The Headlamp I Never Knew I Needed

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This top-notch Fenix HM65r headlamp showed me the light when I thought my old headlamp was fine.

We all know the importance of proper lighting to any DIY project. In most cases, portable and tripod mounted work lights are fine. But in tight quarters, like under your kitchen sink or the crawlspace of your home, there’s no substitute for a quality headlamp.

I’ve owned the same $20 headlamp for the past decade, though I kept hearing about the advances and benefits of new age, high-tech headlamps. So I decided to give the Fenix HM65R headlamp a try.

What Is The Fenix HM65r Headlamp?

The Fenix HM65r headlamp features two ultra bright lights that emit up to 1,400 lumens of neutral white light. The spotlight and the flood light are independently controlled and powered by the 18650 rechargeable battery. The magnesium alloy body weighs less than aluminum, but still resists impact and is waterproof to a depth of six feet, according to the manufacturer.

The lightweight perforated reflective headband and removable top headband fit snugly and comfortably on my large head. And it weighs nearly the same as my cheap headlamp with its two clunky AA batteries.

How We Tested It

I brought the Fenix HM65R camping twice in three weeks. I tested its many light settings via basic navigation of our campsites at night. I also left it on overnight several times to assess the battery’s longevity on different settings.

You might think I’m crazy, but I also dropped it off the end of the dock into the lake while it was on! I wanted to test whether it was truly waterproof, and whether it would still function well after such a trial.

Performance Review

Brightness

This is the nicest headlamp I’ve ever used. The wider flood light helps for close tasks like reading in your sleeping bag or rifling through the cooler at night. The incredibly bright spotlight offers a longer, tighter beam.

Turn on both lights for the all-encompassing, 1,400 lumen beam. It’s ideal for when your buddy swears he just saw “something huge move right over there!” or while you’re finishing your nightcap around the fire pit.

Battery Life

The battery life is more than adequate for the jobsite or outdoor adventures.

After leaving each light on overnight, on medium or low, the Fenix HM65R still illuminated brightly in the morning. However, the battery depleted quickly when I left both lights on, or left one on high. And I only got about 3-1/2 hours out of the battery at the full 1,400 lumens, which was plenty.

As a bonus, if you misplace your USB-c charging cord or lack an electrical outlet, the Fenix HM65R can also run off two CR123a single use, primary batteries in a pinch.

Waterproof-ness

The waterproof test was pleasantly surprising if slightly stressful. I tied a rope to the Fenix HM65R, turned it on and dropped it a little more than 40 inches onto the sandy bottom of the lake. I stood in awe as the non-flickering headlamp gleamed through the darkish green water.

I waited four long minutes, expecting the light to extinguish at any moment. It never did. I pulled it back to the surface, and after a quick wipe down with a towel it was back to business as usual.

Quality Costs More

I’ve functioned perfectly well with my $20, AA battery-eating headlamp for years. But the Fenix HM65R is a far superior product, even at five times the price of my old headlamp. The Fenix HM65R’s rechargeable, long-lasting, comfortable and bright features are absolutely worth the cost and the upgrade.

Why You Should Buy This

Whether you work in a trade requiring frequent headlamp use or you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast always on the water, give the Fenix HM65R a try. It’s the headlamp I never knew I wanted or needed.

Where to Buy

The Fenix HM65R is available from fenix-store.com, or at Amazon.com.

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Ethan O'Donnell
Ethan is Family Handyman’s go-to editor for finding and testing the latest and greatest products, tools, and gear in the DIY space. Ethan has experience building custom woodwork, sets, props, and exhibits. Over the course of his career, he has completed projects for several Fortune 500 companies as well as for the United States Park Service. During his spare time, he likes to ride anything on two wheels, read, draw, or spend time with friends discussing recent Formula 1 events.