[Review] Nitecore HC65 (XM-L2, 3 LED, High CRI, 1000lm, 3000cd, 110m, 1x18650, 2xCR123, 2x16340, USB Rechargeable, Headlamp)

Hello to everyone
Thanking them for the trust, today we will review the HC65 which was kindly provided by Nitecore itself.

CLICK HERE to go to the official product page on the Nitecore website.

I want to clarify that my reviews are made at an amateur level, so without the aid of science fiction tools or tests in secret laboratories and cutting edge. Therefore, among the lines that follow, there will be my humble observations and even my humble opinions.

Official features:

- triple output full metal rechargeable headlamp
- specially designed for outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking and camping
- utilizes a CREE XM-L2 U2 LED to emit maximum output of 1000 lumens
- equipped with a high CRI auxiliary white light (CRI≥90) and a red light
- Integrated Precision Digital Optics Technology for extreme reflector performance
- a maximum beam intensity up to 3000cd and a maximum beam distance up to 110 meters
- high efficient constant circuit runs for maximum 800 hours
- 7 brightness levels and 4 special modes
- intelligent memory function (special modes can not be memorized)
- intelligent Li-ion battery charging circuit (via Micro-USB charging port)
- a flood lighting system provides 100° beam angle
- integrated Advanced Temperature Regulation (ATR) technology
- tilt mechanism allows for 180°adjustment
- power indicator displays battery voltage (accurate to 0.1V)
- reverse polarity protection
- constructed from rugged aero-grade aluminum alloy
- rugged HAIII military grade hard-anodized aluminum alloy
- IPX8 waterproof (2 meters submersible)
- impact resistant to 1 meter

Where to buy it

The Nitecore HC65 could be purchased from NitecoreStore.com

The package and the accessories

The Nitecore HC65 is sold inside a light cardboard box with the classic black and yellow colors.
On the front, under the Nitecore logo, stands the photo of the product (about 25-30% smaller than the actual model) with a small picture that shows in detail the microUSB port that allows you to recharge the battery. Above the photo of the flashlight stands the model's name, and under it there is the phrase "Multi-colored LEDs rechargeable flashlight". To follow, there is the type of the main LED and the type of the other 2 auxiliary LEDs, one white with high CRI and one red.
Below all this is indicated the maximum power reached by the main LED (1000 lumens) and is specified the presence of a 3400 mAh battery inside the package.
A red sticker communicates that the flashlight is covered by a 5 year warranty. More details can be found in the manual.

On the back we find collection of the essential characteristics of the product, the company data and a QR-code that directs to the product page on the Nitecore website .

On one of the 2 sides, under the heading "Headlamp Series", there are the summary panels with the relevant product data and at the bottom there are the CE and RoHS certifications.

On the other side the maximum distance reached by the main LED (110 meters ANSI) is specified together with a photo that show the potential of the flashlight. Here is another picture showing the red auxiliary LED in action.

At the bottom of the package there is a sticker with the model name, the type of LED and the type of dish used, a barcode and the product identification code.

Once the package is open, we will find:

- the HC65
- 3400 mAh battery
- the elastic headband
- the USB-> microUSB charging cable (about 1 meter long)
- 2 black O-rings + 2 more seals, white and slightly transparent, spare
- the warranty card
- the multilingual manual

Here is the manual in the English and Italian languages. Alternatively, it can be viewed in full and / or downloaded from the Nitecore website by clicking HERE .

The flashlightes a

The HC65 is the top range of Nitecore's headlamps (NOT-angular).
In its compact body you can insert 1x18650, 2xCR123A or 2x16340 to power its 3 LEDs and control them with the only switch located on the side of the flashlight. The LEDs are then inserted under 2 different lenses, a satin-shaped rectangular and a transparent circular-shaped.
As you can see, it is a classic frontal flashlight, with the aluminum alloy body (with clean shapes) already inserted inside the plastic structure on which we can then attach the elastic headband.
At sight there are also 4 torx screws that allow the user to change the gaskets (included in the package) if needed.
On both sides there are two unscrewable caps which have a rhomboidal knurling to facilitate opening / closing . We will then discuss of these parts in detail.

