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Nitecore NU25 review: headlamp
Nitecore NU25 specifications
|Brand & Model
|5500k dual LED + Red LED
|Max. beam distance
|Max. beam intensity
|650mAh In-built Li-ion
|3 x 3 + 1 for primary LEDs + Red LED
|Review publication date
The Nitecore NU25 is part of Nitecore’s dual-beam lightweight headlight series. Its sister light is the NU25 UL which uses the same main components with a slightly different headband and slightly different bracket to cater for the different headband.
The NU25 is part of a new breed of in-built Li-ion battery powered headlamps. Some will always prefer user replaceable batteries, but you can’t deny the packaging benefits of in-built battery setups.
The NU25 is a feature-packed, very compact, and lightweight headlight that is sure to find many happy users. I know of a number of tasks I will happily put this headlight to the test.
The NU25 comes in full retail packaging with lots of info and a very professional premium look and feel to the packaging.
In the box you get
- The headlamp
- Comprehensive user manual
- USB charging cable
Flashlight in use
The NU25 has a large and comprehensive set of modes and options. This is a dual beam headlamp, which means it has 2 x LEDs. But it is more than just two outputs. One LED is coupled to a floody TIR optic while the other TIR optic is designed more for throw.
This means you not only have multiple output levels, you can also have three different types of beam:
You can either have one LED or the other in use or both together. In all modes you also have differing output modes. This makes the headlight very versatile and gives the user easy ways to extend runtimes. Although maybe at the sacrifice of introducing a fairly complex and confusing user interface.
There is also a dual red LED mode too as well as some hidden blinky modes using either the red LEDs or the white ones.
One thing I really like about the NU25 is the shape and lightweight. It really is very little weight to have on your head and the shape of the unit is comfortable to wear. The main light is permanently fixed into a carrier holder that also allows you to tilt the light forward and down. It all feels very natural and easy to use.
The headband itself on the NU25 is slightly different to that on the NU25 UL. It is still a very minimal headband, using a double elastic cord at the back, but uses a nice stretchy neoprene bright yellow band at the front . This still keeps the weight down but is slightly heavier overall than the NU25 UL. With the NU25 UL I did find that on my hair (which is fairly long), that the headband would slip a bit. The NU25’s yellow band has a large grippy section running the length of it. Which for me, I found it to be the preferred setup.
The NU25 has two buttons, both located on the top of the unit. They are rubber switches and easy to locate and use. The larger switch is labeled with the universal power symbol and the small button says ‘Mode’. Both buttons are multi-function with single, multiple and click and hold actions.
Build Quality, and Warranty
On the whole there are no metal parts on the NU25, this is deliberate to keep the weight down. It appears to be mostly made of some kind of ABS plastic. It feels both durable and high quality. I have no concerns over the build quality, fit and finish appears to be superb. There are however two metal clips where you attach the headband. This being the largest difference from the NU25 UL model.
The switches are rubber covered and there is a rubber cover that covers the USB port. Although I must admit, having opened the USB cover I have since been unable to get it to fully reseat again. The USB port is a type C and the cover is designed to go inside the socket as well as around it. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to get the rubber to align correctly. A minor annoyance and I doubt one that would cause any real issues.
Warranty wise, Nitecore offer a 15 day from purchase replacement service via an authorised dealer/distributor backed by a 24 month warranty beyond this.
LED, Lens, Bezel, Beam, and Reflector
Nitecore doesn’t disclose much about the LEDs used in the NU25. Their website does confirm they should be of 5500k which is a very nice kelvin level in my opinion. The beam is a nice crisp white with a nice neutral white tint.
Sadly there is no mention of CRI nor much info on the optics. The flood is claimed to be 100 degrees but I couldn’t find info on the spot beam. However, visually one can clearly see a difference between the two beam profiles.
The Red LEDs are also not specified on what brand they are, however they also have their own smaller optics and appear to be modern LEDs rather than the old 5mm style ones.The red beam is bright enough to be highly useful too.
My Opple light meter confirms the dual white LEDs have a CCT (k) value of 5409 and an Ra of 70.2, while the red LEDs have a 5002 CCT(k).
Overall the beam quality on any of the modes is superb. Being a headlamp close up illumination is likely a key requirement for many. The flood, combo modes and red LED all work really well for this with nice even illumination. If you are outside or needing more light at distance, it is nice to have the ability to use the spot beam also for extra beam distance. For me, the real key is being able to use these LEDs in isolation. While both will offer more lumens, they’ll also use more power. Switching to just a single LED should be an easy way to massively extend the runtimes.
Dimensions and size comparison
Dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter, and to the nearest tenth of an Inch.
|Weight in grams
|Weight in oz
|With battery & headband
Weight is rounded to the nearest gram, and to the nearest tenth of an Oz.
