Author Topic: Review of Imalent HR20 Rechargeable Headlamp  (Read 4071 times)

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Offline JohnnyMac

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Review of Imalent HR20 Rechargeable Headlamp
« on: November 29, 2016, 07:13:18 AM »

Imalent HR20 XP-L HI Rechargeable Headlamp

* Imalent HR20 provided courtesy of Imalent in exchange for my unbiased honest review.


The HR20 is a versatile USB rechargeable headlamp with extensive runtime, extremely light weight and impressive output for outdoor use. A CREE XP-L HI LED delivers 1000lumens impressive flood light. Powered by 1 pcs of 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery or 2 pcs CR123 Lithium batteries which will provide the runtime of 360 hours to the headlight. Rotary infinite brightness adjustable, which practicality enhances outdoor applications. Utilizes patented reflector vacuum coating cup with floodlight and spotlight, can be called as “outdoor lighting artifact”.


* An easy to carry light weight and compact aluminum headlight
* Utilizes CREE XP-L HI LED with maximum output up to 1000 lumens
* Powered by 1 pcs of 18650 Li-ion rechargeable battery or 2 pcs CR123 Li-ion
batteries which will provide the runtime of 360 hours to the headlight
* Instant adjustable brightness, which practicality enhances outdoor applications
* With built-in USB charging port, the battery can be re-charged at any time so the
battery will never running out of power
* Built-in thermal control module will automatically adjust the output of brightness
according to the working state and outer temperature
* High efficiency constant power circuit will maintains constant brightness
* Anti-reverse battery protection
* Combination of toughened ultra-clear mineral and anti-reflective coating glass
* Aerospace-grade aluminum alloy body
* Wear resistant Type III hard-anodized surface treatment
* By using the comfortable, breathable and elastic material in the making
of high quality nylon headband
* IPX-8 standard waterproof (2 meters submersible)
* 1.5m impact resistant
* Tail stand function



  • Compact size
  • Excellent build quality with very good machining and anodizing.
  • NW beam tint and good throw for a small light with SMO reflector and Cree XP-L HI LED
  • AR coated lens
  • Super easy to use infinitely variable output
  • Welcome change to micro-switch instead of touch sensitive button used on Imalent's DM21
  • Zero visible PWM
  • Temperature controlled step-down.
  • Waterproof
  • Included 18650 cell
  • Comfortable head band with both side and top straps for secure wear when active.
  • Safe internal charging to 4.19V via included USB cable.
  • Street price of under $50


  • Horrible pocket clip
  • Very small USB cover

^  Great looking EDC capable headlamp here!

^  Sweet SMO reflector and AR coated lens make good use of the Cree XP-L HI NW emitter.


This little headlamp is a fantastic thrower for it's size.  The "infinitely" variable control with the smooth rotary knob in the head is a joy to use.  The HR20 (and the new DM21T) have their UI based off the older DM21 that had the same rotating knob to control output but used a touch sensitive electronic sensor instead of the more physical electronic micro-switch used in the HR20 and DM21T.  This is a HUGE improvement over the old DM21 UI.  The touch was unreliable, easy to accidentally turn off/on...I HATED it.  I recall recommending to them at the time that I didn't like the touch controls and to switch to a physical switch that provided tactile feel.  Wouldn't you know it?  Along comes 2016 models and they create this awesome HR20 and added the DM21T, a variation of the touch controlled DM21 but with a tactile, physical switch.  W00T!

Output is very competitive.  The tint on my HR20 is NW (neutral white), especially compared to the tint of the XP-L HI in the DM21T (up for review in the near future) which is CW (cold white).  The HR20 and the DM21T utilize the same controls and, I'd imagine, the exact same drivers as well but for some reason, my HR20 has ZERO visible PWM while my DM21T has barely visible PWM.  I'm sensitive to PWM and even though the PWM on the DM21T is fast enough to be visible when viewed against a fan but not slow enough to bother my eyes, the HR20 and it's lack of any visible PWM is most welcome.

