Two+ year review – Nitecore NU25 USB Headlamp

My criteria for “good gear” make a simple set of metrics:  Does it work? Does it make my time in the outdoors easier?  Do I have to futz with it too much to be effective?

Using these metrics is why I enjoy my Montbell puffies, the simplicity of a well-made knife, my solo pack of choice, and how I still think a simple 100 wt fleece works so well.

It does not matter if the gear is cottage gear, higher-end, or a budget choice.  I want my tools to work and to work well.

And add to that toolkit a headlamp. You can geek out over headlamps with lumens, beam focus, weight etc., etc.

I’ve used various headlamps over the years.  And for various “chores.” But, I must say, my favorite one over the past two years is, by far, the NitecoreNU25 USB Rechargeable Headlamp

A bright, light, easy-to-use light settings, water-resistant, and reliable, it is one of those simple but elegantly designed pieces of gear I’ll use for years to come.

The Nitecore NU25 at a glance

From Nitecore

  • 360 max output lumens with four different white light settings of a low, medium, bright, and turbo mode; bright enough for general use and then some! As with almost all headlamps, the NU25 also features an emergency strobe light mode, among other settings.
  • Intense beam (1650 cd) and effective distance of 81m.  (In somewhat more plain English)
  • Two different red light settings of low and high
  • USB Rechargeable
  • IP66 rated waterproofness and dust resistance (In non-tech speak, that means highly water and dust resistant)
  • Articulated for the adjustment and placement of the beam
  • Lockout mode to prevent accidental turning on
  • Separate buttons for a red light and white light modes. My favorite part of this headlamp!
  • 160 hours of battery in low light white-light mode, 8 hrs in medium mode (my most used), or 8 hours of red light high mode (also used frequently).
  • Modify the headlamp cheaply and easily for ~1 oz total weight with band. Otherwise, the headlamp weighs just under 2oz.

What does all this crap mean in the field?

Beyond the numbers, I find the headlamp functional and easy to use.  The simple addition of two buttons that allow you to choose between a red and white light mode means I can easily switch between the light as needed with the light I no longer need shutting off quickly. No cycling through five or six settings just to get a red vs. white light!

Though the square shape may not win any aesthetic awards, I find it fits comfortably on the head and works well.

At this time of the year, I typically set up camp and get dinner cooking with the medium white light mode and then switch to the red light mode for eating dinner or finding something at night.

Finally, as with all the headlamps I now use, it recharges easily via USB. No need to futz with batteries.


I mean, it’s a headlamp at the end of the day. But feature-packed one just under $40 rivals, and often exceeds, more expensive and more well-known models from other companies. At only one ounce (modified), it seems a no-brainer to purchase this one for backpacking needs if you find you’ll use it often and for years to come.

People with different needs may want another headlamp. But for backpacking use, I can’t think of anything better that will fit my needs.

Disclosure – I purchased the NU25 with my funds.

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John Davis
2 years ago

Hi, Paul Although I like my Nitecore, I don’t think it’s all that great. The buttons aren’t the easiest to find. I’m getting used to it, but still sometimes put the headtorch on upside down. To my elderly fingers, the USB port’s cover isn’t that different from the buttons. I’m not getting 81 metres from the main beam although it is plenty good enough. The lowest setting isn’t much use when the battery has started to go flat. Main issue, which is obvious given the unit’s weight, is the battery size. I find I need to take a small power… Read more »

2 years ago

I’ve had mine about 2.5 years and still love it. Not a fan of night hiking but have had to do it sometimes, and the medium white setting has served me well in those situations. Great headlamp for the price and weight!

Paul Geimer
Paul Geimer
2 years ago

Worth the extra ~$20 over the STCT then, I take it? Trying to find something budget and rechargeable for quick post-work winter trail runs. My current Spot is way too front-heavy.

2 years ago

I’ve had mine for 18 months and love it. It’s light, bright, and rechargeable. Thanks for the review.

2 years ago

I agree. One of my favorite purchases. The color rendering index(it closely resembles morning sunshine)of the light blows me away.

Curious what you think of your headband? I feel like it would somewhat dig into my skin. I went with backcountry banters mod. Basically 3/4” strip of ribbon with a small loop of elastic.

2 years ago
Reply to  Benson

I tried the shock corded headband mod, and went back to the original headlamp band. It worked fine in cooler weather, when I had a beanie on, but in warm weather (without a beanie) the modified band was very annoying. I Like how the nitecore locks easily, so it does not come on in my pack.

I suggest getting any color other then black. The black one is hard to find in the middle of the night. My wife’s white one is a lot easier to find.

Douglas K
2 years ago

Thank you for the review. Bought this, based on one line in the review – “Separate buttons for a red light and white light modes. My favorite part of this headlamp!” couldn’t agree more.. that, and pushing the button turns it off, instead of cycling through four other modes including the completely useless strobe. Hiding the strobe behind the usual press/hold/tap/bump/wait 4.3seconds dance is the right place, since it means it won’t turn on accidentally and I’ll never need it anyway. I use it for night running on trails, the brightest setting works well. For night fishing and hunting trips… Read more »


[…] 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 […]