Nitecore HC50 Review: Headlamps

In our Nitecore HC50 review we found this headlamp to be lighting the way in some areas and keeping us in the dark in others. Read on to see where the Nitecore HC50 excels and where it falls short.

Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
Last Update:
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Nitecore HC50 Review

Our Rating: 3.0/5

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The Nitecore HC50 is arguably the roughest, toughest headlamp available on the market today. It is perfect for lighting up mechanical work on the side of the road, navigating a trail, and boasts a wide beam light with a max output of 565 lumens.

Comparably, the Nitecore HC50 is one of the few headlamps that is submersible and waterproof up to two meters. However, it only has 2 hours of battery life and will require constant charging with the external charger (sold separately).

Overall, the Nitecore HC50 is the perfect headlamp for its price range if you’re looking for a headlamp that easily withstands the elements but is only to be used for short periods of time.

Key Features

  • Multiple brightness levels up to 565 lumens
  • Wide beam shape for up to 75 m
  • Adjustable straps that fit comfortably
  • Rugged all metal design withstands the elements
  • Waterproof and submersible up to two meters

Category Scores

Trail Finding
Battery Life
Ease of Use
  • PROs

    • Multiple Brightness Levels
    • All Metal Design
    • Beam Shape
    • Rechargeable Batteries
  • CONs

    • No charger/battery included
    • On the heavier side
    • Sensitive switch

Hands-on Review

The NiteCore HC50 has multiple light settings that make it simple to adjust the light output while on the move. The light has a decent lumen output of up to 565 lumens, and the beam range works well for almost all applications at 75 meters. Also, you’ll never have to worry about rain while you’re on the trail with its waterproof all metal design.

Trail Finding

With a wide beam, the NiteCore HC50 allows you to comfortably light up the entire path you’re on. Also, it serves as a great light if you have other friends along the trail without headlamps. That way, this light can easily help you find the different trail markers that lead the way.

The pattern of the light is perfect for trail finding with the center of the light beam being the brightest, with a smooth gradational dimming towards the peripheral areas of your vision. Combined with a lack of dark spots that plague some other competitors, makes for an excellent trail-finding piece of kit.


The NiteCore HC50 has a max lumen output of 565, which, for most uses is quite acceptable. The output distance of 75 meters is respectable when it comes to performance. That way, you can easily see quite a bit in front of you and help light up a path for others.

If you are hunting or need to adjust the brightness of the NiteCore HC50, there is a quick switch with four light settings, as well as a red light setting for hunting purposes. While this switch can be somewhat tricky to use, it does take some getting used to. This means hunters will want to familiarize themselves with its sensitivity before embarking on a journey. After all, you would not want to scare away any potential animals.

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life, this is where the NiteCore HC50 falls short of the competition. The run time for the battery included is only 2 hours (measured in the highest mode). This means if you’re planning on being out in the dark for longer, you’ll need to bring a backup set of batteries to switch out.

The NiteCore HC50 takes either two CR 123 batteries or one 18650 battery. Unfortunately, the battery charger doesn’t come with the headlamp, so you’ll need to buy that separately. Luckily, there’s an integrated red/green power indicator display to make sure you know when you’re running low on battery.

Ease of Use

The single-function button can be a bit tricky (or frustrating) if you keep finding yourself cycling through trying to find the option you wish. Although, this will quickly disappear as you become more accustomed to the product.

Also, when it comes to replacing or setting up the headlamp, there are some complications. There are some issues with screwing in the cap of the battery compartment, with it being a little tricky, so it’s important to take a look and familiarize yourself with the battery replacement at home before hitting the open trail.


The NiteCore HC50 is 130g or 4.59 ounces, which may not seem like a lot, but is one of the heaviest headlamps on the market. Due to its all-metal design, the headlamp holds up to any of the elements but does come at the cost of neck strain for extended use. Therefore, you’ll want to consider an alternative headlamp if you’re using it for over an hour or so.

Technical Specifications

Best UseHiking, Camping, Backpacking
Bulb TypeLED
Bulb DetailHigh-output LED / 2 red LEDs
Red Light ModeYes
Beam TypeFlood
Max Light Output (Lumens)565 lumens
Light OutputHigh: 565 / low: 1 lumens
Max Beam Distance (m)85 meters
Beam DistanceHigh: 85 meters
Brightness Levels5
Average Run TimeHigh: 1 hr. 15 min. / low: 400 hrs.
Regulated OutputYes
Batteries18650 lithium or 2 CR123
Dimensions1.25 x 3.4 inches
Water-Resistance RatingIPX8
Weight With Batteries4.6 ounces


The most severe restriction of this headlamp is hands down, the battery life of the lamp. At the highest setting, the lamp only lasts up to 2 hours which is not much time if you’re hiking or camping.

In addition, the weight of the headlamp can cause some strain on the neck if wearing it for extended periods of time.

Best Applications

The Nitecore HC50 is a pretty niche application headlamp, as it is bright and very sturdy but only useable for short periods of time. Activities such as early morning fisherman, where this headlamp could be of significant use on the quick trip to your spot until the sun comes up or for short caving trips. With the waterproof and highly durable design, you would never have to worry about accidentally getting this headlamp wet or cracking it off a rock.

Also, many car mechanics and tow truck drivers have used this light for work at night that’s alongside the highway. With its rugged design, it’s perfect to store in the back of a pickup, and they can grab it when they need it. Then recharge the headlamp when they go back to their shop.


Overall, the NiteCore HC50 is a decent headlamp for the value. Its rugged structure cannot be beaten for the price and can easily withstand the elements. It’s very reliable for occasional work or any activity that is only for a short time period.

The best aspect of the NiteCore HC50 is that it is waterproof so if you’re caught in a rain storm, you’ll never have to worry about losing light or the lamp malfunctioning. Also, if you drop this headlamp in a puddle or a pond, you’ll never have to worry about breakage making it particularly suitable for activities such as caving (although, make sure and bring spare batteries and a backup light source).

Other Versions & Accessories

As for accessories for the NiteCore HC50, you’ll need to buy the charger. The battery life is only two hours at the maximum output, and for most hikers or campers that would mean it would only last for one or two days at most, so buying the extra batteries or chargers is a definite additional cost in using this headlamp.

Last update on 2024-06-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness (or at least that's how it seemed to a ten year old Brian).

After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology (primarily so he could spend his time outside rather than in a classroom). He's now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents (still need to bag Antarctica) & 30 of the US states.

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