Lumintop HL18 USB-charging 18650 Headlamp Review

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Kalihi
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Lumintop HL18 USB-charging 18650 Headlamp Review

Lumintop sent me their new HL18 USB charging 18650 headlamp for review. Or rather I purchased the light, with a refund promised in exchange for a “Positive review on Amazon.” My thoughts follow.


Some of the competition (ArmyTek Wizard Pro and Skilhunt H03)


The light


Opening the box


The included Lumintop bunny


Contents of the box


The USB charging port

Controls and Interface:

The light is controlled exclusively by a single, flush, short-travel button on the end of the light. Placing the button on the end of the light isn’t a design feature I like, since your hand has to grasp both sides of the light in order to press it. I prefer having the button on the top of the light like ArmyTek and others do. However, the benefit of the HL18’s flush-sitting button is that it seems much less likely to be activated by accident in a bag.

Press the button once to turn on the light (going to the last memorized mode, and moonlight doesn’t get memorized), then press it again to cycle through the modes, then hold it for two seconds to turn the light off. I really prefer single clicks to turn the light on or off and holding the button to cycle through modes (like ArmyTek’s interface), since I turn headlamps on and off more than I change modes, and generally need to do so with less delay than when changing modes. Also, needing a single click to turn the light on, but a long press to turn the light off, isn’t very intuitive. Long press the button from off (for 2 seconds) to turn the light on in moonlight mode. When you cycle through modes from there, moonlight is not included in the mode rotation.

Double-click in moonlight mode to get to the strobe modes, which cycle through a disorientating strobe, a SOS flasher, and a beacon mode. The only one of those I could ever see myself wanting in a headlamp is the beacon. Turn the light off then back on to return to the steady output modes.

Hold the button for 5 seconds from off to go into the “lockout” mode, where the button acts as a momentary button for the 40-lumen low mode. Open the circuit by loosening and tightening the tail cap to return to regular operation. I kind of like this, in that it gives you more options than just locking out the light by loosening the tail cap.

Beam:

The HL18’s TIR beam pattern is unique, and is one of my favorite features. With the ArmyTek Wizard Pro’s TIR, the beam’s fade towards the edges starts at the edge of a moderately sized hot-spot that is still in the center of your field of view. But with the HL18, the center of the beam is a large “hot-zone” with completely even illumination (like a mule or an aspheric zoomie) that is large enough to cover pretty much all of the area your eyes typically glance around in without moving your head at close range.

The transition between center zone and outer gradient is definitely within your field of view when up and walking around indoors when white walls or reflective surfaces are present, but you don’t really see it when outdoors. One time when out in my yard, I turned off the light, thinking that the full moon was giving me enough light, only to then realize that the moon was fully obscured by clouds and the headlamp was providing my only light – that’s how natural the illumination from this beam is. Where an aspheric’s zone of even illumination cuts off suddenly, giving you a “looking through a window into daylight” feel, the HL18’s center zone has a defined edge after which it smoothly fades out in typical TIR fashion. The way it provides peripheral illumination that unobtrusively and non-distractingly fades out makes the center zone feel a lot larger than it actually is.


ArmyTek Wizard Pro (left) and Lumintop HL18 (right). Note how the Wizard’s gradient starts from the center hotspot, whereas the Lumintop has a much larger zone of even illumination.

Mode Spacing:

Moonlight is 1 lumen, followed by a 40 lumen low, 200 lumen mid, 400 lumen high, and 950 lumen turbo with a 3-minute step-down timer. I like this mode spacing for a headlamp with the capacity provided by an 18650. Sub-lumen moonlight options are nice to have, but not essential for a relatively budget light.

Color Temperature/Tint/Color Rendering:

The color temperature from this Cree XP-L emitter is a forgettable cool white, with colors noticeably less saturated than the standard “white” ArmyTek. It’s probably the worst colors of any headlamp I have. Ugg.


