REAL WORLD REVIEWS – Nitecore NU25 Headlamp

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REAL WORLD REVIEWS – Nitecore NU25 Headlamp

REAL WORLD REVIEWS – Nitecore NU25 Headlamp

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A brief opening note about the "Real World Reviews"
At this point many fellow "flashaholics" have developed very sophisticated and detailed methods for measuring nearly every conceivable technical aspect of the illumination products on the market. The "Real World Reviews" acknowledge the existence of the detailed technical reviews (and I'll link to them below if I can) but will not re-hash all of that tech data. Instead the focus of the "Real World Reviews" is to take that "laboratory" information out into real world conditions to give the reader an idea of how the numbers translate into actual use.
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Technical Review (done by someone else):

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Intended Use: Headlamp
Power Source: Internal 610mAh Li-ion battery pack (recharge via USB)
Average Cost: $35 (USD)

What you get:

· Small, well laid out, clamshell package
· NU25 light
· Short Micro-USB cable
· Headband
· Instructions

Initial Impression(s):
This light ;
Is really small and light. I have literally forgotten I was wearing it once already due to the very comfortable wide headband and the featherweight of the light itself. The Primary light is a Cree XP-G2 capable of four levels and runs from Low to High with a press and hold to put it in a 30 second “Turbo” mode. The light also has a RED mode as well as a secondary, high CRI, white flood.

The separate High CRI flood reminds me of the old incandescent/early LED days where you had hybrid-lights that used an LED for insane runtimes and an incandescent for “punch”. I suspect this light occupies the same “interim” territory and that it probably won’t be long before we start getting lights that have their High CRI emitter as the primary.

Overall the construction seems to be a case of “just enough and not too much” which contributes to the light weight. Since I can be a bit rough on headlamps I wish the hinge parts of the headband were a bit beefier but I suspect they are actually plenty strong. If you want to tilt the light you definitely have to MOVE it, it is secure and stays put otherwise.

This light can be operated while it is charging which is an extremely nice feature also present in the Nitecore TINI. I call this “Extended mode” and it means that you can use the now ubiquitous USB charging packs to run this light indefinitely. If the light will get nearly 5 hours on High from its internal 610mAh pack, then hooking it up to something like a 5,000mAh pack should give you something like 40 hours of light on high.

However, I am baffled as to why Nitecore put the recharge port and its protective rubber flap on the bottom of the light. This interferes with tilting the light down, and also makes no sense if you are trying to run the light in “extended mode” because you then have a USB cable running down your nose or in front of one eye. I have purchased a 90-degree right angle USB cable and it helps, but it would have been much better to put the charge port on one side or the other (though NOT the top). At least they didn’t put it on the BACK of the light (LOL).

The interface is a dual button arrangement on top, covered by a somewhat translucent rubber cap.
Button “one” (marked by the standard on/off symbol) operates the “Primary” light which turns on and subsequent clicks will cycle Lo/Med/Hi/Off. If the light is left in a mode for more than 3 seconds, pressing the button jumps to off.
· When the light is already on a press-and-hold turns on TURBO mode which will run for 30 seconds.
· When the light is off, a press-and-hold turns on the secondary “High CRI” white floodlight.

Button “two” marked with a large “R” runs the red light which cycles low/high/blinking marker
Press and hold while off causes a small red led under the control buttons to blink, telling you the battery level.

The interface is really a lot more intuitive than the description makes it sound.

The beam(s);
The primary beam is a very nice “focused flood” produced by a fairly shallow stippled reflector. Color is what I would term an “ice white” with absolutely no PWM in the lower levels. The secondary white light is listed as a “High CRI” with a very interesting color that I really don’t know how to describe. The Tertiary light is red that on low is very useful with dark adapted eyes and on high is surprisingly bright.

Output (Per manufacturer):
Primary Light:
Mode 1 (1 Lumens/60hr): suitable for night in-house use or close up map reading.
Mode 2 (38 Lumens/08hr): suitable for "general" indoor flashlight use.
Mode 3 (190 Lumens/05hr): suitable for "general" indoor and outdoor use.
Mode 4 (380 Lumens/15 min estimated): 30 second “Turbo”

Secondary Light (High CRI):
Mode 1 (20 Lumens/6hr):

Red Light:
Mode 1 (0.9 Lumens/60hr):
Mode 2 (13 Lumens/08hr):
Mode 3 “Beacon Mode”

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The “Standard evening walk” begins with illuminating 3” circular reflectors and then seeing if I can make out the trees to which they are attached (neutral brown bark). Part Two then takes place over either a 1.5 or a 2.5 mile loop on an unlit and mostly open grassy area with a few trees, and then ends going through a short, steep, uphill/downhill gravel trail surrounded by trees and heavy undergrowth which I call the "confidence course".

Target Test
Target 1: 30ft [10yd/09M].......... Illuminated in mode 2+
Target 2: 60ft [20yd/18M].......... Illuminated in mode 2+
Target 3: 120ft [40yd/36M].......... Illuminated in mode 2+
Target 4: 180ft [60yd/54M].......... Illuminated in mode 3+
Target 5: 300ft [100yd/91M]........ Illuminated in mode 3+
Target 6: 450ft [150yd/137M]...... Beyond design capabilities
Target 7: 600ft [200yd/182M]...... Beyond design capabilities
Target 8: 750ft [250yd/228M]...... Beyond design capabilities

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The Walk
It was a no-moon night, lightly overcast and dark and was a warm (61 degrees) with a brisk wind. With dark adapted eyes, the floody beam was sufficient for moderate confidence on the paved part of the trail when set as low as Mode 2 (38 Lumens/04hr). Switching up to Mode 3 (190 Lumens/05hr) was more than enough to give high confidence for walking and gave a nice even view of the ground throughout the walk, including the “confidence course” area. The beam tended to bounce back from shrubbery in the overgrown areas which is typical of a flood biased beam. Switching to the secondary “High CRI” light gave me a useable walking flood (once my eyes had adapted) even though the light is only putting out 20 Lumens in that mode but mode 3 in the primary light is more appropriate for walking.

After the walk I went into my garage and opened the hood of my car and did my typical “engine check”. The primary mode(s) were great for this, the high CRI was nearly useless, the light being quickly absorbed by the tarlike gunk that one finds all over an older engine.

Inside the house wound up being a fun test. The “look down the long air duct” test was great, the light passed with flying colors and the both the primary light and the red light(s) on low were completely appropriate for the “night bathroom run” scenario. Additionally, the “High CRI” flood was very nice for night time book reading. The color rendition made it easy to read with no eyestrain and I pretty much immediately decided this was my now and future “bed reading” light.

Recharging was convenient even though I don’t like where the port is located

· Recharging port should be on one of the sides.
· You should be able to switch from the High CRI to the Primary and back without switching off.
· I have a mild concern about how thin the swivel joints are

· Small
· Astoundingly light
· Very comfortable headband
· Battery capacity is well balanced with the light modes (brightness vs runtime)
· “Extended mode” operation (can run while charging)
· Easy/intuitive interface.
· Excellent range of light levels for the intended use.
· Good price point

Ultralight Backpackers, Runners, and those who like to read a book in bed at night take note. This IS the headlight you’ve been looking for.

Final conclusion:

Tonights forecast, 100% chance of dark.