Light Review: Fenix HM65R Headlamp

With the HM65R, Fenix have fitted in so much, but have kept this headlamp small and light enough that you don’t have to think twice about taking it with you on any adventure (or even just taking out the rubbish).
The 18650 li-ion cell used to be the ‘enthusiast’s choice’, being unfamiliar to many users, even more so when strapped to your forehead – not any longer. The Fenix HM65R comes with a high capacity 3500mAh 18650 cell, and there is a built in USB-C charging port. The ONLY thing you need is a USB charger of some kind to open the door to this powerful and capable light.
Join me in this review of the Fenix HM65R to take a look at all the details and how it performs.

What is in the box?:
For maximum stability the HM65R has a top strap, and the full head strap comes assembled and neatly tucked away in the packaging.


A good look round the HM65R – Things to look out for here are:
I’m splitting this detailed set of photos into two galleries for a more manageable tour of the HM65R. The HM65R is almost ready to go out of the packaging, but first you need to remove a small insulator that keeps the battery from running down or the HM65R from being turned on accidentally. From the appearance of the threads of the battery tube, you can see that this is made of magnesium, a material chosen by Fenix to shave off a few more grams of weight.


Taking in more details:
First up in this gallery are the twin lenses – the larger spot emitter with clear lens, and the smaller flood emitter with honeycomb type diffuser lens.
For a more stable fit to your head, the inside of the front part of the headband strap has a grippy strip. Flipping the HM65R forwards gives access to the USB-C charging port and shows the angle adjustment mechanism.


The beam:

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and my wife won’t have one!

For both indoor and outdoor beamshots, the individual spot and flood beams are shown, then (as both can be turned on at the same time) the combined beam. Each of the photos in the set of three is at the same exposure and white balance.


Batteries and output:

The HM65R runs on a supplied 3500mAh 18650 Fenix li-ion cell.

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

Take note of the very good (low) parasitic drain measurement.

Also shown in this gallery is a charging graph for the built in USB-C charging. Although USB-C is capable of up to 3A, the HM65R seems to top-out at about 1.4A when charging.


The HM65R in use:

Straight off the bat, the HM65R makes itself a success with the stable and comfortable head strap (with top strap), and the choice of spot or flood beams (or both combined). Then, in using the high capacity 18650, you get a great runtime and powerful output (yet without too much weight), and the built in USB-C charging means you actually don’t need anything else – The HM65R is a complete kit.

There is one thing missing for me though, and that is a very low output. Even 9 lm, and even with this being on the flood beam, it is still too bright for dark adapted eyes. Frequently when I’m using headlamps, I will have dark adapted eyes (waking from sleep, or when I don’t want to disturb others); if only Fenix could squeeze in that lower mode, a sub 1 lm mode for both spot and flood output, it would make the HM65R a fantastic all-rounder.

If you want to go full blast, then your wish is the HM65R’s command – perfect visibility.


It is very helpful having the quick charge level gauge, with just a click letting you see if you will want to top up the battery.

Having used many Fenix headlamps over the years, and many competitors headlamps too, the HM65R definitely goes down as a choice for Pro users. I use the term ‘Pro’ to indicate this is a serious tool, capable of hard work, versatile and something worth investing in.

Review Summary
The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond that covered in the review.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________
What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________

Lacking a sub-lumen output level.
USB-C charging limited to 1.4A.

_______________________________________________
Things I like
_______________________________________________

Independently switch-able Spot and Flood beams.
Stable and comfortable head mount with top strap.
High capacity 18650 cell included.
Built in USB-C charging.
Very low (negligible) parasitic drain.
Nearly 1400 lm combined beam output.
Light weight.

