2017 has seems to have been the year of the headlamp. Today I have the Olight HS2 which is a bit of a break from the usual design of using a right angle light found in many headlamps. Thanks to Olight for sending me the HS2 so that I could take a look and review it.
Full Photo Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/URvhR
For more details and purchase check out the links below.
The HS2 is primarily designed to be used for runners. Olight’s CEO is an avid runner and wanted something small and lightweight but with runtime to use for early morning or late evening runs. While it should work good for that it also will work for other headlight tasks decently well. However it’s lack of a very low (Moon light mode) does limit very up close work or hiking where you want to preserve your night vision.
The HS2 takes a different approach to their other headlamps by using 2 drivers and two different optics to give you both flood and a bit of throw at the same time. Each emitter can be used independently or together and I will go over UI in a bit. The small emitter up front is removable from the strap but not the plastic holder. This detached piece allows you to power the light via microUSB if you want. When on the headband it’s attached via a coiled wire to the head strap. The battery pack is a small rectangle that when worn goes on the back of your head. The switch is a large blue button on the left hand side of the headstrap. The connector between the two pieces was very stiff to plug in the first time. You really need to force it until there is no gap. If you purchase an HS2 and it’s not working make sure you check this out.
The head of the light is removeable from the band. It looks like the nut would allow you to do this but instead it disassembles the light itself. To get it off, you can slip it off the strap itself but not off it’s holder. Similarly the battery is sewn into the strap making removal or replacement not possible. The biggest problem I see with this is if I wear this out running and get it all sweaty I would like to wash the headband. With this setup and the IPX4 water rating you can’t just throw it in a machine. You can rinse it in the sink but that’s about it. IPX4 means it’s water resistant to splashes and light rain and normal dirt. That’s a little disappointing because it limits washing, but from a practical use for runners it should be ok. Weight is right at 4 ounces ready to run. Overall build quality is good and what I have come to expect from Olight.
Since this was designed as a runner’s light to be worn on the head, I think at a minimum it would have been nice to include a piece of reflective tape on the battery pack, and if you took it a step further maybe 1 LED on the battery pack itself to act as a “tail light” for other runners, bikers, cars while out running.
This light uses a Cree XP-G2 LED in cool white. One LED is behind a lens to focus the beam and the other is behind a frosted piece of plastic to diffuse it. The result is one floody light and one more spot. I didn’t notice any abnormal tint shift in the output of the cool white but would like it more if they offered a neutral white version. All modes have PWM but it’s not something that I noticed.
Olights runtimes have been proven to be accurately published and the HS2 is no different.
- Mixed Beam High – 400lm – 2hr 12 min
- Mixed Beam Low – 100lm – 9hr
- Throw Beam High – 200lm – 4hr 30 min
- Throw Beam Low – 50lm – 18hr
- Flood Beam High – 200lm – 4 hr 30 min
- Flood Beam Low 0 50lm – 18hr
There is no step down due to temperature or time and I really like this. In my testing the head of the light got up to 117F after 10 minutes of run time. That is HOT but it doesn’t touch your skin so I think this is acceptable. This light normally runs at the LiPo backs nominal voltage of 3.7V but if you choose to run if off a USB battery bank it will also run on 5V. This gives you a bit more performance because of the increased voltage. The UI and operation remains the same no matter what power source you use.
The UI of this light is pretty easy. For startup, between modes, and at shutdown there is a nice fade in/out ramp. The light has two brightness modes on each LED and on both combined. You can run it on Flood, or Spot, or Both at the same time. To switch between them, just double click after the light is already on. Triple click to activate an SOS mode (Both LED’s at the same time). This light does not have a memory mode and always starts in high with both LED’s burning. I ended up running both LED’s at the same time during most of my testing. I think for most running applications people will use both as it lets you see what’s around you and directly in front the best. To turn off just long press and the light will gradually power down.
The lack of a mode lower than 50 lumens limit’s this lights use for some traditional headlamp activities as 50 lumens is more then you need in many cases at short range or while trying to preserve night vision.
Charging of the onboard 2000mah lithium polymer cell, is accomplished via micro USB on the battery pack itself. Using the included cable plug it into your favorite USB power source. The 4 small blue LED’s will come on to let you know it’s charging. When all 4 are lit and solid you know it’s ready to go. These also serve as a battery indicator just press the button to get an idea of the available charge. This setup allows you to run longer if by hooking up to a larger mobile powerbank via a wire if you would like. This light will work while charging too.
This light does have a low power indicator, while using it. When the battery reaches 10% those LED indicators will begin to blink. You will also get an audible tone for 10 minutes. If on high combined and you switch a lower mode you will get more runtime. To stop this just press the blue button. Since the battery is mounted on the back of your head hopefully you will be able to hear the beeping even with headphones in. I do wish they had a visual indicator at maybe 20% (Fast short strobe) that gave you a little extra time to get home before things went dark.
Packaging is typical Olight. It’s high quality printed cardboard. Inside you got a micro USB cable to charge that’s olight branded but not proprietary. On the outside of the box you have the typical relevant information to learn about the light in a retail setting. I really like that Olight included a zippered carrying case to keep everything together. I wish more headlights on the market did this.
- Nice light profile (Flood + Throw) with smooth ramping up and down.
- Great runtimes on low and good on high, No stepdowns in output due to temp or time.
- Really easy to use UI and charging system
- Comfortable and balanced head band & light weight operation
- Can run from a USB Powerbank at 5V to increase runtime and performance.
- No assembly of the headband itself is required
- I would like an additional low lumen mode which would make the light more versatile.
- I wish the light started in Low mode not high.
- The light and battery should come off the strap to allow you to wash the headband or improve the IPX rating.
- Currently no high CRI or NW options
I was at my local runners shoe store over the weekend and they were selling headlamps for runners for nearly $40 that ran on AAA batteries. The Olight HS2 is clearly better than those for a price that matches its performance. This is a specialized headlamp for runners and it makes some design compromises that would make it a little better for hiking or camping uses like lack of a moon light mode. It’s arriving on the market at a good time as the days are getting shorter and the runners are still out in force. I think this would make a decent hiking or camping headlamp too given it’s nice mix of flood and throw though still. I have enjoyed using it around the house and in my yard because of it’s light weight and split beam characteristics and can recommend it, especially if you are a runner
For more details and purchase check out the links below.