Headlamps have always been a necessary part of gear in my opinion for the great outdoors. From my deployments to places like Afghanistan, Djibouti and the UAE I’ve always carried an kept a headlamp on me. I like the ability to have free hands, and a lot of times it is a complete and total necessity in other situations. Putting up radio antennas, establishing a CP, setting up a tent, and doing tasks like clearing weapons safely are all possible in the middle of the night with a headlamp. Most of my headlamps have been relatively cheap, but quite durable when you look at the conditions I put them through. So I think of them as disposable, usually they last a year or one deployment. This may change with the Fenix HL23 Headlamp.

Fenix HL23 | A Lightweight Rugged Headlamp

Fenix HL23 specs

This will change mostly because I don’t deploy overseas anymore. Although I try as much as I can to deploy to western fire details, they aren’t as hard on gear as a deployment overseas. Back to the Fenix HL23. The Fenix uses mostly metal in its construction. This makes it noticeably stronger, as well as heavy. How strong? Well it sits in my EDC bag and gets bumped and set down, and occasionally tossed. I’ve also dropped the unit half a dozen times, and it keeps working.

The Fenix HL23 is compact, much smaller than other lamps I’ve used. The Fenix uses a single AA battery and has the ability to shine a nice 150 lumens. The beam distance is a supposed 180 feet. I don’t doubt this distance but haven’t tested it myself. I believe it because the Fenix HL23 is quite bright on its highest settings and does throw a nice wide, but concentrated beam.

Is it Waterproof?

Fenix HL23 | A Lightweight Rugged Headlamp
Pretty Waterproof to me

The Fenix is rated at IP68, which means the Fenix HL23 can be submerged at 30 for 30 minutes at a meter and a half. This makes simple sweat, rain, and other small water-based threats a nonissue.

Fenix HL23 | A Lightweight Rugged Headlamp
It Seems to be Pretty Waterproof


The Fenix has three settings for brightness. Of course, max brightness is nice for working in most situations. However, in some cases, the reflection from this powerful light can make this difficult and uncomfortable. Also, lower settings are appreciated by other folks who may be living near or with you who don’t like a spotlight shined into their eyes. We all tend to forget our headlamp etiquette from time to time.

Fenix HL23 | A Lightweight Rugged Headlamp

Lastly, the headband is quite comfortable and supports the heavier than average headlamp pretty well. It doesn’t sag or drift when adjusted correctly. The Fenix HL23 seems like it’s a well made, comfortable, and bright light. Watch this space for a full and final review.