Sofirn HS20 NagApie rechargeable LED headlamp, 2,100 lumens, 212 ANSI metres. Ticks every box! Customer reviews
This headlamp really deserves a bit of a long story, so please grab your favourite beverage and settle down for a good read. If you don't have the time, the bottom line is that this is the most versatile and durable headlamp on the market, full stop! Why do I say so? Keep reading.
As you know, headlamps are wonderful because they light up whatever you're looking at while leaving your hands free. Unfortunately a headlamp with one LED is not enough to satisfy both an artisan, who works close up, and an athlete who hammers through the night.
Yes, I can see the owners of zoomers (adjustable-beam lights) jumping up and down, but here's the thing – an adjustable beam is either long or wide, it can't be both. There's no problem with a zoomer when it comes to reading or working with your hands, but when you're moving through the night you need a "hot-spot-and-spill" beam like the headlights of a car, so you can see both far and wide at the same time.
The other thing is that headlamps need to be lightweight. Unfortunately this limits the amount of heat they can absorb and dissipate, which in turn limits their output in lumens. Watch out for headlamps that claim very high lumens – they can only "keep it up" for a minute or so. The highest output a lightweight headlamp can sustain with today's LEDs is around 1,000 lumens.
I recently launched my HP300 Cyclops headlamp that treads this line very skilfully and affordably, delivering a 650 lumen beam over 30 real-world metres and another 200 lumens of floody light for close-up work, while costing less than a grand including a decent rechargeable lithium-ion battery and courier delivery...
However I have customers who want more range for outdoor activities, and neutral white light for colour-critical work – anything from industrial use to checking the meat on a braai. Athletes also find a neutral white beam shows up the road or trail better than cool white while producing less glare from mist and dust.
Well, this one's for you, guys!
Meet the HS20 NagApie. This little headlight is now fitted with Luminus' benchmark SFT40 emitter set in a "light orange peel" (LOP) reflector, delivering a sustained 700 lumen neutral white beam for around three and a half hours over a distance of 138 ANSI metres (according to the formula all the torch manufacturers use) or 45 real-world metres.
And that's only on the "high" setting! On "turbo" this chip whacks 1,600 lumens over 212 ANSI metres (70 real-world metres) which is more than many car headlights! Sure, it will step down to "high" when the internal temperature reaches a critical level (usually after three minutes or so) but that should be long enough to navigate a rock-garden or poach the eyeballs of a... predator. And if it steps down (and you notice – it's still very bright on "high") you can turn it back up to "turbo" with a double click of the button.
The LED in the NagApie's other "eye" is Samsung's superb LH351D which delivers an even flood of up to 1,000 lumens of high-CRI light via a "total internal reflection" (TIR) reflector, ideal for close- to intermediate-distance work – anything from reading or cooking to painting or weaving – where colour is critical. It delivers enough floody light for sustained operation up to 15 real-world metres, or bursts of up to 25 metres.
These two LEDs are controlled independently via their own control buttons (the NagApie's "ears"). Each offers three regular brightness levels (low, medium and high) with mode-memory so you can turn each beam on and off at your chosen level. A double click triggers the turbo for that LED, while a long-press from off activates a low-level "eco" mode, ideal for navigating the dark without drawing attention to yourself, or for surviving in a cave for weeks.
But here's the REALLY clever part – the dual controls mean you can mix flood and throw to suit your specific needs! For example having flood on "high" and throw on "med" when you're running or hiking will allow you to see your surroundings in detail but with just a bit more distance directly ahead. And turbo is always a double-click away when you need it.
The NagApie is built for hard work. It's CNC machined from 6061 aluminium, hard-anodised to military specifications, fitted with toughened glass lenses, IP68 waterproof and impact resistant to one metre. It has advanced temperature control and reverse polarity protection.
This headlamp is powered by a standard 18650 lithium ion (Li-Ion) rechargeable battery with a life-expectancy of 3-5 years – this is the most popular size of Li-Ion so it's easy to replace when the time comes. I recommend a high-drain protected or unprotected cell for when you operate both LEDs on turbo.
The NagApie is safe to use with an unprotected battery – the headlamp will cut out when the battery reaches critical voltage (about 2.6v) – but you're unlikely to get there because, when the charge is running low, the beam steps down in a very obvious way to warn you and to reduce the drain on the battery, so you're never caught in the dark.
The HS20 has a USB-C charging port concealed under a screw-down cap, so you can charge your battery with a cellphone charger or from a regular USB-A port using the supplied cable. Battery status indicators tell you when the battery is charged and, together with the obvious stepping down, when it needs charging (the NagApie's ears turn red!)
It comes with Sofirn's famous sports headstrap which holds the NagApie securely and comfortably through the most extreme of sports. The light weight (a little under 170g with battery and headstrap) and shape (placing the weight close to your forehead) mean that most athletes don't experience much sensation of weight when they're running.
The NagApie isn't the cheapest light in my lineup, but when you take into account the premium LEDs and performance it's astonishing value. If I send you an invoice and you pay by EFT into our account (to avoid the fees we're charged if yo it works out to R2,370. Drop me a line at email@example.com and I'll make it happen.