Fenix HM65R-DT Headlamp Review
As someone who finds incredible satisfaction in both early morning high-altitude trekking and in the quiet solitude of a night hike along my local trails, the search for an ideal headlamp has been an ongoing endeavor. It’s hugely important to me to have a headlamp that will withstand some gnarly weather, provide me with multiple lighting options for various scenarios, and of course, last a long time without the need for a charge. It may be a lot to ask for, yes, but it’s not an unrealistic checklist in my opinion.
Over the years, I’ve tested various headlamps from brands like LedLenser, Petzl, Black Diamond, and BioLite. Though some of my previous lights have come close to checking all the boxes in terms of what I’m looking for in a light, I was left knowing that there was a better headlamp out there for me. Enter the Fenix HMG5R-DT.
Over the course of the summer, I had the opportunity to test out the Fenix HM65R-DT headlamp, which I found performed spectacularly given the conditions it’s seen. After putting this headlamp to good use in multiple scenarios, I can confidently say that this light will be in my gear kit for the foreseeable future.
Fenix HM65R-DT At-a-Glance
- Weight: 5 ounces (including battery)
- MSRP: $146 ($110 on sale now)
- Battery: Fenix battery rechargeable with USB-C
- Battery life: White light mode: 24 hours; 4 hours on high. Warm white light mode: Max 300 hours; 12 hours on high.
- Lighting: 1500 lumens max
- Beam distance: 170 meters
- Water resistance: IP68 rated – Fully protected against dust and splashing, and is submersible up to 2 meters for 30 minutes.
- Modes: White spot with dim setting; warm white with dim setting. Strobe on warm white setting.
- Red light: Nope
The Fenix HM65R-DT headlamp was primarily designed for trail runners looking for swift and hands-free lighting during high-intensity trail runs. However, I found that many of the features created specifically for runners adequately met my needs as a long-distance hiker, especially in terms of its ability to thrive in poor-weather environments.
This headlamp is perfect for thru-hikers looking for a reliable light that will excel in various scenarios, from night hiking to digging catholes at 2am. The Fenix HM65R-DT is perfect for someone intending to use it for hours at a time, as its adjustable fit and lack of bounce won’t interfere with comfortability.
Circumstance of Review
I used the Fenix HM65R-DT on various camping trips throughout the summer, though it most notably shined when completing a 6-day high-altitude trek in the Colombian Andes, as well as a 4-day trek along the Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls trails in Iceland.
Fenix HM65R-DT Features
- SPORT fit system (essentially operates as the BOA fit system)
- Reflective points
- Perforated headband
- Dual spotlights of White and Warm white LEDs
- Rechargeable via USB-C
The Important Stuff
Design & Durability
The Fenix HM65R-DT’s magnesium construction not only contributes to its remarkable lightweight profile, but also enhances its durability. Magnesium is known for its strength-weight ratio, making this headlamp an ideal choice for long-distance hikers who require gear capable of withstanding rigorous outdoor conditions. With its IP68-rated protection, it can endure submersion at up to 2 meters for 30 minutes and is resistant to water and dust, ensuring its functionality in extreme environments.
The headlamp boasts two powerful LEDs — a 1300-lumen white light and a 400-lumen warm white light. When combined, they produce an impressive maximum output of 1500 lumens. The warm white light, with its 3000K color temperature, excels in providing superior beam penetration during inclement weather, such as rain, snow, or fog. This is a crucial feature for maintaining visibility and safety on the trail.
The warm white light was definitely clutch when hiking through a storm in Iceland. The thick rain and fog had no intention of letting up when we began hiking at 5am. I was beyond thankful for the warm white light that adequately lit up my path, rather than “whiting out” the few feet in front of me that I could actually see.
Battery Life and Charging
This light includes a Fenix ARB-L18-3400 battery (2 x CR123A batteries are also compatible), offering an ultra-long runtime.
White light mode:
- High: 4 hours
- Medium: 12 hours
- Low: 24 hours
Warm white light mode:
- High: 12 hours
- Medium: 24 hours
- Low: 300 hours
The USB Type-C charging port ensures a convenient recharge in just 3 hours from being fully depleted, and the battery level indicators provide real-time battery status updates.