Let's take a look at measured output now.  It's hard to get a headlamp of this type into the Integrating Sphere for an accurate reading but I think I managed to get pretty accurate readings.  Measurements were taken with fully charged Imalent 18650 cell that comes with the HR20.  The Integrating Sphere is calibrated for accuracy and highest output is measured at both startup and after 30 seconds of being On (ANSI/NEMA FL1 standards).

^ It is very important to note that measuring headlamps with the side-mounted LEDs is very difficult to do accurately in the IS.  Readings will not be as accurate as with flashlights with regular front-mounted LEDs.  The results should only be used for relative comparison with other side-mounted LED lights like the Skillhunt H03 for example.  Throw measurements are as accurate as with any light I've tested and the HR20 is very close to the claimed lux and throw distance.  The XP-L HI certainly helps keep the beam optimized for throw.  The BLF A6 was chosen for its reflector which is very close in diameter and depth to the HR20.

Let's take a look at the beams next...

^  Here is a little white wall hunting with the HR20.  The center spot is very tight and well focused.  The NW tint of the XP-L HI used, while not high-CRI, is still very pleasing to the eyes indoors and out.

^  A look at the beam profile shows the pretty tight focus of the beam.

^  Now for a look at the HR20 outdoors.  Due to the infinitely variable output I took shots at it's lowest output, 1/3 output, 2/3 output, and 100%.  You can really see how well this throws for a headlamp.

^ Above we have some comparison beams with 2 other 18650 headlamps, the Skillhunt H03 and Ultrafire H6, as well as with the BLF A6 which has roughly the same size reflector.

^  There is a lot of debate on the forums as to the HR20 being waterproof with it's control knob and port cover.  Even I had my doubts and one way to rule them out is to test it.  I dropped my running HR20 into a container with 4" of water in it and left it there for 80 minutes (originally the plan was 30 minutes but I forgot about it).

^  So what was the result?  A headlamp that was, as my dad would say, "dry as a popcorn fart" inside.  Not a trace of vapor or moisture inside the lens and reflector and not any inside the battery tube either.  I would not hesitate to get the HR20 wet.  Not my sample anyway.


The UI is about as easy to use as it gets and about the only thing easier to use would be a single mode light.  The switch on the top of the light is small but easy to find by feel and activate.  The switch (and charging port) is mounted right on the large rotating top of the light.  This rotating knob allows for super simple output adjustment from a low of 1 lumen to a claimed 1000 lumens and any level in between.  What I really like about this is that you can set the output of the light before you even turn it on.  The grooved and ribbed texture machined into the sides of the knob make it easy to operate one-handed.  Need extra modes?  There are 3 hidden flashy modes: Strobe, SOS, and Beacon that are dead easy to activate when wanted.  Here is a quick rundown on the UI...

From OFF

  • Click to turn On
    • Output can be adjusted before turning the light On.
  • Long press for instant access to Strobe

From ON

  • Click to turn off
  • Long press to activate hidden Strobe
    • Long press to switch to SOS
    • Long press again to activate Beacon
    • Long press once more to return to regular output
    • At any point a single click will turn off the HR20
  • To adjust output simply rotate the knob on the top end of the light.

^  The HR20 is super easy to hold in a reversed cigar grip.  It allows your arm to hang freely at your side with hand relaxed and have the side-mounted LED shine right where you need it when walking in the dark.  This, and the ability to tail stand and aim where needed from a few inches above the work surface, is why I love to carry this style of light for EDC use.  It's especially handy when working in the garage/shop.


Let's have a look at what you get if you purchase the Imalent HR20...

^  The HR20 arrived in a nice full color retail box.

^ Back and sides list details and specs.

^  Standard plastic tray. Mine was a bit torn up in the corner.

^  Included with the light is a head strap, pocket clip, USB charging cable, and spare O-rings.  The dual strap head strap is very comfortable and secure.

^ Here is a shot of the included User Manual.  Click for large image that is easier to read.


^  The HR20 is only a few millimeters longer than the Skillhunt H03 and fits nicely in my front jeans pocket, clipped or loose inside.  The clean simple design and rotary output design make it a joy to use. While not a potentiometer under that end knob, it seems to be a digitally controlled dimming circuit.  While not true infinitely variable output, it has a lot in micro steps in output that make it very close to infinitely variable.

