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Thread: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

  1. #1
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    Default Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    I was sent this headlamp for review by Nitecore. I don't do run time charts etc etc etc. I don't disassemble gear items. There are plenty of reviewers who do an outstanding job at that. What I do is actual use of a gear item during outings aka field testing backpack based gear reviews. One pro to camping, hiking, fishing and trail running often is having this very opportunity. To be honest I am not big on the entire open box review structure as often seen on the internet. Nothing wrong with initial impressions reviews but always prefer watching gear in actual use. However that's just my personal preference and to each their own. With my rant out of the way lets take a look at the HC30!











    What's included?





    Ok the red lanyard and 4xCR123 SF primaries weren't included but the HC30 did come with a nice clip, two O-rings, roomy headband plus extra switch boot. Lets take a look at the stats from Nitecore.


    Nitecore's site.


    http://flashlight.nitecore.com/product/hc30


    Features:


    Aero-space aluminum alloy body with HAIII military grade hard-anodized finish
    Toughened ultra-clear mineral glass lens with anti-reflective coating protects LED
    Easy-to-use single button interface
    Features three specialized tactical outputs:
    Strobe Mode for disorienting a target
    S.O.S. Mode for signaling for aid
    Location Beacon for efficiently marking your current position
    Rotating head allows up to 90 degrees of vertical rotation for a broader range of illumination
    Comfortable, adjustable nylon headband provides secure hold for any head size
    Advanced Temperature Regulation (ATR) technology helps prevent overheating from extended use
    Reverse Polarity Protection prevents chance of damaging circuit from improperly installing batteries
    Tail-stand capability
    Included Accessories:
    1 x Nylon Headband
    2 x Spare O-Rings
    1 x Spare Rubber Switch Cover
    1 x Stainless Steel Pocket Clip


    Specifications:
    LED: CREE XM-L2 (U2) LED
    Power Source: 1 x 18650 OR 2 x CR123A (Batteries Sold Separately)
    IPX Rating: IPX-8 (Waterproof and submersible up to 2 meters)
    Impact Resistance: 1.5 meters
    Brightness Output / Runtime (Using 1 x 18650):
    Turbo: 1000 Lumens / 1 Hour
    High: 400 Lumens / 3 Hours 30 Min.
    Mid: 210 Lumens / 7 Hours 15 Min.
    Low: 70 Lumens / 15 Hours 15 Min.
    Ultralow: 1 Lumen / 330 Hours
    Brightness Output / Runtime (Using 2 x CR123A):
    Turbo: 1000 Lumens / 45 Minutes
    High: 400 Lumens / 2 Hours 30 Min.
    Mid: 210 Lumens / 4 Hours 30 Min.
    Low: 70 Lumens / 10 Hours 15 Min.
    Ultralow: 1 Lumen / 150 Hours
    Peak Beam Distance: 162 meters
    Peak Beam Intensity: 6600 cd
    Dimensions:
    Length - 3.86"
    Head Diameter - 0.95"
    Weight: 1.42 oz

    That's a bunch of info. So how does this translate into real world usage? We will get to that in a moment. Up next is the clip which seemed fine. The clip allows the HC30 to be setup as a flashlight with a lanyard. Best of all it easily removes from the headband without drama..... How many headlamps advertise this feature only to result in broken hearts and harness attachments for your trouble. So far this removed easily and without issue for me. Despite easy removal from the headband I never noticed the headlamp bouncing around or sliding out of position when trail running.





    Makes for a really nice UL crazy bright flashlight.





    Maybe it's an OCD thing I but really dislike off centered LEDS. This one was acceptably centered. There was also no nicks on the anodizing or dust behind the window. It's those little quality control things that if done right often indicates good overall quality. Great job Nitecore.





    Some of my impressions of the stated stats from Nitecore during actual field use. Again this is based on human observation aka actual use in field conditions so your mileage might vary.



    Advanced Temperature Regulation (ATR) technology helps prevent overheating from extended use.



