Fenix HL21 headlamp review

Fenix is an exceptional Chinese company that designs and manufactures decent torches (“flashlights”) and headlamps. A Fenix HL21 headlamp is my second Fenix product and I am happy with it. The flip-up diffuser accessory makes a versatile headlamp.

My Fenix HL21 headlamp.

My Fenix HL21 headlamp. Not the best looking headlamp but it performs well.

Design and features

  • Single Cree XP-E LED.
  • Single AA battery.
  • 41 grams, excluding battery.
  • Three modes: 97, 47, 3 lumens, and memory.
  • Smooth reflector, glass lens with anti-reflective coating. The HL21 throws a solid beam at 97 and 47 lumens.
  • Flip-up diffuser accessory.
  • Waterproof (IPX-8, 2 m underwater) and impact-resistant.

The diffuser accessory makes the HL21 a versatile headlamp. Here are a few scenarios:

  • Spotlight: 97 lumens, diffuser up.
  • Reading light: 47 lumens, diffuser down.
  • Flood light: 97 or 47 lumens, diffuser down.
  • Communal light: 47 lumens, diffuser down. Hang the light from the ceiling, a tree, tent roof, etc.

I mainly use the 3 lumens mode: it saves batteries, preserves some night vision and is probably less disturbing to wildlife.

Problems and modifications

The diffuser accessory is not very durable. The plastic hinge becomes slack over time, which allows the diffuser to swing out and spoil the floodlight. I dipped the worn hinge in enamel paint to increase friction, maybe a temporary fix. The Fenix AD401 diffuser lens fits and I have purchased one as a replacement/spare from ebay.

A lesser problem is the headband becoming loose. It is easy and fast to re-adjust however.

The Fenix HL21 misbehaves and will not switch off when the battery is flat. The battery must be removed and a fresh one installed.

I don’t know why many torches and headlamps are black and hard to find in the dark. I painted some white enamel paint on the body of my HL21.

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4 Responses to Fenix HL21 headlamp review

  1. bulumakao says:

    Yes, the AD401 diffuser lens fits.

  2. Joe says:

    I am in the market for one of these – was looking at this or the HL10 which is a bit smaller/lighter – Though I like that the HL21 puts out 97 lumens vs I think (70) for the HL10.

  3. Alistair says:

    I loved my light until the clicky stopped working after 6 months. Can one take them apart?

    • bulumakao says:

      Bummer! These things generally are not serviceable, so buy a new one and hope it lasts. I’ve been using mine for more than a year and it’s still OK.

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