A little while back I offered my initial thoughts on the Led Lenser H7R Headlamp (see post here). First impressions were very positive and it was hoped the H7R would offer a great balance of Minimal Weight and Excellent Brightness/Beam/Battery versatility while the Battery Life and Build Quality showed great potential. In this review I’ll summarise the original conclusions and report on five solid weeks of daily use.
First, I originally suggested that the Outdoors-Market penetration of Led Lenser was relatively low compared to brands such as Petzl and Black Diamond. While this might still be true, I was pretty surprised to find 3 out of the 5 instructors I worked with a NOLS were using H7s (the non-rechargeable version). For those that don’t know, NOLS is a very highly regarded Outdoor Leadership and Education provider based in Wyoming, one that is held in very high regard. To me, a NOLS Instructor’s support goes a long way in recommending a product as their expeditions generally involve 4+ weeks of unsupported backcountry travel – The gear NOLS uses needs to work and keep working for expedition after expedition.
Video Review posted on the Wildplans Youtube Channel
Weight – 4.5/5 (no change)
The Weight of H7R is a very reasonable 210g with rear-mounted AAA Batteries. While this was fine around camp, a small bit of shock-cord running over the top of the head from battery back to lens-frame and back did wonders to stabilise the power pack while running.
Battery (Life) 3.5/5 (no change)
Battery life is difficult to report on, as the light isn’t immune to being accidentally switched on. After swapping the batteries (and taking them out every morning before moving camp) and using it 20days straight for at least one hour a day on low-medium, it started to dim. I would estimate that the total usage on one set of (provided) AAA batteries was approximately 22-25 hours before I started to lose light quality. From a set of AAAs this isn’t bad and had I not read every night I could easily have gone the whole month without needing to change them. Like was suggested earlier, one of the best things about the H7R is the ability to return to the front country and plug in the torch to a USB port and recharge the batteries – disposal not included.
Build Quality (Durability) – 3.5/5 (+)
Build quality of the H7R was as reported: quite good. I’m very happy with all the mechanisms except one (see below) and am particularly fond of the snap-on rubber battery pack cover which is very easy to remove in order to take out the batteries during travel and because it’s rubber isn’t likely to wear out or loosen up after repeatedly removing it.
The one criticism I originally had was regarding the Bulb hinge. This has a stepped, cog-like locking device that limits where the user can angle the light. While generally this is fine, on a handful of occasions I was frustrated at the light either being too high or two low and would suggest that a non-stepped, stiff tension hinge would be preferable.
Brightness & Beam – 4.5/5
Like originally suggested the Brightness is excellent for hiking and running. The low setting is ample for reading and the ability to quickly boost the light and focus the beam give a lot of flexibility. While it was thought that the ability to dim the light might provide a “safety switch” of sorts to avoid those unfortunate accidental battery deaths because the light was accidentally switched on in a pack, this proved false. Led Lenser has attempted to rebate the on/off switch but the light still has a tendency to get switched on accidentally. Clearly the best insurance for this is to remove the batteries while it’s not being used.
Summary – 4/5
First impressions were good (original post here) and field-testing confirms these. The H7R is a great all-rounder, transitioning easily between trail running and general camp craft/backpacking use. Led Lenser has come up with a very balanced unit that, while not perfect for everything, does most things very well. The H7R would comfortably fulfil everything I could ask of it as an Outdoor Instructor and Trail Runner.
Disclosure: This product was provided by Highly Tuned Athletes for the purposes of Field Testing and this Review.