    Oh boy if there ever was a marketing term but who cares because the ATR works. Lets be honest. There is no way a 1.42 ounce headlamp body can disperse enough heat away from the LED to maintain 1000 lumens for 1 hour in most conditions. This is something the reader needs to understand. It's a simple matter of the current state of technology. First the actual weight of the headlamp system if one includes the Nitecore 3400 mAh battery and headband is 4.7 ounces per my digital postal scale from the USPS. On a side note the Nitecore 3400 mAh battery was one of my first lithium ion batteries. I own a Nitecore EX10 flashlight among other gear items for years from Nitecore so had experience with the maker. When it came time to buy a 18650 (for another headlamp) given all the fraud and dangerous products floating around decided to go with a company I knew and trusted. It turned out to be a good decision as the battery continues to function great. IMHO avoid lithium ion batteries with funky "fire" names and crazy high mAh ratings from questionable vendors. Remember it's strapped to your head hence the name "headlamp" so play it safe and smart. Plenty of trusted names out there in this regard. Nitecore IMO is one of them. Yes the HC30 will work with 2XC123 primaries but given the higher modes I recommend 18650 lithium ion.





    So how did I test this ATR? I did several trail runs using the HC30 on turbo in sub freezing weather. The headlamp really didn't overly heat up and though the output might have declined it wasn't all that noticeable. Again using just human perception which admittedly isn't the best light meter but then again I don't use a light meter to see anything. LOL! On a side note it was strange trail running with what seemed to be a car headlight worth of illumination blazing away. I then tested it on the table in my house which was around 70 Fahrenheit without any moving air. It got much warmer, the output seemed to reduce even more. So based on pure human observation it seemed to work. I bet if hiking next winter during sub zero it would probably stay even brighter for longer. I was impressed by this. Yup. The HC30 is bright and IMHO stays bright as long as possible.


    Note: All modes can be seen in the video.


    Turbo.











    Low.








    162 meter throw.


    I have no way to measure that but can say the reflector looks deep compared to my other XM-L2 single battery headlamps. It's smooth as well so that made me think this headlamp would have some throw and sure enough the HC30 really throws. One big pro to this is the ability to see up tall trees looking for widow makers before setting up camp. This was a job that in the past required a flashlight (for me anyways) but the HC30 is more than up to the task. Google the words "widow maker" for those who don't know the term. Serious stuff.


    This is a massive Hemlock. The raw power of the HC30 given the weight and size is amazing in actual use. Numbers, photos or even video can't fully show it or maybe I am just easily impressed. LOL! All kidding aside I am amazed at the current state of LED technology. Heck I was amazed 10 years ago so now just flabbergasted.





    1.5 meter drop rating.


    I dropped it once because of being a goofy goober who naturally drops stuff. Not actually testing for that but the headlamp survived the impact. Then again it was on leaf letter so not sure if that proves anything.


    IPX Rating: IPX-8 (Waterproof and submersible up to 2 meters).


    First thing. No I am not dunking my light 2 meters down because in actual field conditions that would most likely be a lost gear item. It's very possible to have a light slip out of my hands when near the bank so tested for that setup. Here we go.





    The water was actually deeper than it looked as the headlamp slowly started to sink into the murky leaves.





    I think this looks neat. The light passing through the water from the submerged HC30 bouncing off a rocky over crop. I wonder what the light transmission rate of murky water is?








    Gosh I hope this works because I am several miles in with 5 miles of trail running to go.





    And it does. A later inspection showed no water ingress after 5-minutes which is the maximum amount of time I would sit there actually looking at a light accidentally dropped in the water. Come to think of it would I really sit there looking at light for 5-minutes under water not doing something about the situation? Probably not but it's the internet so just roll with it.





    On a side note the temperature was 34 Fahrenheit so I wasn't liking that wet headband.





    Speaking of cold a mile earlier did a stream crossing. I was actually testing two different lights in this regard as occasionally will cross water at night for various reasons. For example if fly fishing late hiking out past dusk or trail running looking to save some miles as was the case here. I don't recommend doing stream or river crossings at night in around freezing temps. If you slip and drown don't blame me. If one day you read I drowned doing this by all means make fun of me. I won't mind because you're probably right.


    HC30 on turbo. The river looks flooded. Bummer.





    Time to cross. The power and throw of the headlamp really penetrated the water well mitigating the risk of slipping. Yes the actual crossing is in the video. It would be a mistake attempting to walk over the flooded rocks as those create choke points. Faster the moving water the greater the risk. Better to go with the slower moving water even if deeper IMHO.



    Cold feet after the river crossing which is in the video.




    Location Beacon for efficiently marking your current position.


    Yes the beacon is fun. I tested that in the video. I also showed the other disco modes.


    Lock out tail cap.


    Yes. The HC30 easily locks out to prevent accidental activation. This is a BIG pro for me.


    Can be turned into a flashlight.