Light Review: Fenix TK15UE (Ultimate Edition)

Fenix have been taking classic lights from their range and creating ‘Ultimate Edition’ versions, pushing their performance to the maximum. The TK15 has now been ‘UE’ed to make the TK15UE with uprated output, throw and a new stainless steel bezel.

 photo 16 TK15UE trailer P1230848.jpg

Taking a more detailed look:

The TK15UE comes in Fenix’s standard packaging.
 photo 01 TK15UE Boxed P1230641.jpg

Included with the TK15UE are the instructions, a holster, a lanyard, a couple of O-rings and a spare switch boot.
 photo 02 TK15UE Box contents P1230650.jpg

Before we move on, the holster is worth lingering on a little longer.
 photo 03 TK15UE holster P1230657.jpg

On the back there is a choice of a D-ring, fixed loop, and Velcro closing loop.
 photo 04 TK15UE holster loops P1230656.jpg

There is something a little different here. The holster flap has a retaining strap over it and inside the holster it is fixed with Velcro.
 photo 05 TK15UE holster flap P1230667.jpg

You can just see inside that the flap extends most of the way down the inside of the holster.
 photo 07 TK15UE holster flap adjust inside P1230678.jpg

The entire flap can be undone and either removed or adjusted to loosen or tighten the fit, or even accommodate a different length light.
 photo 06 TK15UE holster flap adjust P1230675.jpg

As supplied, the holster is correctly configured for the TK15UE.
 photo 08 TK15UE in holster P1230680.jpg

The most obvious sign that this is something a bit different to the previous TK15s is the Stainless Steel bezel.
 photo 09 TK15UE angle P1230689.jpg

Let’s have a look at how the TK15UE and an older TK15 compare. This is the TK15C. So the holster is more than the basic one the TK15C comes with.
 photo 10 TK15UE compare P1230827.jpg

Dimensions are all very similar. The TK15C I’m comparing with here has had the clip removed as well as the tactical grip ring because it has been used gun-mounted.
 photo 12 TK15UE compare P1230832.jpg

Going in close to the engraving of the model, the knurling and mode switch.
 photo 13 TK15UE switch detail P1230837.jpg

All the edges of the clip are nicely rounded, and there are no sharp corners to eat away at your pockets (just the knurling under the clip).
 photo 14 TK15UE clip detail P1230839.jpg

The switch button does protrude, so no tail-standing, and it has two raised areas to provide the switch with some protection from accidental activation.
 photo 15 TK15UE tail detail P1230844.jpg

As with the stainless bezels on other Fenix lights, the edges have been bevelled to make them kind to the holster and your pockets.
 photo 17 TK15UE bezel P1230849.jpg

The inner edges of the bezel are crisp without being sharp.
 photo 18 TK15UE bezel P1230852.jpg

Fenix’s preferred trapezoid threads are used.
 photo 19 TK15UE threads P1230857.jpg

The end of the battery tube is the electrical contact that connects to the tail-cap contact.
 photo 20 TK15UE tube P1230863.jpg

Inside the tail-cap are the battery tube contact and the negative terminal sprung contact.
 photo 21 TK15UE tailcap contacts P1230866.jpg

With the TK15UE, the head will unscrew.
 photo 22 TK15UE head off P1230884.jpg

As the battery tube can be removed we can get a good look at those contacts in the head.
 photo 23 TK15UE head contacts P1230885.jpg

Just like previous TK15 models, the TK15UE has a smooth reflector.
 photo 24 TK15UE reflector P1230888.jpg

In the centre of that reflector is the CREE XP-L HI V3 LED.
 photo 25 TK15UE LED P1230897.jpg

Looking straight into the TK15UE’s reflector.
 photo 26 TK15UE LED P1230901.jpg

The TK15UE is one of the more compact single 18650 lights. Not as compact as the small-head types such as the PD32, but it does have a big enough reflector to give it some punch.
 photo 27 TK15UE with cell P1230904.jpg

You can take off the tactical grip ring by unscrewing it.
 photo 28 TK15UE ring off P1230910.jpg

Unless you buy the optional thread protector you will see the grip ring threads.
 photo 29 TK15UE ring threads P1230914.jpg

The beam

Please be careful not to judge tint based on images you see on a computer screen. Unless properly calibrated, the screen itself will change the perceived tint.

The indoor beamshot is intended to give an idea of the beam shape/quality rather than tint. All beamshots are taken using daylight white balance. The woodwork (stairs and skirting) are painted Farrow & Ball “Off-White”, and the walls are a light sandy colour called ‘String’ again by Farrow & Ball. I don’t actually have a ‘white wall’ in the house to use for this, and the wife won’t have one!

