Review: Fenix HP25R V2.0
- Bigger battery = longer runtime
- Improved light intensity and reach
- Viable red light
- Charges quickly
- Can use main beam and floodlight simultaneously
- High output modes are time/temperature limited
- Substantial price increase on previous generation
When it comes to headlamps, there are a few main qualities that I’m looking for. Obviously, a lamp has to be comfortable to wear for long periods and I prefer something with the battery case mounted on the main head strap rather than a belt-mounted case. I like to choose from a range of at least three well-spaced beam strengths and I prefer a colder, bluer temperature light than a warmer, yellowy one. The longer the battery can last on a single charge the better and it is also convenient to have a short recharge time too. Also, the lamp has to be robust and up to the rigours of regularly being drenched and banged about in a rucksack.
A lamp’s maximum output is another important consideration. Particularly when rock fishing, having a full beam that rivals the North Star for brightness makes perilous tasks like gaffing a conger in a choppy sea that bit easier. Depending on the lamp design, it is also important that high output modes are available in a useful type of beam and that they can be sustained for a decent length of time.
It’s fair to say that, nowadays, many shore anglers (myself included) are looking to two brands in particular for their headlamps: Fenix and LED Lenser. I’ve used lights from both these manufacturers and found them functionally pretty much as good as each other. Of the two, however, it’s Fenix that I’ve tended to favour as I prefer the design and feel of their lamps. I’ve owned quite a few Fenix lamps over the years, including several HP15s, two HP30s (these were great while they worked but taught me to steer clear of belt-mounted battery cases in the future) and, most recently, a HP25R, which I’ve found the pick of the bunch up until now. Now Fenix have updated the HP25R in the guise of the new V2.0 model and it was an easy decision for me to pick one up.
Although this new lamp looks superficially similar to its predecessor, it has some substantial upgrades. The original HP25 took 18650 Li-ion batteries and came with a 2600 mAh cell. You could upgrade this to a 3500 mAh Fenix battery (and I did) for improved runtimes. The V2.0 takes 21700 Li-on batteries and includes a 5000 mAh cell – a major step up in capacity allowing the V2.0 longer runtimes again as well as the juice to power more than one beam at a time. More on this later.
As well as more power, the V2.0 sports an improved 5 lumen red LED in addition to the familiar HP25R layout of main beam and flood beam. The old model had a paltry 0.5 lumen red beam that I found too dim to be of any use but the uprated LED on the V2.0 is a different story, casting enough light to make tasks like baiting up no problem. For anglers who value subtlety at night when targeting spooky species at close quarters, the addition of a useful red beam to the HP25R has to be a winner.
At the other end of the scale, the Fenix HP25R V2.0 in maximum output mode is more than bright enough to illuminate the foggiest moonless night. The extra whack at the top end is really noticeable when you run the new and old lamps side by side. In fact, even in a main beam mode with identical lumen output (the original HP25R’s turbo mode and the V2.0’s high mode: both 1000 lumens), the V2.0 seems to me to have a little extra poke and cuts through the dark slightly better. I put this down to the two models being fitted with different LEDs.
Incidentally, Fenix states that you are limited to 10 minutes runtime on the V2.0’s 1600 and 1000 lumen modes before they drop down to 550 lumens to prevent overheating. I tested this from a cold start going straight to the 1600 lumen turbo mode and leaving the lamp shining at a wall where I could easily pick up variations in the light intensity. The lamp did seem to diminish a little at a time over the following 11 minutes before abruptly dropping right down. By that point the lamp was red hot. Although I could quickly return to the turbo mode, it would soon drop down again, seemingly as it hit a set temperature threshold.
If there’s a point to be made here it is that the extremely bright modes in these kinds of headlamps are really only suitable for being used sparingly and, in practice, there shouldn’t be many occasions where ten minutes or so of such intense light is strictly necessary. If you routinely spend over ten minutes trying to land a fish in the dark, however, then you’ll want to consider something that is capable of maintaining a very high output for longer. In any respect, with the V2.0 it would have been more useful to me to have had, say, a 700/800 lumen mode that wasn’t limited, instead of the 1000 lumen mode which I will probably never use while 1600 lumens is on offer.
As previously mentioned, the new lamp has the ability to run its main beam and floodlight beam simultaneously – for me this is a huge advantage over the previous model. I live mostly in the ‘low’ mode on these lamps for the majority of my sessions but when casting I need a little extra light to get my bearings. With the original H25R, I switched the main beam into a higher mode to cast, cycling back to normal mode when I had finished but with the V2.0, I can simply leave the floodlight in the 400 lumen high setting and turn it on and off as I need with one click.
In practice, my night fishing sessions so far with the Fenix HP25R V2.0 have been everything I expected. The lamp is comfortable to wear, intuitive to use and powerful. After charging it for the first time, I used it for three sessions without recharging in between. Towards the end of the third session, the lamp began restricting me to the lower power modes. I kept going for another thirty minutes or so before switching to my back up and the lamp didn’t actually die in this time so you aren’t going to get caught out. The lamp also has a handy battery check function which gives you a rough idea of how much juice you have left.
At a rough calculation, I figure I used the lamp for perhaps twelve hours before the battery power began to wane. In that time I cycled a lot through modes, combined beams and used the brighter settings a lot so in more normal use, the 5000 mAh cell should last a bit longer. I would feel happy using the V2.0 for a couple of normal length sessions consecutively or for an all-nighter without worrying about it running out of power and having to switch to my backup lamp. For extra peace of mind, a spare Fenix 21700 5000 mAh cell costs £25.95. Fenix reports a four hour charge time for the 21700 battery in the V2.0 and in practice I found that to be spot on. The V2.0 uses USB type C rather than the previous model’s micro USB port, a handy upgrade that no doubt expedites the recharge time.
I don’t remember exactly what I paid for mine but the old HP25R cost in the region of £80. The new V2.0 is currently retailing for around £120 so, although the V2.0 clearly offers superior performance to the original model, are the upgrades worth the bump in price? I would say that depends on whether the areas that Fenix have improved on with the V2.0 are going to be of much use to you. Basically, the V2.0 knocks the granny out of the original in battery life, outright power and switching options. The maths makes sense for me but, depending on things like your budget and fishing style, your perception may be different.
The Fenix HP25R V2.0’s chief competition comes in the form of the LED Lenser H15R, a single LED design that nevertheless, offers greater control over its output via an adjustment wheel and also sports up to 1000 lumens constant output. I haven’t seen one of these lamps in action yet so I can’t offer an opinion on whether it is the equal of (or better than) the V2.0. It is slightly more expensive, however and lacks a few of the V2.0’s nifty features.
It’s way too early to comment on the longevity of the V2.0 as yet but it looks to be made as sturdily as any other Fenix lamp I have owned in the past. I’ll keep this page live and update in six months with my opinion of how the lamp is holding up.