    I read the HC30 can be removed and used with the clip (or without) as a flashlight. This is an elusive feature of some headlamps which sometimes works and other times not so much. In this case it works. The light was easily removed and clip was tested for holding when dropped with DIY lanyard attached. Often I pack a headlamp plus flashlight using the same battery type but at times don't want too much extra weight. Given the UL nature of the HC30 if using 2xCR123 or 18650 this isn't a bad option for the flashlight roll.





    Works with gloves as well.





    So how is the tint? Not bad. Sure it's cool white but not squid piss green or alien abduction angry blue. Neutral white MD2 with M61N on left, cool white HC30 on right. There is now a HC30W which I guess is probably neutral white. The "W" would be my preference however this example's CW is acceptable for CW. The beam as stated has good throw but also some flood.





    The UI. Here are the basics.


    When off:


    One short press activates the ultra low mode.
    Two short presses activates strobe aka disco.
    A half second press activates the last-used constant mode aka memory.
    A one second press activates the max 1000 lumen mode.


    From any constant mode:


    A short press switches to the next higher mode, or from turbo down to ultra low aka it cycles.
    A long press turns off the light.


    When using a disco mode:


    A short press switches between disco modes in the order Strobe > SOS > Beacon
    A long press turns off the light.


    Basically when using the light you can either go with a memory function or not. I really like this as sometimes memory UIs are inconvenient. There is also a fast access to Turbo mode which is nice when you need to know if those glowing eye belong to a deer or an imaginary black bear stalking your camp. Could also be Bigfoot. For those who have lights employing a fast single click to turn off the long press of the HC30 takes a bit getting used to. I have several headlamps which have this UI feature so am familiar with it.


    That's all for this field testing review. I like the headlamp! Here is a video for those with too much time on their hands.


    Last edited by Woods Walker; 05-26-2016 at 08:11 AM. Reason: auto correct sucks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Can't believe I watched the whole thing I enjoyed it. Lots of work went into it. You have a great sense of wonder, most people lose theirs. I have the same light, but it sits on my desk. Thanks for your review/video.

    Here is a light you might want to try, over 7,000 lumens be enuf for you, or that bear? http://www.mtnelectronics.com/index....product_id=505

    g/night...
    G.K Chesterton, when asked 'what is wrong with the world?' simply replied 'I am!'

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* mcnair55's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    A review that I can watch without a first class honours degree in applied science...No anorak needed well done.
    Diagnosed with Grumpy Old Man Syndrome

  4. #4

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    I like these kinds of reviews. Ta Woodswalker.
    What do you mean they blew up the death star.......... Wait....What the hell is an Aluminium Falcon?

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by saypat View Post
    Can't believe I watched the whole thing I enjoyed it. Lots of work went into it. You have a great sense of wonder, most people lose theirs. I have the same light, but it sits on my desk. Thanks for your review/video.

    Here is a light you might want to try, over 7,000 lumens be enuf for you, or that bear? http://www.mtnelectronics.com/index....product_id=505

    g/night...
    LOL 7000 lumens! I haven't lost my sense of wonder. I am amazed at the durable build of Malkoff, the brightness of my ZL SC5W and the Nitecore HC30. Just amazing stuff. I remember my first really bright headlamp the PT Apex. I think it's 60 lumens with 4xAA. Now I have a 4XAA flashlight in the collection doing 1000. In what? 10 or so years. Amazing!

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by pblanch View Post
    I like these kinds of reviews. Ta Woodswalker.
    Thanks for looking!


    Quote Originally Posted by mcnair55 View Post
    A review that I can watch without a first class honours degree in applied science...No anorak needed well done.
    LOL! Thanks for looking.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    I have owned a Nitecore HC30 for a couple of months now.
    I bought it to replace a Streamlight ProTac HL Headlamp.
    The Streamlight is a good headlamp but, it's just too heavy and only being able to use CR123A's is a drawback.
    The weight difference of these two units is amazing.
    The HC30 is almost half the weight.
    I love that it uses a single 18650 cell battery.
    I've been running mine on Olight 3400 mAh.
    Five power modes is a little overkill, I would have been happy with High/Med/Low.
    The 1 lumen mode is really nice and a fav mode I use all the time.
    It's like private mode. Just enough light to see whats in your hand and not disturb anyone else around.
    Great review btw, this guy is flashlight certifiable.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Thanks for the review, you helped me decide to finally get one of these. I had a chance to thoroughly test the HC30 on thursday after work on a 5 hour night hike/showshoe up to 11,200 feet.

    I carried the massive M25C2 Turbo (XP-L HI mod) in my hand for spotting, but only used it for bursts to check out very specific and far away things like the eyeballs that the HC30 set a-glow.

