[Review] Nitecore HU60 (Headlamp, multi beam, remote control) + NPB1 (powerbank)

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Budda
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[Review] Nitecore HU60 (Headlamp, multi beam, remote control) + NPB1 (powerbank)

Please note that this review is very long and rich in content.
It is possibly the longest I have ever done, so thank you for reading it.

I will divide it in several post in this threads for a better reading experience, and for better updating (some tests are still running and will be published as they are finished).

The HU60 was sent by Nitecore for the review.

The HU60 is a multi purpose multi beam headlamp, that is powered by USB. It features a XHP35HD emitter as a floodlight, combined with 4 XP-G3 S3 emitter in a TIR optic as a spotlight.
The light can be controlled via the electronic buttons on its body, or via the remote included.
Using the remote, or the switches, you can turn on only the floodlight or the throw one, or a combination of them at different levels.
With the HU60 I received the Nitecore NPB1, a 5000mAh 18w capable powerbank.

The HU60 comes in this box. I received the version that includes the Nitecore NPB1 powerbank.


The HU60 comes with: headband support, micro USB cable, NPB1, powerbank connection support, remote, manual, warranty card.

The HU60 is a circular headlamp made out of aluminum. On the outside of the light, there are the 4 XP-G3 S3 emitters in TIR optic that produce a focused beam, and in the center, a XHP35HD emitter for the flood beam. The light is rated IP67. The HU60 body is 40 wide and 43 mn thick, and with the headband it weights 150 grams. The length of the cable is 140 cm.



The HU60 has 3 electronic switches on it. One on the top, that has a blue backlit, and allows to turn the light on and off and pass throught the levels.

On the bottom there are other 2 electronic switches that allow to control the flood and throw beams.

The headband mount is made out of metal and plastic, and has quite a bit of resistance when tilting the light.

On the other side of the HU60, the USB power cable exits from the body, and is secured to the headband mount thanks to these 2 plastic clips.


The USB cable is quite thick and flexible. It ends on a USB-A male port that also has a sort of alligator clip on it. The “alligator clip” is used to have a more secure physical connection with the Nitecore Powerbanks. When in use with a non Nitecore powerbank, the USB cable of the HU60 still works perfectly.




The HU60 can be run on any USB power supply (including all the powerbanks that feature a USB-A Female port), but here is Nitecore Own powerbank: the NPB1, a micro USB in, USB-A output powered by a 21700 battery 5000mAh capacity (with a rated output at 5v of 3200mAh), able to output both 5V and 9V. It weights 106 grams, and it measures 26×101mm.




It features a IP68 construction with the specs on it, plastic body, metal D ring and an anchor point for the HU60.

It has a 3 dot meter to indicate its charge, and is turned on by a swipe on the side.

Here you can see the detail of the anchor point, that protrudes from the body of the NPB1 when desired, allowing for a much more secure connection to the HU60.




The remote for the HU60 is made to be carried on the wrist, thanks to the wrist band that is constructed like NATO straps for watches. It is powered by a button style battery. It is resistant to hits and water (IP67 certification).

It has 3 buttons on it: a wide one, On/Off, and 2 smaller ones, Throw and flood.

It is possible to replace the button battery inside by unscrewing the backcase.

This is the rubber accessory that strengthens the connection between the USB-A male of the HU60 and the powerbank. The collar that goes around the cable is thick and made out of metal (manual picture curtesy of Nitecore manual).


The Headband has reflective inserts on the outside and a non slipping silicone line on the inside.

The UI, curtesy of Nitecore manual

Please note that in the review I will not be referring to the beam combination as M1, M2 etc, but to 100% Spot, 100% Flood, 75% Flood + 25% Spot, for better clarity

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Edited by: Budda on 12/28/2020 - 15:08
Budda
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Beamshots – Scene 1





























Beamshots – Scene 2





























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Budda
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Output, Measured with NPB1 – 5000mah
Note that the HU60 doesn’t simply feed from a battery, but works using stable, exiting voltage from a powerbank or a power supply.

Please note that Nitecore did not release specs for the output when using both the Spotlight and the Floodlight together.

Runtime, Measured with NPB1 – 5000mAh









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Budda
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In order to see what the runtime of the HU60 at sustained output looks like with a bigger battery, I purchased a Xiaomi powerbank with 20’000mAh and able to output 18W. I tested the same output level with the 20’000mAh powerbank and the NPB1, here are the results.



