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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
Until the HL21, I felt like I had to compromise between units that are too heavy and units that didn't have adequate battery life. Headlamps using coin cells or AAA batteries were light, but didn't have the staying power. The HL21 hits the spot and is great for backpacking trips. Around camp its lowest light level setting is just about right. On the trail, its higher settings are high enough. The adjustable angle allows it to still work well when used on top of a baseball cap. I also like its flip up diffuser which allows you to switch between a focused spot and broader even light pattern. The On/Off/Level switch is like the tail switch on a hand-held flashlight, so is large and quick to find. Being waterproof is a good thing too. I have a fairly large collection of flashlights and the HL21 is the first headlamp I have liked well enough to make me think about leaving the hand-held units behind.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
I decided that I really needed a headlamp after camping many times using a typical flashlight pinched between my neck and shoulder to get around in the dark. And the Fenix HL21 is what I chose to get.

Here's the breakdown as to why:

Pros:
- Four modes of operation (90 lumens, 43 lumens, 3 lumens, and SOS)
- Uses only "ONE" AA battery and yet it has impressive run times [2 hrs, 3 min (high); 5 hrs, 43 min (mid); 53 hrs (low)]; at the same time, this reduces the weight and the bulkyness of other high powered headlamps
- Head strap is very easy to adjust and stays snug once set; also easy to take off and wash if necessary
- Very easy to follow instructions
- Comes with a diffuser that you can snap on and keep on (the diffuser lens can also be flipped up if you want a beam of light)
- Comfortable fit
- Waterproof up to 2 meters
- Comes with a spare o-ring if old one needs to be replaced
- Uses LED (way more impact/shock resistant than conventional bulbs)
- And finally... "Look Ma, no hands!" Once you have this on your head, you are pretty much handsfree to do as you please (until you need to either adjust the brightness or turn it off)

Cons:
- None

Recommendation(s)/Suggestion(s):
- This light does only use one LED bulb; therefore, I think it would be best to always have a backup light source just in case. The last thing you want is to be in the dark.

Overall, sure it's made in China, but not everything from China can or should be labeled as poor quality. I think Fenix makes a wonderful line of illuminating products and provides us customers with the best value and great alternatives to super, high-end lighting options such as SureFire. I highly, highly recommend this product because it's full of pros and absolutely no foreseeable cons.

Thank you for reading this review. Cheers!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon June 13, 2012
The HL21 from Fenix is one of the brightest 1AA headlights available. It's a great deal for $35.

The light itself detaches from the mount; it simply snaps on and off. I thought this would adversely affect the pivoting system, which is a series of notches in the plastic housing, but it doesn't. The headlight stays where you put it, unless you bang it on something. A few reviews cited the plastic C-shaped arms breaking, but mine has held up nicely. The entire headlight is made of plastic, except the battery contacts. The light runs on one AA battery, although it doesn't include one. Alkalines, NiMH, and lithium primaries are all okay, but no 14500 or 14550. The screw-on battery door is located on the left (if you're wearing the headlight) side of the unit. Loosening it 1/4 of a turn prevents the light from coming on while in a pack.

The switch is on the right side of the light. Press it once to turn the light on in high mode (90 lumens). Hold and the light quickly dims to low mode (3 lumens). From low, hold the switch to turn on medium mode (43 lumens). From medium, hold the switch to go to high mode. In any mode, double-click the switch to turn on the SOS mode. The SOS mode signals "SOS" in Morse Code in the medium mode. A single click in any mode turns the light off. The light will come back on in the last mode you used.

The headband is wide and fully adjustable. It's comfortable to use.

One of the key features listed is: "Aluminum alloy features a Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish." There is no aluminumm alloy, nor Type III finish. The entire light is plastic. That's not a problem for me, but it should be clearer in the description. The lens is glass, which I prefer. The LED is an XP-E R2, and it's behind a smooth reflector. This gives the light a lot fo throw for such a small unit. If you prefer a floodier light, this comes with a snap-on diffuser. The diffuser flips up when attached so you can still use the spotty beam. A spare O-ring is included. The description says a lanyard is included; there's no lanyard.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with this light. The light itself detaches from the head mount so you can stash it in a jacket pocket and use it as a flashlight, which I really like. It takes just one commonly-available AA battery, which makes it cheap to feed. The output levels are bright enough and spaced apart for most uses. Give it a shot.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2011
The best headlamp I own. The Petzel and Princeton Tec are good...but now are relegated to being back ups.
Pros: Uses ONE AA battery.
Pros: The AA battery SCREWS in...so you don't have to fumble and manipulate the case of the other two brands to make it work with three AAA batteries.
Pros: AA batteries are over the place.
Pros: Nice up and down range on the snap swivel on the front so you can position it to point HIGH...or low down in front of you to attach flies to your fishing line at night.
Pros: Bright. Very bright for such a small product. Bright like a handheld so it throws a beam...with enough diffusion to be able to walk in the woods at night.

Cons: None that I could yet find. I will order another. If they fail to work...I'll let you know.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2013
Under normal operation, these are awesome. Amazing amount of light for a single AA. Lightweight and comfortable to wear. Diffuser is great for spreading out the light on stuff like automotive work, although I have my doubts about how long the cheap plastic hinge on the diffuser will hold up.

