I’ve used the Nitecore NU25 (2017 model) for over three years as my mainstay backpacking headlamp. When modified, it’s ~1oz/ 28g, 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 and less expensive with some features that make the Sunblesa H11 a viable alternative, especially as Nitecore phases out the 2017 model.
Update May 2023 –
It’s an improved model with a tighter and longer beam focus, slightly lighter, brighter, and the best part – currently under $30! An excellent deal!
If you wanted an older style NU25, I suggest looking at the Sunblessa H11 as a worthy successor.
Here are the specs in all its raw data for those who enjoy these things –
- The Gen 2 retails for $28 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.
- 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. I found the low light option another useful option with an estimated 30 hrs of approx charge.
- Low battery warning
- The Gen 2 I tested has the red light setting with two lower white settings via a separate button.
- On the Gen 1, the second button lets you quickly access the other mode for a high red, a somewhat unique high green, and a lower green setting on some models. Lower lumens, less tight beam focus, and shorter beam vs. the Gen 2. Otherwise, similar specs.
- As with the 2017 Nitecore classic, I can’t emphasize enough how much I enjoy the separate buttons, in both models, for ease of use.
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 in the Gen 1 models 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. Sunblesa reports a future version will have USB-C.
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 less expensive at $28 vs. $37.
- The green light settings on the Gen 1 H11 I tested earlier 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.
- As mentioned, Gen 1 has lower lumens and a less focused beam vs. Gen 2, but otherwise similar to Gen 2, including price, if you want the green light setting.
- 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.
As Nitecore phases out the 2017 model, I’d strongly suggest getting the Sunblesa H11 over the newer NU25s.
As mentioned, The Sunblesa H11 Gen 2 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 for the Gen 1, and the Sunblesa H11 makes an intriguing option that backpackers may want to consider. It works and seems to work well.
I’d get the Gen 2 for the better overall specs; otherwise, the Gen 1 still works very well if you want or need the green light setting. A Gen 2 version with the green light setting is forthcoming.
As Nitecore phases out the 2017 model, I think the Sunblesa H11 will make a superior alternative that may become a backpacker’s favorite. Throw in the lower price, and the H11 makes an excellent alternative.
Overall, a very good headlamp and one I can suggest.
Disclosure – Sunblesa provided the H11s for my review.