I am still happy using my Fenix HL21 headlamp, which I reviewed back in 2013. I recently purchased a Fenix HL22 for a gift. The Fenix HL22 has a wider, more useful beam, but is not as rugged as the HL21 and does not have a diffuser.
Design and features
- Single Cree XP-E LED.
- Single AA battery.
- 45 grams, excluding battery.
- Three modes: 120 lumens, 45 lumens and 3 lumens with memory.
- Smooth reflector, glass lens with anti-reflective coating.
- Water-resistant (IPX-6) and impact-resistant.
Compared to the HL21, the Fenix HL22 is 4 grams heavier and 23 lumens brighter. Both have the same low 3 lumens mode, which I find most useful. In my samples, the colour of the HL22 LED is more white. The beam spot is about 3 times wider (= 9 times larger in area). This beam pattern is more useful than the HL21. However, the HL21 diffuser accessory creates a more even light for close work and reading. The HL22 does not have a diffuser.
Squeezing the power button for 0.5 seconds switches the Fenix HL22 on. Pressing it momentarily switches modes. These operations are opposite to the HL21. It’s easier to change modes with the HL22.
Build quality and pricing
The Fenix HL22 looks and feels cheaper than the HL21. The plastic hinge does not feel durable. The battery compartment has metal threads and no o-ring. It is designed to seal out rain and dust (IPX-6). The HL21 has plastic threads, an o-ring and is waterproof (IPX-8, 2 m underwater). The headband on the HL22 often needs readjustment, same as the HL21.
Overall, the Fenix HL22 headlamp appears to be satisfactory. Shop around – they retail for around USD35.