad range of use cases. It has 2 LEDs, one makes a wide beam, the other a focused one. You can change between them with a triple click from ON.
We get a rubber headband with two loops that hold the flashlight. The driver regulation isn’t bad, hard to get anything better for this price.


1Lumen


Sofirn HS40

Sofirn HS40

Aliexpress.com | Sofirnlight.com (6500K version) (~28$)


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 115g
Brightness: 1610lm
Throw: 192m
Cd/lm*: 6
Light: White
CRI*: 70
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: USB-C
Magnet: Yes


Single LED. New version of the popular SP40 model. The driver temperature control is a bit aggressive, but it shouldn’t oscilate as much in real world use. Because of the shallow reflector, the light creates a pretty wide spill* with a focused hotspot*. There is pretty substancial tint-shift visible in the beam.
The headband is made of rubber with two loops for the headlamp.


1Lumen

40$ – 65$:

Sofirn HS20 SFT40

Sofirn HS20 SFT40 (~40$)

Aliexpress.com | (SFT40, with battery) | Sofirnlight.com


Type: Standard
Weight: 124g
Brightness: 2040lm
Throw: 249m
Cd/lm*: 2 – 10
Light: White (Wide & focused)
CRI*: ~90 (Only wide beam)
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: USB-C
Magnet: Yes


Similar to HD15, but the focused LED has noticeably better range. Good choice if you want a throwy headlamp with good range. The focused (SFT40) and wide (LH351D) beam are controlled with separate buttons. USB-C port hidden under the tailcap.
Rubber headlamp with two loops to hold the light.

A cheaper version that uses the XHP50.2 LED exists, but I think the Wurkkos HD15 would be a better choice at that price. [Comparisons of the SFT40 and the XHP50.2 version.]


tgreviews.com


Skilhunt H04RC

Skilhunt H04 RC (~55$)

Aliexpress.com (Nichia 519a 4500K) | Killzoneflashlights.com (Include battery)


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 101g
Brightness: 756lm
Throw: 106m
Cd/lm*: 4
Light: White
CRI*: ~90
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: Magnetic cable
Magnet: Yes


Well tested and widely liked headlamp. Compared to the HS40 it uses a High CRI Led and has a more even beam. The clip-in headband is also much better than the rubber ones, as it allows for clipping the headlamp in and out quickly.

I’d recommend getting the cell separately as it’s usually cheaper than getting one with the light on Aliexpress.


tgreviews.com


Skilhunt H300

Skilhunt H300 (~60$)

Aliexpress.com (HCRI) | Killzoneflashlights.com


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 106g
Brightness: 1541lm
Throw: 146m
Cd/lm*: 3,5
Light: White
CRI*: ~90
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: Magnetic cable
Magnet: Yes


A newer model than the H04RC. Higher brightness and better sustained output. Every so slightly more expensive, tiny bit bigger. Uses the same great headband as the H04RC.

I’d recommend getting the cell separately as it’s usually cheaper than getting one with the light on Aliexpress.


tgreviews.com

+90$:

Armytek Wizard C2 Pro

Armytek Wizard C2 Pro (95$)

Killzoneflashlights.com


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 115g
Brightness: 1700lm
Throw: 144m
Cd/lm*: 2,5
Light: White
CRI*: ~95
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: Magnetic cable
Magnet: Yes


One of the better headlamps available on the market. Great driver with high sustained output and good regulation. High CRI LED. The body itself is durable, fall resistant. Above average headband.
10 year warranty. I recommend to purchase from Killzone, not straight from Armytek.


LuxWad | 1Lumen


Acebeam H30

Acebeam H30

Acebeam.com


Type: Standard
Weight: 149g
Brightness: 4000lm
Throw: 171m
Cd/lm*: 1,8
Light: White and additonal red/green/high CRI (depends on version)
Cell: 21700
Build-in charging: USB-C under the cap
Magnet: Yes


A bigger, heavier headlamp running the 21700 cell. The brightest headlamp on the list. Good driver with great sustained output. A pretty standard rubber headlamp with loops.


Flashlight Enthusiast


Fenix HM65R-T

Fenix HM65R-T

Amazon.com


Type: Standard
Weight: 135g
Brightness: 1200lm
Throw: 186m
Cd/lm*: 2 – 7
Light: White (Wide & focused)
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: USB-C under the cap
Magnet: None


Similar to the Sofirn HS20 but with a better driver (steps down slower and sustains a higher output). Slightly lower throw compared to the HS20.
Uses a “SPORT-Fit” mechanism that lets you adjust the headband size with one hand.
I doubt you can take out the flashlight from the headband.


Zeroair.com | BudgetLightForum.com

Small headlamps:

Sofirn HS10

Sofirn HS10

Aliexpress.com | Sofirnlight.com (~18$)


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 51g
Brightness: 826lm
Throw: 139m
Cd/lm*: 6
Light: White
CRI*: ~90
Cell: 16340 600mAh
Build-in charging: USB-C
Magnet: Yes


Compact, light weight headlamp. One of the cheaper headlamps on the list. Keep in mind that lowering the size will impact the battery capacity, as the 16340 cell the HS10 uses has a 5 times lower capacity than a 18650 cell (~650mAh vs 3000mAh), but it does make it light weight. Rubber headband. Not great regulation. High CRI LED.


No review available.