    I mostly kept the HC30 on high (not turbo) because i wanted to see some mountain lions and elk, otherwise low would have worked fine and probably made me less dizzy. I ran two Olight 3600mAH batteries, each for two hours on high and both were at 33% when i got home, according to the Nitecore UM10 charger. No Noticeable drop in brightness on high or bursts of turbo during that time, with the temperature averaging around 50.

    One annoying aspect of the UI is trying to guess where you are and how many clicks to Turbo. Seems silly, but having to count is annoying. I kept it in high, so it was one click to turbo, which is easy. Then getting back to high i count to 4 clicks. Not exactly tactical lol. To get to turbo from low, i find it easier to turn it off, then press and hold for turbo. Less modes would be easier, but i also would not want to nix any of the modes, as i find them all very useful and well spaced. The only improvement i would make is the addition of the two-stage switch from the MH20 so i could have instant access to Turbo from any mode. But as it is, i can't complain unless i am being really picky or i havent had enough coffee.

    I used the headband from a Zebralight H600 without the top strap, and i found it to be plenty sturdy, even on top of a wool beanie. It bounced a tiny bit, but only with big jolts like when i fell 4 feet through the snow into a pocket hollowed out by a small stream LOL......at least it wasnt 10 feet. Normal running/jogging/hiking didn't cause any bounce for me. I havn't really tested the included headband, but the mount seems far simpler and less sturdy, and the band slightly stretchier (weaker). This hike was no joke so i went with the good one, and i would recommend the upgrade for $7 from zebralight, if only because it is better looking.

    This is an excellent headlight, especially for the price. Personally, I wouldnt mind if it was slightly more floody, but only because i carry a thrower in my hand. As a standalone headlamp, i think this is a great compromise in throw/flood. It lights plenty far down the trail and the spill lights the ground without blinding me, on dirt or snow. Battery life is more than enough for me, and from what i have seen it is very close to the advertised numbers. A bargain at $55, i would pay 100 for this light. This thing will see a lot of action this summer.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Has anyone tried the NW version of this light? I saw it on Illumn other day, and really tempted to get one as Nitecore and Fenix are the only brands that I can easily purchase in India.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chaitanya View Post
    Has anyone tried the NW version of this light? I saw it on Illumn other day, and really tempted to get one as Nitecore and Fenix are the only brands that I can easily purchase in India.
    I just ordered one NW version. May take a while to arrive here though.

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon101 View Post
    I just ordered one NW version. May take a while to arrive here though.
    Please post your thoughts about the light, I am interested in picking up one of those. Want to know whether it has greenish tint associated with most NW lights.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    I would like to know more about the NW tint as well. Took my CW HC30 headlamp trail running last night till 1 am in the fog. It cut through the mist just fine. Better than my floodier headlamps.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    any charge indicators?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuoiz View Post
    any charge indicators?
    Nope.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    When it goes dark. It means it is flat !
    What do you mean they blew up the death star.......... Wait....What the hell is an Aluminium Falcon?

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    No. It doesn't simply shut down. The performance of the light is very good indication of a reduction in battery power. No sudden death regulation.
    Last edited by Woods Walker; 05-26-2016 at 08:15 AM.

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    I know it's been a few months since this thread was active but this review, (and the video), as well as some others posted in the forum helped me make the decision to upgrade from my old Petzl and Princeton Tec EOS models purchased a good ten years ago or so.

    Just received the neutral white version of the light this afternoon, powered up a 18650 and waited for dark.

    All I can say is wow! I should never have waited so long. The difference is literally night and day. With the other headlamps I could comfortably walk the dog down our unlit country roads at night but couldn't see more than a few yards into the woods on either side. Now, just using the medium setting I can see everything I need to while knowing I still have two higher settings available if necessary. (And it's comfortable too!)

    It may not be the perfect light for everyone's needs but it sure hits the sweet spot for uses in and around my mountain home in the woods.

    Thanks to Woods Walker and the other forum members that did such a good job illuminating the qualities of this fine headlamp via their reviews.

    Edited to add:

    I've been mostly using the low 70 lumen setting. This leaves me the three higher settings if I need to explore or inquire further. I have found that with 70 lumens I rarely need to, however. Just a great headlamp thus far. Couldn't be more pleased.
    Last edited by Blues; 11-06-2016 at 06:46 AM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Thank you for a very entertaining review and very helpful commenters...I recently bought a thrunite tn20 and it just doesn't do what I need it to so have been looking at zebralights thinking "I want flood, I want flood" but given the common sense applications I think the combination of good throw with decent spill on this nitecore it may just fit the bill.