I tested the capacity of the NPB1 at 5V using a resistance with variable load and a USB meter, with the following results.

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Budda
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My thoughts
Obviously, there’s a lot to discuss, so for this review I will split the discussion in separate points.
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First, an overview on flashlight that runs on separated battery packs vs “regular” flashlights.
Regarding the alimentation of flashlights in general, your mileage might vary.
Some people like them with built-in batteries: they can be charged on the run, good balance of power and runtime while maintaining a smaller form factor.
Others prefer them with traditionally removable rechargeable batteries: they can be charged on the run (the one with charging port), the user can replace the batteries when damaged or discharged.
Generally speaking, most of the LED headlamps do have the battery space built into the body of the lamp; there are the models that have a physically separated battery pack, but are a minority.
The later configuration (flashlight with separated battery pack) has some advantages: smaller and lighter body profile, better heat management (increase surface area, no heat from the battery), potential of increased battery capacity, increased runtime in cold condition (you can keep the battery in your backpack or close to you, preventing the decreased performance due to the cold).
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Every kind of headlamp has its own estimators and detractors, but when the user needs a flashlight with sustained high output AND runtime, the best choice relies in a light with a separated battery pack, because the increased size and weight would be too much to be one with the body of the headlamp.
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Consider that the NBP1 that is used for the specs and in most of this review has the same energy of a 21700 battery, if you use a different powerbank (the NBP2 with double capacity, or any other powerbank), the runtime would increase significantly.
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Now, regarding the HU60:
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General built and construction
The light is well built and finished (the small imperfection on the bezel of the HU60 is my fault and it is due to a fall during outside testing).
The HU60 thanks to it’s headlight mount, can rotate a lot and there aren’t fixed intermediate position in which the headlamp has to be orientated. The rotation that you set on the HU60 will be maintained and it takes a voluntary effort to rotate it with the hand.
The way the light is built, with the 2 switches at the bottom of the light, makes them a bit harder to reach with the hand in some inclination (or when using outdoor gloves). This is really not a problem given the light comes with the remote to operate it.
Nitecore says the distance of operation is up to 2 meters and in my experience it did work very well as long as I mounted it with the buttons on the inner side of my wrist (otherwise the remote beam would have to travel through my arm into the HU60).
The strap for the remote is long enough that it can be worn above a winter jacket for easier access even when used in outdoor.
The included rubber accessory allows other powerbanks to be more securely attached to the cable of the HU60.
With a 140 cm long cable, there’s plenty of reach for getting in one of your pockets or inside your bag with the powerbank.
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Output
The HU60 has several levels and several (virtually almost infinite) combination of flood and throw beam.
The measurements match the specs for the Spotlight, but not for the floodlight.
There is a thermal regulation that in my tests did step down the output at turbo and high level.
I like that there are no strobe/signalling modes, but I guess some people think differently.
I like that the light can work with every USB-A powerbank, with a caveaut: in order to access the turbo mode, the powerbank needs to be able to deliver 18W at 9V. If you use a powerbank with the “old” regular 5V output, the light will work only until high mode, and not give you access to turbo mode.
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Beam
The spotlight doesn’t have “stupid throw” (a hyper focused beam), but a good beam focalization while maintaining a very usable spill, with a reach of around 80 meters.
The floodlight has a very wide angle.
As you can see from the beamshots, the two beams complement each other well and there’s plenty of combinations to fit your needs.
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Remote control vs traditional operation
I know that there are flashlights that work without acting on the light itself, but they usually rely on an app via Bluetooth or wifi. I have to say that I prefer it done the HU60 way, not involving the phone.
I have small experience with “smartphone run” lights: in practice the system worked fine, but I would rather not have to pull out of the pocket my phone, unlock it, open the app, connect it to the light and so on… every time I have to change something.
Especially not when I’m outdoors, with gloves and rain.
I like that the remote is not universal for all the HU60s headlamps, but every remote is paired with a single HU60. So, if you are in group with other HU60 users, you will not get any interference.
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IMHO one of the winning points of the HU60, is the “universal” alimentation.
Even with today’s 21700 batteries, the max capacity is around 5000mAh each, while using powerbanks it is easy to have 10’000-20’000mAh or more (specially when using batteries with squared format batteries) that maintain a good size-weight-price ratio, are more available (try to get next day delivery amazon on a quality 21700 battery), cheaper (often around and under 20€) and more versatile (if it has more USB ports, the same powerbank can be used to charge other devices, even while running the HU60). Also, the “universal” powerbank battery frees the user from the limits of proprietary battery packs that are expensive, hard to find and usually discontinued in relatively short time. The same is said for the remote, that works with a readily available button battery.
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One of the few downsides to running the HU60 with a powerbank, is that the headlamp itself doesn’t have any idea of the level of the battery (since the HU60 reads a constant voltage exiting the powerbank), and to get the level of the battery, you need to physically check your powerbank (easier to do when it is on your clothes than when it is in your backpack).
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Things that could be different
The light has memory mode but there is not a single shortcut for lowest or highest mode, or from switching from all spotlight to all floodlight. I wish there were.
The level spacing is missing a level around the 800/1000 lumens mode, because in practice the turbo output will heavily stepdown when the light becomes hot, around the brightness of the high mode. And a jump between 4-500 and 1600 lumens is too much.
On my sample the output at flood mode was significantly lower than the specs, no matter the several tests I did, including cooling the lamp while testing.
As you can see in the beamshots, there is a noticeable artifact with an unpleasant green color in the spotlight beam, near my feet. When wall hunting, I could see that also the floodlight has, in the outer spill, a ring with warmer color and a bit of green. As far as I know, they are due to the optics used.
The remote could benefit in being a bit bigger, giving more physical separation between the “W” and “T” switches, a bit hard to feel with gloves; the same applies to the lower switches on the body of the HU60.
Perhaps the back of the HU60 could have some heatsinks, increasing the heat dissipation.
I wish this light came with a neutral / warm tint.
. In the end, the HU60 is an headlamp for people that need a versatile beam, plenty of runtime and output. Depending on your needs of output and runtime for a particular occasion, you can pair it with a different size powerbank to better fit your needs.
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Regarding the NPB1
The Nitecore Powerbank NPB1
The NPB1 is a 5000mAh powerbank, with 5V and 9V output, that sports impact resistance and waterproofness. It also has a D-ring, so it can be used in your EDC activities as well as in the outdoors without issues.
The powerbank is well built and finished. I like the rugged construction and waterproofness capabilities.
I like that is able to output 9V 2A (18W) other than the usual 5V 2.4A.
In recent times, I am seeing more and more powerbank with this form factor (cylindrical, with a 21700 battery inside), in addition to the already present cylindrical ones with 18650 battery (that you can still use with the HU60).
The “anchor point” that is present on the NPB1 for the HU60 is a nice feature.
It’s something that adds to the ecosystem of Nitecore when you use their powerbanks; while still being able to work with all the other industry standard.
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Things that could be different
The 3 dot meter is a bit limiting (it’s true that 1 dot, the one that shows the remaining capacity below 30%, flashes when the powerbank is almost empty), as most of my powerbanks can give me a more accurate estimation of the battery capacity, with 4 or 5 dot meters (with an indication every 25 or 20% of remaining capacity).
I like the D-ring but I would have traded it for a clip, or a belt loop accessory (since when using the light I’m would have it clipped on my belt or in one of my pockets).
I wish it came with a USB-C port.
.
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Thanks for reading this very long review.
.
Thanks to: AntoLed, Carmen, Won, Zampa.