Indoors the TK15UE is not at its best, as it is quite a throw orientated beam. The hotspot is bright and well formed. Spill is relatively dim and narrow but usable. There is enough balance in the beam to make it OK indoors.
 photo 32 TK15UE indoor P1240716.jpg

But it is when you get a bit more range that the TK15UE really starts to shows what it is made of. The throw belies its compact size, and with the ‘UE’ upgrade it is a really punchy little light.
 photo 31 TK15UE outdoor P1240668.jpg

Modes and User Interface:

To control the TK15 UE there is the forward-clicky tail switch, and the mode selection switch just behind the head.

Click ON (or half press for momentary action) the tail switch to access the last used constant mode. With the tail switch on, press the mode button to cycle though the modes.

The standard modes are Low, Medium, High and Turbo.

There is a hidden Strobe mode accessed by holding the modes selection switch in for 1s. Strobe is not memorised as a last used mode.

Batteries and output:

The TK15UE runs on 18650 or 2xCR123.

To measure actual output, I built an integrating sphere. See here for more detail. The sensor registers visible light only (so Infra-Red and Ultra-Violet will not be measured).

Please note, all quoted lumen figures are from a DIY integrating sphere, and according to ANSI standards. Although every effort is made to give as accurate a result as possible, they should be taken as an estimate only. The results can be used to compare outputs in this review and others I have published.

___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Fenix TK15UE using specified cell I.S. measured ANSI output Lumens PWM frequency or Strobe frequency (Hz)
___________________________________________ ________________________________ ________________________________
Turbo – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 776 0
High – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 377 0
Medium – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 164 0
Low – Fenix ARB-L18-3500 14 0

* Beacon and Strobe output measurements are only estimates as the brief flashes make it difficult to capture the actual output value.

Peak Beam intensity measured 31100 lx @1m giving a beam range of 353m.

There is no parasitic drain.

I was slightly surprised by the Turbo output runtime trace as unlike most Fenix lights the TK15UE does not appear to run with a regulated output. The trace was recorded using cooling, so it is unlikely that this is due to overheat protection, instead the TK15UE seems to run at maximum output with that output sagging as the cell becomes depleted. However saying that, you do get a full hour of runtime at more than 600lm, so overall the performance is still good. (This was run using Fenix’s latest ARB-L18 3500mAh cell.)
 photo Fenix TK15 UE runtime.jpg

Troubleshooting

This section is included to mention any minor niggles I come across during testing, in case the information helps anyone else.

No issues were encountered during testing.

As per the description of this section, this information is provided in case anyone else finds a similar ‘issue’ that might be fixed in the same way.

The TK15UE in use

By separating the mode selection to a side-switch Fenix have allowed proper momentary use of that forward-clicky tail switch. This makes for a really easy and intuitive interface and keeps things simple for any user.
Fortunately the strobe mode is reasonably well hidden and is not memorised; I’m surprised anyone still includes strobe. As those that follow me will know, I’m certainly no fan of strobe and most true tactical users I know are aware that if you strobe another person, you strobe yourself as well, so your are better off not using it at all. Thankfully with the TK15UE you need never come across strobe and can use the four constant output modes without tripping over strobe.
The TK15UE manages a balance between hotspot and spill that, although it is more oriented towards throw, is still usable at indoor distances.
When using the holster with the TK15UE inserted bezel-down, the bezel does catch in the holster before getting all the way in. Used bezel-up, this does not happen. It seems to be due to the adjustable flap taking up more space inside so the bezel catches on the inside of the holster. To get it all the way into the holster bezel-down you need to twist the TK15UE as you insert it.
There are smaller single 18650 lights, but the TK15UE is still compact enough to make it easy to carry, yet that slightly larger head is enough to give it a nice strong beam. Even with the upgrades to the head and LED, Fenix have kept the character of the TK15 but made it significantly brighter.
I’ve always felt the TK15 was an unsung hero in the Fenix line-up, quietly getting on with the job while others took the glory. In the Ultimate Edition, the TK15UE can now take some of the limelight and hopefully get a bit more recognition.

Review Summary

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Significantly boosted output compared to previous TK15 models. Turbo output not regulated.
Excellent throw from a compact head. Bezel catches in holster when used bezel down.
Simple user interface. Can accidentally hit the mode switch especially if wearing gloves.
Stainless Steel Bezel.

 photo 30 TK15UE angle on P1230918.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

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