ArmyTek Wizard Pro “white” (left) and Lumintop HL18 (right)

Onboard Charging:
The light shipped with a Lumintop branded button-top Panasonic NCR18650B, which arrived at 4.11V. After resting the cell for five minutes after completion of in-light charging, the cell read 4.20V. The light’s button glows red after charging is completed, and slowly blinks red while charging is in progress.

Construction and Fit/finish:
The light feels pretty solid in quality. Both the tail and head unscrew from the center tube (both with O-ring seals), and their diameters are slightly different so they only reassemble in the correct orientation. The threads are square-cut, but relatively narrow (and arrived appropriately-lubed).


Springs are present on both ends. The finish was flawless and all of the body’s edges were fully broken. The included pocket clip is well executed, with nicely broken edges and a gooseneck design. The magnetic tail cap is weaker than the Wizard Pro’s, but about the on par with the Skilhunt H03’s.

Forcing the USB port’s rubber cover back into place is difficult. Water-sealing around the USB port is non-existant, as huge gaps around the port give water an unobstructed path into the head if it gets past the rubber cover. Lumentop wasn’t joking about the IPX-6 rating.

Headband and Mount:
The mount is fairly standard fare that probably won’t survive frequently taking the light out to use as a right-angle light. The bright pumpkin orange color is garish, but makes finding the headlamp in low light easy. The headbands definitely match ArmyTek’s in quality, and they also have a couple of silicon squiggles running along the inside to keep sweat from dripping down under the headband.

Overall:
At $56 shipped from Amazon.com with an included battery, the HL18 is a decently high-value headlamp for those who don’t need a submersion-rated waterproof light. The great beam pattern gives it something to make it stand out in a very competitive market segment. However, an option for an emitter with better color rendition is much needed (and an easy fix for Lumintop).

The included battery, USB charging, and availability on Amazon.com through the Lumintop Store make it appealing to users who don’t already have a Li-ion ecosystem going, since this light blows away competition in its price range from companies like Black Diamond. But enthusiasts will probably want to spend more to get a light with full waterproofing and an emitter with better color rendering. ArmyTek’s Elf provides very stiff competition for just the additional cost of non-Amazon shipping.

This light might replace my Armytek Wizard Pro for everyday use, but the HL18’s lack of full waterproofing means that it won’t replace my Wizard Pro for outdoor use. Honestly to me, the main benefit of these aluminum tube lights that makes them worth giving up features like multiple beam types or multiple buttons that more mass-market designs have is their durability and waterproofness, so this light losing one of those selling points prevents me from getting too excited about it.

Edited by: Kalihi on 02/08/2018 - 02:21
pavol77
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You are right two big mistakes:
1 / color of light
2 / Water resistance

 

pavol77

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“Or rather I purchased the light, with a refund promised in exchange for a “Positive review on Amazon.”

As opposed to just a review.

Big Smile
pavol77
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Lumintop should not spoil his name
If I'm not wrong ...

 IPX-6 waterproof  !!!

pavol77

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Lumintop by nemal pokaziť jeho meno
Ak sa nemýlim ...

 IPX-6 nepremokavá !!!

pavol77

Kalihi
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Good news – Lumentop has informed me that the HL18 will be available with a neutral white emitter option!

pavol77
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With neutral white it will be interesting light
I would like to try
the price ? action

 

pavol77

Kalihi
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pavol77 wrote:

With neutral white it will be interesting light
I would like to try
the price ? action


 

It’s $56 shipped from Amazon.com; presumably cheaper shipped from China.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077S3VKPZ/

pavol77
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Thank you for your response
Color delivery of light? xxxx K
resistance IP X 6

 

 

pavol77

Kalihi
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pavol77 wrote:

Thank you for your response
Color delivery of light? xxxx K
resistance IP X 6


 


 


I haven’t heard any details or time frame from Lumintop regarding the NW emitter option.
FindThisHumerus
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I didn’t want to make a new thread – did you happen to know how to take it apart to change the emitter?

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