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Fenix "HL55" high-intensity waterproof headlamp

Fenix "HL55" high-intensity waterproof headlamp Hot

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Fenix "HL55" high-intensity waterproof headlamp

Make & Model

MSRP ($):

Kayak fishermen looking for a rugged, IPX-6 waterproof headlamp with four main brightness modes and a 900 lumen "Turbo" mode should take a look at the Fenix "HL55". The Fenix HL55 will give you the brightness you need when launching or recovering your kayak.



Editor review

(Updated: July 02, 2015)

Fenix "HL55" high-intensity waterproof headlamp

When it comes to launching or recovering the kayak in the dark, it seems like I go through two or three headlamps a year. I’m not easy on gear, plus I’m always looking for newer/better/brighter. I’ll squash one and break it, or waterproof isn’t REALLY waterproof and the salt water takes its toll. I think I have found a lifetime headlamp in the Fenix HL55.

As LED technology has continued to improve and drop in price, the brighter Cree-based units have become smaller and more popular. The HL55’s 10-watt Cree XM-L2 T6 is housed in a IPX-6 waterproof aluminum housing, with a light head that pivots 160°. I know, I don’t need to see “up” often, but it was nice to be able to adjust the light beam above my line of sight instead of just at or below. The light attaches to your head with the usual “around the sides and over the top” elastic straps.

The HL55 is not your father’s headlamp. When I saw the first pix of the HL55, I thought, “It has to weigh a ton...” Wrong! The light (less batteries) tips the scales at just a touch over 4 oz. This is a bit more than some of my plastic lights, but I’ve found it really isn’t noticeable either directly on my head or wearing it on a cap. Even with the batteries installed, the light is comfortable to wear, even for several hours while unloading, prepping, launching, and fishing.

The question: Is it bright? Yeah, it is. The lithium batteries drive the high-power Cree LED through four main brightness levels, the lowest of which - eco mode - is well-focused and more than bright enough for working in or around the kayak. As you button-push up the levels, the clear, white light shifts from 10 lumens through 55, 165, and 420 lumen settings. Before you push the button, I urge you to resist the temptation to look at the light and ask, “How bright can it REALLY get?” That last press gets you a dazzling 900 lumen “Turbo” mode that will light up your world.

Why do kayak anglers need turbo mode? It’s simple - power boaters, at night. Coast Guard regs require a white “electric torch” if the kayak under 7 meters long isn’t displaying a full set of nav lights. I know too many kayakers - myself included - who have had near misses with power boats in low-light conditions. I guarantee no power boat operator (unless they’re completely ossified) will miss me when I turn Turbo mode their way, even from a mile away. That, to me, is an invaluable safety addition to the kayak kit.

Turbo, of course, comes at the expense of your battery. The website lists max battery life at 150, 30, and 10 hours for the lowest three settings, 3hrs 45 min on high… but there is no endurance listed for Turbo mode. The “rivals the sun” setting also makes the light a bit warm. I don’t think Fenix could park this LED in anything other than a hefty heat sink. The HL55 runs on two CR123 lithium batteries, or a single 18650. They cost a bit more than AAs, but you can’t get this kind of illumination without serious juice behind the LED.

A brief note about Fenix and customer service. Many years ago when Fenix first hit the US market, I bought a PD20 pocket light that immediately became my everyday carry. That light spent several years in my front pocket, until just last year with the switch finally gave up the ghost. Fenix offers a limited lifetime guarantee, and Beau Shrum from Fenix Lighting US takes that seriously. Even though I didn’t buy the light through his distribution chain all those years ago, he stepped up and replaced the light with the new version (because the old model had been discontinued).

The aluminum housing held up well after some intentional exposure to sand and saltwater and a two-day delayed rinse - not a speck of corrosion. The HL55 retails for $77 on the Fenix Lighting US website, and happens to be on sale for $59.95 - cheap for a well-built unit that can’t be beat for bright light. For more information, check out www.fenixlighting.com

User Info

Waters Fished:
  • Salwater Flats
  • Saltwater Bays
16-30 times

Pros & Cons

Rugged aluminum housing; crazy bright
expensive batteries; uber-bright mode consumes a lot of battery life
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