Under the frosted lens (ideal to spread the light produced) are inserted the two auxiliary LEDs, the white one with a neutral color (obviously tending to yellow) with a CRI (Color Rendering Index) ≥ 90 and the red one, ideal to protect the night vision or to signal our presence.
To the right of the two LEDs is a small blue indicator (we will see next how it work).

Next to the frosted lens we find the classic glass lens with a circular shape that overhangs the SMO dish in the center of which is inserted a CREE XM-L2 LED with a cold tint and white tones at high levels that become slightly brownish to the lowest.

Looking sideways at the "head" of the flashlight we can see how the satin lens is in flush with the flashlight body while the transparent lens is protected by a small slightly protruding bezel.

At the top of the flashlight is written the logo of the brand, the model name and its identification code. On the left there is also the symbol of the USB to indicate where is the port for recharging.
Between the inscriptions and the LEDs there are slight grooves that have the task of dissipating the heat produced.

In the lower part of the flashlight are the symbols of CE and RoHS certifications flanked by a small triangle that warns that the surface can become very hot.

On the right side of the flashlight (thinking about when it will be worn) is the only switch that controls the entire UI. This is a dual stage switch that allow the user to perform complete pressures or half-pressures (TAP) to change levels, access special functions and, of course, turn the flashlight on or off.
Small note: the flashlight can rotate about 180 ° freely both up and down. Have no pre-established positions, so we can direct the LEDs in the most convenient position for our purposes.

The switch, covered by an anti-slip grommet flush with the flashlight body, is easy to locate, has a short stroke and makes a fairly noisy click.

On the opposite side of the switch we find the company logo and website. The lettering of this and the other writings seen above is free from imperfections.

Thanks to the knurling, as we saw earlier , the two side caps can be unscrewed from the flashlight .
Both threads are anodized, well greased and have an O-ring which ensures protection against liquids and powders according to the IPX8 standard. As it is easy to guess from the different form, the two caps can not be reversed.

By unscrewing the cap on the side of the switch, we have access to the microUSB port that allows us to recharge the battery inserted inside the flashlight body.
NW Although the flashlight is also compatible with the CR123A and the 16340, Nitecore declares that it is possible to recharge ONLY the 18650.

Unscrewing from the opposite side we will have access to the battery compartment. This is a detail on the negative pole, consisting of a single golden spring.

Inside the body there is the positive pole consisting of a raised contact with the exposed circuitry. On it is printed the Nitecore logo and, next to the positive pole, there is an anti-reverse polarity device. Device that works very well since I could not turn on the flashlight with my LG HG2 Flat Top.

The battery and the charging system

The HC65 is sold with a 18650 battery, obviously Nitecore, wich have a capacity of 3400 mAh. It has the code NL1834 and is a protected battery with a protruding positive pole (Button Top). According to the features, it supports a maximum recharge rate of 2A but Nitecore recommends recharging it to a maximum of 1A.
It came to me with a voltage of 3.62V and, from a discharge test at 500 mA with the Opus, it results to have 3343 mAh.

Its positive pole raised in detail

The negative pole is even marked "Nitecore".

And here are the various written on the sheath.

To use the flashlight recharge circuit, unscrew the cap from the switch side and connect the cable supplied with any device capable of delivering 5V (powerbank, mobile phone chargers, etc.).
The circuit will absorb a little more than 0.5A and, when the recharging start, the indicator next to the auxiliary LEDs will start to flash.

When charging is complete, the blue indicator will remain on steady, a very small amount of current will always remain in circulation.
With the battery used by me, the whole charging process (with the battery completely discharged) takes about 7 hours. By measuring the voltage of the recharged battery with the multimeter, I detected 4.21V.
NW The flashlight can not be switched on if the battery is being charged.

The headband

To use the HC65 it is necessary to attach it to the elastic headband (included in the package), on the flashlight is already attached the support that includes the relative notches.

As you can see from the picture, the support also has a curvature that allows the flashlight to be more comfortable to be worn.