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindedbythenight View Post
    Thank you for a very entertaining review and very helpful commenters...I recently bought a thrunite tn20 and it just doesn't do what I need it to so have been looking at zebralights thinking "I want flood, I want flood" but given the common sense applications I think the combination of good throw with decent spill on this nitecore it may just fit the bill.
    I find that this headlamp doesn't have a distractingly bright hot spot. Throw is good while the spill is more than adequate to illuminate both sides of the unlit country lane I walk each night. No sense of tunnel vision nor a bright hot spot bouncing back at you unless illuminating straight down at your feet on a somewhat reflective surface.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blues View Post
    I find that this headlamp doesn't have a distractingly bright hot spot. Throw is good while the spill is more than adequate to illuminate both sides of the unlit country lane I walk each night. No sense of tunnel vision nor a bright hot spot bouncing back at you unless illuminating straight down at your feet on a somewhat reflective surface.
    Brilliant this is sounding perfect

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindedbythenight View Post
    Brilliant this is sounding perfect
    Glad I could help. Keep us posted with your experience if you pick one up.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Got my hc30 this morning and v pleasantly surprised by the headband, size and build quality compared to the xtar warboy. Stuck a flat top 18650 in and no joy...will the hc30 only work with protected button tops?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindedbythenight View Post
    Got my hc30 this morning and v pleasantly surprised by the headband, size and build quality compared to the xtar warboy. Stuck a flat top 18650 in and no joy...will the hc30 only work with protected button tops?
    I only have protected button tops. Will it work if you add a small washer or something to aid conductivity? I hope this works out to your satisfaction. I've been using mine twice per night (since it gets darker earlier these days) and it has been a joy to use thus far.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Blues View Post
    I only have protected button tops. Will it work if you add a small washer or something to aid conductivity? I hope this works out to your satisfaction. I've been using mine twice per night (since it gets darker earlier these days) and it has been a joy to use thus far.
    Oh I have some button tops en route to me it's just they won't be here for a few days and the frustration of having a new torch and not being able to play with it is annoying. If my patience gives up I will try your washer idea...cheers.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindedbythenight View Post
    Got my hc30 this morning and v pleasantly surprised by the headband, size and build quality compared to the xtar warboy. Stuck a flat top 18650 in and no joy...will the hc30 only work with protected button tops?
    I had to twist the tail cap on and off (even removed and replace the battery from the tube) a few times before it would accept a flat top but once accepted it runs it. That said I just tested it now as run protected given the nature of the headlamp aka no low voltage cut-off.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    I was too scared to mess about with the spring and whatnot so waited and got my protected cells this afternoon...very happy...what a great little light and v comfortable wearing it...I am looking forward to nightfall and driving out to the middle of nowhere!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindedbythenight View Post
    I was too scared to mess about with the spring and whatnot so waited and got my protected cells this afternoon...very happy...what a great little light and v comfortable wearing it...I am looking forward to nightfall and driving out to the middle of nowhere!
    Great to hear. I love mine as well. It's been a godsend and a terrific replacement for my old Petzl and PrincetonTec headlamps.

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by blindedbythenight View Post
    I was too scared to mess about with the spring and whatnot so waited and got my protected cells this afternoon...very happy...what a great little light and v comfortable wearing it...I am looking forward to nightfall and driving out to the middle of nowhere!
    It's got some throw and is really really bright. You will have fun!

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    High Woods Walker!

    Your reviews and videos are always enjoying!
    I got the headlamp a few weeks ago, I chosed neutral white option. I really like it! Simple operation and good brightness levels. Good for walking and cycling but I think it will jump in the holder a bit too much for running. And the design is nice as well. While turbomode is really impressive I find high and even mid mode bright enough for many tasks at some distance.
    Last edited by Swedpat; 12-28-2016 at 03:12 PM.

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    Default Re: Nitecore HC30 Field Testing Review.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swedpat View Post
    High Woods Walker!

    Your reviews and videos are always enjoying!
    I got the headlamp a few weeks ago, I chosed neutral white option. I really like it! Simple operation and good brightness levels. Good for walking and cycling but I think it will jump in the holder a bit too much for running. And the design is nice as well. While turbomode is really impressive I find high and even mid mode bright enough for many tasks at some distance.
    Glad the light worked out and thanks for the positive comments. I really appreciate that. It's an ok runner but I don't think it was made with that in mind.

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