All of that said, two of the HL21s that I bought will simply refuse to turn on once in a while, which is very annoying. I cannot replicate the problem consistently. Removing and replacing the battery doesn't seem to help. Pressing the the button for varying durations to get it to turn on doesn't seem to help either. After a while, it will turn on again and operate normally as if nothing happened. These headlamps are microcontroller-driven, so I don't know if its a firmware, electrical connectivity, or button hardware issue.

With the experience I had with these, I would not feel comfortable relying on this headlamp to work in an emergency situation.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2012
I wanted a lite hands free worklight for personal use, having good experience with Fenix I bought this one. I received it quickly from Amazon. Put in the battery, turned it on, etc

The first time adjusting the light up and down one side of the plastic "C" brackets broke. There are 2 "C" brackets that hold the light by the battery holder. I was not rough with it. I looked over the design carefully and decided not to get a replacement as I thought it would break again sooner or later.

Thank you Amazon for your return policy.. That and good prices keeps me coming back.

This happened about 6mo.s ago. I am surprised I'm the only one that has had this problem since then...

I have several models of Fenix flashlights and I am very happy with all of them. Quality is great. This one is the exception.

Note:Ships from and sold by Amazon.com ($34.95)
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2012
I am a Search and Rescue/Recovery Operator in the Northern Midwest. Having destroyed a Petzl Ultra and two PIXA 3's, I was looking for a solid, light headlamp with good throw and a diffuser that wouldn't break the bank (as I expected to have to replace the lamp every 4-6 months).
My original HL21 is still running strong after 13 months of heavy usage, with no functional faults. I've since ordered two others for at home.
The HL21 is a solid and light headlamp with easily accessible controls that has, in my opinion, the perfect stepping in brightness levels for my work. The flip-down diffuser works well enough (although I'd like to see the design reinforced a bit), and allows me to use the light (which has a great spot-throw for search operations) up close for medical procedures.
My only concern is that the plastic pivot design may break at some point down the road; I would have preferred a metal pivot design. With that being said, it has still yet to break (and if it does while in the field, a ziptie would render it operable).
The flexibility of running off of AA batteries enables me to carry only one type, reducing weight. And due to the commonality of AA's, when I'm assigned on remote, long-term engagements I still have no problem finding more power sources.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Fenix HL21.

UPDATE Sept, 2014: I've been using this same headlamp for the past three years, for a total of 54 search and rescue operations in the US and Canada, and 12 backpacking trips. It's still running just as well as it did the day it was new; no signs of wear and tear around hinges, as I was worried about. I've yet to even open the packaging on the backup light I carry in my base pack. I'd say that I plan on buying more of these, but my original just doesn't seem to want to die.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2013
I have owned literately more flashlights than I can count and this one is probably my favorite headlamp. I love lights with 1AA battery, they are compact light weight and economical to operate. 1AA has nearly the same watt hours of energy as 3AAA and around here AAA are usually slightly more expensive than AA batteries. This headlamp is so compact that I don't have to debate whether I should or shouldn't take it on an adventure, I always take it. When space is really a concern it can be easily removed for the headband and used an a interestingly shaped handheld torch. It is very rugged and waterproof.

The user interface is my favorite of all multi mode lights I have used. One quick press turns it on or off long press changes brightness level. Brightness is retained when turned off and back on. Fenix has very efficient power electronics that allow this light to run as long as it does on each battery. The dimming is done through true constant current drive and not PWM like most others use which creates high frequency flashing that subconsciously drives me mad.

Another outstanding design feature of this light is that when the battery is to dead to support the current out put level it dims down to where the dead battery can support output. Unfortunately many other single cell lights that use a boost converter to drive the LED will be operating fine one second and go out the next once the battery passes the point at which the power can not be delivered to the LED. The HL21 gives you plenty of warning when you have a dead battery and will not leave you in the dark.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2013
I have had this headlamp for about 3 months now. I won't state all the specs and other readily available information, if you need that, it's not too hard to find.

When I bought the HL21, my intent was to have a lightweight headlamp that was bright enough to run with. What I got was a lamp that has been capable of replacing my hand held lights.

In roughly 3 months since I got it, I use the HL21 nearly every day. I've used the lowest mode for reading a book at night, and the medium and high modes for crawling around in the crawl space under my house, finishing up mowing the lawn at 5:30pm when it's dark here (I have to mow my lawn year around, even in the winter), and on Halloween night trick or treating. My youngest son is 6 years old, and most nights I have to get him up. I use the low mode with the diffuser and its perfect. I have worn it for hours, and it's very comfortable - enough so that I've forgotten I had it on.

I use envelop rechargeable batteries, which is a perfect match for this headlamp.

I have found the HL21 so useful, I don't remember how I lived without it. I use it every day.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2013
I work nights and was looking for a AA light which is dim-able and with decent run times. I found it in this light. The diffuser (included) is great for up close area light and with it flipped up it has good throw. It seems rugged enough for medium hard usage, (And has held up well in over a month of daily use.) but it is made of plastic!! Don't drive nails with it. I like the single headband, and it is adjustable enough to take up the slack if it stretches out. (Something other headlamps have let me down on.) The only issue at all is if you wear glasses as I do, the light is such low profile if you turn it downward it tends to shine on the inside of your lenses causing glare. This is most noticeable with the diffuser in place. All in all I am extremely pleased with it.
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