Seeing the backing from the back we can better notice that we have 3 notches available, all with an oblique gap that allows the user to insert the elastic band.

The elastic band has black coloring with white details, the Nitecore writing is repeated several times.
It also features the upper head support which ensures better stability.

At will this support can be detached without problems.

Here in the details the other end of the upper support of the band that will be connected to the flashlight.

And here is the elastic headband fully connected to the flashlight.

How does it work

The HC65 has eleven selectable levels. Five are normal, three are the special ones (Strobo, SOS, Beacon) while the other three are those supplied by auxiliary LEDs.

According to official Nitecore data, normal levels have the following characteristics:

- Turbo -> 1000 lumens for 1 hour *
- High -> 550 lumens for 2 hours and 45 minutes
- Mid -> 280 lumens for 4 hours and 45 minutes
- Low -> 80 lumens for 16 hours
- Ultralow -> 1 lumen for 800 hours

NW auxiliary LED -> 26 lumens for 25 hours
Fixed auxiliary red LED -> 11 lumens for 20 hours
Flashing auxiliary red LED -> 11 lumens for 32 hours

Each special level (Strobo, SOS, Beacon) will use all 1000 lumens available to operate .

NB The declared durations have been recorded in the laboratory by Nitecore with the 3400 mAh battery (obviously) charged.
* this duration was reached by adding the duration of the level in question before the intervention of the ATR.

Before reading the operation of the flashlight, remember that the switch on the MH23 is a dual stage switch. It can be pressed either halfway (TAP) or completely pressed (until end of stroke).

Power On / Off

The flashlight has the Memory function, so a single full pressure of the switch will turn on the main LED at the last used level. Another single full pressure to turn it off.
A prolonged full pressure on the switch will turn on the red auxiliary LED. A single full pressure to turn it off.
A prolonged TAP of the switch will turn on the white auxiliary LED. Another TAP or a single full pressure to turn it off.
NB Special levels are not remembered from memory.

Change levels

With the flashlight on, a single switch TAP will be enough to cycle all 5 normal levels in ascending order. Obviously 1 TAP = 1 change level.
Even with the red auxiliary LED we can go from a fixed to flashing light, just a TAP to switch from one mode to another.

Quick access to the Turbo

Due the presence of memory on each normal level, it may happen that in a certain situation we should quickly turn on the lowest or highest available level.
Performing a prolonged TAP of the flashlight switch (from any normal level) we will turn the Turbo level on in an instant.
To access the Turbo with the flashlight turned off, simply double-click the switch.
The Turbo can not be lit on if the auxiliary LEDs are on.

Special levels

As written at the beginning of the paragraph, the flashlight includes 3 special levels: the Strobo, the SOS and the Beacon.
These levels can only be selected with the flashlight turned on (and also with the auxiliary LEDs), making a complete and prolonged pressure on the switch.
In this way we will immediately access the Strobo level and, as for normal levels, with 1 TAP of the circuit breaker the special levels will also cycle (which will follow the order written above).
NW To exit the special levels, the flashlight must be switched off by making a single complete pressure on the switch.

Lock / Unlock

This particular model does not have an electronic lock but, thanks to the anodizing on the threads, it is possible to use the (always reliable) physical lock-out by unscrewing the tail-cap at least a quarter of a turn.

Charge indicator

With the HC65 it is possible to know, in a precise way (with a margin of error of ± 0.1 v), the remaining charge of the battery.
Each time the tailcap is screwed in
(and then the circuit is closed ), the blue indicator located under the switch will start to flash and then be followed by other flashes.
For example, if we have a voltage of 4.2V, we will have 4 flashes, pause and then another 2 flashes; with 3.8V, we will have 3 flashes, pause and then another 8 flashes.
As you can see from the examples, the system is as simple as it is ingenious. It's like having a multimeter inside the flashlight.


With the HC65 it is possible to use the blue indicator as a locator in such a way as to be able to identify the flashlight in complete darkness.
When the flashlight is off, it is sufficient to do a single TAP on the switch to enable or disable the flashing of the indicator. Once enabled, it will flash every 2 seconds. According to the manual, the locator can have a 6-month autonomy.

