I’ve used the Nitecore NU25 (2017 model) for over three years as my mainstay backpacking headlamp. When modified, it’s ~1oz, puts out much light, and is reliable, and the two buttons easily let me toggle between the red and white light modes. Add in the weather resistance, USB charging, compact size, and overall reliability, and it’s become my headlamp of choice.
But I am willing to test out new gear and tweak things. When given a chance to test out the Sunblesa H11 headlamp, it seemed like an opportunity to try something new.
I found that rather than something new, I found a refinement to the classic NU25 that’s slightly lighter with some features that make the Sunblesa H11 a viable alternative. Especially if Nitecore phases out the 2017 model.
Here are the specs in all its raw data for those who enjoy these things –
- Retails for $35 on Amazon
- A 700 mAh battery
- Unmodified, the light weighs just under 50g/1.75 oz per my scale. Of course, you can make it ~28g/1oz via easily modifying with a shock cord or a lightweight hair band.
- 365 max output lumens with four different white light settings of the low, medium, high, and max modes.
- Another button lets you quickly access the other mode for a high red, a somewhat unique high green, and a lower green setting. As with the 2017 Nitecore classic, I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoy the separate buttons for ease of use.
- An intense and wide beam with a CREE XP-G3 LED and an effective distance of 85m.
- USB rechargeable
- IP65-rated waterproofness and dust resistance (In non-tech speak, that means high water and dust-resistant)
- 200 hours of battery in low light white-light mode, a claimed 20 hrs in medium mode (my most used), or 8 hours of high green or red light modes that I also enjoyed using. I found the low green another useful option with an estimated 30 hrs of approx charge.
- Low battery warning
Enough specs. How does it work in the field?
There’s not too much to say on the functional level. It’s a headlamp. It works. And that’s high praise from me – my favorite gear’s simple, functional, and does not get noticed when I use it. I want something to work without futzing around with it. And the H11 fits all that criteria.
As with my NU25, I like to use the medium mode for immediate camp chores and switch to the red light mode for eating dinner or finding something in the tent at night. The additional green light mode makes for easier map reading and seeing fine details at night while helping to mitigate light pollution and assisting with preserving night vision. Aesthetically, I find the red light less harsh than white or green lights when winding down the evening. . A Hiking Authority article has more science that aligns with my practical experience or preferences.
In 2022, I’d prefer USB-C to align with more devices charging this way. However, that’s a minor nit to pick. A simple adaptor at negligible weight can mitigate this minor issue at home or in the field.
NU25 (2017) vs. H11
As you can see, the two headlamps make for a similar design, and the comparison makes an obvious one between both headlamps.
What I found –
- The “out of the box” 2017 NU25 weighs just under 2 oz/56 grams and is slightly heavier vs. the H11. Oddly enough, the H11 also has a somewhat larger battery despite the slightly less weight.
- The H11 is marginally less expensive at $35 vs. $37.
- The lumens are slightly higher on the NU25 vs. the H11 but have similar beam characteristics. I don’t think, on a practical level, there’s any noticeable difference, however.
- The green light settings on the H11 are beneficial for map reading and make it easier to see details at night without the harshness of white light while proving more effective than red light in certain situations. I’ll again suggest reading “The Hiking Authority” article for more info.
- The low battery warning makes a potentially helpful feature as well
- The NU25 UL, which is USB-C, lacks the two-button mode many people find so useful, in addition to two red light settings.
- Ditto for the newer NU25 vs. the 2017 classic one.
If Nitecore phases out the 2017 model, I’d strongly suggest getting the Sunblesa H11 over the newer NU25s.
As mentioned, The Sunblesa H11 is not so much different than the classic 2017 NU25 but a refinement. The slightly lower weight and price certainly make the Sunblesa a viable alternative. Add in the green light settings, and the Sunblesa H11 makes an intriguing option that backpackers may want to consider. It works and seems to work well.
If, or when, Nitecore phases out the 2017 model, I think the Sunblesa H11 will make a superior alternative that may become a backpacker’s favorite.
Update – Sunblesa informed me a USB-C model will come out in March 2023.
Disclosure – Sunblesa provided the H11 for my review.
Hey PMags! If you like the NU25, lookup “KunHe H1 Lightweight Ultralight USB Rechargeable Headlamp” on Amazon. They are really similar in specs and functionality, but the KunHe is about half the price. I’ll keep using my NU25 on the trail until it dies, but the KunHe is a cheap backup to leave in the car for emergencies.
Sweet! Looks neat.
For a simple review that was surprisingly helpful! The green light, compared to red, definitely helps my eyes for any activity that requires reading or precision and isn’t nearly as harsh or difficult to accommodate from as white light. Thanks Paul
You are welcome! I don’t take a deep dive into gear but I do try to look at it from a practical and “real world view point.”