Flashlight size comparison with its competition:
Group 1: Nitecore headlamps Nitecore NU25 UL and Nitecore NU25 boxed
Group 2: Nitecore NU25 UL and Nitecore NU25
Driver & User Interface:
If I have any complaints with the NU25 it is the User Interface. You have two buttons to interact with, both located on top of the unit. One says Power, the other Mode. Which in principle sounds completely rational.
In practice however, both buttons seem to be able to turn the light on and off and both can change modes. But each button does different things from the other. This means you need to have a very good memory on which button to press at which time. I’ve found I have had to refer to the instruction manual many times and then still end up forgetting. This means each time you use the NU25 it does feel a bit like trial and error.
A minor annoyance as you just end up clicking a few times to get what you want or end up just saying “whatever” and end up using a mode you might not have meant to have selected.
In essence you have 3 output modes:
Which the light cycles through. Although there is also a hidden Ultralow mode. Where it then gets a bit confusing is, you can also select One LED or the other or both and then have L-M-H for each of these. So your 3 modes have suddenly become 9, plus a hidden Ultralow. On top of this you also have hidden blinky modes and a lockout. But it doesn’t end there, you also have a dual Red LEDs too, which also have a blinky mode, although I’m not 100% sure how I have accessed this as it isn’t on the provided mode diagram in the instruction manual.
Ultimately I don’t think this is a deal breaker, but I’d defy anyone to be able to consistently turn it on to the mode & output you desire without getting it to do something you didn’t mean too.
Available blinky modes:
- Yes, semi hidden.
To Low: Yes
To Strobe: Yes
Low voltage warning:
- Battery meter
- Yes – Click and hold both buttons for approx 2 secs to activate/deactivate lockout.
None that I can detect. Nitecore claims constant current.
Batteries & Charging
The battery is 650mAh in-built Li-ion, broadly equivalent to the power/runtime of a 14500 Li-ion cell. But being in-built the battery can be of a different shape, allowing the NU25 to be much smaller than it would be if it had used a 14500.
Personally I’m all for this. I know in the unlikely event of battery failing you probably can do little to restore the headlamp to working order. But the reality is, Li-ion batteries rarely fail. The weight saving and packaging benefits the in built battery brings cannot be dismissed.
The NU25 has a battery meter on the top of the unit by means of 4 blue LEDs, these will give you an indication of current battery level, which can be easily checked by pressing the Power button.
Charging is by means of a USB C cable. Once plugged in the blue lights will flash until all 4 are fully illuminated, indicated fully charged.
As there are so many different LED and output combos on the NU25, I decided to simply measure the highest output using the combo beam.
I cannot guarantee my lightbox produces the same lumen numbers as the integrated spheres used at a commercial level. However the lumens I recorded are close enough for me to believe this light puts out the claimed figures.
|High – Dual LED
|High – Spot LED
|High – Flood LED
- Due to the in-built battery, it is not possible to measure this.
Battery Life: Runtime graphs
|Measured runtime ANSI
|Time till shut off
|High – Dual LED
|2h 40 mins
|2h 04 mins
|3h 06 mins
|High – Spot LED
|4h 15 mins
|5h 23 mins
|5h 40 mins
|High – Flood LED
|4h 15 mins
|4h 43 mins
|5h 35 mins
ANSI FL1 standards: The runtime is measured until the light drops to 10% of its initial output (30 seconds after turning on). This does not mean that the flashlight is not usable anymore. The last column shows how long the light actually works till it shuts off. If there is a + symbol, it means that the test was stopped at that particular point, but the light was actually still running. This happens on certain occasions, with certain drivers, firmware, or batteries.
Peak beam intensity and beam distance measurements
|64m @ 1029cd
Extra info: Peak beam distance according to ANSI FL1 standards: The calculated value of distance in meters at which the flashlight produces a light intensity of 0.25 lux. (0.25 lux is about the brightness of a full moon shining on an object). The columns ‘Meters’ and ‘Yards’ use rounded numbers.
Camera settings and distance: Canon EOS 200D – Canon 18-55mm EFS IS – 2”/F6.3/ISO 400/WB 5200k “Daylight”
As the NU25 is quite floody overall, even including the spot beam. I decided to do some fairly close up beam shots to show the beam profile options. The subject is approx 15 metres away from the light source.
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Nitecore. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Lightweight design
- Compact dimensions
- Multiple beam types
- Battery meter
- Slightly complex UI
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: a match would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues; almost unusable – 3: Average: some defects or issues; but still usable 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4 stars: ★★★★
I have to say, I’m rather taken with this little headtorch. Being compact and lightweight really does appeal to me. As for me, a headtorch is all about functionality and utility. It is a tool that when you need to use one, nothing else really does the job the same. And to date, the NU25 is certainly one of the better headtorches that I’ve used. I also prefer the headband on the NU25 vs the headband on the NU25 UL.
As for the in-built battery, I suspect this is the future. Really the only thing I didn’t love about the NU25 is the User Interface. It is perfectly usable, just a little frustrating at times.