Skilhunt H150

Skilhunt H150 (~54$)

Killzoneflashlights.com | Aliexpress.com


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 54g
Brightness: 480lm
Throw: 82m
Cd/lm*: 3,5
Light: White
CRI*: ~95
Cell: 14500 & AA/Ni-mh
Build-in charging: Magnetic cable (only 14500)
Magnet: Yes


Compact headlamp. Can run on 14500 cells and also AA batteries (dual-fuel). Similar, slightly updated headlamp that the H04RC and H300 use (it’s great).


tgreviews.com | TimMcMahon.com.au


Skilhunt H04RC Mini

Skilhunt H04RC Mini (~240zł)

Aliexpress.com (Nichia 519A 4500K) | Killzoneflashlights.com


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 69g
Brightness: 567lm
Throw: 96m
Cd/lm*: 3,5
Light: White
CRI*: ~95
Cell: 18350 (~1000mAh)
Build-in charging: Magnetic cable
Magnet: Yes


A shorter and lighter version of the H04RC. Uses a smaller 18350 cell (1/2 lenght, 1/3 capacity).
Uses the same headband as the H04RC and H300.


Zeroair.com

With red light:

Red light is believed to not decrease night vision as much. It doesn’t draw as much attention and bugs aren’t attracted to it, so they won’t fly into your face.

Sofirn H25LR

Sofirn D25LR/H25LR

Aliexpress.com | Sofirnlight.com (~16$)


Type: Standard
Weight: 96g
Brightness: 580lm
Throw: 101m
Cd/lm*: 4,5
Light: White and red
CRI*: ~90
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: USB-C under tailcap
Magnet: None


Standard headlamp with white and red light. Simple UI. USB-C port hidden under tailcap. The headband has a clip-on design, so the light can be detached and attached faster than on a standard rubber headband.
The build quality of the host isn’t the best, but fully acceptable at this price point.


tgreviews.com


Wurkkos HD15R

Wurkkos HD15R

Aliexpress.com | Wurkkos.com (~32$)


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 122g
Brightness: 929lm (241lm of red light)
Throw: 78m
Cd/lm*: 1,6
Light: White and red
CRI*: ~90
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: USB-C
Magnet: Yes


Wurkkos HD15, but the focused channel was replaced with a red LED. Light color can be changed with a triple click from ON. The light will remember which color was last used and turn back on in that color.


Flashlight Enthusiast


Armytek Wizard C2 WR

Armytek Wizard C2 WR

Killzoneflashlights.com


Type: Right-angle
Weight: 110g
Brightness: 1000lm (230lm of red light)
Throw: 97m
Cd/lm*: 2
Light: White and red
Cell: 18650
Build-in charging: Magnetic cable
Magnet: Yes


It’s a Wizard C2 Pro, but with a slightly dimmer main white LED and a secondary red LED.


Youtube Review | Red light vs bugs

How to make your headlamp last longer

I get a lot of people concerned about runtime ask me, why not go for a 21700 headlamp? Wouldn’t it give me a longer runtime?
It’s important to remember that 21700 headlamps will be noticeably heavier than 18650 models, which our neck will feel after prolonged use.

Which is why I’d recommend to purchase additional 18650 cells and carry them on person. This way we keep the weight off our head and can have as much additional runtime as one could need.

Ofcourse, 21700 headlamps still have their benefits (higher sustained output, less frequent cell swaps, higher brightness etc.).

Headlamps that use 3xAAA vs Li-ion

When giving recommendations, I try to avoid headlamps that run this cell configuration.

  • By using AAAs, one will need to keep purchasing them, which can get very expensive in the long run. The cost to recharge a li-ion cell is close to nothing.
  • As far as weight goes, a 18650 Li-ion cell carries the equivalent capacity of 7 AAAs, but weights as much as 4 of them.
    If someone would need a more light weight headlamp, there exist 18350 and 16340 formats. Another option is a dual-fuel 14500/AA light, which can use alkaline cells.
  • In case a high output is needed for a short period of time, li-ion cells can discharge a much higher current than any alkaline cells.

Below is a runtime grapth of a Skilhunt H03 (Sanyo GA 18650) in blue and a Petzl Tactkka+ (3xAAA) in red.


Terminology

Hotspot, Corona, Spill:


Cd/lm:

A good way to determine the beam profile of a flashlight is to divide its candela (cd) by the lumens (lm) it produces. In return, we will get the cd/lm ratio.

The bigger the number, the more focused the light will be. The lower the number, the floodier it will be.

Ofcourse, it’s not a golden rule. The size of the hotspot, corona and spill are determined by the depth and size of the reflector (e.g. Sofirn HS40 has a shallow reflector, which causes the hotspot to be small and the spill to be very wide).

Here’s an approximate scale of what those values mean:

  • 0.1 cd/lm: light bulb
  • 1-3: flooder
  • 5-15: balanced EDC-style beam
  • 30: compact thrower
  • 100: dedicated thrower
  • 500+: extreme thrower
  • 10000: laser

CRI:

CRI is color rendering index. CRI is (simplified) a scale from 0-100 of how accurate a source of light is to the light of the sun. High CRI light will show accurate colors, where low CRI light might make some colors seem unsaturated or oversaturated.

CRI can be very important/noticeable to differentiate colors in some situations.
Here’s a low and high CRI source of light compared on meat:

Low CRI light often makes the reds unsaturated (as seen above and below). Below you can see why e.g. high CRI light can be important for medical professionals.


Light temperature:


1 thought on “Headlamp Comparison | What’s worth considering”

  1. Great information, but all of that and no Wurrkos HD20?

    Don’t forget that 21700 lights will indeed run on a 18650, usually just fine, saving the weight.

    Looking for a really indepth comparison of the HD15 and HD20.

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