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Lightbringer
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Holy Crap, that’s a lot of detail! I shudder to think how long it took to amass/compile all that. Shocked

Gotta say, though, it still looks like it’s named “Hugo” to me. LOL

Nice rock-solid regulation, too, temperature allowing.

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

Budda
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Hello Lightbringer, it took a lot of time to do it and Nitecore has been very patient with me.
You gotta stay tuned for all that’s left

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Budda
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Ok, review updated

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F. Premens
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Really nice and complete review. Thumbs Up

xevious
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EXCELLENT REVIEW!
I had totally missed this one. Really impressive what Nitecore did here. I like the premise of an external USB docked powersource and it’s smart that Nitecore didn’t try to go all proprietary with this. Obviously something like that Xiaomi power bank can deliver so much more than the Nitecore power bank, but then, doesn’t have the convenient and highly water resistant form factor of the Nitecore.

If I was a caver, I would definitely get this headlamp. Especially since deals are now coming up, lopping off $25 or more from the previously discounted price.

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Thanks for such a detailed review. Have you been using this headlamp? If so, how is it holding up after 8 months of use?

Sarratt
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Thank you very much for this excellent review.

Are you aware of any other light that has no battery of its own but uses a seperate user supplied power bank ?
Even a hand held flashlight that could be pluged in to a user supplied power bank might have its uses.