One of the Toughest & Brightest Headlamps Ever: Olight H2R Nova

Olight H2R Nova Night shot


Olight H2R Nova

The best headlamp on the market? It’s not just a headlamp.  It’s a hybrid headlamp and hand-held flashlight.  The Olight H2R Nova is far tougher, more waterproof and 3 times brighter than even Petzels top end Nao+ headlamp and other’s like it.  The H2R is setting a new standard in the head lamp sector.

My Two Big Problems with Most Headlamps

Made of Plastic

99% of all headlamps these days are made from plastic.  Granted, high end headlamps made by Petzl or Black Diamond probably utilize high impact plastics. But still, who pays up to $200 for plastic?  I’m sorry, that’s ludicrous.

I don’t recommend much plastic stuff here at  I don’t care how “advanced” the plastic is, it will eventually weaken, become brittle or crack.  Well respected flashlight manufactures like Olight, Streamlight, Nitecore and Phoenix use aircraft grade aluminum.  Maglite gets the credit for setting the this standard of toughness in the industry years ago.  Now the flashlight market demands this level of tough construction even among cheap brands.  Not so much with headlamps though.

Not Waterproof

Most headlamp designs are very difficult to waterproof.  They have big battery hatches and are usually constructed with at least two molded plastic shells that have to be sealed perfectly all the way around.  Even Black Diamond’s venerable Icon headlamp is only submersible to 1 meter for 30 minutes.  Thats a high end headlamp!

Why the Olight H2R Nova is better than conventional headlamps

1. Innovative Design

Olight took the strengths of hand held lights and fused it with a headlamp. The light itself is a modified right-angle compact flashlight.  The lense is located on the side of the all-aluminum chassis.  The body of the flashlight clips horizontally onto the headband.

The H2R is part of a growing new genre of multi-duty headlamps.  It’s most worthy competitors are Nitecore and Zebralight.

Credit: Olight

2. Versatility

Tell me, how many things can you do with a headlamp besides strapping it to your noggin?  Not much.

The H2R functions like any other headlamp but it can also:

  • Stand on a table by itself and point light in any direction
  • Stick it to metal surfaces with its magnetic base for steady task lighting (change a tire, work under the hood)
  • Rotate up or down to any angle at all on the headlamp. Point it straight up at the roof of your tent to get a brighter area lighting without burning your eyes out.
  • Use it as a regular flashlight.
  • Light your way by clipping it your hat or pocket or backpack strap with the included pocket clip.

3. Highest Waterproof Rating(IPX-8)

Petzl Nao
Petzl Nao

I have not found a headlamp with a higher IPX rating than the Olight H2R Nova.  You could go swimming with this puppy!   The closest is the Black Diamond Icon rated at 7.  Petzel’s Pro-grade Nao+ spelunking headlamp comes in at an abysmal IPX4!

The reason the Olight H2R trounces the others is because of its cylindrical construction.  There’s a good reason why submarines are shaped this way.

4. Ergonomics

Bend your elbow to 90% for a second.  Now look at the position of your hand.  If I put a conventional flashlight in your hand right now,  which way would the beam point?  That’s right! Right in your freaking eyes!

Now do you see why a small 90 degree flashlight makes sense?  When your looking for something  in the dark you don’t have to twist your wrist to point it. Then when you find whatever you’r looking for, you can always just set the light down on its end cap and point it toward your task if you need both hands.

5. Magnetic charger

Credit: Olight

This brilliant little invention makes charging a snap…literally.  The USB powered charge cable has a magnetic disk that snaps onto the tail cap to resupply the onboard rechargeable battery.  Its similar to Mac’s magnetic charging port idea and  it’s super convenient.


6. Durability

I can say with a high degree of confidence that the aluminum chassis on this headlamp will  survive far more abuse than its blow molded plastic competitors. This is a rather obvious advantage.

7. It’s one of the Brightest Headlamps Available

Oh didn’t I mention that little detail yet?  In practical terms, headlamps don’t need to be stadium lights to do their job, but dang!  The Olight H2R Nova annihilates even the very brightest headlamps available today with a staggering 2300 Lumens!  By comparison, Black Diamond’s Icon only manages 500 lumens. Petzl’s  (Nao +)  musters 750 lumens.  Those two are among the very best headlamps out there!  The Olight H2R Nova is literally 3 times brighter! (edit:  the Brightest headlamp is now the Lupine Wilma Rx 14 @ 5000 lumens, but it costs almost 7 times more and is no where near as tough or waterproof)

Olight, as a brand, is currently a leader in flashlight brightness as well with their beastly X7R Marauder which cranks out an unbelievable 12,000 lumens from a compact flashlight!  Crazy!  So if you simply must have a handheld light-canon you can check its current pricing here.

I don’t understand how so much light can come out of such headlamp as the H2r.  Its frightening how far LED tech has taken us!   Check out the video below.   I chuckled near the end of the video when the guy hits “Turbo mode.”

My Quibbles

I do have two things to complain about.

H1R Nova Credit: Current Amazon Pricing

Firstly, the H2R Nova may be a bit to long for some folks.  It’s not prettiest form factor…but hey you use it at night right?.  If looks matters I’d recommend the H2R Nova’s smaller brother the H1R which still has all the same features and cranks out a very respectable 600 lumens.

Secondly, It does not come with a red night vision led.  Its a handy feature to have when working around camp at night.  It would be nice if they added that feature.


In some cases it really pays to go the unconventional route.   I think Olight, Nitecore and Zebralight are onto something great with these new headlamp designs.   Their tough, waterproof, super bright and very versatile.  I think Olight has done the best job so far and it’s worth picking up. You can check the current H2R Nova’s pricing here

If you’re looking for other tough and reliable adventure gear consider the Leatherman Wave and the LMF II survival knife.  Their well worth the money.

Olight H2R Nova: Latest Pricing on Amazon







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Don Longworth

Don was born and raised in sub-saharan Africa. Now based in Canada, his extensive experience in non-profit work has served him well over multiple deployments in Africa. Don's experiences have made him a practical "to-the-point" type person. He is a no-frills, low-key guy who appreciates quality and simplicity.

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