Review: FENIX HM65R rechargeable headlamp

Is Fenix's HM65R the ultimate guiding light for outdoor goers?
The Fenix HM65R rechargeable headlamp
The Fenix HM65R rechargeable headlamp (photo: Johnny Carrol Sain).

Wars and rumors of wars. Pandemic. Supply line failure. Shifting climate.

The Four Horseman of the current apocalypse (how many have we had now?) vary a bit from their Biblical forerunners, but uncertainty is certainly in the air nowadays. And though fear is the mind-killer, uncertainty is fear’s dark and unfathomable mother. You’d think we’d be more comfortable in her presence nowadays. She’s only been here since the beginning.

From the murderous growls just beyond firelight that trembled our Homo Habilis eardrums to the mindless agenda of a virus and the enigmatic strategy of an authoritarian, what we can’t know is what we know will get us. But we know without a doubt that we could prepare for the worst if only we could somehow pierce that darkness.

While I can’t offer insight regarding the latest variant or geopolitics, I can offer my opinion on the Fenix HM65R rechargeable headlamp, a tool that can help you see beyond the firelight — way beyond the firelight. It can also help you find that can of beans buried deep in your pack, sort through your duns and spinners in preparation for tomorrow’s hatch, or read a nice book of poetry (to soothe your frazzled nerves) while enveloped in the pleasant darkness of your campsite


Fenix has offered high-end lighting equipment since 2005. The company seems to be composed entirely of people who geek out over flashlights even labeling their customer service team of flashlight experts as “flashaholics who are well versed in the lore of modern LED technology.” Nerdy and cheesy? Absolutely. But I’ve found that deep layers of nerd and cheese often correlate to supreme knowledge and expertise in a field or about a product.

What Works

Unrelenting Power and Strength
I know they make brighter headlamps, but with the Fenix HM65R rechargeable headlamp beaming its Turbo (1,000 lumens) spotlight setting, I felt like I had a laser gun strapped to my forehead. That max-power beam can reach out to 178 yards. I was a bit surprised that dry twigs in its path didn’t burst into flame. It should go without saying, but I’m saying it here: Do NOT look directly into this light or shine it in someone’s eyes.

With two Cree LEDs, that aforementioned spotlight which can throttle down to 50 lumens and a floodlight that maxes at 400 lumens but can glow steadily at 8, you can easily light up your backyard even if that backyard is measured in acres. In total, the spotlight has four brightness settings and the floodlight three.

This is the most bombproof-solid housing I’ve encountered in a headlamp. While it tips the scales at only 3.42 ounces, the light feels and looks much more substantial. Fenix says this combination of strength and featheriness is because the HM65R is constructed with magnesium. I’ve not abused the HM65R, but I have no doubt that it could be knocked around and come away with nothing more than a scratch or two. In fact, it’s rated to survive a 2-meter (about 6.5 feet) drop and has an IP68 waterproof rating, which translates to being submerged up to 1.5 meters (almost five feet) for 30 minutes.

Long Burning
The full-blast “Turbo” spotlight gives you two hours of work while the lowest level spotlight mode can burn for 300 hours. This seems like an incredibly efficient use of battery power.

Cutting-Edge Tech
The HM65R comes from the factory powered by a rechargeable battery pack and the housing features a USB type-C charging port. But if outlets are scarce, you can load it with CR123A batteries. There’s also a handy-dandy battery level indicator built into the unit so no guessing required. The lockout feature prevents accidental activation while buried in your pack.

The HM65R is attached to heads with two straps — one for over and one for around — that feature reflective, friction-providing (so the straps stay where they should), and sweat-channeling texture lines. This is one of the most well-thought-out designs in headbands I’ve experienced.

What Doesn't

Lacks Colored Lens Options
I wouldn’t change a thing except offering a few colored lens options for the sake of preserving night vision.


So far, I’ve used the FENIX HM65R rechargeable headlamp for finding a lost dog, finding a can of beans in my pack and other camp chores, searching through a dark shed, picking my way along an Ozark trail when I accidentally ran out of daylight, and picking up toys my grandkids left strewn across the yard. I could say that it’s overkill for most of my applications, but who knows what tomorrow will bring … if tomorrow comes.

In this universe of uncertainty, I’m certain that if I had to choose a light to guide me through the Tribulation (a decision I increasingly believe needs to be made), the FENIX HM65R would be that light.



Doesn't last for hours stated in box 400 lumens 22 hours lasts 4 hours not 22

I have had 2. One went faulty after 2 weeks. This replacement recieved 22 July 2022 has failed too after regular use. I no longer have faith in their reliabiliy.