No longer simply the jurisdiction of miners and cavers, headlamps are becoming more common than ever. This particular model seems poised to increase that adoption rate and boost their popularity further than ever.
Meat and Potatoes
It’s no secret I’m not a big fan of headlamps. It’s not that I don’t like them. I just don’t see them as likely to be nearby when you need them. They’re more of a “plan ahead for a specific task” type of item where I am more of a “be moderately prepared for anything” type person. There’s no denying their usefulness. I’m definitely not trying to do that. I just don’t remember to bring a headlamp along where I might need one. Task specific vs. general use, let’s call it.
Once you get past that distinction, the H25 Wave is quite the powerful tool. Capturing the usefulness of the H15 wave before it, the H25 ramps up the power to seriously impressive levels. No longer is it sporting a meager 4xAAA power supply, the H25 substitutes instead a massive rechargeable Li-ion battery pack that appears by both the math and dimensions to contain 4x18650 cells. All this energy is channeled to a Cree XM-L2 LED cranking out 800 lumens of beautifully creamy, neutral-white light. Sitting in its shallow reflector, the relatively large die of the XM-L2 produces a large swath of light, well designed for close-at-hand tasks. The specialty of a headlamp.
The H25 has a large component constructed of plastic to save weight, though there is much more metal than was found on the H15. Nearly the entire back of the light is metal of some sort, I assume to better facilitate heat dissipation. Also, despite the larger, heavier lamp piece and much more significant battery pack, the H25 has been rendered less cumbersome and hefty to wear. This is simply because the battery pack has been given enough cord to reach not to the back of your head, but rather to your waist. This allows you to easily carry the gargantuan power supply in a less noticeable fashion.
Once again, user interface is where the H25 genuinely shines. At its heart is a basic cyclical H-M-L-Off mode structure. While this isn’t ideal in a flashlight, the difference in function of a headlamp renders it useable. Remember, you’re not likely going to need mode memory or quick access to specific outputs in a light designed for long-term task illumination. Digging a little deeper though brings forth the real brilliance. Just as in its sibling also bearing the Wave moniker, the H25 brings touch-free gesture control to headlamps. I cannot think of a more apt location for this technology. Picture yourself digging in the grease and oil under the hood of your car, only to discover what you need to check will rather blind you from the backscatter light off the chrome plated air cleaner. Or maybe you need to bait another hook, and you’re already up to your wrists in fish guts and seaweed. Possibly it’s just the middle of a winter campout and you have no desire to expose your digits to the cold outside your gloves for one second longer than you have to. You don’t want to be fumbling around looking for switches on your face with hands that either couldn’t or shouldn’t be doing that. With the H25, the problem is solved. Simply wave your hand, arm, or even a handy stick or piece of paper in front of the light and presto, the switch has been flipped. After you go through just a few seconds of learning curve, determining what distances work and which don’t, there is nothing more to think about. It becomes second nature faster than any light I’ve used. You are allowed to disable the Wave functions if you really want to, but why, oh why would you cripple the best feature of this light like that?
Despite it’s listing in the constructive criticism portion of my review of the H15, I always thought the built in diffuser was one of its premier features. My gripe was against the lackluster performance of the diffuser latch, not the diffuser function itself. On the H25, it is conspicuous only by its absence. I would much prefer to have this feature in flawed form, than to not be afforded the option at all.
With such a large battery pack, it makes complete sense to offer the option to use it as a backup power bank. Olight was definitely wise in that regard to include the USB power port on the pack. 38.5Wh translates into a lot of available energy if you don’t happen to need it in the headlamp itself. The biggest issue I have here is the gave that the sleek power supply always has a 6″ wire “tail” where it normally connects to the charge cable or headlight that always gets in the way. It doesn’t seen to me this was required in any way for adequate function of the pack. Just a simple design detail, but it would foster greater usability.
The H25 Wave is a large, powerful, task-specific tool. If that fits your needs then it is an excellent, quality option to fill that role. Of you’re more like me and prefer general purpose lights, then this might begin to intrigue you about the benefits of planning ahead when a headlamp might come in handy.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Going Gear.