Comfort and Fit
The headlamp’s wide and perforated headband enhances ventilation and stability, contributing to a more comfortable, breathable fit even during extended wear. The new SPORT fit system (similar to the BOA fit system) allows for easy, one-handed adjustments while hiking.
The headlamp can also be tilted up to 60 degrees downwards to light up your path.
Temperature Range and Impact Resistance
One standout feature is the headlamp’s ability to function in extreme temperatures, ranging from -31 to 113°F (-35 to 45°C). This adaptability ensures its reliability across various environmental conditions. Additionally, with its 2 meters of impact resistance, the Fenix HM65R-DT can withstand accidental drops and rough handling on the trail.
Fenix HM65R-DT Pros
Long Battery Life
The headlamp’s battery life is impressive. It utilizes a rechargeable ARB-L18-3400 battery, providing extended use without the need to carry multiple spare batteries. On a single charge, it can easily last several nights on the trail, making it suitable for covering long distances with few resupply points.
During my 6 days in the Colombian Andes, I didn’t have to charge my headlamp once. Having never depleted the battery, recharging speeds were quite fast.
The Fenix HM65R-DT is a standout in terms of weight savings. Even with the hefty battery life, at just 5 ounces, it’s noticeably lighter than many competitors on the market that produce headlamps with a similar amount of lumens.
This might not be a light that turns heads in the ultralight community, but it may for those looking for a decently lightweight headlamp that will last them days without needing a charge.
Piggybacking off that last point, you’ll have incredible brightness for days! Truthfully, it’s more light than you’ll ever need when hitting the trails. You’ll rarely need to use the brightest setting, though it is fun to show off just how many lumens this little sun has when hiking with friends. You can feel comfortable and confident knowing that you have light for just about any situation you may come across when hiking in the dark.
This light is built to withstand the rigors of the trail. The IP68-rated protection is incredible and gave me some peace of mind knowing that it would be able to withstand the freak and intense rainstorms in both Colombia and Iceland. The rugged construction also makes it resilient against accidental drops and rough handling.
Truthfully, I’ve lost a few headlamps to the rain in the past (perhaps I’m not being careful enough with my gear…), but the durability of the Fenix HM65R-DT truly held up to its intended performance.
For those that care about cosmetic value (me!), this headlamp provides. It comes in three different colors: Deep purple, black & red, and nebula. My partner and I were super stoked with our color choices. It’s nice having a good-looking piece of gear, you know?
Fenix HM65R-DT Cons
It’s pretty clear that this light is a bit pricier than average. Sitting at a price point that is 2x higher than what a thru-hiker will usually opt for, it is something to consider if you’re trying to build a price-conscious gear kit.
I found that the headlamp’s control interface is slightly difficult to use when wearing gloves, especially when switching between the white and warm white lighting modes. It requires multiple button presses and can be a bit fiddly when you’re groggy in the morning or wearing gloves.
Lack of Red Light Mode
Unlike some competing headlamps, the Fenix HM65R-DT doesn’t include a dedicated red light mode — most likely because this headlamp was built with trail runners in mind who do not typically require a red light mode. While this might not be a dealbreaker for all hikers, it’s worth noting if you prefer to preserve night vision during nighttime activities or avoid disturbing your fellow hikers when using your light around camp.
I find that this headlamp does get rather hot when using the white light mode on high for more than a few minutes. If used for an extended period of time, the “intelligent overheat protection” kicks in and will automatically lower the lumens to reduce the temperature. It doesn’t make a massive difference, but it is worth mentioning so you don’t think your headlamp is malfunctioning.
The Fenix HM65R-DT is definitely worth the weight and cost in my opinion. It has proven to be reliable and versatile when it comes to night hiking in various conditions. Its lightweight magnesium construction, powerful dual LEDs, and adaptable beam angle make it a standout choice.
With features like a long-lasting battery, extreme temperature resilience, and intuitive dual lighting modes, it offers the performance and durability that occasional night hikers, long-distance thru-hikers, and high-altitude trekkers demand. While it may have a few minor quirks, it undoubtedly excels where it counts.
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The Fenix HM65R-DT was donated for the purpose of review.
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