ATR system

This is the Nitecore system to adjust the light output of the highest mode of the flashlight depending on the outside temperature. The more the conditions are favorable to the flashlight (low temperatures / cool wind) and higher the higher modes will emit light.

Dimensions: weights and dimensions

The Nitecore HC65 is 8.33 cm long, on the side of the LED it is 3.28 cm thick and has a minimum diameter of 2.37 and a maximum of 2.66 cm. From empty (and with the support attached) weighs 74 gr while with the supplied battery supplied weighs 121 gr. The battery alone weighs 47 g while the band weighs another 36 gr.
Next, here is the dimensional comparison with a big BIC lighter and the NL1834,

with the Fenix HL60R

and with the Armytek Wizard PRO.

Lumens, runtimes, candles and beamshot

NB The tests below were made by the battery supplied by Nitecore. Everything was done in a home environment at 25 ° with and without forced ventilation.

The following values have been taken with the battery charged and are considered to be peak .

The following values have been taken with the battery charged and are considered to be peak .

NB The discharge curves are obviously indicative, the result could vary in positive or negative depending on the batteries used by the end user or the conditions of use that may vary from mine during my tests.

Any slight discrepancies related to the tests carried out on the same level can be attributed to a different positioning of the measuring equipment in my tests.

The following values have been taken with the battery charged and are considered to be peak .

All the photos to follow were taken with the white balance set to 5200K, the LED CRI will appear slightly more yellow than its original color.

This photo was taken at a distance of 40 cm from the wall.

Beam width

Beamshot at the Turbo, High, Mid and Low levels. The tree line is 25 meters away. The spill, with the main LED spot facing the infinity on the horizontal plane, starts at about 90 cm from my feet, the auxiliary LEDs start at about 20/30 cm.

The house is 70 meters away and I used the Turbo and High levels.

The trees at the bottom (which for obvious reasons you can't see) are located about 150 meters. I have always used the same 2 levels used before.

And to finish, here is the color difference between the main LED and the auxiliary LEDs on a plant.

I also take this opportunity to attach a short video that makes the idea of the potential of the flashlight better.


Personal considerations

This Nitecore HC65 is a headlight (NOT angular) that I particularly liked. The package itself is very rich and allows you to be immediately operational without the need to buy extra things, unless there is a real need (such as an extra battery).
The elastic band will be mounted in a flash and is easily adjustable to better adapt to the head or helmet. Wearing it is also comfortable and never heavy to the point of tiring the user.

The switch is easily identifiable and thanks to it you can control the 3 LEDs. Just the different LEDs are the icing on the cake!
The main one allows to see very well within 40/50 meters (in turbo) like any flashlight while the auxiliary ones allow, without the need to use filters or other, to have different types of light.
The red one is ideal for safeguarding night vision or signaling our presence; the neutral one returns very useful if we want to read a book without tiring the view and / or without the presence of an intrusive spot or to appreciate the colors of an object / flower / etc. thanks to the high CRI.

As we have seen, from the package also comes a 18650 with 3400 mAh that allow it to have a respectable autonomy. Alternatively, the flashlight is compatible with 2xCR123A or 2x16340 (or RCR123A) but remember that with these batteries it is not possible to use the charging circuit. Recharge that you can instead perform on the 18650 thanks to the microUSB port integrated under the cap on the side of the switch.
If you need more autonomy, you must, of course buy a secondary 18650 because the flashlight, while charging, can not be turned on. Of course, the excellent Nitecore batteries are recommended but, if you want to buy other brands, remember that you need Button Top.

In itself the flashlight is a valid product and the only addition I would have liked to see is a lower level in the auxiliary LEDs. Not that these do not go well but maybe they would be more valid to move / see inside the house or in enclosed spaces.
The only drawback I found is the recharge speed: the 0.5A available make the charging a bit 'slow (IMHO). Obviously you can rely on a faster external charger, ideal if you also have several batteries.

What do you think of this HC65? Would you buy?