Nitecore HC35 Review & Video (2700 Lumens, Quad LED, 21700 Battery, Headlamp)

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liquidretro
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Nitecore HC35 Review & Video (2700 Lumens, Quad LED, 21700 Battery, Headlamp)

Nitecore has a new large format headlamp on the market, with 4 LED, and a diffused lens. It runs a 21700 battery, and has onboard microUSB for recharging. While designed as a headlamp I am going to come at this one from the angle of a worklight too. Thanks to Nitecore Store for sending this to me to look at and review. I will have a link to them in the description below.
https://i.imgur.com/r9a7vNp.jpg

View this review on YouTube at:


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Packaging and Accessories
Packaging is a large yellow retail hanging box, with photos of the lights and lots of stats throughout. Inside the light and accessories site in a plastic shell.




Accessories include the HC35 with the Nitecore button top 21700 4000mAH battery (NL2140HP), pocket clip, Nitecore branded headband, spare o-rings, micro USB cable, manual, warranty, 18650 adapter. Somewhat strangely no extra USB port cover was included and I actually broke mine during testing. (My fault, not Nitecore’s)

Construction
The light is made from anodized aluminum, and machining here is pretty good. Starting at the tail cap, it’s flat, magnetic and labeled accordingly. The tailcap has shallow diamond knurling on it that doesn’t add a ton of texture but enough.

The body tube features the same knurling and is not reversible. The clip only attaches at the head of the light.
The light is attached to the headband on one side via a spring steel clip, similar to how a clip on clip works. It’s easy to take on and off and allows for the light to be attached without taking off the pocket clip (Nice) which makes charging easier but it doesn’t take a ton to make the heavy light come loose from an accidental smack or bump. For hiking or house work it’s ok, but I want to see something more secure ideally especially if you were caving/climbing with the light. That said when using this more as a work light rather then a headlamp it’s a handy feature to be able to remove it easily. I used it to change some brakes on a car recently and it was nice to pull off and use as an area flood light. For heavier duty situations a zip tie or even rubber band on the other end of the light would make it more secure.







The head features a fairly large lens, with the 4 LED’s under it. It has a optic sitting on top of the LED with a textured diffuser on top to really even out that beam pattern. Everything is surrounded by a silver aluminum bezel. On top there is a textured rubber button, with a pround silver bezel to help locate it. This does allow the light head stand. This button is a little hard to push if you have on larger gloves. On the back there are 3 deeply milled groves for heat dissipation. Lastly the microUSB port is on the light covered with a gray silicone rubber cover. The head has minimal labeling of just the serial number, model number and various regulatory symbols.

Size and Weight
I measured the length at 128mm, minimum diameter on the body was 26mm, maximum diameter at the head was 30mm. Weight with the battery, came in at 172.3g. The headstrap alone weighs in at 41g. This is fairly heavy. It’s a big headlamp, especially when you put it next it’s 18650 counterparts kind of like the Olight Perun I recently reviewed.



Comfort when used as a headlamp is ok for a couple of hours. Past that the weight kind of starts to get to you in the forehead. Nitecore could add a bit more padding on the back of the bracket to help with this. I do like that the headbands webbing has ventilation holes.

Retention
For me this isn’t a light I want to EDC in my front pockets, it’s just too big for that. The pocket clip can mount on either end of the light. When mounted nearest the head about 25mm of the light sticks up, when mounted at the tail, the clip extends past the tail and renders the magnet less useful. The balance point of the light is nearer the head so to keep from having to move the clip each time you mount the light to the strap, it really should go at the tail.


LED | Beam Shots | Heat
The light is using 4x Cree XP-G3 S3 LED. Tint is pretty cool white. The S3 varient has less green tint, but at lower powers it’s still noticeable. The optics and diffuser here do a very good job of making the 4 leds one uniform floody beam. Perfect for this type of application. I didn’t detect any PWM via eye or my scope.




Official modes and spacing are listed at

  • 1 Lumen – Ultra Low
  • 40 Lumens – Low
  • 270 Lumens – Mid
  • 800 Lumens – High
  • 2700 Lumens Turbo, Strobe, Beacon, SOS

Runtime
This is really a light designed for longer outputs. Turbo starts decreasing at the 30 second mark and it declines pretty rapidly down to high at 800 lumens. This is disappointing that it’s so short, I would have hoped to get a couple minutes out of turbo output here given the size of the light and relative conservative heat values. From here it mostly maintains this while sagging a little for about 140 minutes, then over the next 20 minutes or so you see 2 large stepdowns and the light runs in low and ultra low for the remainder of time about 475 minutes, till it LVP kicks in at 2.947v. Heat was fairly well controlled, at 1 minute I saw 95F, at 5 minutes 97.8F, and at 10 minutes 101F.

UI
UI here is different different, with fewer shortcuts. It’s a quick press to turn on, and then quick single presses to go up in brightness, and all solid modes are available, ultra low through turbo. Long press to turn off. You have short cuts to low when the light is off, a short press gives you 1 lumen. To directly access turbo from off press the button for more then 1 second. When the light is on there is no way to access turbo directly.

To access the blinking modes double press the button when the light is off, then short presses changes the mode. Long press to exit blinking modes.

Recharging
Charge time from LVP at 2.947V to Full at 4.12V on the included Nitecore 4000mAh 21700 battery was 2 hours and 41 minutes at a maximum of 2.1A via MicroUSB. Charge curve here looked normal, and I have no complaints. It’s nice here that with the included cell adapter the light will also charge an 18650 battery. During charging the blue LED on top will flash, and when charged it goes solid. This LED is also used as a voltage indicator when the light is in use.


I do wish the light came with an extra port cover (my first time needing one due to my mistake). Also being a new design and a large capacity battery the light would see a benefit from USB-C.

Pro’s

  • Blinking modes are not part of the normal operating modes.
  • Very even diffused light but quite cool tint.
  • Direct access to low from off
  • Nice it can run off of 21700, 18650 and 2x CR123 with the included adapters.
  • No proprietary cables or batteries needed, but it’s still MicroUSB Sad

Con’s

  • Cree XP-G3 emitters isn’t what I would expect to find on something in this price range and I am not a fan of the tint.
  • Turbos 2700 lumen output has a very short duration, only 30 seconds.
  • Long press to turn off keeps tricking my brain.
  • Wish it had an additional clip to secure the light in the headband for added security
  • Anodizing doesn’t seem to be the most durable, especially around the clip.

Conclusion
The Nitecore HC35 is a big bright light. I tend to think of it more as a worklight then a headlamp but it does both jobs fairly well. It’s a bit heavier than I want to use as a headlamp longer term, but what you pay for in weight you get in runtime. With the strong magnet and very floody beam it works good as a work light to stick onto a metal object or tail stand on it’s flat base.

UI here is easy but different from a lot of other lights so I can see people fumbling a little around on this one initially. It’s different having turbo as part of your main mode. I do wish turbo could sustain itself for longer, 30 seconds just isn’t very long. Overall this is an interesting combination of headlamp and worklight. Let me know what you think of the HC35 in the comments.

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/HWZh9yX

Edited by: liquidretro on 02/16/2020 - 13:29