^  The Cree XP-L HI emitter is perfectly centered in the smooth reflector.  Imalent makes fantastic smooth reflectors that give very focused hotspots and silky smooth spill and the reflector on the HR20 is no different.  If you are looking for a super compact headlamp with great throw this is the only game in town.  The HR20 is really more than a headlamp.  It's a fantastic EDC light.

^  The sides of the head have a nice machined relief design machined into them.  Looks very futuristic and reminds me of the styling cues on the Imalent DDT40.

^  The knurling is nicely done and provides adequate grip.  The clip attaches very securely with no play.

^  Power switch, indicator LEDs, and USB port are all located on the end of the head.  This is fantastic for the power switch but it doesn't leave much space for the USB port cover.  It's very tiny and doesn't feel the most secure.  You really need to make sure it is seated properly after charging the light or it may not be so waterproof.  Some feedback I've seen from a couple other HR20 owners is that the control knob came off when they pulled in the rubber USB port cover.  I tried several times and the control knob on my sample is extremely secure.  I have no worries about it coming off in use.

^  Yes, you are seeing right...They misspelled "USB" as "USD".  LOL.

^  The rotary output knob is my favorite feature on the HR20.  It rotates smoothly on my sample and allows super easy adjustment of output with a turn of the thumb.  The ultra fine knurling allow excellent grip and dead simple use with one hand..

^  The cover over the charging port lifts up to access the micro-USB charging port.

^  Micro-USB charging works well and shuts off when the cell is fully charged.  Indictor LEDs glow red when charging and glow green once fully charged.  The cell charges at around .86A and my cells stopped charging at 4.19V.

^  threading is smooth as silk as I've become accustomed to in Imalent lights.  The O-ring seals well and the threads came nicely prelubed from the factory.

^  A look at the driver end of the battery tube.

^  The tail spring is the new standard type seen in many lights these days.

^  The HR20 comes with a 2600mAh cell.  I don't have any complaints with it but I do wish they would include a cell that had a bit more capacity to it.


I've chosen a few of my other headlamps I have with which to compare the Imalent HR20

^  The first two are 16340 lights, the Armytek Tiara C1 and Xtar H1.  The others are the Skillhunt H03, Ultrafire H04, and Imalent HR20.

^  A look at the different AR coatings.  The Tiara C1 has a more pure blue color to it while the Xtar has the more common purple.  The HR20 looks tan or blue depending on how you see it.

^  A direct comparison with the other currently hot competitor, the Skillhunt H03.  The charging circuit and rotary knob on the HR20 makes it a bit longer.  Two completely different beam patterns though with the H03 being a pure flood.  The HR20 is designed for more throw with a smooth spill.

^  The power switch on the HR20 is on the head making it much more pocket friendly than the H03.  The H03 was always getting turned on in my pocket and once I got the HR20 it's taken the spot in my pocket for EDC use.

^  The shot above illustrates my biggest complaint with the HR20 - it's pocket clip.  Worst clip ever.  The friction bump is right where the lip for the clip is making it almost impossible to clip onto my jeans pocket (or anything for that matter).  I don't know what they were thinking and they obviously didn't put much thought into it.

^  Fortunately the clip from the H03 fits perfectly on the HR20 making it perfect for carry.  I use the H03 in the work shop as extra lighting.  If it had the tail magnet of the H03 it would be nearly perfect all around.


Pocket clip aside, I love this light! It does everything well and is very well made. Great output and intuitive UI make it fun to use. No visible PWM and NW tint are easy on the eyes. Price point is good as well at under $50 online if you check around. Based on my review sample I am very comfortable recommending the HR20 to anyone in need of a focused headlamp or a very versatile EDC light.. Others have experienced issues that my sample does not exhibit. My DM21T has a CW XP-L HI emitter and as my HR20 does not claim to be NW but is, LED tint appears to be a lottery. Expect CW but be happy if it's more neutral? There are quite a few people who are unhappy with the issues on their HR20 but mine has been quite good and I'm not alone from what I've read. Take that however you wish when considering for purchase. I will say that Imalent has to tighten up on their QC when it comes to internal components.

« Last Edit: November 29, 2016, 03:17:24 PM by JohnnyMac »